Hiring for Digital Analytics – Part II

Puzzle1In my last article Hiring for Digital Analytics, where I discuss traits to look for when hiring candidates who are new to Digital Analytics, today I thought I’d share ways to evaluate if an analyst is ready for a more experienced position, such as a Sr. Analyst or leadership position.

Many candidates in the Digital Analytics community tout their years of experience, when in fact they have little digital analytics experience and application under their belt. It’s unfortunate but companies will often hire these individuals only to find out later that they’re not equipped for the position. Below are some ways to learn if candidates are ready to move up in a Digital Analytics position.

How to Evaluate the Skills of an Experienced Analyst

Hiring someone with the right amount of experience in Digital Analytics can sometimes be delicate. The hiring manager needs to know the amount of experience required for the position and have a keen eye for recognizing when someone is suitable for the job.

Only so much can be determined from an interview, which is why I would recommend giving analysts a case study to help effectively evaluate key skills for a more advanced position in analytics.

Case studies need to be specific to your organization, here are a few examples to get you started:

  1. Use a current problem within the organization that needs to be solved as it relates to Analytics
  2. If you’re an agency, create a fictitious company and a use either a current problem that you’re having which needs to be solved or make up a relevant one
  3. Ask the candidate to develop a measurement strategy based on goals and objectives for a fictitious company (or even your real one). This will help you understand what metrics the candidate views as important and how well they align the data with your company goals and business objectives.

Case studies will also help to effectively evaluate these following skills;

  • Thought process
  • Communication
  • Independent Thinker
  • Knowledge of the industry

Thought Process

With tailored case studies, you can test an analyst’s thought process by seeing how well they understand the initial problem, their steps to solving the issue and their final results. Understanding how an individual approaches data is important and will give you an insight into how they typically solve problems.

During the presentation, the hiring manager can learn how the candidate develops the requirements to determine which metrics are best used for measuring the specific business goals or how they interpret the results from fictitious data in your case study. The purpose of this exercise is to see first-hand how they might work with clients, co-workers and your company to develop a proper measurement strategy.


Presenting the results from your case study helps you evaluate how effectively the candidate communicates. When communicating to stakeholders it’s equally important to discern insights as it is to convey the performance of measuring business objectives. This is where the presentation of a case study will also be useful in being able to evaluate how well the candidate communicates their results and how well they might motivate or excite stakeholders.

During the case study presentation assess the effectiveness of their presentation skills. How well-prepared are they? Do they speak with confidence? Do you understand what they’re saying and does it make sense? Is there a theme or story in their presentation and does it flow well?  Having a case study presented to the hiring manager will help with making a decision as to whether or not they will fit the role.

Independent Thinker

Gauge their leadership abilities by the unique and original ideas that they present. One mistake I’ve seen during a presentation is someone regurgitating what has been posted in blogs or found online, but not actually showing how they applied that information or modified what they learned to support their need.

This is why it’s crucial to give candidates case studies. Gauging someone’s leadership abilities can also be ascertained by the content that they’re posting online themselves. Do they share with the analytics community ways that they’ve solved problems? Someone with experience in analytics who is writing content to help others in the industry is a great way to determine if they’re a right fit for a more advanced analytics position in your organization.


As we all know, Digital Media is always changing and advancing. It’s important for Digital Analysts to understand this and continuously evolve their own skills to accommodate. During their presentation, evaluate how well they’re considering new advancements in the industry. How forward thinking are their thoughts and ideas in the presentation? It’s important to stay ahead of the game and having a team member who stays abreast of the latest trends provides great value to an organization.

Final Thoughts

Finding someone with Digital Analytics experience can be a challenging journey that requires some upfront knowledge from the hiring manager. If you evaluate these skills by providing a case study to candidates, you’ll certainly find an appropriate Sr. Analyst or leader to manage your Digital Analytics department or team.

What are some methods that you’ve implemented in your hiring process to effectively vet Digital Analytics candidates?

I’d love to hear from you! Tweet me @NicoleRawski or comment below!

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Rethinking Navigation for Better SEO

Image of a globe with the title SEO representing SEO practisesRethinking Navigation for Better SEO

In the new world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it’s becoming more about what you say than all of the technical ways that you say it. The new post-Panda and post-Penguin Google rankings, for example, are focused on finding subject matter experts on certain topics who are asked to write about that topic across multiple websites.

Search engines are looking for rich and varied content on your core subject within the body of your website. In our series on Search Engine Optimization, we’ve focused on how to pare down your expertise into one of a handful of keywords (or topics). Now it’s time to optimize your website navigation to help your audience find your valuable content more easily – as well as the search engines.

What is navigation?

Your site navigation, in essence, is how you choose to organize all of your content on your website. Most of us understand the concept of creating folders and directories that help organize all of our offline files. It’s no different with your website. Unfortunately, most business owners create their website navigation directory structure before they’ve created content – or thought strategically about what their core focus areas will be for that content. For example, your navigation is probably organized into the standard categories of:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Products and Services
  • Contact Us
  • Blog

There’s nothing wrong with that structure from a user experience, but it’s not optimized for what someone might be interested in or how they may have arrived at your website. If they were searching for “wicker patio furniture,” for example, it may take the user several clicks to get there from your main home page. (“Products and Services” – Furniture – Outdoor – Patio – Wicker – that’s 4 clicks to get to the section they wanted.)

From a search engine’s perspective, it’s not much clearer. Nowhere in your navigation process do the words “wicker patio furniture” appear all in one string. (In the example above, the last page with all the search results might be called http://randomstore.com/products-and-services/furniture/outdoor/patio/wicker) If you had searched for “furniture outdoor patio wicker” (which is not how humans will normally search for things), this page might have been on the first page of your search results, since that’s how it was structured and how the search engine read it.

The Focus on Content Marketing Changes Everything

Again, these days it’s more about how helpful you are to your end audience than pushing out your products and services. Does your content answer their frequently asked questions? Does it inspire or inform them about key industry trends? Does it position you as a trusted advisor instead of a product brochure? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to rethink how you approach what the purpose of your website really is. If you do not want to change to optimize for SEO and content marketing, I promise that your competitors will.

You will always want to keep about half of the core elements in your navigation – home, about us, contact us – these are always universally used and useful to your end audience. However, the other areas should be about your core subject matter expertise and keywords – what do you want your business or your staff to be known for?

The business approach

If you want to focus on your business, try creating 2-3 areas in your navigation that sum up those core offerings you know more about than anyone else. In the example we’ve been using, I might select:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Outdoor Living
  • Dream Kitchens
  • Clean Garden Spaces
  • Contact

Once those decisions have been made, I will want to move all of my content under one of those sections. The wicker patio furniture is moved under outdoor living, and I would continue to make sure that all sub-folders also followed a more “semantic” or natural flow (outdoor-living/patio/furniture). I would also take any blog articles or photos that were posted on the website in this area and feature them in this new Outdoor Living content section as well.

The featured expert approach

You can also poise your business around key personalities that have deep expertise in your subject matter. The risk to this approach is that unless those people are the owners of your business, you risk them building their own personal brands with your company and then leaving to build their own company (or work for a competitor). Great examples of this happen all the time; think Ty Pennington creating a whole brand from being a support carpenter on Trading Spaces. In this approach, my site navigation might change to:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Jane Doe’s Outdoor Living
  • Dream Kitchens with John
  • Gary’s Garden Sense
  • Contact Us

Obviously in this scenario, the blog content will be more prominent in each of the sub-sections of your website. You will also want to supplement written content with rich media, such as video or photos of project work. The products that you sell will be recommended by your experts – and you will even want to go so far as to have every product have a short endorsement or story behind why it is recommended.

How this helps SEO

Organizing your content into your keywords around your subject matter expertise infuses them into every part of your website. If “outdoor living” is one of your most important keywords, every single page in that section of your website contains http://randomstore.com/outdoor-living in the URL by default. The old days of worrying about meta tags and keywords are gone – the search engines want to see the level of commitment to changing your URLs around your subject matter.

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Web Analytics Managers turning into Creative Directors

Web Analytics is a data-driven and figure-oriented discipline, yes. Web Analytics is a job profile requiring statistical exactness and data combination aspects, agreed. But what a Web Analytics Manager can also be is one of the most creative persons in the company. Recently the Harvard Business Review announced the Data Analyst to be the sexiest job in the 21st century. I partly agree. And would like to stress that being a Creative Director in combination with a Web Analyst might even be sexier … if that’s what you are looking for when talking about your role in your company.

Become a “Creative Analytics Director”

Why? In times of combining offline and online data, of adding value to a purely only focused campaign by acknowledging the impact for the offline world  or in times of data driven cultures and discussions around the smoking break or lunch time it is the duty of every Business Analyst to enrich his or her knowledge by checking in with the offline marketing world.

Have a look at one of the sexiest tasks of an offline Marketing Manager: choosing a model for the next bikini campaign for example. Well, that would be something for every marketing person, correct? It should be! At least for the Digital Analyst. And here´s why:  When planning the next shoot for the bikini promotion the offline Marketing Manager will consult his/her Model Booking Agency to check on their recommendations concerning the individual models and their selections from the current fashion line.

Then the (external or internal) Creative Director will decide on which models to use and choose them. Definitely with a big portion of subjective taste as it’s always been. This is fun! But ultimately it is wrong.

Sharing Knowledge with the Offline Marketing Team

Instead of this long used methodology the Digital Analyst should get on this stage and let the Offline Marketing Manager learn an important lesson: get more insights by looking at data! Or in other words: Data still beats Opinion.

The Analyst should be able to tell the Creative Director and the Booker of the Model Agency which models to choose. The criteria can be hair colour, size, skin colour, race or even added accessories for the shoot. Simply by checking in on the Analytics figures. Because it can all be included in the online analysis: do blond haired women sell bikinis better than brown-haired models? Do dark-skin models sell better leisure outfits? Do long-haired models sell business costumes better?

Image of two models and blonde barbie

Making money by asking the right questions and answering in a data-driven way is the Analyst’s job

To ask unusual questions and coming up with the data-driven answers is one of the main tasks of a Head of Analytics. The above is just a fashion example that by simply adding parameters of hair colour, skin colour etc. to the implementation will solve the problem of finding the right model for the next shoot. An easy way to create a unique and relevant campaign and delete gut feelings in the modelling business.

Business Success through Analytical Cleverness

A fashion customer at Webtrekk was able to increase their seasonal turnover – only for the bikini campaign – by 38% and therefore add $960,000 dollars to their revenue. How sexy does that sound?

No matter if it’s a model photo shoot or any other information that you can combine with Analytics data from the offline world use it to become a Creative Analytics Director for your business.

Collage with model in blue dress, weather map, building with american flags and binary code

Whatever Data there is – check on the relevant combination of offline data (shoots, weather, stock exchange, internal data from DWH, CRM etc.) and enrich the knowledge

And by the way: talking about the creative part in an advertising: Even good old David Ogilvy, one of the best Creative persons of the last century said, that “if an advertising does not sell, it is not creative.” But he also said: “Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving.” Although he did not even have a clue about the testing possibilities around Web Analytics and the digital world.

Back to the models and their “value”: There will be a time when models walk around at castings showing their personal Online Revenue Dashboards and not just their latest Hawaii beach photos. It will happen. 

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