Hunting The Wild Web Analyst: Rent, Buy Or Build?
Since the better analysts are snapped up by vendors and consulting firms and the best strike out on their own, there are very few experienced people in search of gainful employment. So your options are to rent (engage a consultant), buy (hire one if you're lucky) or build (train your own people.)
Tim Goudie, group manager, interactive marketing at Coca-Cola, gave up having online marketing analysts on the payroll a year ago. He sees the learning curve around the technology and techniques growing too fast. It's much easier to familiarize a professional Web analyst with a 122-year-old business model, than it is to ask a seasoned brand marketing professional to come to grips with and stay on top of the wild and wooly world of Web analytics.
Further, there are dozens of consulting firms that each have a unique approach to online marketing optimization. That means a myriad of organizations can help you in a variety of ways. There are also the two generic values of any type of consultant: a) they work with many other firms and can bring best practices to your door, b) they don't know all the reasons why your company is not doing all the things that will provide immediate benefit. They are not stuck in your mind-set of "we've always/never done it that way."
On the other hand, you may not have a 122-year-old business model. You might be thrashing your way into a brave new world or have multiple models to work with. In that case, training a current employee makes more sense. Somebody with deep knowledge about what your company is trying to accomplish and how your marketplace works can apply basic marketing optimization techniques at once, then learn more advanced methods as needed.
Who within your organization should handle this awesome responsibility? How do you recognize a would-be marketing/Web/business analyst in your midst? Ask your team members about their idle-hours habits. If you find someone who likes advanced Sudoku puzzles, uses a pen for Sunday crosswords and enjoys detective stories, you have an analyst in the raw just waiting to be polished.
If, on the other hand, you are one of the lucky few to have an open requisition, start looking now. Hire one as soon as you can. Once on board, they will be able to identify and harvest the low-hanging fruit (instant ROI), plan the implementation of those advanced methods and help you build the business case for bringing more resources to bear. They can also start training the rest of your staff.
The ultimate goal is to make everybody a marketing optimization analyst. In an ideal world, everybody in your company will manage their marketing by the numbers, understand the power of continuous testing and measurement, and do advanced Sudoku puzzles in ink while reading detective novels.