Virtues of Web Analytics: Persistence

Most quality solutions require first going through an amount of frustration that would cause many people to simply give up. Keep persisting, and by doing so, you’ll open the door to greater adventures.

For the intro to the Virtues of Web Analytics series, see the first post.

There are 2 parts of analytics that immediately come to mind when I think of persistence: getting the right people to care about the trends and tools that are important to you, and getting to the bottom of technical or analytical problems.

Neither one is for the faint of heart.

Part I: Getting the right people to care about the trends and tools that are important to you

Many people outside analytics view the entire field as a numbers game and analysts as sort of glorified bean-counters. Another view is that analytics teams speak in a sort of techno-babble that is not worth taking the time to understand, and doesn’t pertain to what other teams are doing. Others have no concept of the field or know just enough to be dangerous. A select few have previously done this work or are very knowledgeable about it. Our task here is to make connections with the rest of the business, regardless of their level of knowledge, in order to overcome misconceptions. One of the easiest ways to do this is to come to the table with a solution or an opportunity you’ve noticed that will directly benefit the group you are speaking with.

To arrive at what might help you connect with a group, you first have to know what is important to them. You might first have a meeting (or devote the initial part of a meeting) to understanding the goals and challenges of the group you’re connecting with, and devote the second meeting/part of the meeting to how your skills and tools can help give the group insight on the needs they express. However, this is not a “one and done” type of relationship. It’s important to keep up to date on how the group evolves their goals, and how they are using (or not using) what you bring to the table. A monthly or quarterly check-in is not a bad idea if you are trying to establish an ongoing relationship, even within a single company. This is an especially good idea if you are proposing sharing the cost of a tool that will benefit another group in addition to your own, or you are trying to get a group to adopt your analytical recommendations.

If you do have a proposal that involves someone else spending money on analytics tools within your company, build trust several months ahead of that; having that as your first ask sours the relationship and doesn’t allow you to prove the value of what you do outside of that context. (In the event that you’re questioning the value of what you do: If you don’t trust your own skills or the quality of the analytics practice where you work, what can you do to change that? There are both free and paid courses, professional associations, conferences, books, articles, podcasts, and more all over at your disposal. That’s a whole ‘nother post.)

Part 2: Getting to the bottom of technical or analytical problems

The first section deals mainly with persistence in your interactions with others. This section is all about you. Any mildly experience analytics pro deals regularly with difficult technical or analysis requests outside the neatly packaged world of ideal KPIs. This is the proving ground on which you can differentiate yourself, through both your actual solution and the way you act while you work through it.

Most quality solutions require first going through an amount of frustration that would cause many people to simply give up. Knowing at the beginning of the game that you will get to this point is helpful. Step back, breathe, take a walk, do something, but don’t let yourself get caught in a cycle of frustration and anger at yourself or the situation. There are many opportunities to practice mindfulness in this field. (Potentially also a whole ‘nother post.) Keep going through this cycle, which often feels like throwing yourself at a wall, over and over, until you start to happen upon something that works (and learn to laugh at yourself.)

Learning many of the major analytics tools in the first place requires a certain amount of “grit” and pushing through feeling less than intelligent at times. If you haven’t started on that journey yet, keep that in mind – don’t let it prevent you from starting, just remember it when you experience frustration, knowing that we all have.

You’ll notice that none of these ideas are quick fixes. Keep persisting, and by doing so, you’ll open the door to greater adventures.

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