The “How To Break Into Web Analytics” Checklist

One of the most common questions that we are asked is:  “How to I break into web analytics?”

A lot of people that have good technical, marketing or quantitative backgrounds see all the fun that we are having in digital measurement… they read about the crazy demand for web analysts, the salary escalation, etc.  They want in.

We answer this question so often that I decided to consolidate the answer into a single blog post that I can direct people to going forward.  Automating a common ad hoc request…

Although I just bragged about our expertise on the subject I am absolutely sure that we will leave out some important ideas / steps, so please comment with any additions or changes that you see fit.

So here goes… If you want to start a career in the #measure community, here is what you have to do:

  • Read some good books.  There is a big library on Amazon of digital measurement books, but I would start with the foundational books on web analytics, like:  Web Analytics Demystified, by Eric Peterson and Web Analytics an Hour a Day, by Avinash Kaushik.
  • Read blogs.  There is a wealth of information available in web analytics blogs.  Everything from how-to nuts and bolts geeky technical stuff to really interesting high-level strategy stuff.  If you are trying to get into web analytics and you have not read every blog post every written by Adam Greco than you have skipped an important step.  But that is just one of literally dozens of great blogs out there.
  • Listen to the entire collection of Beyond Web Analytics Podcasts.  Dozens of the top people in the digital measurement industry go on the podcast to talk about a huge range of topics.  It is an awesome resource.
  • Network with web analysts.  The web analytics industry is unusual in that there is a robust online and real-life social network of practitioners that are eager to share knowledge and talk about their craft.  Online there are resources such as:
    • The IQ Workforce Facebook Page (shameless plug)
    • The Yahoo Web Analytics User Group now has thousands of members – maybe even 10’s of thousands.
    • Twitter.  Search for the #measure hashtag and start following the likes of Jason Thompson, and Rudi Shumpert and Jojoba.
    • The Digital Measurement Online Career Center
  • Offline there are GREAT events happening all over the world, including:
    • e-Metrics Conferences
    • Web Analytics Wednesdays
    • Web Analytics Association Symposiums
    • The Web Analytics Demystified / Keystone road show called “Demystified Days” that were just announced
    • Vendor conferences like Engage and Omniture Summit
    • OMMA Metrics Conferences
  • Get training.  There are some great options available for web analytics training, including:
    • Web Analytics Association Base Camps (at eMetrics Events)
    • The UBC Certificate of Achievement in Web Analytics (100% online)
    • The Avinash Kaushik endorsed Market Motive
    • Vendor training:  all of the major WA vendors offer training on their products
  • Get Experience.  The best way to get experience is by DOING web analytics.  Make your own website or start your own blog.  Implement Google Analytics and start tracking.  Leverage the community and Google’s resources to get better at GA and continually grow your knowledge.  Once you have a strong foundation you can start volunteering your services to small businesses and non-profits.  Build up a little portfolio of “clients” so that you can learn how to solve different types of business problems using web analytics.
  • Join the Web Analytics Association.  There are so many good reasons to do this that the idea of listing them is exhausting.  Trust me – just do it.
  • Sign up for Analysis Exchange projects.  The Analysis Exchange’s whole purpose is to develop new web analysts.  They pair newbies with veteran web analytics practitioners (“mentors”) and provide digital measurement consulting services to non-profit organizations around the country.  Great resume builder and a great way to build your professional network.
  • Start building your own brand.  Make sure you have full LinkedIn and Facebook profiles (take down the pictures from Spring Break 2007) that highlight all of the cool stuff that you have done in web analytics.  Blog and tweet.  Communicate and let this community know who you are and what you know.  Share YOUR knowledge.  If you find out a cool little trick, blog about it.  Post it on the user group.  Get feedback and give feedback.  At the end of the day, be visible – in person and online.
  • Most of the “real jobs” in web analytics still require experience with an enterprise WA tool (Omniture, Webtrends, Coremetrics, etc.).  If you have done all of the stuff listed above then you are ready to start offering your services as an intern or a part-time or project-based web analyst to companies in your area that run enterprise web analytics.  Most web analytics departments are stretched thin.  Many will take a chance on free or cheap bench strength if the individual has showed this level of commitment.
  • After a few months of project work with Omniture or another tool, you can now go and get yourself a paying job.  Leave yourself open to contract, freelance or FT employment.  Just GET EXPERIENCE.

It sounds like a lot, but all of this can be done in 6 months.

So that is our checklist of "How to Break Into Web Analytics".

Please tell me what I forgot /left out in the comments below.


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