30 Takeaways from Analytics Leaders Changing the Industry in 2016

May 4, 2018

Data governance can be a moving target, and digital marketing analysts are tasked with keeping abreast of the near-constant emergence of analytics trends and technologies. ObservePoint tapped 30 of the brightest minds in the industry at the virtual 2016 Analytics Summit to weigh in on analytics strategies to take your team to the next level. Their insights are shared here.  

Mastering Customer Behavior Data with Centers of Excellence 

Rusty Warner Principal Analyst, Forrester 

“Top-performing companies make data governance a priority. When they do that, the governance itself is performance-based, and it results in those companies becoming more competitive and enables them to take advantage of more marketing opportunities. Customer insight professionals are frustrated that they are unable to be more proactive when using data to drive decision-making. That is having a knock-on effect on their ability to impact customer journeys and apply the right technology to better serve their customers.” 

Mastering Customer Behavior Data with Centers of Excellence 

Susan Vertrees Senior Adobe Analytics Consultant, Adobe 

“Decisions based on bad data are worse than decisions based on no data at all. The customer doesn't see the siloes. But analytics departments are often in siloes. Siloed departments lead to siloed thinking. This is a problem because it can lead to inconsistent data, implementation methodology, and definitions of metrics. If you have a rich data set with consistent tracking and data points between business units, you get greater value from that data set than if information was spread across siloes.” 

Lessons Learned About Being Successful in Analytics 

Adam Greco Senior Partner, Analytics Demystified 

"Being creative is as important as being smart. Organizations often struggle to figure out what they should really analyze, what is critical and what isn't. Analyze things that would get someone promoted or someone fired—analyze things that really matter to the business.” 

Best Practices for Testing, Adapting, and Personalizing the User Experience 

Krista Seiden Analytics Advocate, Google 

"As analysts, we know a decent amount about our online customers, because we can see their online behavior using analytics tools. We know where they came from, what they are looking at or clicking on our website, and whether or not they’ve completed our goals or KPIs. We are able to slice and dice our data to separate our customers based on their actions, demographics, and interests. Yet most of the time, we are still serving them the exact same website experience. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, our customer's expectations of a good user experience do too, and increasingly, they are expecting a more personal experience. Going forward, if you are not focused on providing that personalized experience to your customers, you are not going to win.” 

Data Storytelling: The Essential Data Science Skill Everyone Needs 

Brent Dykes Director of Data Strategy, Domo 

“As human beings, we love stories. As analytics experts, we love data. It's up to us to take those numbers and provide the narrative. Emotion is the trigger that helps us to make decisions. As data storytellers we want to take the facts and the insights that we have and use them to tap into the emotional side of decision-making. The phrase ‘data storytelling’ has been associated with many things—data visualizations, infographics, dashboards, data presentations, and so on. Too often data storytelling is interpreted as just visualizing data effectively, however, it is much more than just creating visually appealing data charts. Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative.” 

Keeping Your Analytics Clean and Consistent Across Business Units 

Daryl Acumen Senior Manager, Digital Analytics, Hewlett Packard Enterprise 

“Manually maintaining clean and consistent analytics implementations across various teams and business units is nearly impossible—but you need to govern and audit those implementations in order to collect trustworthy, actionable data. If your analytics implementations are inconsistent, your data is useless. You need to audit your analytics implementations across all properties and business units. You need to validate your data. You need to automate the process.” 

You Know You Need to Document Your Analytics—Here’s the Shortcut 

Patrick Hillery Solution Consultant, ObservePoint 

“You know you should document your analytics implementation—but with everything else you’ve got going on, odds are your Solution Design Reference isn’t kept up to date. Or it isn’t accessible. Or it was never created in the first place. With increasing demands placed on the digital analysts’ time, we must get more creative about ways to accomplish and maintain the fundamental best practices so the evolution of the industry is able to springboard from a place of process, accuracy, and data governance.” 

Debugging Code, People, and Habits: Tips for Better Data Quality Management from Team Demystified 

Elizabeth “Smalls” Eckels Digital Analytics Consultant, Smalls Analytics 

“Essentially, there are three elements for data quality management that are crucial to be successful in this analytics realm: collection, people, and technology. 'Collection' is about your tracking code configuration and processes that you use to collect the actual data. 'People' refers not just to the people who are working directly on the data, but everyone involved with, or affected by, the data that you track—all of your stakeholders. The last part is 'technology.' Technology isn't simply the systems and tools for data collection, it is the systems and tools to evaluate and monitor your data quality itself. It's really important to do QA prior to production, but also know that production QA is crucial. And ongoing monitoring is very valuable.” 

Become an Adobe Analytics Master 

Eric Matisoff Data Science & Analytics Evangelist, Adobe 

“You can utilize your analytics platform to make the most of your time spent within it, rather than just accidentally clicking around. Learn your tools that enable you to explore your data. For example, Adobe Workspace was built to be interactive everywhere: remember to drag, drop, and right-click!” 

Closing the Loop on Data Validation: Robots and Reports 

Craig Scribner President, Co-founder, Tracking First 

“The information we rely on to make data-driven decisions doesn't always flow consistently into our technology systems. We finally have all the right technological components to deliver high-quality data consistently, but we aren't yet using them in the right way. People should know about all the times that data is right, not just when it is wrong. Our communication strategy is key.” 

Why You Need to Invest in the Discovery Phase of Analytics 

Danielle Ackles Director of Analytics, Axis41 

“We’ve noticed a trend in companies re-implementing their analytics solution because they don’t trust the data. This lack of trust is the result of incomplete planning. Reliable data can only be cultivated once a foundation is built on research into current technologies, code version, and compatibility of third-party platforms.” 

Google Analytics Crash Course: 25 of the Best Tricks and Hacks 

Peter O’Neill Director, LeapThree            

“Every day people are taking action and making decisions. As analysts, we provide information and insights and our company takes action, all with the intent of increasing revenue. When we keep in mind that we’re affecting decisions that people are already making every day, that makes our insights more meaningful. Be creative within your Google Analytics solution. Think out of the box. This can seem a little strange when talking about an analytics solution. But some of the most useful information about your users is not available with the default GA, only when you customize it in a creative way.” 

Why You Need to Invest in the Discovery Phase of Analytics 

Scott Cannon Lead Analytics Architect, Axis41 

“In the rush to gain insights, people sometimes cripple their ability to gather accurate data. Companies fail to consider how issues such as website architecture and third-party tools could affect their implementations. You can avoid a lot of headaches if you invest time and resources in the discovery phase of analytics.” 

Dynamic Dashboards: Make Your Data Work For You 

Jason Call Senior Analytics Data Expert, ObservePoint 

“In order for data to be visualized into something insightful or even beautiful, it needs to be organized and set up in a way that will make dashboarding or visualizations dynamic. The less time we spend manually updating data / dashboards, the more time we can spend being creative or gleaning insights and acting on them. Before starting any kind of dashboard or visualization it is critical to think about what questions you are trying to answer. If you aren't solving a business question or providing insight, there really isn't much sense in putting in the effort to build a dashboard.” 

Stop Analyzing Devices—Start Understanding the People 

David DeVisser Principal Architect, Adobe 

“Devices don't buy products—people do. People-based marketing impacts multiple marketing disciplines. From analytics to personalization, audience segmentation, and of course advertising. Reports show consumers own and use, on average, more than seven devices—and growing. When data across multiple devices is not properly organized, the marketer is likely seeing incorrect conversion and activity data, presenting the wrong offer/impression, and/or qualifying a device for one segment but a completely different segment for another device. Adobe’s Device Co-op helps organize data to better understand people interacting with your brand.” 

Advanced User Journeys: Best Practices and Troubleshooting Tips 

Matt Maddox Director of Education, ObservePoint 

“Using analytics to measure user behavior helps you see what is most effective in driving conversions, as well as where users experience friction. Simulating and monitoring the user experience by creating user journey tests allows you to detect process breakdowns or data failures. I love creating user journeys—the more challenging the better! Knowing a little bit of JavaScript and jQuery makes it easier to set them up and maintain them so you can better serve your customers a seamless digital experience.” 

Data Integrity - Why Your Data May Be Wrong 

Matt Gellis Founder & CEO, Keystone Solutions 

“The integrity of an organization's data is critical to driving actionable insights. True data credibility is achieved through constant refinement of the entire measurement framework, but with so many variables impacting data integrity it's more important than ever to ensure your data is protected and trusted through correct testing, automation, and expertise.” 

Pairing Analytics with Qualitative Methods to Understand the WHY 

Michele Kiss Senior Partner, Analytics Demystified 

“The true value of analytics comes not just from knowing WHAT happened, but knowing WHY. You can guess all day at why users behaved a certain way, but it's easier to just ask—utilizing qualitative methods like surveys, focus groups, or user testing. The goal of these methods is to better understand your customer, so lean towards an open dialogue, which will complement your existing data.” 

No Dev Resources? No Problem! 6 Technical Hacks for Analytics Practitioners 

Lori McNeill Chief Technical Advisor, Riptide Analytics 

“Our work as digital analytics professionals can get quite technical, especially for those of us who don't have much in the way of programming skills or developers available to us on-demand. Analysts needn't despair! How can we take action when we have deliverables and time-sensitive needs that can't wait for dev to edit a data layer or other tracking code? Learning just a few helpful dev tips and tricks can help you overcome many tech hurdles and get on with more expertly and efficiently delivering on the value proposition of your role.” 

The Truth About Marketing Analytics 

Matt Hertig CEO/CTO & Co-Founder, Alight Analytics 

“Marketing doesn’t have a dashboard problem, marketing has a data problem. As the only company in the industry which built a data aggregation platform while delivering marketing analytics services for the past 10 years, we understand the root of the marketing analytics problem, which is data management. Data in and of itself is meaningless. But when I bring context to that data, that helps me tell a story, and I can then use that data to help drive revenue in my organization.” 

Hey Siri, What Are App Analytics? 

Lee Isensee Director, Product Strategy, Search Discovery 

“People who live every day in digital analytics sometimes forget that we've expanded beyond the web. We now live in a world of apps. These apps are hiding right in front of you and not just on your phone. It is time to expand our understanding of digital analytics. To optimize our tagging implementations on our applications, we need a clear understanding of success as it aligns to the business. We want to make sure that we're following the basic ABC's of marketing: make sure our Acquisition strategy is on point, our understanding of user Behavior coincides with the meaningful events of the app, and that we know what our key Conversion points are for not just revenue, but also user retention.” 

Data Stewardship in Digital Analytics 

Judah Phillips Founder & Principal, SmartCurrent 

“Data is everywhere. There are more bytes of digital data being collected than there are grains of sand on the Earth. Data governance and data stewards are absolutely crucial for ensuring data is accurate and suitable for analysis. Without the right level of data governance, it's harder for analysts to help stakeholders make decisions that create value from the data.” 

How to Sell Your Boss On a Digital Data Layer 

Jason Thompson Co-Found, 33 Sticks 

“Having access to a proper data layer provides tremendous flexibility when it comes to quickly piloting new marketing platforms, allowing for quicker decision-making, which, in turn, leads to quicker realization of value generated by deploying proven marketing technologies. Without a data layer, you will end up spending more time and more money on your digital analytics and marketing efforts.” 

The Power of Human Engagement in a Digital World 

Matt Langie Chief Marketing Officer, MarketLinc 

“There's a great amount of energy and momentum moving towards digital, but a digital-only journey is insufficient for some consumers. The digital-only experience is missing the one thing only humans are born with—EMPATHY—which is critical to the customer experience. Curb your digital enthusiasm. Don't forget that it's a human being at the other end of that digital experience. It's humans we serve, not bots.” 

Best Practices for Recruiting & Retaining Analytics Talent 

Corry Prohens Founder & CEO, IQ Workforce 

 “Bad hires in analytics are very expensive. The best analytics practitioners want to be able to move the needle on the business. Companies that focus on developing the best strategies for recruiting and retaining analytics talent have a huge competitive advantage.” 

5 Steps for Balancing Customer Experience with Data Governance 

Chris Slovak VP Global Solutions, Tealium 

“Data is your company's greatest competitive advantage. Organizations need to focus on data governance not just because of the legal ramifications, but the effect that leakage and security events have on the brand itself. As an industry, we owe it to end customers to be transparent and ethical with data, ensuring that what is collected and known is used for the purposes of better experiences for those end customers. The precursors to massive change in our space are clear. Now we, as an industry, need to adapt before we are forced to.” 

Improving the Data Supply Chain 

Bob Selfridge Founder & CEO, TMMData 

“The data supply chain is in transition. With competing enterprise marketing clouds an abundance of SaaS tools, legacy data, big data, and the ever-growing demand for business intelligence and visualization capabilities, marketers have their hands full. Combining data integration, preparation, and management capabilities provides opportunities to add value to the enterprise.” 

Debugging Code, People, and Habits: Tips for Better Data Quality Management from Team Demystified 

Cathy Morse Analytics Consultant, Team Demystified 

“When you are choosing debugging tools to use, think about not just the power of the tool, but its ability to help you document and display data in a more organized fashion. There are still too many analysts that have to do a lot of copying and pasting into spreadsheets, and when information is not aligned in a way that makes it easy to see all the different variables and events that are firing across all of your different pages in one organized view, there's room for mistakes to be made and time to be wasted.” 

Debugging Code, People, and Habits: Tips for Better Data Quality Management from Team Demystified 

Jonas Newsome Digital Analyst, Team Demystified  

“Not everyone in analytics is as technical, and we want to be able to make it easy to make the data clean. When you’re interested in looking at all the tags on your page at a high level, there are more simple, user-friendly tools that you can also use that have browser extensions in Chrome or Firefox. They are ObservePoint, Omnibug, Ghostery, and WASP. When you’re doing optimization testing and trying to get down to the pure environment, these tools will show you what happens with your tags in that moment. It's important to stay current on what tools are available for your skill level and learn the best practices in using them.” 

Debugging Code, People, and Habits: Tips for Better Data Quality Management from Team Demystified 

Nico Miceli Analytics Manager, Team Demystified 

“You should have a few different tools in your arsenal for debugging. One specific debugging tool that I use all the time is already on your computer right now: Chrome Dev tools. Chrome Dev tools is a complete development environment built into the Chrome browser. It allows you to run lots of powerful tests, check how things are firing and working, inspect HTML elements, view the DOM, debug JavaScript, get notified of JavaScript errors, and view network performance and how things are loading.” 

Accurate Data Collection Isn’t Easy. We Can Help. 

Data drives business decisions, and ObservePoint ensures that the “right” data is informing your most important strategies. ObservePoint audits your marketing tags across all digital channels for accuracy, identifying missing tags, third-party code, broken links, data leaks, JavaScript errors and slow loading pages. 

Hundreds of the world’s leading companies are already using ObservePoint to deliver a better customer experience while being confident that they are making the right decisions at the right time with the right information. Ready to see the difference ObservePoint can make for you? Get a free website audit to start collecting accurate data today. 

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