Working in digital marketing requires you to make sure you’re developing your personal skill sets no matter what part of the marketing mix you are working on.
Over the past few years I’ve explored some fantastic online learning that I’ve used to help shape my own career and development.
Perhaps the most important foundation for any digital marketer is to ensure you have a firm grasp of analytics -monitor, measure and manage what you’re doing. To help me with my learning I was recommended to Benjamin Mangold, founder and teacher at https://www.lovesdata.com/
Benjamin launched his first Google analytics training back in 2007 and for the last 10 years has built and perfected his online training where he now offers some of the best hands-on, up to date training you’ll find anywhere.
I caught up with Benjamin to discuss his own career, how analytics as a discipline has changed and some of the key insights to help perfect and build your own training.
1) Tell us a little about Ben
“I love helping people get the most out of the data. I believe in simplicity over complexity. Why make something more difficult than it needs to be? When I’m not typing or presenting I’m spending time with my family or trying to sneak in a visit to the gym. Oh and I also believe traveling for leisure is way better than traveling for work”.
2) How long have you been providing analytics training?
“I’ve been helping people get the most out of their data for 10 years. I first launched my Google Analytics training in 2007 and I’ve been refining it ever since, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever presented the same material twice. Each time I relaunch my course I’ve updated the material for my students and clients”.
3) What is your background in business?
“I’ve learnt the most about business by consulting on projects. When you’re helping people with their digital analytics and online marketing you really do need to understand how their business works. Over the years I’ve worked with very small businesses, right through to globally recognized brands. It’s given me insights into different business models and how they acquire and nurture their customers”.
4) It can be intimidating the first time you login to Google Analytics – Where is a good place to learn and apply analytics training?
“I actually think this is one thing that could be improved in Google Analytics. It doesn’t need to be intimidating! There was a day when Google Analytics would let you say, hey, I’m a marketeer or hey, I’m in a technical role and it would tweak the reports you’d see in the interface.
It made things less daunting and I wish the Google Analytics team would bring it back! Until then, I always tell people to learn the basics and then focus on the reports that help you.
Don’t worry about the rest. Start with what helps you. And in terms of training, Google’s own Analytics Academy is a great place to start. I also have my own Analytics Essentials course which is designed to just cover the most important bits so you’re familiar with the reports and terminology”.
5) Customising your analytics away from what Google Analytics displays, still seems to be quite rare for digital marketers to master – why do you think this is?
“Google Analytics has evolved. When we first had access to Google Analytics it was a bit of a black box. You’d see a metric in the interface and you’d have to send data in, wait a day and then see what popped up in your reports.
This allowed us to understand exactly what we were reporting on before the support pages were built out. Google has made Google Analytics more and more transparent over the years and more and more flexible, but this has also made it more complicated too.
I think the two things stopping marketers really customizing Google Analytics are understanding the core concepts of measurement and technical roadblocks.
This makes understanding the reports, the metrics and dimensions important, even if you’re not going to use something immediately. And the easier it becomes to track things, the better. I’d love to see a visual editor for Google Tag Manager. Let marketers build their tracking needs visually and let Tag Manager do the heavy lifting”.
6) Setting goals to your analytics is essential in driving the right decisions– where is a good place to map out the right goals and requirements for your business?
“I absolutely agree! It’s critical. The simplest way I’ve found to map out business objectives is to really dig into the website. There will be goals that jump out, like sales and leads, but then it’s about taking the time to really understand why you have a website.
What do you want people to do? Focusing on this question while looking at a cross-section of pages can be helpful. For example, taking say a blog post and working through that page until you’ve uncovered all of the possibilities. All of the things you want people to do. From there you can decide what’s important enough to be a goal and what is simply an action or trait you want to measure”.
7) Where is a good place to start in building out suitable dashboards to drive decision making within a business through analytics?
“It might not be the sexiest answer, but I really think analytics (or anything for that matter) is about starting with the simplest option. The option that gets you to the result quickest. So I recommend starting with the dashboards inside Google Analytics. They’re not sexy, but damn they’re easy to create.
Once you hit the limits (which you might hit quickly), then you can move to Google Data Studio or another solution that takes more time to configure, but gets you reports that are tailored to your needs”.
8) For people considering a career in analytics – what areas should they focus on in perfecting and what are the key areas in demand from businesses for analytics marketers?
“I really think the challenge for anybody in analytics is articulating value. Now this could mean different things depending on who you are.
If you’re more on the technical side, then it might be about how you present and share an insight to your boss (or future boss). If you’re on the marketing side, then it might be about demonstrating how analytics can move the needle – how you can increase engagement, increase conversions and improve the experience.
And in terms of skills, I think giving yourself the time to explore, experiment and play with things is important. I’ve been in lots of recruiting interviews over the years and the people who are passionate and show they’ve tried something, even on their own little blog win me over every time”.
9) Creating strategic decision making from analytics is crucial in delivering value from the metrics – do you have any recommended ways analytics marketers can think more strategically on what they are measuring?
“I honestly think less is more. When I’m exploring data I’m looking for insights and this is usually tied to marketing. I want to know what’s working and what’s not working so I can help businesses make better decisions.
When you’ve built trust with your team (or your boss or your client) it’s about being their guide. Helping them achieve their objectives and less about building reports”.
10) Are there any resources you’d recommend to budding analysts eager to learn more?
“Apart from subscribing to the Loves Data blog and YouTube channel, I think the best thing to do is actually play with products to develop your skills. If you can’t use something for your job, then start a blog, add Google Tag Manager and then go crazy.
It’s a great way to build your knowledge and skills and most people just don’t take the time to do it. Try Yandex Metrica, try Google Optimize, try running some Twitter ads, try sending data to Google Analytics using an Arduino. See how things work and you’ll be learning along the way”.
11) What’s on your reading list?
“A friend recommended I check out Stephen Few’s books about data visualization, so they’re definitely next on my list. I love reading Wired which isn’t a book or even about data, but I’m on there at least once a day (sometimes more). And I’ve been busy updating my own book, Learning Google AdWords and Google Analytics, which means I’ve spent a lot of time re-reading my own words which is kind of weird”.