In a recent roundtable discussion, I had the opportunity to hear some high-level marketing professionals from various industries dish out their thoughts on the state of analytics. As we navigated through our agenda, I noticed that one issue resounded throughout the discussion.
We have the CRMs, we have the ability to track the metrics, we have the data, but we don’t have someone to connect the dots and tell the story.
Was I surprised to hear this? Absolutely not. As is usually the case with new technology, marketing analytics tools burst onto the scene in the last decade, increasing the productivity of social media managers and webmasters alike. But once we have it and the hype dies down, we are left wondering “what now?” As marketing teams establish themselves in the data-driven world, they need to find a way to analyze all of the data they have in order to make more well-informed business decisions.
According to The CMO Survey, only 3.4% of companies believe they have the right talent to make use of their data. Yikes! But again, not shocking. There is little common ground on what qualifications are needed to be successful in the role. For instance, 34% of data professionals believe that computer science students are the best source of data scientists while others – including the one and only Nate Silver – believe that an interest in digging deeper into data is more valuable to future data scientists than an educational background in the subject.
As the debate over how to breed better data scientists continues, here are three traits you should be looking for in your future marketing analytics expert right now to kick-start your marketing analytics team.
1. An Experienced Communicator
Being able to communicate your analytics process without oversimplifying or confusing your audience is paramount to being a successful in every corner of the analytics field. To me, this is the crucial attribute that any candidate you look at should possess. It’s fantastic that they have the technical and analytical talent and are willing to take a deep dive into your data, but how do they plan to communicate their analyses to others members of your team or higher level executives who struggle to navigate their way through a spreadsheet?
The most successful candidate will not only be able to gather great insights from their statistical analyses, but will be able to help even the most non-technical person in your company understand what they have done to obtain their results.
2. Technical Foundation
I carefully selected the word “foundation” because I feel it should not be the only theme found in their education or professional experience. You’re looking for someone with math or computer science skills, but if that is the only strength they add to the team, they will likely fail. Anyone can look at the numbers to see if the marketing campaign you are running is productive and profitable, but this candidate should be able to look at the data for new ways and, with their knowledge of the inner workings of your team, identify new opportunities and provide solutions to help you achieve further success.
The background and experiences of the candidate should be varied but be able to meet other needs in your department (with some training, of course). Look at their other areas of interest and look for things such as social media, project management, writing/editing, or design and help them understand how each of these are part of your team’s daily operations.
3. Willingness to Learn and Adapt
With how fast technology is changing and growing these days, you’ll be lucky if your marketing automation and analytics tools are still relevant after you’re done reading this post. However, data is growing at 40% each year, which means the technologies will continue to be developed in order to keep up with the demands of data storage and provide us with other ways to further utilize and interpret the data. Some even think that the technology will eventually replace the need for a data scientist in the future (BLASPHEMY!). Figure out how well does your candidate will adapt to these changes. Are they eager and willing to spend the time and get the training necessary to understand the next tool that comes along, or will they stay with what they know?
For more experienced candidates, I’d be wary if the vast majority of the work they have done comes from utilizing the same tools to solve various problems. In the data-driven world, you are better off having knowledge around a variety of tools and measures than trying to force a “one tool fits all” solution to get the job done.
With marketing teams investing more in big data over the next few years, it is crucial to find a candidate can dig deep into the data, paint the picture, and adjust as the technologies continue to change and improve. In doing so, you will be able to showcase to your company how your investment in big data (and your analytics expert) is truly worth the ROI.
What other qualities do you believe are valuable to have in a marketing analyst or data scientist? What have you seen work? Are there any other qualities you would also like to see your analysts have?