Role of Digital Analytics Analyst and Expectations


I wonder lately…  Regarding the role of digital analytics experts.  It seems like a lot of people is aware of web analytics practices and online analytics practices are much more common than years ago, but when you say you do digital analytics, or marketing analytics, or web analytics people don’t seem to get it.

However, the moment you mention ‘Google Analytics’ or ‘Big Data’ or ‘Data Scientist’, it seems like people get it.

It is probably more associable to common folks as a lot of people are writing blogs and may have used such references at some point in time.  Like how the word ‘Big Data’ was a buzzword, but the word ‘marketing analytics’ never caught on in the mainstream.

Maybe that’s a good thing, given that at least we could associate ourselves with something rather than nothing.

At the same time, I feel like a lot of people in business dealing with digital data is becoming very familiar with marketing analytics disciplines, but there is still a big disconnect in the web data interpretation.

If you look at measures used in stock markets, a lot of people are probably familiar looking at and interpreting the company’s performance and the market conditions using commonly available measures.  Not surprising as it is part of our daily life that we get exposed to stock market performance.

Unlike those stock market metrics or indexes that existed for years, the majority of web data interpretation is NOT common, despite the name of the tools are becoming more familiar.  Even people aren’t sure of how visitors are being calculated right?

Web metrics discussions and maturity level have gotten much better than years ago, but discussions relating to digital data still has a lot of room to advance.

It definitely needs to get beyond I referencing digital analytics role and discipline to marketing technology vendor names like Adobe, Marketo, or Google Analytics, or Optimizely.

We have to shift our dialogue from:

“We hired an analyst and we got him/her on training so we’re good to go… we use Radian 6…” to something like

“we’re able to improve the business performance by X because we learned from Z data and took immediate action by doing ABC”.

I learned that speaking in such language also motivates people to ask more questions and get a firm understanding of the actions taken.

It is also really fun to promote the discussion to the next level in such ways.

In digital analytics, there are few major types of roles, and because of managers and executives aren’t sure of the differences, it really makes hiring complicated and even hard to find a qualified candidate.

Implementation Specialist/Engineer

Usually, a person managing the implementation of analytics tools and maintains ongoing implementation changes to capture relevant data for the business.  Because it is a technical role, the person usually gets involved in tool evaluation, tag optimization, spec building, QA, and actively involved in change management in the dev process.

Reporting Analyst

Usually, has the expertise to work with various marketing technology tools to pull data and analyze for key stakeholders in the company.

This person may be involved in building scorecards, dashboards, build charts, graphs, specs for BI solutions, etc.  Great reporting analyst should have enough technical skills to be platform agnostic.

Example, to get the reporting and analysis done, he/she should have SQL skills, and other technical skill sets to model various data and make sense of it.  This role has the opportunity to become a Business Analyst and cross-function with BI (business intelligence) team to get web analytics data integrated with corporate BI reporting environment.

Analytics leader: 

This role requires to have 360 views beyond website data and has the business acumen to make sense of the digital data overall, and drive insights to impact the bottom line of the business.

Analytics leader has the communication and people skills to work with engineers and non-techy people.  This role requires connecting the dots between business questions and insights, and able to tell a story with the data.  This analyst should have the ability to understand and analyze various data ranging from competitive, qualitative, social media, financial, macroeconomic data, A/B and MVT tests, etc.


In my view, these roles are pretty clear, but in reality, they’re not aware of the differences in these roles.

Companies are trying to hire three types of digital analytics experts all in one package.  Shame on these companies and managers… That is why many analysts are required to do more than expected.   A lot of people who wants to be an analyst may get caught becoming a reporting squirrel, implementation/tagging expert when they should have been helping out companies by providing learnings and insights.

The role of digital analytics analyst is not just one.  Companies and businesses should be clear about what kind of digital analytics expert they need to make a positive impact on their business.

If need a hybrid role who could do all of it, then set appropriate expectations for this role and make clear of what is required from this analyst.

Don’t hire a person who could do everything and expect to do everything with digital data.  That is unhealthy for both the company and the analyst’s career.

A lot of A-class analysts I know have a well-rounded background in all of the skills and experience, but they were able to articulate their role/goals/objective during their career in different phases, and able to set proper web analytics analyst’s expectations and evangelize digital analytics practices into the company culture.  That’s A-class to me.

I’m simply thinking, any analysts would need to think hard, and on a regular basis iterate your output and the value you give as an analyst.  Especially, if you’re getting paid to be one.  You need to understand clearly how you fit in within the corporate structure (hub & spoke, centralized, de-centralized, etc.), and making sure your output is aligned to expected performance.

Good luck everyone, please feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts and experience.

Great read and my references:

Most companies organize in “Hub and Spoke”

Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

Are you doing Web Reporting or Web Analytics

3 Roles in Web Analytics

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Kris Twitter

As a data journalist, I enjoy curating and analyzing marketing trends, and data. The things that fascinate me the most are the transforming business landscape due to evolving marketing technologies.