Watching a passionate data analyst hit their stride during a meeting or even during a casual water cooler conversation, is truly something to behold. They get that semi-crazy glint in their eye, you can almost hear their heart racing as they’re lean closer and closer in your personal space willing you to love it as much as they do. These team members are the human side of monitoring, measurement and ROI – those with the skills to make data effective and transform programs. Entire sub-communities exist on the internet dedicated to discussing the beauty of data. But, while data is incredibly useful, at the end of the day the data is the data – it’s people, who can turn it into something meaningful.
Technology has, and continues to, give us unprecedented access to data. Everything is measurable. However, there remains a large portion of the industry that are unable (or unwilling) to grapple with the data. There are three common problems when it comes to data analysis. Firstly, data analysis is often focused on point in time information, for example monthly reports – this is arbitrary. Secondly, the data we collect and present isn’t always connected to business objectives. And thirdly, we can’t make the assumption that people will read data in the same way – we need to tell a story with it. It’s important to have experts in your team that are able to accurately translate the data available into meaningful insights. If you don’t have these capabilities, it is far harder to use data effectively for your organisation’s benefit.
So, where do you find these beautiful, unicorn-like, data loving analysts? And what should you know once you capture one? Since launching Touch Creative a year ago, we have learnt a lot about the boost great analytical brains can add to the team. It allows our agency to have a more sophisticated approach to advertising, insights gathering and reporting that most others. The human side of monitoring data and ROI can have a transformative effect on your social program.
Don’t discount the Arts
Look beyond finding talent purely in STEM. Some of the best analysts come from an Arts background, this might mean they lack formal training in stats, but it’s important to remember that data is just one aspect of this role. The right Arts student, who has a curiosity for numbers, can bring critical thinking, evaluation and communication that equals a different way of interpreting data.
See the wood for the trees
Data is all around us. But don’t get lost in the noise. One of the core skills we look for is the ability to focus on what matters in measurement, so that we’re not spinning wheels measuring information that doesn’t need to be. In order to understand what’s important requires business acumen on behalf of the analyst to understand what the right measures are to demonstrate business impact. Will eyeballs really matter for a company who specifically wants social to drive leads? Or will the CMO be more interested in what content delivers the highest conversion rates and how we can scale it?
Control the variables
Our ability as an agency to scale and deliver high performance in advertising has been hugely impacted by our ability to deliver more scientific testing. As I’m sure with your businesses, the appetite to test, learn and scale has never been greater. However, scaling needs to be based on a really solid test results, otherwise you’re not going to see the returns.This is important at a communications level for campaigns, however, having really solid analytical skills in our team has allowed us to use social testing to benefit more than just marketing.
Know how to tell stories
Not everyone is data fluent, you need to tell stories to build meaning. Your ability to collect, control, interpret and deliver the right data, is only as valuable as your capability to deliver it in a meaningful way. Data without context or consequence is meaningless, and this is where people sometimes fall down. Data needs to have a point, a meaning and an action – only when it has these facts, will it make a business level impact. Really good analysts are the ones who go above the data. Building insights and recommendations that can serve the business, rather that just justifying their activity.
Finding talent analysts isn’t easy – there’s a perfect blend of science and arts, data and communication that needs to exist in a fine balance – but once you have those skills in place, the impact it will have on your work is significant and will only open up possibilities.