Five reasons to attend the WAA Awards for Excellence Gala

“Why should I attend the WAA Awards for Excellence Gala on March 6th?” you ask.

Here are five terrific reasons!

  1. You’ll be the FIRST to know who the winners of the WAA Awards for Excellence are! Nominate now to back your candidate!
  2. You’ll enjoy a delicious dinner, clink “cheers” with professional peers, build your network and, like, totally meet your new industry BFF.
  3. Been dying to wear that new dress or try out that new eyelash curler? Now’s your chance, and in much more flattering light than the eMetrics general sessions. Don’t pretend you don’t care.
  4. We’ll have a fab keynote speaker, and likely a few awkward attempts at humour by WAA members. (We are geeks, after all.)
  5. All the cool kids will be there. (What? That worked in high school …)

Ready to join us? Register now for the very reasonable price of $90 (WAA members)/$145 (non-members), submit your expense report, then can display this spiffy button to make all your friends jealous. (Though we’d love it if you’d bring them along.)


Snag this and post it to your blog, site etc:

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WAA LA Symposium: Success Stories from West Coast Marketers

For anyone who missed the fantastic WAA LA Symposium, here is everything you wanted to know (and were too ashamed at missing such a fabulous event to ask!)

Future of AnalyticsThe future of analytics: Jim Sterne’s keynote was a great opening to the day and focused on the possibilities of the future. Here’s how the road to success looks:

  • Data will let us predict the future, and data modeling will let machines help us make better decisions.
  • The future of analytics is collaborative analytics – getting the information out there and getting input from the entire company.
  • Ultimately, the future of analytics is up to us, and it’s not the technology that will make it happen – it’s the people who know how to use it.

Success in large organisations: Jorge Laguna from HP and Matt Wright from Keystone Solutions presented a joint client session on the keys to successful testing in large companies:

  • Build relationships within and with other teams – you can’t succeed alone.
  • Recruit the right people internally, but don’t be afraid to bring in external talent that you need to ensure success.
  • Document best practices.
  • Communicate your success.
  • Build a methodology that works for your organisation.
  • Allow the necessary agility to move quickly on opportunities, and the flexibility to allow testing to work for different departments globally.
  • Future-proof your investments, for when you move to new technologies.

Shawn Hushman from Kelley Blue Book talked about the requirements of successful enterprise analytics, including:

  • Commitment of the organisation, technical alignment and organisational clarity on what was important.
  • At KBB, results in analytics drove further demand, until it became a part of the company’s DNA.


Understanding the Multi-Channel Customer: Kristin (Toomey) Shanks from Petco not only succeeded by featuring her adorable puppy in her presentation, but by sharing Petco’s success in understanding their multi-channel customer. Petco’s analytics found that:

  • Multi-channel customers (for example, those who shop both in-store and online) are more valuable, spending 3x that of a single channel shopper.
  • Petco didn’t just measure the overall lift due to shipping prices and policy changes, but segmented to see the impact on shopping behavior and the shift from in-store to online, to truly understand the incremental lift.
  • Shanks readily admits this kind of analysis is not easy for them – they too struggle with data silos. But understand their multi-channel customer was crucial to understanding and improving their business.

Succeeded in Your Career: Thuy Kim from Experian Consumer Direct shared some of her tips for a successful career in analytics:

  • Keep in mind the different roles you have as an analyst. You should be creative and an information architect, presenting data in a way that is understandable (and, in the case of executives, digestible in under 5 minutes) but also act as a project manager, and of course, an analyst.
  • Don’t forget about building the foundation. Your credibility is based on the success of things you’ve done before.
  • Analytics leaders, stop to think – why should anyone be led by you? What are your team seeing you do, even if you don’t say it?

Success in Education: June Dershewitz from Apollo Group (University of Phoenix) and Scott Rutherford from the University of California, Irvine discussed some of the challenges faced by the use of analytics in education. (For example, imagine trying to measure the long term impact of whether use of a mobile app leads to higher grades and graduation!) Some of the successes they shared included:

  • UCI’s use of data to decide go/no go on courses ensures that they remain profitable in the face of state cutbacks.
  • Education is able to learn from other industries (for example, finance) in how important the investments in analytics facing them will be to their future success, and justify accordingly

AccuracySuccess in data accuracy: Jon Narong from discussed the importance of data quality, and how the right team structure has helped their organisation to succeed.

  • Analytics is considered a critical production data source, not a secondary concern.
  • Splitting their analytics team into Business and Technical Analytics has allowed deep immersion, less distraction from the team’s core focus and organisational confidence in their data.

Success in Social: Social was definitely a focus at the event, with not only a social media panel but also a great closing keynote from John Lovett at Web Analytics Demystified. Success in social for 2012 is going to involve:

  • Moving from “what can we measure?” to “what should we measure?”
  • Leveraging learning from different channels. For example, success in social, as in email, isn’t based on the size of your “list” (email addresses, Facebook fans) but on what you do with it from there. How do you market to the audience you’ve built?
  • But we are at the whim of the social channels – what metrics they’ll provide, and what they’ll allow to be tracked.
  • In 2012, social media will need to focus on proving value, instead of just experimenting and defining basic metrics, with companeis moving from the “hype” to truly considering their objectives.
  • As John Lovett pointed out, “it’s frickin important to set goals” and you must align your strategy and goals with your corporate culture – “corporate culture will eat strategy for breakfast.”
  • Make sure the social work you are doing is actually right for your customers (and never forget that social customers are just a percentage of your customers – keep it in context.)

Web Analytics Association logoDid you miss the WAA LA Symposium? Don’t forget about the great ways that the WAA can help you succeed in your career, by providing local events, education, research, standards, training and certificates, not to mention building your professional network. Check out some of the upcoming Symposiums to find one near you:


Honey Badger Don't Care

Things I didn’t know until the LA Symposium:

  • Jim Sterne is a huge fan of Hello Kitty (well, so say his browser history.)
  • The honeybadger is a totally relevant to an analytics event.

PS. A few little Twitter stats … 

The WAA LA Symposium saw:

  • Tweets from 87 unique users
  • 351 tweets during the event timeframe (Wednesday 1/18 from 12.30 through 5.30PM)
  • 32% retweet rate
  • That’s approximately 64 tweets per hour
    • For context, other recent events have generated:
      • 250 tweets per hour (Accelerate)
      • 103 tweets per hour (eMetrics NYC)

Top topics:

WAALA Word Cloud

Top users:

Top Tweeters









Download the Twitter archive for your own analysing fun!


Top 10 Tips for Tweeting at Conferences

Anyone who knows me (or has had the misfortune of reading my Twitter feed when I’m attending a conference) knows it’s a tweetapalooza. When I first started tweeting and attending conferences, I found that if I could download my tweets after the event, there wasn’t a real need to take notes. For me, the tweets became my notes (and I write a lot of them!)

So I thought I would share a few tips for how I tweet at conferences, in case it is useful to anyone.

Top 10 Tips for Tweeting at Conferences

1. Warn your followers. Before the event, mention to people that you’ll be tweeting from it, and even that they can temporarily block you if they don’t want to read it all right now. Since you may clutter their Twitter feed, it’s just polite. (And don’t get offended if someone unfollows you because of it. They have every right to, if your content isn’t of interest.)

2. Use the event hashtag. For example, #ACCELERATE, #eMetrics, etc. Twitter hashtags group content by topic and will allow others to read your tweets, along with others attending the event.

3. Cite your source. Where possible, mention the source of the tweet content – the speaker. For example, “Blah blah something super insightful @speakersname #conferencename.” (If they don’t have a Twitter username, it’s up to you whether you include their name in the tweet. It can be helpful for those not attending to know who said what, but there is also, of course, a character limit that may restrict you.)

4. Bring your laptop. It is much easier to type tweets on a real keyboard than on a smartphone or tablet.

5. Monitor the conference hashtag. Use a Twitter client that updates the conference hashtag, so you can keep an eye on what others are tweeting about the event. Sometimes you may miss something, and it’s good to see if there’s anything you missed. (For example, I use HootSuite on a normal day, but use TweetDeck at conferences, because it will update the conference stream in almost real time.)

6. Make tweets informative and include context. Don’t just rush to tweet something first, if it’s incomplete. Make sure that what you are sharing actually makes sense to someone who is not sitting at the conference. After all, the people who are there don’t really need to read your tweets – they’re hearing it live. You need to ensure you keep context in your tweets so that those who couldn’t make the event can follow.

7. Keep it concise. Your content is more likely to get retweeted if you keep them short enough to allow characters to retweet. However – if you need to balance context (see #5) with characters for retweets, focus on making tweets longer but informative vs. shorter and useless. (Don’t forget, people can always do a “new school retweet” vs. the in-line “RT-style” retweet.)

8. Don’t forget to talk to people! Sure, it’s great to share insights from the conference with Twitter, but take time to put down the computer and meet people at the event too.

9. Share! If you’re going to go to the trouble of tweeting, be sure to make your tweets available to people after the event, in case they didn’t have a chance to read on the day. (After all, they will only be available for at most a week via Twitter itself, before they drop off the face of the earth.) Better yet, download the archive of the entire hashtag, so that people can download more than just your tweets. (It can be tough to find ways to do this these days. The most luck I’ve had is with The Archivist desktop version, which is available for PC only – and which I’m certain will stop working in the not too distant future!)

2013 Update: The good news is, Twitter now allows you to download your Twitter archive! This makes it easy to download your historical tweets, pull out those to the conference hashtag and share with others.

10. Wrap up the event afterwards. Don’t just bombard Twitter during the event itself. Consider your tweets (or the entire conference hashtag) as your notes, and be sure to wrap up your “top take homes” or other blog post, article etc afterwards, to share with others.

Anything I missed? Feel free to add your tips in the comments!

Top 10 Takeaways From #ACCELERATE

I just returned from ACCELERATE, the Web Analytics Demystified FREE conference, in San Francisco.

The next ACCELERATE conference will be held in Chicago in April 2012. I seriously recommend going if you can make it, it was one of the best events I attended all year. It will book up fast, so sign up now!

Given the event was centered around short, “Top 10 Tip” sessions, I thought I would return with my Top 10 Takeaways.

But, because I’m an overachiever, I’ve done this multiple times …

Top 10 Takeaways from #ACCELERATE

1. There is no ROI in Facebook fans or Twitter followers. There’s only ROI in how you market to them once you have them. (Justin Kistner)

2. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Customer feedback data + web data + CRM data + behaviour data + testing tools … and more. (Michael Gulmann, Expedia)

3. Not the first or last time we’ll hear this – tell a story. (Michael Gulmann, Expedia)

4. There’s an art and science to analytics and testing, but protect the integrity of your work – don’t ever fudge numbers. It’s okay to roll out something that didn’t perform statistically better for other reasons – that’s the art. But don’t deceive. (Michael Gulmann, Expedia)

5. Mobile or die. Web traffic from mobile just continues to increase. You need to give users a choice how to engage with you – desktop, tablet, mobile devices. (And remember their choice!) (Eric Feinberg, Foresee.)

6. There are things you can do for a better relationship with your vendor. Don’t bully, communicate fully and often, and help them to help you. (Ben Gaines, formerly of Omniture.)

7. To hire a great team, prioritise your requirements, understand that you can’t have everything, and actually sell candidates on your role. (Corry Prohens, IQ Workforce.) And from Adam Greco (Web Analytics Demystified) hire the right people for what you need right now. Don’t hire a chief if you need an indian.

8. Quality is key. You should be willing to put yourself on the line, to vouch for the quality of your data. Monitor quality and continually consider the appropriateness of your implementation and reports – things do change over time! (Adam Greco, Web Analytics Demystified)

9. Your data is dirty. Deal with it. (June Dershwitz, Apollo Group.)

10. Learn. Learn the lingo, how to cope with (and still make use of) dirty data, understand your sources of data and any acronymns. (June Dershwitz, Apollo Group.)

Top 10 FUN takeaways from #ACCELERATE

1. Tim Wilson is not only a #measure star, but a rhyming genius. Seriously, check out his presentation.

2. Vendors are not evil, and conferences that exclude them from speaking are short-sighted. Corry Prohens of IQ Workforce (called a “vendor” by some. I disagree, but that’s a topic for another day), Benjamin Gaines, now of ESPN, but previously at Omniture, Justin Kistner of Webtrends and Eric (“Hairic”) Feinberg of Foresee delivered fantastic, informative and non-sales-y presentations, and any conference who won’t let them share such great insights is really missing out.

3. There are actually still people in the analytics community who do not use Facebook, Twitter or have a smart phone. (Sure, there are only two of them, but it still amazed me.)

4. The short form sessions (20 minutes for main speakers, 5 min for the short “Super Accelerator” sessions) were fantastic – enough information if you were really into the topic, no wasted time spent on filler, and short enough that if it didn’t really apply to what you’re doing. (For what it’s worth, I loved them all, and didn’t feel any didn’t apply, but perhaps others did.)

5. People ruthlessly exploit pictures of their adorable children to endear the audience 😉

6. Bringing a power strip to a conference will make you VERY popular, Lee Isensee.

7. Twitter is very random on who it puts in “Twitter jail”, given @OMLee got locked out and I didn’t.

8. Every flight in and out of SFO gets delayed, every time. (Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like it.)

9. It is incredibly hard to get a cab in San Francisco. (And on a side note, the founders of TweetReach are incredibly kind and generous people who will help stranded strangers find their way!)

10. Vodka should be scared of John Lovett and Eric Peterson. They show no mercy.

Top 10 facts about the #ACCELERATE Twitter activity
(Twitter #ACCELERATE archive is also available for download)

1. There were 2,752 tweets to the #ACCELERATE hashtag on Nov 18 alone (that does not include all the days before and after the event.)

2. That’s 115 tweets per hour on 11/18.

3. There were 2001 tweets just during the session times (9AM through 5PM on 11/18)

4. That’s 250 tweets per hour and over 4 tweets per minute!

5. The top five tweeters made up 46% of those tweets, and the top 10 made up 60%.

6. 283 unique Twitter users tweeted to the #ACCELERATE hashtag on 11/18

7. The top twenty tweeters were:









8. 35% of #ACCELERATE tweets on 11/18 also contained the #measure hashtag

9. The most common words used in tweets (excluding hashtags and usernames)





10. We are very generous. 31% of #ACCELERATE tweets on 11/18 were retweets or via mentions.

Click here to download the #ACCELERATE Twitter archive and enjoy doing your own fun analysis!


Top learnings from eMetrics NYC 2011

eMetrics was held in New York City for the first time this year, and co-located with a number of other conferences, including Predictive Analytics World, Conversion Conference, Google Analytics’ GAUGE and more.

Among some of the takeaways:

Big Data:

  • Companies like eBay and Expedia have been dealing with “big data” for some time now, and the volumes continue to grow. In fact, looking back at the data volumes they had just one year ago, eBay now laughs at the volume.
  • However, we’ll all start dealing with this more, in all areas of business, as companies continue to gather more data from a variety of channels.
  • This brings us to deal with the challenges of data integration and attribution, and we don’t want to – they’re hard! (-Bob Page.)
  • People are still a focus, we need analysts, but we also need technology and machines to support us. The needles are getting smaller, and the haystacks bigger. Machines will need to learn for us to keep up. <Insert Skynet comment here>


  • You will never get it right, your aim is to keep getting closer, and to make your models less wrong. (And if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.)
  • Not up to attribution modeling yet? Even just starting to combine your data sources in Excel is better than nothing.

Know your customer:

  • Your customers are telling you what they want and giving you feedback. LISTEN!
  • More than that, your customers are now in control. They can switch to your competitor at a drop of a hat, and most carry a “store in their pocket” via their mobile device.
  • And in case you’re curious, YOU are not your customer. Stop thinking you know what they want, and listen to them.


  • Mobile isn’t the future. It’s now. (-Bob Page – and with eBay doing $5 billion in mobile in 2011, you can see why!)
  • What was most interesting at this eMetrics was to see mobile become less of a siloed topic, as it has previously, and more just an aspect of the business.


  • User privacy is a challenge for all, but especially in Europe, as countries try to interpret the European Privacy Directive. For lack of a better way to describe it? It’s a mess.
  • There is no real way to summarise all the current views on privacy, because everyone who speaks of it differs. However, there’s one thing we can be sure of – privacy will be different, and perhaps unrecognisable, in ten years, because the current system is not manageable.

We are more than “web” analytics:

  • Multi-channel, attribution, holistic view of the customer – we should no longer be pure “web” analysts. In fact, when Bob Page from eBay talked about the types of analytics they do, there was no mention of web analytics. It is just a channel, and one place in which the company may look at customer analytics, loyalty analytics, etc.

Lessons for analysts:

  • From the mouth of an executive: If the business doesn’t care about the data or metrics you’re providing, it’s because you’re not providing anything that actually matters to the business. (Or in other words, “I don’t care about bounce rate!”) Executives don’t want your metrics, they want your recommendations. They’ll only take so much of, “This is interesting.” Tie it to revenue.
  • Translate data into actionable terms, and then you’ll get action. Don’t just count. Make decisions. Make mistakes. But DO something! There is, of course, a fine line between mistakes that impact your credibility, and mistakes that move your business forward. Make mistakes and learn, just keep moving forward. (-Joe Megibow)

And just for fun:

  • According to John Lovett, we’re all weirdos. (And proud!)
  • According to Jim Sterne, those of us who volunteer to help the WAA are idiots. (Said with love, of course.)
  • According to April Wilson, data is your breasts, and the tool is just the presentation layer. (We all know what matters most!) (Read more.)
  • And according to Keystone, everything is amazing.

If you’re like to read more, feel free to read through the archive of tweets.

#eMetrics Twitter Archive

Some of you may know that I tend to tweet a little at conferences. I don’t bother taking notes, but rather archive all the tweets for the conference hashtag (mine and others’) and use those as my conference notes. (A totally valid lifestyle choice, Jim Sterne! 🙂 )

Since I go the trouble of downloading a Twitter archive, I thought I’d share the archive from eMetrics NYC (held in October 2011), in case anyone would like to to read or analyse.

Twitter archiveemetricstweets.csv
(Happy analysing!)

From these tweets, I like to look at a few things:

  • Most popular words used in tweets (via a word cloud)
  • Number of tweets and retweets from the participating community and
  • Most popular contributors

Topic overview:

eMetrics Word Cloud





Total Tweets:

For 10/19 – 10/21 (the official conference days):

3081 total tweets, including 1176 retweets (38%)
That’s over a thousand tweets per day, and over 40 per hour!

Top hashtag contributors:









(I told you I tweet a little …)

For further information about the #eMetrics community, check out Twitalyzer’s Community Insight report.

Conference Overview

To read an overview of the conference, check out my Top Learnings from eMetrics post.


KeystoneATX: Privacy and Personalisation and Data, Oh My!

I had the pleasure of participating in Keystone Solution’s first ever Speaker Series in Austin TX this week, and wanted to share a few takeaways from the day.

The focus of the event was on privacy, or, more specifically, how we can create relevant experiences for users without stalking. It was a great opportunity to hear different viewpoints and consider my own, and I took away a number of valuable takeaways:

1. Education of users is critical, to allow them to make informed decisions about whether the benefits they’re receiving are sufficient for them to consent to tracking. It is important that decisions not be made out of misinformation and fear.

2. But the crux of users’ issues with privacy tends to center around control. Users are made to feel they are being “held ransom” (“We have your data!”) and the uproar that takes place normally follows removing control from users. (For example, Facebook changes that make information (retroactively) public by default, or persistent cookies that override user choice to delete.)

3. Not too long ago, there was fear about buying online. While privacy concerns may never disappear, over time (and with education and control options) people may start to get more comfortable with tracking, just as they did with online shopping.

4. No one had the “magic bullet” for easing user privacy concerns, but there were really two threads emerging – 1) Concern about government regulation, due to the nuance of the issues. If legislators are not educated enough to distinguish between types of tracking, types of data, and the distinction between collection and use, blanket measures are likely to result. 2) Industry self-regulation will require a widespread commitment, as one company, vendor or individual can create a great deal of negative publicity. (And likely then lead to regulation.)

5. Tracking and personalisation get creepy when you’re doing it for the brand’s benefit, not the consumers. The best brands use data to make you feel special. However, too many companies don’t trust that doing things the right way will pay off, and try to take shortcuts or rely on the “magic bullet”

6. Those collecting data and members of the analytics industry need to act as stewards of the data (and signing the WAA Code of Ethics is a great start!)

7. Most seemed to agree that while the issue has become tracking, the focus should be on data use rather than collection. (You don’t arrest someone for murder because they have a gun and motive… they have to take action.)

8. Similarities to offline were discussed (for example, grocery store loyalty/discount cards, cable box and ISP tracking.) But the question is, are users aware of all of this tracking? The internet is not necessarily causing privacy concerns, but online tracking is simply more public. In a way, online tracking might even be raising awareness of the offline tracking that takes place.

9. There is often an argument of, “If you don’t like tracking, don’t visit the website.” However, is this reasonable? Is it truly consent if you don’t really have a choice? For example, you either submit to TSA procedures or never fly, which may even be required for a person’s job. Similarly, reading Terms and Conditions of software gives you only the choice to not use it – you have no option to negotiate with the company about those terms.

10. There is a gap between user privacy concerns and the amount of social sharing that users are doing. The responses to Facebook changes really show the kind of ownership that people feel over their Facebook experience, and that users forget that ultimately, they’re playing in Zuckerberg’s sandbox, not their own. Users will need to keep in mind that no matter the network, if it’s on the internet, it could be public, and exercise caution in sharing.

11. In the end, users want more control over their privacy, but the appropriate mechanism for that has not been figured out. Users may be willing to share data with some sites and not others, and allow personally identifiable information to some companies and not others. (For example, maybe I trust Zappos but not ShoezWarehouze.) But how do we allow control of these levels of privacy without creating a complicated, unusable system of permissions?

In the end, no one had the solution, but that’s not really the point. This will be an ever-evolving process, and it’s important we talk through the issues, to ensure we don’t over simplify in our desire to solve for the benefit of all.

And just for laughs, a few quotes of the day:

  • “Privacy is a mean ass topic” – @EvanLaPointe
  • Emer is scared of her “bottom” being invaded by the US government. (Re: TSA measures)  – @Exxx
  • “I wouldn’t mind the government being involved if I didn’t think they’d fail miserably!” – @Jenn_Kunz
  • “Common sense is not terribly common” – @jdaysy
  • “If only ‘good tracking’ and ‘bad tracking’ were as easily understood as ‘good touching’ and ‘bad touching’”  – @aprilewilson
  • “We have an unsexy community. Well, everyone here is sexy, but you know what I mean…” – @keithburtis
  • “At @KeystoneSocial, we make sushi unhealthy.” – @mgellis
  • The @KeystoneSocial motto: “Tread softly and carry a Kyle.” – @mgellis


Conference time!

It seems that Feb-Mar was a busy #measure conference “season”, and another is upon us! As harrying as it is to try to keep travel schedules straight, I must admit I’m really excited to attend and be involved in these  upcoming events.



Keystone Solutions Speaker Series
“Providing Relevant Experiences without Stalking”
September 26, 2011
Austin, TX

This one day event looks to be a blast. Not only it is hosted by the lovely Keystone Solutions boys and girls, but there are some great speakers lined up: Evan LaPointe, Emer Kirrane, John Lovett, Nicholas Einstein (as Evan puts it, “C’mon, the dude’s name is Einstein!”) and Lee Isensee. I’ll join John, Nicholas and Lee for the panel (I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!) and am really looking forward to it. It’s a low-cost event, so sign up now!

eMetrics NYC 2011

(“Analytics Career Development” panel)
October 21, 2011
New York City

This panel brings together folks from the small client, larger client and agency/consultancy perspective to talk about career development in analytics. What does a typical career path look like? What should you do to grow and develop, and find your next great opportunity? This session is all about YOU and your future!



Accelerate 2011
November 18, 2011
San Francisco

Web Analytics Demystified‘s one-day FREE (yes, FREE!) event in San Francisco sold out within one day! But don’t worry, wait list places are still available, so go sign up! Some amazing speakers have been announced already, and there’s an opportunity to present in the “Ten Tips in Twenty Minutes” segment and win a $500 Best Buy giftcard! (Now, hmmmm. What shall I fill five minutes with?)

What are you waiting for? Education is just a step away!


Choosing the right conference

It’s no secret that I’m a conference junkie. I love all aspects of them: Learning new things, and being inspired by what others are achieving. Networking with smart people and getting to discuss our successes and challenges. (Aka “talking geek”. Love, love, LOVE!) Getting to reunite with people who, I feel, are now becoming good friends. Coming home re-energised, and ready to do more great things. (And getting to travel somewhere new is just an added benefit, even if I inevitably don’t see much besides the conference venue!

Given I do enjoy attending conferences, people have asked me what I would recommend to analysts at different stages of their careers.

So, for what it’s worth, here is my little 1.5 cents.

If you’re brand new to digital measurement … I would encourage a focus on training, rather than conferences. At this stage of your career, you want to figure out which buttons to push to get to the data you want. Yes, you definitely need to keep in mind the bigger picture, but first and foremost, you need to know how to dive on in. If you’re looking to get into the field, try Google Analytics training. If you’re employed and use an enterprise solution, see if your employer will help you attend your vendor’s training, whether it be  Omniture, Coremetrics or Webtrends.

If you’ve already gotten your feet wet … Once you know how to navigate the solution you use, you have two options. One is to seek out further training in another (relevant) toolset. For example, if you’re an Omniture user, you might want to learn Test & Target. Alternatively (or better yet, in addition!) you may want to attend your vendor’s own conference (for example, Omniture Summit or Webtrends Engage.) You’ll take away tips, tricks and new ideas for how to best use the solution you already have.

If you’ve been around for some time … Expand your horizons by attending a more general analytics conference. eMetrics can be a great one for web analytics professionals. When you attend a conference like eMetrics, you’ll have an opportunity to hear from, and network with, other practitioners who may use different toolsets. This gives you an opportunity to hear, think about and discuss analytics more generally, rather than buried in the minutia of Solution X does this in THIS way.

If you’ve been there and done that … Attend an event where analytics is merely a small piece of the conference opportunity. (For example, I was fortunate enough to attend part of Internet Retailer this year, which has a much broader focus than just web analytics.) Sure, you need to make sure that it has enough value for you to justify your attendance. But the truth is, analysts can get somewhat myopic, and forget that many business folks don’t care about the details of analytics as we do. Truly taking a step back, and seeing analytics as a part of the bigger picture of the business, can be incredibly helpful, and allow you to take that same step back in your day to day life.

Apart from that, here are a few of my other, more general conference tips.

1.  Actually experience it. I know we are all swamped, all the time. But traveling to an event, paying an (often) hefty sum to attend, only to sit there on your laptop working doesn’t benefit anyone. Plan your attendance around busy times, but once you’re there, try to use the time to learn.

2. Talk to people. The network you build can not only make conferences more enjoyable, but  also helps you develop a group of people you can reach out to as needed. The web analytics community is a wonderful group, and most don’t bite!

3. Think in advance about what you want to get from the experience. Is there a new challenge you’re struggling with? Look for sessions that will help you tackle it. Planning, at least roughly, what sessions you want to attend can help you ensure that you don’t later regret ones you missed.

4. Share your knowledge. Take notes, or capture your tweets, and bring them back to share with others in your organisation. It’s a great way to make sure a budget travels further.

We work in an ever-changing field, and keeping your sense of curiosity and desire to learn is crucial to your success. So go out there and enjoy the process!