How to become a web analyst

Here is my response to this Quora question, How to become a web analyst?

People who work in web, mobile and online marketing analysis come from a variety of backgrounds. Here are a few areas which can help a career in the space.

An analytical degree – I’ve met and worked with good analysts with a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, but generally I think a degree in something math and analytics heavy is only a plus. This could be statistics, computer science, a hard science, economics or other areas.

An understanding of web technology – You might not need to code every day in an analyst role but you should understand the basics of the web such as HTML, Javascript/AJAX, URL structures and redirection, and the mobile web. There are a lot of resources available to learn about some of these topics. Being technical in an digital analytics role might not be absolutely necessary but can only help.

An understanding of database structures – Even if you never have to interact directly with a database, learning how databases are laid out and how to query them (SQL) provides a solid foundation for thinking about sets of data and manipulating data with various tools. Additionally, some of the most interesting analysis is also done by combining web data with data stored elsewhere and sometimes you do this work in a database.

An understanding of online marketing – Online marketing is getting increasingly complex and specialized but understanding the basics of paid and organic search, affiliates, social media, display ads, email and other channels is necessary. There are various blogs and resources in each area worth following and learning from.

Excel – For better or worse a lot of time spent by any analyst in almost any domain is spent in Excel. Getting comfortable with fairly complex spreadsheets is essential.

Exposure to web analytics tools – Start with Google Analytics. It is the most widely adopted tool and you can use it for free. I highly recommend the Google Analytics training videos, additionally there are some good books about GA available. Some of the enterprise tools such as SiteCatalyst are harder to get exposure to because only large corporations use them.

Certifications – These aren’t essential but if you don’t have a huge amount of experience, taking the Google Analytics IQ exam can differentiate you from other people that have logged into GA and pulled a report once and now feel they know GA well enough to list it on their resume. Additionally the Digital Analytics Association has a certified web analyst exam for more advanced analysts.

Network – Various conferences, seminars and other places are a good way to meet other people in the space. Check out the Web Analytics Wednesday events put on occasionally by Web Analytics Demystified.

Analysis Exchange – Web Analytics Demystified also has an effort to provide mentorship to aspiring analysts and services to non profits. Probably worth checking out.

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