Interview with Web Analyst Joel Collymore
Continuing my series of Interview with Analysts here is my interview with Joel Collymore. I will be out of the country for about 10 days so the next interview will be published when I am back – that is after 15th.
What is your current position and the name of the company you work for?
Currently I am a Business Intelligence Associate at Dennis Digital which is a division of Dennis Publishing US, which is based in New York. Our online properties are MaximOnline.com, StuffMaganize.com, and Blender.com. I also have a small freelance company and I work with a local interactive marketing firm. For them I report on some of the different marketing sites they operate. The freelancing is another avenue to gain experience.
How long have you been working in Web Analytics?
I have been doing this for about 12 months, started March 20th.
Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch
Before I was started web analytics I worked for an HR benefits company called Hewitt Associates. There I was working as a Business Analyst doing 401K and ESOP plan administration and quality assurance. There was nothing in common with the web analytics work that I am doing now.
Why did you decided to go into Web Analytics?
My educational background is in Computer Science and I have an MBA, with a focus on Strategic Management. My interest has always been to work in the Internet field. Some of my prior work experiences were in online development including my internship with Standard and Poors.
Since I wanted to do work in this field I decided to start my freelance work. When I asked in the Yahoo group user forum how to get started in a career in web analytics I found there were not many entry level jobs. Most jobs require at least a minimum of 2 years of experience. I was given advice to start working on a friend’s site to gather experience, so that I could get my hands on the data. I took that advice and ran with it. I posted a comment on the user forum that I was willing to work on websites for free or cheap. I told all who were interested “As I grow you will grow”. Through that I started my company. I had some experience with a company in NY while I was reading all I could about Web Analytics. I also took courses at UBC, to get the Web Analytics Achievement Award.
I was at the first WAW in NY, with resume in hand, not knowing what to expect. There I got to learn more about the day to day of web analytics positions and made some great connections.
Was the UBC course helpful?
It was helpful for me. The courses gave me an excellent understanding of the online industry.
How did you find your current job?
The position was posted in the Yahoo Web Analytics Forum. I reached out to the poster, and went in went for two interviews. Though I did not have any experience and they were interviewing other people with experience, they were impressed by my enthusiasm. I was tested and given tasks to complete, to show what I would recommend to optimize their site, and how I would present data in front of the President. In the interview they were interested in hiring someone who could communicate their ideas and back them up with insights. I later learned that I was wrong on some of my recommendations, based on the uniqueness of the business structure, but the fact that I could back up what I was saying was valuable.
Where did you get your MBA from?
I attended Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield Connecticut and graduated in 2004.
What are your responsibilities in your current job?
Right now I am running pilot tests and implementing Omniture Site Catalyst and WebSide Story.
I set goals, and manage the relationships with the vendors. We are setting high goals and holding the analytics systems to a higher standard than we had with our previous implementation. We have created unique success events and defined variables to measure our successes. One thing that is different is we are now using commerce and product variables for a media site.
I also work with organic and paid search. Developing our search engine optimization initiatives working with a search consultant and our IT team, we analyze the search traffic and re-optimize.
Who are your customers or stakeholders? Describe your typical work day.
My stakeholders are general management, editorial, the Director of Business Development and the marketing team.
My day is pretty free from. I work with the editorial team to optimize search and I provide reporting on various articles and sections of the site. I work with ad operations using Dart for Publishers, to help determine how many impressions we can serve based on request for purchase of our ad inventory.
What education is lacking, education or experience that would have helped in your current job in Web Analytics?
It would definitely help to know statistics and modeling.
Which Web Analytics book(s) do have or have you read?
All of Eric Peterson’s books. Search marketing inc, by Mike Moran. I have also read Making money with Google, so that I can get a better sense of adsense. I also have Google Analytics but have not finished reading this. WAD (Web Analytics Demystified) was very helpful in getting me the necessary knowledge to land the job.
What were the major challenges that you are facing in this industry?
I have decided to focus my career in the Media and Marketing verticals. One of my reasons is that I see more opportunities to develop in Media. eCommerce is lot more defined than Media, you can tie revenue and product sales into performance. Media you can be more creative in measuring and analytics implementation. It is more of tying ad impression and tying in demographic information from Nielsen and ComScore in to your site’s performance.
How do you make sure you are learning and growing in this field?
I keep up with the blogs and user forums, I read every thing I get my hands on. I read and re-read the implementation manuals for vendors. I listen to my co-workers to find out what they feel is missing.
Do you have a blog?
What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?
First, not to give up and be persistent. Second, don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm for what you want to do and what you want to learn.