[I'm going to be in London the first week of June for the Digital Analytics Hub - running workshops on Segmentation and Data Modeling and participating in the Conference. I took a few minutes to answer some questions from the organizers around my sessions and the Conference in general. Check it out and if you are EU-based, check out the Hub - it's a great event.]
Hi Gary, we are looking forward to welcoming you back to the DA Hub.
One of your workshops at this year's DA Hub is named "Getting Digital Segmentation Right". The name implies that many organisations do not get segmentation right. What is the reason and what is missing in most segmentation frameworks?
GA: Well, digital segmentation is hard. Segmentation in general isn’t trivial – even when you have great variables to work with. But over the years, people have gotten pretty used to segmentations that are based on business relationship (high-value customer, reseller, etc.) and demographics. What’s challenging is that those segmentations aren’t usually available or easy to recover in digital and, even when they are available, aren’t all you need. Building segmentations from digital data turns out to be fraught with challenges – and most often falls victim to the fact that many of the digital variables we use lack meaning (page views, time on page, etc.) and others are strongly influenced by the structure of the website.
I plan to cover techniques for getting more information out of digital behaviors so that segmentations come out much richer, how to think about visit vs. visitor segmentations, and some of the ways you can approach anonymous segmentation.
As a discussion you picked the topic of "Getting Budget for Digital Analytics." Does that imply that analysts should develop a degree of sales skills? Who do you expect to attend this discussion?
GA: I’ve sure had to build out my sales skills over the last fifteen years. Back in 2008, my business partner and I used to joke that we’d never made a sale to someone we hadn’t already worked with. That’s definitely changed.
But when I think about this topic, it’s really for the manager of digital analytics. Any manager/director/vp role in the enterprise is largely about politics and sales and it doesn’t matter whether you’re the manager of analytics or manager of toilets flushing; that’s probably why lots of people don’t want to rise to those roles. So I don’t think selling is an unusual ask.
Having said that, I’m not thinking of this session as Sales 101 though I do expect that some people will have useful tips and for those of us to whom selling isn’t second nature that can actually help quite a bit. A huge part of selling though, particularly when you aren’t a natural, is figuring out how to demonstrate value to the organization. When you have a big impact, you’re more likely to get budget. When you democratize effectively, you’re more likely to get budget. In other words, part of this discussion is going to be about how to make sure you make the biggest impact possible AND how you make that impact known. I expect to focus a lot on communication of value – but I wanted to make sure that people understood why that communication is essential to their own personal interests.
You launched X Change in 2007 as a purely conversational conference. It is still a pretty unique format for an analytics conference. We have been running the DA Hub with that format in Europe for the past couple of years. Can you tell us in your eyes how the format has evolved over those years and some of the differences between the Conference in Europe and in the U.S.?
GA: 2007 seems like a long time doesn’t it! Here in the U.S., I think a couple of things stand out in terms of the way the Conference has evolved. Probably the most important change hasn’t been anything internal to the Conference – it’s been the gradual evolution in maturity of digital analytics practice. Enough small changes add up to a fairly giant shift, and when I reflect on the knowledge and sophistication of the practitioners and the programs they represent today compared to 2007 it’s an immense change. That’s important because in a conversational conference, the sophistication of the participants is a huge part of the experience.
I’ve also seen a dramatic shift in where that expertise is lodged. Back in 2007, most of what expertise there was existed in boutique consultancies. Today, the vast majority of expertise is on the enterprise side. That’s not because we vendors have gotten stupid or lazy – it’s just reflective of that same growth in maturity. There ought to be a lot more expertise on the enterprise side because that’s where the most practice is. I think that shift helps the format too. One of the things I’ve always tried for in the U.S. X Change is to create a no-sales, no pressure, truly collegial environment. Vendors generally do a great job of helping with that, but frankly it doesn’t hurt that these days the enterprise folks can drive those conversations themselves.
When I think about the differences between the Hub and X Change, it often comes down to the same types of things: in the EU, the practitioners are a little less mature and more of the knowledge is on the vendor side. That’s changing, but it takes time.
Finally, this year we have 60 discussions, our highest number ever. Which three or four discussions are you most looking forward to?
GA: Regular readers of my posts will probably laugh to hear that my sessions include:
- Integration of Web Analytics Data into your Customer Data Warehouse,
- Defining Your Audience – Segmentation, Cohorts & Engagement”, and
- A/B & MVT – Do you use it to Fix or Define your Strategy?
Not like I ever talk about these topics, right? In fact, I think I’m better prepared for some of these other discussions than I am something like "Getting Budget for Digital Analytics" that I'm leading.
The DA Hub is taking place on June 2nd and 3rd at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, home of newly crowned English champions Chelsea FC. Join Gary at the conference or sign up to one of his two workshops on June 1st (part of the DA Hub analytics and conversion rate optimisation training day). For more information and to register visit the website at www.digitalanalyticshub.com