One question I get asked time to time goes something like this “I’m Web Analyst and good doing lots of things with collected data, but I lack the skill for implementing and debugging analytics codes on the site, how could I take the next step to learn more about technical analytics stuff?”. I have been in this situation (and still learning all the time!), so I might have some tips and tricks to share. I have always given some short answer, but promised to write a blog post about this topic with more detailed tips, here we go.
Nowadays, my experience is that it would be difficult to make reports and give insights with analytics codes that you haven’t implemented yourself or at least haven’t done some debugging and find out can you trust the collected data. When you can trust your implementation process and data, after that you can have the right confidence to make insights based on data. Real audition for data would include much more steps, starting from cleaning your data from bots etc, but let’s not focus on that at this post.
I have some common tips, but some are only Adobe Analytics related, because usually analyst who have asked this question are using Adobe Analytics. Since you are Analyst, I assume you have basic knowledge of html coding and css styles.
1) Learn to make tagging map aka solution design requirements for analytics tool
2) Learn to validate analytics codes on your site or as we analyst like to call it, it’s time for debugging.
Even if you have superior coders implementing your analytics codes, don’t believe when they say “done”. It is your responsibility to make sure that everything is implemented correctly. Your superior coders are human and they make mistakes, or maybe they didn’t understand your tagging instructions or they might interprut something totally wrong because they might not have the basic understanding of your analytics tools. And no matter who makes implementation, even if it is already you, then you still need to double-check everything with debugging process. Even if you don’t have coding skills at all, you can still use easy browser tools to validate your analytics codes.
Usually every browser has “developer tools” or you can download some plugin to help with debugging process. I personally use Firebug for finding errors and httpfox for checking what is sent to my analytics tool. If something is wrong and you are not getting the data you wanted, then discuss with your coders about the issues you found. If you are chrome lover, then you could do everything with Chrome’s default developers tools. Again, I’m not going to write too detailed process for debugging, but hopefully you get started with these tips.
3) Explore Document Objet Model – and learn to save data to analytics variables using DOM on the browser
DOM, say what? Read more on Wikipedia.
Web is full of information about DOM, but one of my favorite one is DOM Enlightenment.
If you are using Adobe’s tools and want to learn more technical stuff related to Adobe dynamic tag management and Adobe Analytics then Jan’s website webanalyticsfordevelopers.com is your new favorite blog.
Want to get famialiar with other analysts? Measure Slack has different channels where you can discuss almost about anything related to analytics, join in here: http://join.measure.chat/
5) Sounds good, but how to really get started?
Find a mentor, maybe some colleague/boss/coder who has better technical knowledge. If this is not possible, then start to follow and discuss with people that has the right knowledge you want to learn.
Just do it. I and I’m sure you will also learn just by doing. If you don’t want to ask any help, go to codeacademy.com and start to learn.