Hiring myths for Web data talent

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Last month, I talked about three mistakes almost every company makes when trying to take advantage of their investment in Web analytics ("3 mistakes with Web Analytics," June 4). Since much of the feedback I received focused on the human aspect of Web site measurement, I wanted to present four misconceptions most companies make when looking for people to run their Web-analytics software.

The analyst is the most important hire. Many companies, especially large ones, discover that expensive analyst resources often spend a significant portion of their time generating reports and managing measurement projects. Consider hiring a Web analytics project manager to ensure that critical processes, such as data validation, implementation and reporting, are completed while allowing time for a critical analysis function.

Mathematics is a must. While exposure to the quantitative sciences can be incredibly helpful, many of the best Web analysts working today don't have PhDs in advanced mathematics. The ability to present arcane data in a business context, generating widespread interest and driving understanding is far more important than generating complex models to describe data quality. Look at candidates with diverse backgrounds and an inquisitive nature, focusing on their ability to present and explain complex subjects and conduct careful analysis.

Salaries can compare. In a survey this year, Web Analytics Demystified found the average salaries for Web analytics workers ranged from $78,525 for workers with a year or less of experience to $102,544 for workers having five or more years of experience. Meanwhile, according to Aquent and the American Marketing Association, the median 2006 salary for IT and database marketers in the United States was $64,730. While the methodolgies of these two studies were not the same, it is still clear that there is disparity in compensation across titles. Use data for positions in market research to set salary range for Web analytics and remember that experienced Web-data analysts are extremely difficult to find.

A good hire ensures positive ROI. While people are tremendously important to Web analytics, data suggests that companies taking a process-driven, strategic approach to Web analytics are three times as likely to appreciate positive return as companies relying on employees. When you make a successful hire, or even before you hire, work diligently to understand and define how Web analytic data will affect the online channel.

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