[“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” — attributed to Professor William Bruce Cameron]
For the past two months, I’ve been working my way through every marketing certification I can get my hands on. I’ve earned HubSpot’s Inbound Certification and Partner Certification, and I’ve begun the classes for two other certs — HubSpot’s self-titled HubSpot Certification and Google Analytics.
But for some reason, my excitement over these last two certs seems to confuse some people.
During the last Chicago HubSpot User Group meeting, a fellow HubSpotter asked me why I wanted an analytics cert — why I would need one — since I’m a content strategist. I explained that my agency gathers and interprets data like bounce rates, traffic sources, and anonymous personalization elements, and I want to understand everything I can to develop our….wait for it….marketing strategy. He laughed, “well, that’s nice, but you probably want to focus on developing a better buyer persona.”
I want to develop a tighter buyer persona and create more relevant content. I want the ability to interpret data, solve problems and measure how effective our content is.
That’s why I am so stoked to dig into the analytics.
My Past Love Affairs with Statistics and Data
I have a master’s degree in English (specifically rhetoric and composition, but I’ll get into that later), and believe it or not, that means I’m a trained researcher. My degree emphasized investigative research, and I’ve been a principal or co-investigator on three large-scale research projects.
As an example: I investigated the ways college freshman respond to online, written feedback vs face-to-face feedback from their peers on essays.
All of these projects have required the collection and analysis of quantitative data and data collected from individual and group interviews. I graphed and interpreted data to find themes and patterns that help shed light on the topic I’m researching. I’ve presented my research at national conferences, and I’m a co-author on a published academic research study.
At Cleriti, I’ve transferred these skills to market research — I develop surveys and perform interviews with customers who can help inform our buyer personas. I then analyze the data to look for patterns and insights.
I was also the only person in my high school who was on the cheerleading team AND the math team.
I was co-captain. Of both.
“Great,” you say. “I’m glad you were the only cheerleader in America who couldn’t get a date in high school.” But what does that have to do with a Google Analytics certification?
In case you can’t tell, research — gathering data and critically interpreting it — is fun for me.
And I think vital for my role as a Content Strategist.
Why It’s Important for All Strategists to Fall in Love
Why is it vital for content strategists? Because understanding marketing analytics, not just knowing the numbers, gives us insight. There’s no stumbling around and guessing what does and doesn’t work.
Although I’m still fairly new to the industry, I’ve run into comments at conferences and in Twitter conversations that seem to suggest marketers expect there to be a disconnect between different areas of focus. The thought is that there’s a separation between the content development/creation side and analytics side of marketing — that there’s a divide between creativity and strategy, that content strategists develop content but marketing analysts or the marketing director should deal with the numbers and determine the ROI.
While I admit that an analyst will have a much better grasp of the details and insights than I will, I’d argue that it’s still my responsibility to pay attention and understand what I can — that I shouldn’t sit back and let the analyst or marketing director worry about the numbers because it’s “not my job, I work with the content.”
I prefer a more holistic approach towards digital marketing (and marketing in general) that doesn’t segment content away from the strategic and technical sides of digital, and doesn’t ask us to “focus on the numbers” without critically investigating why the numbers are the way they are—which may reflect content, graphics, UX/UI design, etc.
I think digging into marketing analytics is important for marketing strategists, because it’s creative and critical work — there’s true creativity in looking for patterns and developing insights; in putting the pieces together and finding the best strategy. That’s part of why I strive to be creative and strategic.
And a little technical, too. You should see me program a TI-84 graphing calculator.