Diving Into Data

This spring, I participated in Marketing Data Analysis: Design, Dissect, Decide through Executive Education. The program, which includes 20 hours of instruction presented over four days, is a deep dive into digital measurement strategy, Google Analytics training, qualitative digital measurement and advanced digital measurement.

Nana Kwapong

Nana Kwapong

I took the course because I wanted to learn how to effectively use Google Analytics for data collection and analysis and wanted to see real-world applications and examples. I also wanted to learn how to construct web and landing pages that are user-friendly and lead to customer conversion.

Because I tend to do a lot of my learning and career development online, I was also looking for an opportunity to connect face-to-face with an instructor and fellow students to help build my network. My instructor was Jeff Sauer, an alumnus of St. Thomas who has extensive experience in digital marketing as a practitioner, instructor and speaker. (For more info, check out Sauer's website, Jeffalytics, where he posts content ranging from podcasts to online tutorials.)

The participants had an average of 10-15 years of experience in the field. Some took the class in order to better comprehend the need to measure and quantify the ROI of web traffic and activities, while others needed ideas and tools in order to pitch the importance of digital marketing activities at companies or organizations that don’t have large budgets or are resistant to the change. There was also a group of people interested in a career change who wanted to gain skills to help them in their job search efforts.

Here are some of my key takeaways from the program:

  • First, I gained a greater understanding of why data analysis is important and relevant in the field of marketing as a whole. We learned important terms in digital measurement as well as the web analytics platform. Sauer stressed that it's vital to understand the purpose of a particular website and its key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring results.
  • The middle section of the program was steeped in hands-on, practical applications of the platform, recognizing how and why visitors spend time on a site. Sauer presented and demonstrated tools for analysis of competitors’ websites and the marketplace as well as those designed to track website participation. We looked at how to create a plan to improve user experience and boost return on investments (ROI). One of the tools I was most impressed with is Google’s URL builder, which is used to track various campaigns and traffic to websites. It allows you to monitor which particular tactics are bringing in the most traffic, so resources can be more focused in future campaigns.
  • The program ended with ways to visually present marketing data in concise ways, optimizing conversion rates to websites and how to properly attribute specific marketing results to specific campaigns. Sauer emphasized the point that, “data visualization transitions information into knowledge and then into wisdom.” It allows you to discover and answer questions, find patterns and make decisions.

I ended up wanting more hours added to the program, but the 20 hours of study did provide a good base to continue to build from in my own time. The next offering of this program will be bumped up to 24 hours to allow more time to dig into discussion about the tools and absorb the information.