How I succeeded in becoming an Analytics Director

What I learned from being an Analytics Director

During this quarter at Western Washington University, I had the unique opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of Analytics for the Integrated Marketing Communications class. This experience not only broadened my knowledge but also provided me with hands-on experience at every level of the business hierarchy. Having taken this class three times, each iteration propelled me forward on the path to becoming a better marketer. I transitioned from being a content creator to a Product Manager and eventually assumed the role of Executive Director of Analytics. In this blog post, I will outline what I learned from being an analytics director, the processes involved in my experience, and the collaborations I achieved along the way.

IMC Content Creator

As a content creator in IMC, I oversaw the execution. I was creating, filming, editing, and reviewing content on every level. Matt Edwards, Ethan Huynh and I created a product for the Marketing Program with WWU to help students better their experience at Western. Initially, we formulated creative strategies and frameworks centered around the brand, target market, and client objectives. This is foundational knowledge to help organize parameters for the content we were creating. Once we established our R&D, we headed over to the planning and production stages of the content. This stage is only possible with established knowledge of our target markets like value propositions, user statements, and benefits sought by the customer. Which in this case was students. Once we finished all stages of the production process, we finally distributed and promoted this content to the appropriate media channels our target market would find it on. We created a 5-part series about the Marketing Program, if you’re interested in looking, come check it out here! Marketing Cake Part 1.

IMC Product Manager

As a Product Manager, the dynamic changed dramatically. Instead of doing the work, it changed into instructing them to learn what to do. I was now the one leading the team of content creators on our way to making content that students could relate to. The two most important parts of this change were teaching and process.

Our product this time around was and ADEI website focused on representation in the marketing program. Here is the final product of a long and fulfilling 3 months: Representation in the Marketing Program.

IMC Executive Analytics Director

As an Executive Analytics Director, your job becomes quite abstract. Communicating and organizing around the people who are a part of your team becomes paramount. As an analytics director, I want to mitigate friction between their production processes. This can be anything from accessing google analytics data from a website product to finding holes in the data to track their content. Easing the friction between each team was necessary for every role in IMC. Kyle Berg was our managing director, who oversaw the entirety of the class. Kaitlin Simpson who was our director of operations, overseeing all operations and logistics centered problems. Along with Matthew Edwards, who was the Creative Director. He kept everything on brand with WWU and the Marketing Program. If you would like to learn more about how to harness the power of data analysis, try visiting What is Data Analysis?

Being an Analytics Director was a welcome challenge. Analytics is something that I am drawn to and improving content with each product iteration. Since I was the analytics guy, anything tied to analytics/data was my focus. One major problem that our executive team was facing was the lack of primary data behind our customers. We lacked primary data around the values of both students and alumni, which was a major issue. Another problem I oversaw was guiding the product managers to understand analytics behind their products.

Analytics Exercise Guide

Incorporating my knowledge of data analysis and newfound teaching skills was necessary for this role. Overseeing product managers that previously lacked understanding around data analysis and analytics was something I had to prioritize. To do this I created templates that had detailed guidelines around teaching PM’s how to understand their products’ analytics. I structured it around the idea of AAR, Analytics, Analysis, Recommendations. All products need an evaluation stage to find the faults within, which this process strives to solve. Each of the PM’s must evaluate their products in some way or another, and that's where this exercise is here to help.

With these exercises I was able to instill confidence in their abilities to interpret analytics. Help them analyze this information in accordance with their product and create recommendations for their next one going forward. This helped better the program, and better my expertise in the material.

Teaching Exercise about Analytics

Primary Research/Focus Group

As I mentioned already, coming in we noticed a lack of primary data to derive value from. Teams were struggling to create value propositions and benefits sought for students and alumni alike. Some of this research can be done using secondary research, but because this catered to very specific target markets there was only so much research we could do. Our marketing objectives/Marketing Goals were not too narrow to give solid foundation to PM’s. To supplement this, I had to find the data myself.

Alumni – We needed to understand what the engagement levels of alumni were with the Marketing Program. I decided to conduct a focus group around this gap in knowledge about our key customers. The findings outlined a need for a new product to have more engagement with alumni to alumni events rather than only alumni to student events. Using this qualitative data, we were also able to understand their likes and dislikes around the content that we are posting.

Students – When it comes to students' Marketing goals, we had more data but still lacked key data points. We didn’t know how many participated in events, visited advisors, or even talked to peers outside of class. I set out to look at past events, advisors and sense of community to manually gather this abstract data about students. I did not have the resources to do a focus group for both students and alumni, but the fact I was able to find engagement data for students was extremely beneficial going forward

Wrapping up the course

As I conclude this course, the knowledge and experiences gained throughout my marketing career have become clearer. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with incredible individuals and gain hands-on experience before entering the workforce. Special thanks to Dan Purdy for entrusting me with the role of Director of Analytics and to all my classmates for their collaboration and support along the way.