He’s the man behind the eMetrics Summit, Founding Director and President of the Digital Analytics Association, and an author of 10+ books on measurement and digital. He’s referred to by many as the godfather of digital analytics, beginning his foray way before anyone could even spell ‘metric’. In just 5 minutes you’ll find out where it all began, Jim’s top advice for digital newbies, ways to fix up the industry and who Jim shoots, shags and marries in a competition between Avinash Kaushik, Rand Fishkin and Mark Zuckerberg (hypothetically, of course!).
Already sold? You can meet Jim in person at the 2015 Analytics Conference where he’ll be presenting the keynote (and yes it’s true, we sold out last year!).
How and when did you first get interested in what you are doing?
When I first tripped over the Internet in 1993, nobody could tell me what made a website good, better or best.
I spoke with everyone I could find that had something to do with commercial websites. I went to Internet World conferences and found the Online Marketer's email discussion list and still, nobody was talking about usability, customer centricity, or any best practices. So I began speaking and writing on such topics.
After a few years, I was plagued by the question: What is the value of a website? This was the question that drew my attention to web analytics.
In 2000, I interviewed 25 large companies for a white paper and found they were collecting a boatload of data but doing nothing with it. The white paper, co-authored with Matt Cutler of NetGenesis, lamented this data-data-everywhere-but-not-a-thought-to-think dilemma for 5 pages and then spent 60 more describing what could be accomplished.
Two years later, I interviewed another 25 large companies and found that they were happily capturing, filtering and reporting out all of their web metrics, but no one on the business side of the house was using the information to make business decisions. So, it was time to prove to the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Financial Officer that there was more business value in a single website than in a dozen high street shops.
That year I put out another book (Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success, John Wiley & Sons, 2002) and produced the first eMetrics Summit. The eMetrics Summit was the first time professionals with a clue about measuring online success had the chance to meet and speak with others of their ilk. They could share ideas and ask questions and carry on conversations that did not result in the immediate eye-glazing experienced when trying to discuss the subject at their respective firms.
The audience decided one event a year wasn't enough and that we needed an association. The Digital Analytics Association (DAA) was born in 2005. I've been running the eMetrics Summit and the DAA ever since.
What's your most important piece of wisdom to pass on for someone new to the industry?
Be a ‘T-shaped’ expert. Understand the broad brushstrokes but pick one area to go deep. In time, you'll pick up depth in other areas and can move to management (if that's your thing), but for now, go very, very narrow and become the go-to person for that topic.
What do you think is lacking in digital analytics today?
We're also missing an understanding of the impact of Big Data (excuse the expression). All of the data that is available about individuals can be leveraged for competitive advantage as long as it is done in concert with customers. We have not clearly communicated the value we can provide to the public on the one hand, and we have not accepted the seriousness of the responsibility for that data on the other.
We are in desperate need of a stronger relationship between IT, marketing and customers so we can carefully manage and audit the data we are collecting, buying and deriving about people. We simply do not understand how to collect, store, clean, manage and make the most of customer data and we will need to do all of those in order to earn the trust of the individuals whose data we are exploiting.
If you had to choose one: love or data?
I love data! Therefore: love.
Shoot, shag, marry: Avinash Kaushik, Rand Fishkin, Mark Zuckerberg.
I don't know Mark, so he's toast. I've hung out with Rand enough to know he's a lot of fun ... but my heart belongs to Avinash.
So, where can I meet Jim and learn more from him?
The Analytics Conference is the annual Google Analytics user conference, hosted by Google Partners, Loves Data in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a must-attend for marketers, analysts, IT professionals, SEM specialists and social media practitioners. Expect two action-packed days of insights, best practices and ‘out of the box’ thinking to make you question and improve your own digital marketing methods.
Joining Jim Sterne will be speakers from Google, Twitter, Optimizely, ADMA and other international industry experts. Tickets start from $575, talk about ROI!