business analyst

What you should know when you want to transfer into a marketing analyst position.

Imagine you are transferring from a regular marketing role into a (digital) marketing analyst position (or alternatively you are fresh out of college and want to become a digital analyst). You probably might have built up some decent knowledge in Google Analytics along the way, but never had a formal education in statistics or analytics. As such you are wondering now what the necessary technical skills for marketing analysts actually are and what tools they use to get their job done.

So basically you want to know what you should be doing to set yourself up for success as a marketing analyst and what you should do to become good at marketing analytics. Or in a nutshell which courses and certificates should you take or what books should you read.

I was actually in a similar position as I used to be a regular marketing consultant before transferring into a marketing analyst role at Google last year. What really helped me when thinking about skill development for my new role was thinking inside the following 4-step framework in order to identify where I had some gaps.

A framework for analyzing marketing data

marketing data analysis framework

When analyzing data it is all about generating insights and boiling data sets down to extract useful information. There are usually four steps you have to take, when analyzing data:

  1. You have to get the raw data you want to analyze from the data sources. Data sources can be everything from Google Ads (AdWords), to a CRM to your internal database system.
  2. As a second step you have to understand, clean, restructure and match data. Data is messy. You’ll have duplicates, missing entries or different data formats from different data sources.
  3. Only now can you start summarizing and thus analyzing and visualizing your data. You won’t be able to draw any meaningful insights from a raw large data set. Put it into Pivot tables and simple charts to have it make sense.
  4. Finally you’ll put it all into a report. In business, nobody wants to read long academic reports with boring tables. Instead you want topline insights presented with a good story for decision making.

Skills for marketing analysts

Based on above the skills that helped me and that I would recommend to develop as a beginning marketing analyst are the following.. Again, it’s all about generating insights. So use the skills as tools for drawing insights from your data.

  • Excel/Google Sheets: I know it sounds simple, but I estimate that at least 75% of our analysis is still done in Spreadsheet software just because it is the fastest and easiest way. Be sure to have at least an intermediate level at this as it will help you on all four of above stages. Learn it in this course.
  • SQL: It will help you a lot to get data independently and the IT department will thank you for not taking up their time anymore. In addition it will help you being more flexible with the kind of data sources you can use. Bonus: No other skill will impress other non-technical marketers as much ;). A good book to start with a focus on marketing.
  • Basic Applied Stats: You don’t have to have a PhD in Mathematics, but some basic knowledge will help you to summarize the data in a meaningful way and to draw relevant insights. Check out this course and this article.
  • Data Visualization: Important for steps 3. and 4. Prepare data in a way that makes sense and people actually want to look at. Again, nobody wants to read boring tables. Data Visualization 101 as a starter and then continue with this book.
  • Storytelling and presentation skills: Don’t underestimate this. If you want to make an impact you have to convince other people. Nothing better for this than an awesome presentation or pitch. This book and this book by Nancy Duarte (In addition if you really want to be good at the last two look into this very good book, which actually links the two topics of data visualization and presentation/storytelling in a very vivid way).

Above should give you a decent framework on how to think about the development of skills for marketing data analysis. If you need a detailed checklist on what to learn exactly in above skills be sure sure to check back for my future guide on how to develop a skillset for becoming an analytical data-driven marketer.