Switching from marketing to analytics

Last weekend at a Friendsgiving dinner I asked another guest, “What do you do?” In between bites of pumpkin pie, she replied in typical San Francisco fashion, “I work at a startup doing data ops, but it’s small so I really do a bit of everything. Very Series A.” “I do a little bit of everything.” […]

Last weekend at a Friendsgiving dinner I asked another guest, “What do you do?” In between bites of pumpkin pie, she replied in typical San Francisco fashion, “I work at a startup doing data ops, but it’s small so I really do a bit of everything. Very Series A.”

“I do a little bit of everything.”

This line seemed particularly relevant to me given my first six months at Envoy. In that short time span, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of both the Marketing and Data Science teams. This experience would be hard to find anywhere except at a small startup, and I’m very grateful for the perspective I’ve gained from working in two very different functions within the organization.

Why the switch?

As a recent college grad, and someone with a fresh perspective on marketing, it’s clear to me that the modern marketer must have an understanding of data and new technology to survive.

Hot Topics recently held a roundtable discussion about the future of marketing with six senior marketing executives:

https://medium.com/media/735bbbb1d345872c55f99e15ef137b9f/href

When asked to describe what a B2B Marketing organization would look like in the future, the importance of data science dominated the discussion. Peter Thomas, Managing Director of Integrated Marketing at Accenture said of his marketing team, “It will have data scientists in it. We wouldn’t have had those two or three years ago, we wouldn’t have even known why we need them.”

Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft UK describes the ideal member of his team as “part scientist or part creative, and those two need to come together. I’ve got a lot of data and insight professionals on my team, and I only see that being beefed up as it becomes the muscle of the CMO over the next couple of years. But there are other roles that have to be in there alongside that, which are the traditional creative roles.”

I’ve seen the new age of data-driven marketing embodied at Envoy. A prime example of the fusion of data and marketing is the tools we use to try and understand our customers. The parts of our tech stack that are especially pertinent to me as a marketer are:

  • Heap Analytics to track every action people take on our website and inside our product;
  • Clearbit as a data enrichment tool to provide information about company size, industry, geography and job titles;
  • Intercom as a marketing automation and segmentation tool;
  • Segment to bring data from all these sources together;
  • Stitch Data for ETL to send data to Amazon Redshift, our data warehouse.

The reason for my jump from marketing to analytics come from a place of discomfort. I knew we had these amazing tools, and I somewhat knew what they did — but I didn’t know how to use them to do great marketing.

I would have questions, such as how can I find a lookalike audience for my best customer, and what are the marketing touch points that prompt them to start a trial? Or, are there cohorts of customers that are more likely to convert after they started a trial, and what actions did they take while in trial? My head was spinning with questions, and I knew the answers were there, but they seemed inaccessible to me. It was a very discomforting position to be in.

I wanted to be the new breed of marketer who combines a deep understanding of his customers and business model with an analytical skillset. I made my ambition known to my friends, mentors, and managers at the company. I actively sought out projects that involved analytics or working with software tools I wasn’t familiar. Through these projects, I realized I enjoyed analyzing data and uncovering insights more than other pieces of marketing.

Analytics was calling me, so I scheduled a meeting with my manager to drop the bomb that that I wanted to switch teams. I was nervous, in my head, I repeatedly went over the checklist of things I wanted to say. Justify the switch by linking marketing to analytics, check. Reference past projects and experiences that have prepared me for this roll, okay got it. Don’t forget what you’re supposed to say!

Lucky for me Envoy is still small, and I get to do a bit of everything. The conversation went well, and I was able to switch from Marketing to Data Science. I’ve been in my new role for a month and a half, and have learned several important things about the role of a data analyst:

We are partners with internal stakeholders

People from different parts of the organization from Revenue, Success, Product, Marketing up to the CEO all have questions, gut feelings, and instincts about their work. Our role as analysts involves providing them with the answers to these questions and giving them access to the knowledge they need to build a successful company.

Get over feeling that you’re “not technical”

I have a finance background, which means I have a lot to learn about data analytics. One management concept I came across in college that stuck with me is the importance of high self-efficacy. The basic idea is that if you believe you can succeed in a challenging new situation, then you are more likely to succeed.

Whenever I encounter a concept I don’t know, I ask questions, I do research and I always believe that I will be able to eventually understand it. Since joining the analytics team I’ve analyzed time series data from multiple data sets to help answer business-critical questions like how well our salesforce is performing, what is responsible for fluctuations in MRR and what are the funnel metrics for our new product. These are all questions I wouldn’t have been able to answer a month ago.

Ask questions

Your team is there to help you. We all have the same goal, to provide best in class analytics for Envoy. Helping each other makes our team stronger and makes it easier for us to achieve our goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it can literally save you hours of work, what seems difficult for you may be easy for someone else and in most cases they will be happy to lend a hand.

Insights must bring about change

Insights form data are only valuable if they can bring about organizational changes that help us meet our business objectives. My journey as a marketer and a business leader is not over. I think it’s important to keep on learning, not just about data analytics, but about other departments as well. If there’s a problem that needs solving at Envoy I should be able to use all the tools in my arsenal, from marketing, analytics and elsewhere to solve it. After all, working at a small startup we are expected to be able to do a little bit of everything.


Switching from marketing to analytics was originally published in Envoy Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Envoy