Hi, my name is Ben Brooks and I am an English major. There, I said it.
So you may ask yourself, as an English major, how did I get involved in digital analytics? And there the story begins.
I have always had a strong technical side, interested in how things work and how to build things. However, I also have a strong artistic side, interested in visual arts like photography and storytelling through writing. And that is where the two meet.
The Perfect Combination
See, analytics is a good marriage of the technical and the artistic. You need a way to measure activity on a site or app, which involves code and scripting, but you also need to analyze and report on that activity, which is where storytelling comes in.
Building and presenting a report on activity or laying out a dashboard is all about storytelling. Sure, you have actual data to work with, but just laying out the data doesn’t help the end user. You need to craft a story around that data, explain how it happened, what it means, and how to best utilize the learnings from the data.
For example, say you are looking at a client’s analytics and see that pageviews (views of pages on a site) are down for a particular time period. You could easily just present this fact and move on. But digging into the deeper story here is what is most valuable. Why are pageviews down? What can we do about it? Diving deeper, we find that a campaign just ended that drove a lot of pageviews. Now, if getting pageviews is important to the client, we can propose building a similar campaign and/or restarting that campaign to drive those pageviews in. Again, there is a story here that goes a lot deeper than just a drop in pageviews.
More than Just Numbers
Even the technical side of analytics can involve storytelling and the arts. Figuring out how to tag a site and pull in the data a client needs, while a technical challenge, also involves figuring out what story the site needs to tell. And figuring out the best way to create those tags also is an art. Do you hook into a CSS class? Have a developer directly push data to the data layer? Handle it another way?
Here at InfoTrust I get to practice both sides, both the artistic storytelling side and the technical side. Working with clients, I get to answer their technical questions, as well as work the storytelling side by explaining their data and what next steps to take in order to move their sites and apps forward. This combination excites me and gets me up and moving every day. I look forward to my client calls to see what questions are coming in today that I can answer.
Everyone Can be a Storyteller
So, what advice would I give to other English or journalism majors or others on the arts spectrum? Work on your storytelling skills. Whether it is writing a book, a press release, or helping someone with their digital analytics, it is all storytelling. Don’t just answer questions—dig into the why and the how. Why is this important or did something happen? How did it happen? What can you do with it?
And most importantly, have fun with it. Learn new things. Expand your horizons. Get involved.