Jean-Marc Bolfing is our expert for numbers, statistics, analytics tools and tag management systems. For more than six years, he has been assisting various major clients with the implementation of tools as well as the data analysis and optimisation of their websites.
What Background Do You Bring With You?
Jean-Marc, you have worked for a longer time as a Digital Analyst. How have you reached this career profile, what professional background have you brought?
My professional background is in the area of marketing. Originally, as a Marketing Planner I was responsible mainly for the contents and the development of an extensive website. I acted as the primary contact person for various matters concerning the subject of Internet. While performing this liaising function, I gathered the needs of the Marketing and satisfied them in cooperation with the IT.
Over the years, the importance of digital analysis has been increasing. Because the analysis was included in my scope of responsibilities, I was allowed to make my contribution to this new area from the very beginning. In line with the growing significance of the online channel, also the numbers and insights generated through the website became more and more valuable. For this reason, this task has gradually become more challenging and extensive.
What knowledge is required for practising this profession?
Difference Between Client and Agency Side
Is there any difference between working as a Digital Analyst on the customer side and on the agency side?
There are two different core tasks in this career profile: one is data analysis or visualisation, while the other is technical implementation of the solution. On the customer side, in most cases analysis is more emphasised, while the implementation is often outsourced agencies. Obviously, you cannot generalise but this is what I have experienced during my career so far.
This is why certainly the IT background is more desirable on the agency side, but anyway you must have an overall understanding, like the knowledge of how data should be processed or used. On the agency side, task sets are more diverse, because most often you have to deal with solutions of different customers and industries. Therefore, the learning curve is surely a bit steeper.
Jean-Marc, you have worked for over six years for Unic. What are your core tasks as a Digital Analyst here?
One of them is creating concepts of totally new implementations. The point is to identify the customer needs. The following questions emerge:
What data are needed by the customer?
What actions are derived by the customer from the collected data?
What is the most suitable method to identify the data?
Often the additional task emerges to select a suitable analysis tool.
Afterwards you proceed to prepare a specification of the concept and assist in the implementation together with the developers.
Subsequently, standard reports and dashboards are designed in cooperation with the customer.
Frequently the customer requires also training in the newly implemented analysis tool at the end.
Another of them is further development of the existing solutions. In this case I support the decision makers in their everyday work, e.g. preparation of reports or data analysis. Most of all, the task is to correctly capture new capabilities of websites or mobile apps or advertising activities with the correct analysis tool.
We Work with these Tools
You have mentioned analysis tools. Could you describe them in more detail?
An analysis tool shows above all where the visitors come from, which website areas are searched and how often and for how long different pages and categories are viewed. At Unic, we support Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics tools.
Google Analytics is the most widespread tool. This is a good place to enter the world of digital analysis. Adobe Analytics is applied above all in larger enterprises, which have more specific requirements regarding analysis.
There are also certifications related to these tools. You receive a kind of a performance diploma that confirms the range of your abilities in a given analysis tool. When does it make sense to obtain such certifications and what is their scope?
In the case of the above-mentioned tools, practical application is actually a pre-requisite, or at least strongly recommended. Nevertheless it is not impossible to obtain the certification but only through case studies and theoretical abilities.
Google Analytics makes a very extensive online training format – Google Analytics Academy – available. You can acquire a theoretical background for Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager there.
In the case of Adobe Analytics, there is little training material online and so if you don’t have skills in this tool, it is strongly recommended to take a course or undergo an in-depth induction. You can sit both tests after signing up online. “Google Analytics IQ” certification is even free of charge.
You have mentioned Google Tag Manager. What is a Tag Manager and when is it used?
Tag Manager is a kind of content management system for tags. Tags mean tracking codes of various systems such as analysis tools, advertising platforms, A/B-testing tools or e-mail marketing tools. All these tools are supposed to collect data. Often these are the same data but partly in slightly different formats. So that they don’t have to be integrated individually in the source code, only a tracking snippet of the Tag Manager is integrated instead. The Tag Manager manages the logic when and in what form the respective tracking codes of different systems should be loaded.
Nowadays virtually no implementation is performed without a Tag Manager because most customers operate multiple systems that are supposed to collect data. Moreover, a Tag Manager makes it much easier for the development to include the whole tracking.
Challenges, Questions, KPIs
What are the biggest challenges you face as a Digital Analyst at Unic?
Because you support various customers which display a totally different degree of maturity in digital analysis, you have to continually adjust to the “customer’s world” anew. Apart from that, tasks to be accomplished are often really demanding from the technical point of view, especially when you entered the field of digital analysis from the marketing environment, like I did. Since Unic’s range of services is very broad, you can count on support from technically experienced colleagues.
Every day is different. There are virtually no routine activities. Just at the beginning of the career this can be extremely enriching since every day you really learn something new.
With what questions are you confronted every day?
Every day is different. This is especially true on the agency side. There are virtually no routine activities. Just at the beginning of the career this can be extremely enriching since every day you really learn something new. But what we often see is customers who collect supposedly the same data with different tools and then identify discrepancies. It needs to be stated here that digital analysis is not an exact science and no two tools measure the same object in the same way.
What Key Performance Indicators do you deal with?
“Key Performance Indicator,” in short KPI, is a very often used slogan, particularly in digital analysis. In my opinion, there is no “single” or “ten most important” KPIs which every website should have. The goals set by the customer for their website or mobile app are very individual. Therefore, online KPIs should be based on business goals and not on generic “best practices” identified by means of Google research.
Whom would you recommend the career profile of Digital Analyst and why?
Both paths of the career profile, i.e. data analysis and technical implementation, differ from each other much. In my opinion, this area of tension will be more emphasised in the future but I think that the skills of both these sides will still make a good Digital Analyst.
For this reason, I believe that people who are interested in figures and statistics, ideally enthusiastic about data visualisation as well as technical inclinations, will be suitable for this job. An active interest in learning something new at all times, the wish to know how something works, are also important traits. When the focus is on data analysis, you must be motivated to record data in connection with marketing activities in order to be able to take measures on this basis and introduce optimisations to the website.
A Look Over Our Shoulders
It is the people who make Unic and drive it forward. The section "A look over our shoulders" gives an insight into what distinguishes our experts. They not only present their field of expertise, but also show their very personal perspectives and tell us what drives them and what fascinates them.