In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Krista Seiden, a proven B2B/B2C marketing leader with experience in digital marketing, analytics and product management. She has led analytics & optimization at companies such as Adobe, The Apollo Group and Google. Krista is a frequent speaker at global digital marketing and analytics conferences.
Krista Seiden is the Founder & Principal Consultant of KS Digital, an Analytics Consultancy, focusing on Analytics audit and solution design services, as well as digital strategy advising and training for Google Analytics and the Google Marketing Platform.
Previously, Krista was VP, Product Marketing and Growth at Quantcast. Prior to that, she was a Product Manager and the Analytics Evangelist for the Google Analytics team, helping to build and promote Google products all over the world. Prior to that, Krista led the analytics and optimization program for the Google for Work group. In this role, she built a culture of testing and optimization within Google’s Enterprise group, and along the way built a team of skilled analysts, designed and developed an internal, enterprise-scale testing product, delivered significant wins of over 30% Y/Y bottom-line growth, and expanded testing efforts by 1500%+ in just a few quarters.
Welcome to Growth Interviews!
Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.
In today’s episode, Krista Seiden has shared with us her honest opinion on data analysis and what influences may or may not change the way it is done. Will it be different? Will it be done entirely by machines? Let’s find out.
Here are the biggest takeaways:
- How people are taking advantage of data – 00:36
- Growth is experimentation – 03:46
- Buzzwords, machine learning and AI – 05:00
- Cognitive biases and their influence on decision making – 07:41
- The job description of a future data analyst – 10:21
How people are taking advantage of data
Krista Seiden began her journey in the digital landscape over a decade ago, while being an analyst at Adobe. Her path soon brought her to the actual Google Analytics team where she was the evangelist for Google Analytics and a product manager for almost five years. Nowadays, she is running her own analytics consultancy, KS Digital. This has truly been an exciting adventure for Krista, as she confessed.
“I mostly focus these days on analytics consultation: how companies are using analytics, is it really set up right and making the most of it? How can I offer my advice and experience to help them do even more? And then, the hopeful path of that is analytics and optimization in that they’re using that data to really optimize their websites for themselves but also mainly for their customer experience.”
Upon being asked what her biggest frustration is about the way people use and take advantage of data, Krista immediately answered it was something she started seeing while working at Google, and that is people underutilizing the tools that they have and “rather than doing everything they can to make the tools they have work for them, they go out and buy the next shiny thing”. It is a sort of a distraction, she adds.
Her biggest advice in this situation is to take advantage of what you’ve got since “it gets big and unwieldy and not all of these platforms work really well together”.
Growth is experimentation
Krista is of the opinion that growth equals experimentation and that everyone should embrace it. Going further into the topic of eCommerce growth ideas for 2020, she highlights the fact that we are witnessing a shift in the analytics industry.
“There is a new focus by Google especially on this new Apple Web property where it’s actually much more kind of what traditionally has been called product analytics-based. It’s event parameter based. We’re going to see a change in how the data is being collected over the next few years which means there’s opportunity for how you’re taking that data and analyzing it and then using it to impact your growth opportunity.”
Her advice for the near future is to “get on the cutting edge of what’s coming”, use the proper analytics platforms and check up on your datasets to be implemented correctly. This is the best way to be ready to “go full steam ahead at optimization efforts”.
Simple but efficient advice.
Buzzwords, machine learning and AI
There are a lot of buzzwords out there, Krista admitting she is not a big fan of. Her mission is to help people take advantage of the tools they already have, thus her opinion relies on the fact that machine learning is not going anywhere.
“[Machine learning] is only going to continue to impact what we do when we see it coming into tools today such as Google Analytics is bringing in automated insights and other platforms are doing the same thing. So, I think in terms of growth, it’s what you do with those insights. […] Our job is still to listen to what that data is saying so that we can act on it.”
As analytics platforms are pointing towards specific recommendations, growth marketers are advised to take them into account and act upon them. The best part of machine learning is that people now have the advantage of doing much less fundamental data collection since machine learning is doing it for them. This action helps free up marketers’ time to do even more robust growth activities, as Krista confirms.
Moving on, she also mentions that being “data-driven” is another buzzword in her opinion, infiltrating every level of business nowadays. She prefers to use the term “data-informed”, since people over-index on the data. “That’s me as a data person saying that”, she says with a smile.
“Data needs to inform what you’re doing, whether or not the C level is fully bought into that. […] Five years from now, ten years from now, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think if you are not data-driven or data-informed as an executive in any sort of company, you’re not going to be around.”
Cognitive biases and their influence on decision making
Cognitive biases are defined as “mistakes of reasoning” when people put more value on their preconceptions, past experiences and environmental or social factors than on reality. They most certainly can have a major influence on everyday reasoning, even on the important decisions of a CEO, a department manager and so on. How can you eliminate or diminish the impact of cognitive biases?
In Krista’s opinion, it is a very hard thing to do. You have to be aware of your own biases because if not, they will surely leave their mark on your actions. Once being able to control those biases, you have to do your due diligence to make sure they do not reflect your work for your clients.
“I think this is another area where machines will probably start helping us in the future. I think right now we’re still seeing bias in some of those models. But I hope that we’ll get to a point where that’s actually helping us to be less biased as a society.”
Krista adds that probably one of the most damaging biases out there is wrongly assuming that certain segments of customers may or may not be interested in your products. Her wish, of course, is for marketers to outgrow that kind of bias, to realize whether that is a “gut feeling” or a data-driven bias.
The job description of a future data analyst
When asked if data analysts will still have a job in 30 years, she immediately responded with a confident “yes”. What is going to be different, though, is adding the human element to the data. In other words, it will be interesting to see how their job descriptions are going to change in time.
“A lot of our time today is spent doing analysis and data cleansing. Those are things that I hope that the machines can take care for us by really being very in-depth and knowledgeable about the business, about your customers and about what that data is actually saying about those things. It’s something that a machine is not necessarily going to be able to add to the equation.”
Krista Seiden’s interview was an in-depth talk about the power and influence of data analysis, how it is today and how it will be tomorrow, influenced by cognitive biases or machine learning. What is certain, though, is that people will still have a job as “data-informed” analysts, with a slight change in their job descriptions. How that will happen, remains to be seen.
We hope you enjoyed our podcast interview with Krista Seiden!
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.
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