If you’re in web analytics, you’re probably looking forward to your salary negotiations for 2008.

There are currently around 2,000 job opportunities that require web analytics experience on SimplyHired.com, according to this blog post by Eric T. Peterson.

And the picture’s pretty similar this side of the Atlantic – over 450 positions are up for grabs on Indeed.co.uk.

So with skills shortages affecting the potential stability of analytics investments, what can organisations do to keep hold of their analytics staff? Well, let’s start with a fat pay rise. Anything else?

In the US, as Jim Sterne recently told us, the Web Analytics Association is seeking to increase the supply of analytics professionals through programmes with the University of British Columbia and University of California Irvine, but nothing at an industry wide level is taking place in Europe.

Jim called the situation a “never-ending treadmill”.

“What we see is vendors busily training clients on how to use their products, and the ones that are really good at it get hired by the vendors. The ones that are really good at that turn into consultants.”

Meanwhile, many companies are still thought to be failing to make their web analytics staff feel wanted.

According to research conducted by Eric and Zori Bayriamova earlier this year, many organisations aren’t spending enough on dedicated analytics resources, and could be valuing them more highly. Part of the problem lies in the ‘dry’ nature of analytics:

“Few experienced web analytics professionals wake up in the morning looking forward to ‘generating reports’; bright, well qualified people want to ask and answer really hard questions and produce analysis that can positively impact the entire online business.“

Eric adds:

“In some strange way I wish I could just wave my hands and say ‘never mind, you don’t need bright folks to run this software … the software is great and it will provide all the answers you’re looking for if you just read the documentation’ but we all know I cannot. W
eb analytics is hard, and it takes smart people to make it work.”

Maybe if we all start referring to analytics as ‘business intelligence’ and start to join up online and offline, then perhaps these roles will become a little bit more alluring, and less routine?

Easier said than done. Some departments won’t want to be told that, for example, their latest TV campaign was an unmitigated disaster, especially when compared to paid search. But then again, TV ads can drive paid search clicks (nobody visits Google without a search query in mind), so there is an opportunity for these people to improve the measurement and accountability of offline advertising. 

Internally, organisations must have a joined-up approach to make sense of it all, and executives should recognise that observations founded on good data can make a huge difference, in terms of getting the most value out of the marketing budget.

If companies really want to make sense of their marketing / market position / growing data mountains / websites (etc) then these business intelligence roles are going to become vital, especially as competitors become savvier.

The upshot? Improve the seniority level of your key analysts. Consider introducing a rather scary-sounding ‘chief of intelligence’. And, if it comes down to it, smite any resistance that you meet along the way, because if these data-deniers are still clinging to their old immeasurable ways in 2007 then there’s practically no hope left for them.

Related research:

Web Analytics Buyers’ Guide 2007

Related stories:

Interview: Eric T. Peterson on Web Analytics 2.0