Your Optimization Program’s First Hire

Just starting out in web optimization? I recently spoke on a panel at Optimizely’s Opticon and one of the questions that came up was ‘who would be your first hire’ for a new optimization program.

There were a few different opinions on the panel, ranging from someone who gets stuff done, to an analytics rockstar, to that rare unicorn who can do it all. While all of these are good places to start, I tend to take the viewpoint of optimization through a solid analytics background as the best place to start. (Of course there are many optimization all-stars who didn’t come from an analytics background.)

Why? Here are a few of the reasons why I’d look at hiring an analytics rockstar as your optimization lead:

1. They know data and are data driven in their mindset, recommendations, and ways of doing business.

2. Before they even start testing, an analytics rockstar will know where to look to find the biggest optimization bets – low hanging fruit via:
– high traffic/low converting pages
– targeting specific high performing sources of visitors
– narrowing down which CTAs tend to work where, etc

It’s really important to rely on what the data is telling you when deciding what to test – a strong analytics hire will understand and run with this.

3. Analysis is their strong suit – they’ll have a solid understanding of what test data to look at, if it’s statistically significant, and how they should interpret the results.

4. Many optimization toolsets are built on top of analytics tools – a strong analytics hire will be quick to pick up the testing toolset.

5. Analytics rockstars are good story tellers – this is a skill set that will translate well to an optimization lead.

These are only some of the reasons I believe a talented analytics practitioner would make a great addition to your optimization program. Needless to say, if you do come across that rare unicorn who is amazing at everything, hire them right away! But otherwise, I’d recommend starting with a strong analyst and growing from there.

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