Teachers often say it’s important to have a well-rounded education. Diversify your learning. You never know how the information you learn today will be applied in the future. Let’s be honest…teachers usually are right, but even my former math teachers would probably be shocked to learn that I work with numbers daily. I was never a math whiz, often sought extra help with algebra and geometry, and never dared to enroll in trigonometry. So, how did I stumble into an analytics job?
I graduated with a double major in public relations and Spanish and then went on to get my master’s in public policy and administration. Math degree? Nope! Not even close. As a 24-year-old fresh out of grad school, I thought my career path would include nonprofit management, but life often takes twists and turns that we can’t imagine. So, no one is really more surprised than me to find myself working in this type of position.
My early career was spent in nonprofit fundraising, communications and program manager roles until I worked as a brand manager for a nationwide company. In addition to managing email marketing and client communications, I launched the company’s first paid media campaigns. Data was essential in optimizing campaigns and evaluating ROI. Our campaigns were heavily geotargeted, so I relied on the numbers to guide me in audience targeting. I did a lot of learning on the job and using data to test and retest to find the right mix for our campaigns. Additionally, I was fortunate to have a manager who pushed me out of my comfort zone, encouraged me to learn more and trusted me.
While data and analytics have long been a foundational element of any good marketing campaign, digital marketing did not exist when I attended college. I’m dating myself, but the prevalence of the Internet, paid search campaigns and the necessity of an online digital strategy evolved after my educational endeavors concluded in 1995. Fun fact: Google AdWords launched the first paid search campaigns on October 23, 2000.
We are in an era where data guides our decisions in effective creation and optimization of digital assets and campaign strategy. We may have a hypothesis, but data proves the outcome and guides future planning. There have been times I was certain a change would positively impact website performance or a campaign, only to have an A/B test or conversion data tell me differently. Predictive analytics and propensity modeling help us understand the potential impact of future decisions, so it’s imperative to have a strong, solid foundation in clean and accurate data.
My career has grown along with online technology and the capabilities of applying data collected in online reporting platforms. The key is to always be open to learning, be inquisitive and search for educational opportunities. We don’t know where technology will take us, and if we want our careers to flourish, we’ve got to be open to learning, even if it’s math.
Jennifer LoMonaco is an analytics specialist at HCB Health. Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.