Being Unique Many of you are aware that I am the co-Founder of Market Motive, a delightful little labor of love whose mission in life is to provide bleeding edge education via quarterly, what we call, Master Certification courses.

There are seven courses in all: SEO, PPC, Social Media, Web Analytics, Conversion Optimization, Marketing Fundamentals and Online PR. Each course is taught by a world class expert who passionately loves teaching. It really is a fun group.

At the start of each quarter I send a letter to the students enrolled in the web analytics certification course.  My hope with the letter is to set clear expectations about the course and how to maximize their chance of success in it. My hope is to inspire them to put in the immense effort required (John and I are tough graders). My hope is to give them the guide rails they need. My hope is to share my belief that it is not the certificate they get in the end that matters, it is what they do to get the certificate that matters. Small, but substantive, difference.

I love writing the letter, and in this post I thought I would share the one I wrote the last quarter with you.

Regardless of the method of ongoing education you have chosen, I hope that you'll find the guidance contained in it to be of value. You'll most definitely see my unique brand of web analytics woven through the manifesto.

Here we go. . . .

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I am thrilled that you have chosen to take the Web Analytics Master Certification course. My thanks to those of you who dialed into our first weekly call today (I cannot stress how important this is. You are in a very high expectation, high input course).

From your questions today it is clear that you are learning and already frustrated (a fabulous thing, by the way).

There are many ways to succeed and do the best you can with this course. There are an equal number of ways in which you won't.

To help you, I have written a little manifesto. It contains the recipes of what I think it takes to win. The secrets, if you will.

Print it, keep it handy, refer to it all the time.

We are supremely excited that you are here, and we can't wait to make it all the way through to a successful conclusion. If you have questions, bring them up in the weekly calls, or better still, don't wait and post them in the forum (and include screenshots and as much detail as you want!).

And here it is…. the manifesto…. good luck….


What it takes to do well in the Market Motive Master Certification course.

#1: Focus on the business.

This course is about data and analytics, but it is also a lot about the business of online business and the business of online data.

Focus on learning the frameworks (there are so many of these throughout the course: the So What test, the PALM rule, the Web Analytics Measurement Model, the KPI life-cycle, the 10 principles of amazing business analysis, etc., etc., etc.). The thing that will accelerate your career is knowing the frameworks, developing a structured thinking capability, because they scale and can be applied in many different scenarios. Not your ability to pull a metric or a report out of your bff tool.

Visit the websites you are analyzing. Go through the whole process. See, actually see, the pages. Find the pain, and awesomeness. Talk to people who are around you, people you are helping. Understand the business.

Most people fail here.

#2: Pick two great websites to study.

Don't short circuit this part.

Like in any good course, you'll learn a lot of theory, yet greater than 50% of the value will come from doing the work. If you don't pick good sites to work with, you are simply not going to learn as much. That is the reason 100% of the weekly homework, and the super critical final dissertations, will be for real websites.

What's a good site?

    + You have access to *all* of the data (or at least enough source and behavior data and at least one solid outcome data).

    + You have access to the person who owns it so in the rare case when you need to you can ask  that person questions.

    + The site's using a good tool that allows analysis (you don't need to use Google Analytics or Omniture, but if you only have access to Statcounter data then choose a different website).

Choose one website that is non-ecommerce and one site that is ecommerce based. I want you to exit this course as a well-rounded Analysis Ninja. We are particularly biased here against one trick ponies. : )

If you don't have one of each you can use Occam's Razor and Brainwaves Toys.

If in doubt, choose Occam's Razor & Brainwave Toys.

If you can't analyze something solid, you are not going to win (in life, in this course).

#3: Be creative.

There is nothing that will keep your career down more than copy pasting what you have read in books or blogs or from so called gurus. Or just doing what you've always done.

Think broader, think of things / ideas / elements invisible to others, think of new ideas, think of two things you would do differently in your current actual job. Every single video in the course is built to expose you to new ideas. Use them!

Any one can pick new vs. returning visitors. Anyone can point to a standard report. Anyone can screenshot the standard Site Catalyst dashboard. Anyone can use the standard segments in Google Analytics (how lame!).

Life is better if you use the word custom in front of everything you do. Custom segmentation. Custom report. Custom dashboards. Custom frameworks.

All of that takes creativity.

My personal way of being creative is to fail a lot and figure out everything that's wrong, so I just happen to bump into what's right. Try that.

#4: Start now.

This is not a web analytics course, this is a web analytics 2.0 course.

If you need to use a different kind of tool on your site, implement it today.

If you need to use a competitive intelligence tool, find it and start poking around now.

If you need to have more data try and get it now.

If you need to….. start now.

This course is deliberately built to "snowball."

Everything you learn this week (and learned three weeks ago) will be required in the following weeks. Every single subsequent submission you make will have to be ever more complex and better than the one before (and include all the knowledge from the course up to that point).

So start now, retain as much as you can and keep getting better every week.

If you are not doing well let's *together* figure it out fast, and now, rather than at the very end.

#5: Make time.

You can't sail through this course. Sorry, that's not right… you won't sail through this course. It is a lot of work. I know that sounds tough.

You have made an enormous financial commitment to do this, and I am sure an enormous personal commitment. So make time.

Make time to review the material carefully and take notes.

Make time to come to *every single* office call.

Make time to experiment and play with the tools (a lot!). We have so many at your disposal.

Make time to submit your essays and quizzes and submissions on time and make sure they are complete.

Make time to review the feedback.

We are here to make you a hero. It won't happen without your help.

I am personally in awe of your commitment to do a full time job, have a family and still invest in your education through such an intensive course. I also feel a burden of responsibility, and am personally committed to your success.

In closing, I assure you that if you follow this manifesto you will do well and the fact that you'll earn a certification, (earn is the key word there,) won't be a surprise (to you or us). Anything less than what is recommend above will cause you to fall short (and now that won't be a surprise to you either!).

I wish you all the very best.

Carpe Diem!

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What do you think? Would it inspire you to give it all you've got?

In some sense, there is nothing about the items outlined above is unique to Market Motive. I think these guiding principles should prove to be relevant regardless of if you are enrolled at Market Motive or the analytics courses at the University of British Columbia or the University of California at Irvine or Universite Laval. Or for that matter preparing to take the Google Analytics IQ certification exam.

Whatever your path, I hope you invest in becoming a true Analysis Ninja.

Okay it's your turn now. . .

What is the best advice you ever got when it came to education? What principle / mantra / magic trick has worked the best for you? How have you maximized the ROI of your education? What are you doing today to ensure your knowledge stays current tomorrow?

Please share your tips / feedback / best practices / secrets via comments.


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