June Li is the founder of ClickInsight Corporation, a Canadian web analytics firm that works with business owners and entrepreneurs to use the insight from analytics data to grow their business. An instructor at the University of Toronto and at the University of British Columbia, June teaches courses on…you guessed it, web analytics! June also speaks regularly for organizations and associations across North America.
What are the first few things that you do each morning?
When I worked in a more structured corporate work environment, I was always in the office by 7 am. My most productive time was between 7 and 9 am. Now, as there are evening networking events and industry meetings, things are more fluid. Because we collaborate internationally, with the time differences meetings occasionally happen at 6 am or 6 pm.
First thing I do is choose my top 3 to-dos for the day. Some days are fully dedicated to client work and others to running the business or working with the marketing and analytics community.
When do you first check your email?
Well, it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up! Usually just before I pick my to-dos for the day.
Do you have any tips for dealing with email?
Since our company email addresses are public, email spoofing is reality we have to put up with. Part of being visible. So setting up and maintaining good spam filtering rules is needed.
Client and project email is handled about every couple of hours and categorized. I encourage staff and associates not to mix topics and conversations without changing the subject line.
Email routing to folders is key for industry email. Reading is necessary to keep up with online marketing so I receive a lot of newsletters and alerts. I scan the subject lines once a day and delete the majority without reading.
Work-life balance takes constant work.”
What does your typical day look like?
We have client meetings at their offices, so when I am in the office, 8:30 to 9 am. A typical day is a mix of business development and client project work. Client work may involve customer research, market research, auditing web analytics implementations, making recommendations or training and coaching. In addition to business development, non-client work also includes contributing to the analytics and marketing community through the Web Analytics Association, Canadian Marketing Association and Emetrics conferences.
What’s the most interesting thing about your job?
I love finding solutions to clients’ business improvement problems, helping them answer their questions with insights from data. We have standard processes that we apply to a very diverse group of customers and industries.
The job is interesting because our clients are interesting, their opportunities are interesting and the ‘field’ is constantly changing. New challenges, new technology, new techniques.
Why did you decide to focus and specialize in the area of Web Analytics?
I definitely took a long and winding road to focusing on Web Analytics – engineering, sales, distribution, IT, industrial marketing, ebusiness. Back in 2005, when I founded ClickInsight, there were very few consulting companies specializing in online optimization and web analytics. Analytics allows progress to be measured and being able to measure success is very satisfying. Feedback is built into the job.
Analytics jobs, whether web analytics, social analytics, data mining or business intelligence, are very hot at the moment. Demand for trained analysts is greater than supply, which is not surprising since marketers (and their CEOs) want more accountability from marketing.
How do you approach productivity?
Productivity is a challenge to any business owner.”
There are no quick fixes. You have to focus on your priorities and work hard to stay focused.
Don’t try to do it alone. Join a mastermind group, seek out mentorship or coaching to find out what you are uniquely good at and then shed or delegate all the other non-essentials.
This is easy to say but tough to do. In addition to coaching and mastermind, I read a lot. So here’s a short reading list: Two books by Patrick Lencioni that I recommend are “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)” and “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable”. These are good books regardless of whether you have a job in a company or are running your own business.
And to find what your natural talents are buy a copy of “Strengthsfinder 2.0” by Tom Rath, which comes with a code for a free online assessment, and the Kolbe A index, available at Kolbe.com.
Do you have a good work-life balance?
Work-life balance takes constant work. On a weekly basis, I don’t have balance. I try to balance on a monthly or quarterly basis.
To achieve balance, working on the productivity and focus areas I mentioned in the previous question are key.
Don’t load up to 100% capacity or you won’t have room to adjust when unplanned things happen (and they always do! ).
Use technology so that you can work from anywhere but don’t commit to always being connected and accessible.
Can you share a personal or business challenge that was hard to deal with and how you overcame it and what you learned from it?
The decision to leave my corporate job and start my own business was very difficult. I left a great company and great group of people with whom I had great relationships. But trying consulting was like an itch that would not go away. So I left.
After leaving, for the first while, there were many times when I thought I had made a mistake. However, at about the 6 month mark, having attended quite a few educational and networking events and acquired a small business mentor, it became clear why that itch to try consulting was there. I needed more change than I was getting in my corporate life – a symptom of this was that I moved jobs every 2 years, and kept switching to new functional disciplines. I was also seeking the freedom to choose the area I spend my time on. Not easy to achieve, but as I come up to my 7th year as a consultant, we’re there and ready to move on to newer bigger challenges.
What keeps you motivated and passionate about your work?
Constant change keeps things interesting. Great customers, associates and an awesome freely collaborating international network.
What is your favourite quote of all time?
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” –Theodore Roosevelt
In your industry, what is the biggest trend or opportunity you are seeing right now?
New tools arrive, evolve and change. However, the biggest trend is that demand for qualified, experienced analysts will continue to rise and be strong. With that, there is an increased need for defining what ‘qualified’ and ‘experienced’ is. Two years ago, the Web Analytics Association launched a certification program* for awarding a Certified Web Analyst (CWA) designation. Passing an exam is required to obtain the CWA and the exam is not open to anyone. There are minimum experience criteria that must be met before the applicant is allowed to write the CWA exam.
Why am I sure of increasing demand? The value of data-driven decision making has been recognized by mainstream marketing. Last year, the CMO Council published their annual Marketing Outlook Report, describing the focus for C-level marketing executives this year. The top 3 areas were Multiply Marketing Performance, Redefine the Customer Experience, and Use Insights to Grow Brand Equity. Two of the top 3 require competency working with data to get useful insights.
* I currently chair the Certification Board that oversees the standards for this designation.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
Likely bored. Can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.