Val Lopez spends her days sifting through data analytics. Where some might get lost in numbers, she is able to discern a story.
The challenge of her job as a Tactical Marketing Analyst is telling that story.
“Data and analytics has been the newest and biggest thing everywhere. But it’s something so new to agency life that it’s hard to prove ourselves,” Val said.
“It’s been a huge hurdle, just helping people understand the importance,” she said.
Val is a member of the Data and Analytics team at LaneTerralever, a team she helped start two years ago.
She took some time to talk about being a woman in analytics, how she helps clients see the value in marketing analytics, and advice for other women interested in a similar career.
You studied business in college [Val graduated from University of Rochester with a degree in business]. How did you end up on the Data and Analytics team?
I first applied at LaneTerralever as a traffic coordinator. I just wanted to get started. After my interview, [the COO] saw my statistical background and ended up changing my position to Operations Analyst.
There, I was learning how to create reports… I did that for my first six months here. And then Joel [Val’s former manager] and I started the Data and Analytics team at LT.
It was just me and him. We just ran with what we knew. It was a lot of social analytics, and I got introduced to Google Analytics.
How did you develop the skills you needed for your new role?
Just by doing it. I didn’t really learn what I’m doing in college. The statistical side and analysis, college prepared me for.
But all the tools that I use -- Google analytics, Google Tag Manager -- I didn’t learn that in college, because it wasn’t a marketing-based degree.
When [current manager] Mark came in is when I really started doing more web analytics.
How has your new manager helped you grow?
Other than being my boss, he’s a really great mentor. There’s not a lot of data analysts or people that have done what he has. He has his masters in math, he’s a statistician.
He has so much knowledge that I’m just trying to get from him.
Have you always been interested in a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) related career?
Starting out, I never thought I’d be in this field, but now that I am, it makes sense.
My family is very STEM-oriented. My dad’s an engineer, my older sister is a chemical engineer, my younger sister is a computer scientist. They definitely influenced what I’m doing now.
When was that "aha" moment that a career in analytics was right for you?
Whenever I get excited about something, that’s always an ‘aha’ moment for me. It could be something as simple as when I get something to work, like using Google Tag Manager because it’s so new to me. When it works, I get excited.
There hasn’t been one ‘aha’ moment of my career. As long as I’m interested and there’s those moments of little encouragements along the way, that’s what it’s about.
How do you help others, both in the agency and clients, see the importance of data and analytics?
It’s still a work in progress. A lot of internal team members have jumped on board and are super into it. When the client hears confidence in the team, that’s when they get it.
Do you have an example of when the value of data and analytics finally clicked with a client?
[A client] was getting a bunch of visitors to 404 pages. We kept telling them week over week, “This is costing you money, you shouldn’t have all of those.’
I used some of the ongoing time to look into it. All of their paid campaigns were driving to 404 pages. So they were setting up paid campaigns and sending users to error pages.
I figured out the cost per click and gave it to them in a cost analysis, rather than an ambiguous number. I was like, ‘This is exactly how much you’re losing because you’re sending people to 404s.’
We told them on a Friday at 4:00 PM. By Saturday morning, they were working on fixing it. It’s those wins that help establish us.
Knowing how to read the data and knowing how to communicate it to a client are two very different skills. How do you manage both?
That’s something important with our team.
We can be super technical, where we understand and it makes sense, but we also have to help our clients and our team members understand it. Because if they don’t, then why are we doing it?
A lot of clients need the step-by-step of why we’re doing something, why it’s important and what they’re going to get out of it.
What advice would you give to women who want to get into data and analytics?
Don’t let anything stop you. Not to sound tone-deaf or anything, but sometimes people use our gender or our cultural differences as a crutch, like ‘Oh I can’t, because of this.’ Don’t do that.
If you really want something, you’ll do it. So just do it. [Laughing] Can we get sued by Nike for saying that?