Interview with Mikko Piippo, co-founder and partner of Hopkins


We continue our Expert Opinion column, and today we present to your attention an interview with Mikko Piippo, a digital consultant, and technical expert. Mikko is a co-founder and partner of Hopkins and Google Analytics Enthusiast. Also, he regularly speaks at events and conferences about web analytics and conversion optimization (Marketing Analytics Summit, Crawl & Indexation Summit, etc.).

Mikko Piippo

As always, here are the main topics for navigation:

Could you say a few words about yourself and your previous experience?

In 2016, I co-founded a digital marketing agency in Helsinki. Today, Hopkins is one of the biggest agencies in Finland.

Actually, I’m now in my second career. In the first one, I spent my days reading medieval Latin chronicles and handwritten German and Swedish documents from the 13th to 15th centuries…

Around 2006 I decided to leave academia. After three years in business school I was finally ready to take the leap into the unknown.

I didn’t get a job I wanted in the financial industry. Later I realised that economics, finance and math was a pretty good background for digital marketing and analytics!

Skills and problems

What hard and soft skills are most important for analysts today?

In digital analytics, analysts very often are also responsible for data collection. Everyone would love to do fancy predictive analytics using the latest machine learning libraries but in my reality html, css and javascript are more important than R and Python.

For everyday work, the skill to speak and write in a way non-analysts is the most important soft skill. Without this it is difficult to make a difference in any organization.

What’s the biggest mistake an analyst can make? Can you share some of your analytical mistakes?

Not having a clear idea about the quality of data and trusting the data too much.

Six or seven years ago, I analyzed the international traffic to a Finnish corporate website. I was surprised to see so many sessions from Microsoft in the Google Analytics data. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise I was just looking at sessions created by bots instead of real people...

Do you think miscommunication between analysts and marketing teams is common? Do you have any recommendations on how to overcome it?

In the last couple of years, I have mostly worked with product analytics with little communication with marketing teams. But in general, digital analytics specialists and marketers speak in a very different language. And as we rarely have experience from the “other side” it is difficult to understand each other.

What professional resources or events can you recommend for analysts?

My favorite events are MeasureCamps held around the world. Even the virtual MeasureCamps have been a great way to meet old and new friends from all around the world. In addition, Superweek is an event I try to attend every year.

What knowledge are analysts and marketing specialists missing in order to make companies data-driven?

I don’t think it is really about knowledge on the grassroot level. It is all about decision-making at the top of the organization. Unfortunately, we often lack the connections to the top of the organization and the skills to convince people to change something that seems to function.

Analytical challenges

What analytical challenges do you have at your company right now? What tools do you need to overcome them?

Lack of data. Every analyst must deal with the loss of data caused by ITP, ETP, GDPR and other scary acronyms… Currently, improving the data collection and the sample size by optimising the consent banners is a central challenge for us.

What difficulties do you see when it comes to implementing analytics and how would you assess the overall development of the market?

In a way, GDPR has given analytics a boost: in every organisation people realise things have to change. So I would see this rather as an opportunity for data specialists. We can help organisations to implement first party analytics solutions, collect higher quality data and use the smaller samples in a smarter way.

How can an analyst have a greater impact on marketing? How can they be useful for the marketing team?

Many analysts still work in organisations doing CRAP analytics: collecting, reporting, avoiding analysis and postponing action.

In order to have greater impact on marketing (or on product development) the analysts should move to CARE analytics: collect data, analyse it, recommend actions and experiment more.

With this change, they can be more useful than ever.

The now and then of the analytics

What do you think is the future of marketing analytics? What trends do you see coming and what’s in demand?

Unfortunately, many marketers seem to think that marketing analytics is made redundant by advertising platforms’ machine learning black boxes which optimise everything by themselves.

I still think we’re needed in the future, too. As long as people make marketing decisions we need people to analyse data and to explain what kind of improvements are needed to feed the black boxes with more useful data.

Another interesting trend is migration from Google’s stack to alternatives. For example, nowadays I mostly work with Matomo Analytics and Piwik PRO. I think this is a welcome change!

What problems do you see on the market today?

Lack of people is certainly the critical problem. It’s difficult to hire experienced analysts and it takes a long time to train juniors. On the other hand, for obvious reasons working from home is nowadays more popular than ever. This should make it easier to find competent people from other cities and other countries.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

Stéphane Hamel — I have always enjoyed his talks at Superweek!

Summing up

If you want to benefit your company, change your approach to digital analytics to the CARE way: collect data that matters, analyse the data, recommend actions, experiment and execute.

We really appreciate Mikko’s honest responses about and sharing his experience. We hope this interview was useful and you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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