Improving Analytics Success through Communication

Anna Lewis speaking at Superweek about communication

This week I have had the wonderful pleasure of speaking at Superweek analytics conference in Hungary. In a week full of technical discussions about AI, GA4, server side GTM, predictive modelling and more, I broke the mould and delivered a talk about communication. 

Why is that? 

Well, we have so many amazing skills between us in the industry, but without communication we cannot achieve our full potential. For example –  

    • We have amazing data – but unless the results are communicated, it is worthless. 

    • We have this great idea but unless the benefit of it is communicated, no one will action it. 

Furthermore, communication is one of those skills that as soon as you can talk, people think you’re competent at communication. But we’re not. Many of us do not learn all of these skills naturally and we don’t get taught at school either. We enter the workplace with a vague idea of how to talk to people, but have so much to learn. From social cues we might miss to how to word an email in a way that will actually get the required attention and action. Communication comes into everything we do. 

I was inspired to do this topic having thought about all of these issue we faced and seeing how many talks at previous conferences came down to communication needing to be improved. I also had some great conversations about this idea and was encouraged to go for it by Jeff Sauer and Mariia Bocheva, as well as a number of other people, so thank you anyone who spurred me on!

Here are my top tips summarised, but keep reading below for the summary of the key lessons shared and also some that people discussed with me after the talk. Hearing other people’s opinions and experiences on this was really interesting and valuable. It also emphasised my message that one size does not fit all – we must always customise how we communicate to the situation at the time. 

My top tips for you:

  • Think about the objective of your communication
  • How you can make them see the benefit of taking the action you’re suggesting? 
  • Consider your tone of voice, remember to be kind.
  • Template common communication and write business wide rules / guidance to help everyone do their best
  • Speak their language – be it technical, marketing speak or fluffy
  • Remember to be empathetic, listen and (attempt to) care
  • Learn handy scripts for when you know you often don’t know what to say (see slides)
  • Think about other people’s situation and communication preferences, do they like the details or simple information? 
  • Do they need personal touches or find them superfluous / too early in the relationship
  • Think about how this communication might be relevant to them. Why should they care?!

Extra Thoughts:

These thoughts and clarifications are important to highlight, they all came out of the questions and conversations I had with people after delivering the talk, showing how much debate this is all open to, how many different things to consider and how we can never cover this completely in a 40 minute talk!!

Working remotely brings challenges where you can’t see people’s body language, so you need to use other methods like asking if they’re still following, instead of reading them to find out. We also have to take into account how we work together as a team and build relationships and continue communication whilst not in the same office, I suggested regular coffee catch ups on zoom, leaving zoom open in case people just need company online and trying to meet up in person when you can. 

Yehoshua Coren pointed out that my “alternatives to no” isn’t always the best approach, which is a very good point, it is important not to avoid no completely, especially with children. There is another really beneficial way to tackle a “no” without avoiding the no completely. In this situation it is important to validate the persons opinion or request, “I understand that you want xyz”, and what would be natural to most people here is to then say “but unfortunately…” whereas the “but” puts the negative expectation in place. So the best way to handle this is to say “I understand you want xyz, and if we do … then …”. By using “I understand… and…” you can show that you really do get them and have their best interests in mind, you also then work together with them through the “and” statement to positively encourage the outcome you’re looking for. 

Aurélie Pols discussed with me afterwards that although the British often put “I hope you’re well” in an email, this is something French people feel much less comfortable with. Instead, they’re happy to just jump straight to the point, or once you have built up a relationship with them enough you can add some more personal niceties to it. Other nationalities also have a tendency to be more receptive to different structures, so this back up my point nicely about how important it is to think about who we are talking to and take that into account in all communication. 

Another great point to clarify from my session is I said keep things positive, but what I meant is not to sugar coat it and pretend everything is ok, but when faced with a challenging situation be open about the options available and supportively, pragmatically approach it to ensure you reach the optimal solution. 

This is something I like to think we do well as an agency, we pride ourselves on not bullshitting people, we are straight talking about what is going on so that everyone is always clear on where they stand.  

A number of people also discussed with me how good it was to hear that they’re not the only people who felt they had to learn these skills, it is a shame that these are not taught more. As an industry we have such a wide breadth of people with many different brains and whilst this is wonderful for achieving so many different things, I think it is great to step back and think about how we all work differently. Understanding how neurodiverse brains work, how other cultures typically work and overall being more emotionally educated will really help us all achieve even more success both individually and collectively. It is rare to step back and thing about these soft skills, but so important.

Finally, whilst I threw out many many tips and insist people must think about this and practice these techniques – please also don’t start overthinking it all, just keep trying. After all, we are all people, just talking to other people, trying to do the right thing. Its ok to make mistakes. Just be kind and keep doing your best. 

This is more of a conversation starter and something to get you thinking more about people and how you can communicate effectively. I won’t ever claim to be perfect at this. I have just noticed that it has been beneficial to teach myself these techniques and I look forward to learning even more from others in future! Do get in touch with your favourite tips or techniques and I can add them in too!


Here are the slides if you wish to take a look for yourself:


I also presented a shorter version of this talk at BrightonSEO and the recording is now available here. If the SuperWeek version becomes available as a recording I will add this in too. 

Finally, huge thanks to Zoli, Petra and the whole Superweek team and community, it really is such a welcoming event with many great talks, on and off stage!