Finally got my R-Programming Certificate!

According to McKinsey Consulting, the US companies are facing an imminent shortage of analytical talent.

The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data.

Full Article: Big data: The next frontier for competition

Mckinsey _ analyst shortage

Looks like a call to serve and I’m game to “Do my bit”!  My chosen vocation, Digital Marketing is heavily driven by analytics to drive the development and refinement of campaigns. Therefore, I’ve recently enrolled in Johns Hopkins University’s excellent Data Analytics program (available via Coursera here).

Do Your Bit - Data Analytics

I’ve always had a fascination with tools that enable the tabulation and analysis of data, beginning with Excel, then Access and Filemaker Pro, and most recently R, which is an absolutely amazing, free, open-source tool for data analysis.

The JHU program includes an extremely challenging but excellent R Programming course, which I highly recommend. Though at times I felt like putting my head in a blender trying to figure out the programming assignments in the course, that is part of the education, and I was able to succeed by collaborating with peers in the course discussion boards and using online resources like StackOverflow.

I am very proud to have their R Programming certificate, and look forward to using R as a power-tool in my future career as a digital marketing analytics ninja.

R Programming_nickakrueger

For those of you wanting to do your bit and learn R, I also highly recommend the following resources for getting off the ground.


SWIRL (SoftWare Interactive R Learning) – This is a ridiculously awesome and amazing learning tool for R. You install R Studio (available here), install and load SWIRL, and off you go. SWIRL teaches you through interactive text-based lessons within the R console iteself, and feels more like a game than anything. The lessons fly by and are incredibly informative. I would work through them all once or twice before beginning the Johns Hopkins course, which will make the assignments much easier.


I also highly recommend working through Bucky Robert’s series of YouTube videos on R, hosted by The New Boston, a great, free, learning resource site. Bucky is great at explaining the basics in easy-to-understand terms, with a sense of humor to boot. I watched these while on the treadmill in the morning and found they really lubricated the learning process.

R for Marketing Research and Analytics

Lastly I recommend the book, “R for Marketing Research and Analytics” by Chapman and Feit, available on Amazon (here). Unlike the Johns Hopkins course, this book is focused on the use of R in a marketing context, with relevant exercises. My personal goal is to work through the entire text by 01/01/2016.

Ready to “Do your bit”? Good luck to you, and have fun!


Applying the MoR Test to evaluate social media strategy

There is a reason Avinash Kaushik is one of the foremost thought-leaders in the world of digital marketing. With roots in research and analytics, Kaushik quickly cuts to the case, using metrics to quantify the real-world value of specific campaigns.

In his article, “How To Suck At Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Businesses” Kaushik suggests many firms rush to social media merely because its there, connected to a large audience, without a clear rationale for why it makes sense to do so, resulting in lackluster results. For example:

Google’s Small Business page on Facebook the average “Amplification Rate” (the rate at which their followers share their content with others) is virtually zero – and the “Applause Rate” (Likes per post) is usually under 10. We’re talking Google here, and that’s how low the numbers are.

Google’s AdWords made over $35B last year, and their Facebook page has over 420,000 ‘Likes’, with the team generating new posts every day, yet usually generates zero shares.

Kaushik cites additional examples, including GE, which enjoys KPIs near zero for its own Facebook presence, begging the question, “what business value, brand or performance, was delivered?”


This leads to Kaushik’s proposal of the “MoR Test”, as a first-step in evaluating a firm’s investment in social media strategy, which is defined below.

MoR Test

It is pronounced the more test. It is an acronym for a test I often use in my consulting engagements. It stands for: Money off Roof test.

It is a simple test: Would we create more Social Media activity if we took all the money we are currently investing in Social Media and threw it all off the roof of our office building?

The way it works is that you compute the total cost of your Social Media program: SM employee salaries and benefits, agency fees, content acquisition/production costs, analyst salaries, executive time invested etc. Then, you withdraw that amount of money in $5 bills. Now you take the elevator, or stairs to be healthier, to the roof of your office building. During prime time, say noon, you throw the cash, off the roof. Surely, when cash is floating down from the sky, people will grab it and tweet it, write posts on Facebook, post pictures on Instagram, and of course videos on YouTube. Measure all this Social Media activity.

If the Social Media activity is more than what you are currently getting on your current social platforms, why are you on Social Media? If you simply want buzz, you are better off just throwing cash off your office building once a month. No?

The serious point is that when we choose to invest in Social Media, it comes at a cost. Not just what we are investing on Social Networks, but also what else we are not doing. The opportunity cost . Many companies don’t have mobile friendly websites. Their mobile apps, if they exist, are atrocious. When you search for them, if you find them, you end up on sub-optimal landing pages. Most don’t have decent display advertising strategies with Yahoo!. Their email marketing programs are, literally, leaving money and customer love on the table. Some have the worst lead gen page known to womankind. But. They have a regular presence on Social Networks.

If they fail the MoR test, why not take that money and invest in the aforementioned six ideas? The brand and performance ROI to the company is clear and direct.

Yet Kaushik goes on to highlight a number of cases with companies passing the MoR test including; Innocent, Carphone Warehouse, GoPro, and Mailchimp – providing analysis on each and factors for success (or lack thereof). I highly recommend reading for any social media marketing manager.


Read the full article by Avinash Kaushik “How To Suck At Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Businesses” (here)

Taking a Mid-Career Plunge Into Digital Marketing and Analytics

I am presently in a “career-transition adventure”, making friends, learning about companies, and making decisions that may determine my trajectory for the rest of my life. I’m in good company, as about eight-million fellow Americans are presently doing the same thing. (Hey guys!)

A bit about me …

I’m a husband, father of four, manager, and all-around fixer.

I’m creative, curious, and future-focused with a bias for action. My passion for making things is manifest through many hobbies including gardening, cooking, maintaining a small fleet of aging Toyotas, and conducting small to massive DIY projects around the house.

Professionally, I love pioneering new arenas, building new operations, and developing talents in the people who run them. I believe in doing a good job, having fun while working hard, and that all business is personal.

I’ve worked 25 years in graphic communications, design, and digital production. I have a B.S. in Operations Management from the University of Memphis, an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of North Texas, and have recently concluded a 17-year career with the world’s largest integrated communications company, RR Donnelley.

Time for a change

For the past 9 years I led a large team on-site at RadioShack’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. My group produced nearly all print-marketing communications programs including circular, in-store POP, direct mail and packaging, with services including creative development, copywriting, photography, photo-illustration and retouch, desktop production, digital asset management, technology-based services and business process consulting. RadioShack’s bankruptcy resulted in the discharge of all vendor contracts, and I was obliged to dissolve the business.

I am now in transition, and taking the opportunity to upgrade my skills. However, it’s been challenging to decide where to invest my time. This is a chance to re-tool and choose a trajectory for (potentially) the rest of my working life, and I want to make sure it is in a field that is growing, stimulating, and populated with smart, creative people.

Discovering digital marketing and analytics

Over the last couple of months I’ve parsed hundreds of job postings, and have seen substantial demand for Digital Marketing and Analytics.  Nine years in traditional marketing has provided some peripheral exposure to the field, which has grown and evolved during that time, and recent study on the subject has been a real eye-opener. I’ve decided to dive in and add digital marketing to my portfolio of skills and experience.

Why digital marketing and analytics?

This article indicates that 71% of companies have gaps in their digital marketing teams, with the biggest gap being in analytics.


All indicators are that digital marketing will continue to displace traditional marketing, especially as digitally-integrated millennials enter the workforce and wield their effect as a consumer powerhouse. This will continue to increase the pressure on companies that are already struggling to find capable staff. Unlike petrochemical engineering, which was recently touted as one of the hottest career tracks in the country (and later tanked as oil prices dropped), digital marketing and analytics isn’t closely tied to the fate of any specific commodity. With all indicators pointed toward growth in demand and a shortage of talent, it looks like a great bet for people with a bent toward marketing, technology, and data.

My education in operations management and finance was heavy in decision science, information systems and statistical analysis. Additionally, my work in premedia has been highly focused on information technology and the development of expert systems used to manage marcom information flows. Digital marketing and analytics is a natural extension of my education and experience, and I intend to immerse myself in the subject over the next several weeks.

Fortunately the internet is awash with free and inexpensive resources to acquire proficiency in the craft. Google doing their part to fill the gap by hosting free training programs through their Analytics Academy, and I have already begun work toward a certificate in Digital Marketing and Analytics through the University of Illinois Urbana-Campaign and Coursera.

Why the blog?

I’ve set up this site to share thoughts on the overlapping roles of art, science and craft in the business of communications and marketing, to share discoveries (as well as the odd side-interest), and connect with others doing the same thing.

Please feel free to comment below with your perspective, advice, and questions.

In the mean time, best wishes and have a great Labor Day weekend!