Welcome back Jules. An interview with our returning analytics-mad Strategy Director.

Written by Lee Colbran - 04 Oct 2021

Culture | 4 MIN READ

We caught up with our new team member, Julian Erbsloeh, who, after a year away, rejoined us as a Strategy Director. During the chat, we asked Julian how he got into analytics and data, what he likes about it, what he will bring to his new role and what he thinks will happen with analytics and data in the future...

The opportunity to return to Fresh Egg in a new role, with a broader and more strategic focus, was something I could not ignore. If I learned one thing over the past year, it's that my digital skills and interests were so much broader than I could apply within the relatively narrow specialism of web analytics.

Julian Erbsloeh, Strategy Director

Julian Erbsloeh

You flew the Fresh Egg nest for 12 months but, you’ve returned, what did you miss?

After 8.5 great years at Fresh Egg and general upheaval created by COVID and two rounds of lockdown, I felt that I needed to check the exact shade of green of the grass on the other side.

While this was a valuable experience, I soon realised a few things that I really missed. First of all, I missed the good people of Fresh Egg. The smart, hard-working, boundary-pushing, outside the box thinking, knowledge-hungry, experience sharing, cake baking, shot slamming but most importantly, genuine and caring people I worked with for so many years. Forging new relationships is hard, especially when you try to do it remotely.

I also missed Fresh Egg's ruthless efficiency, especially with structure, processes, resourcing, and the clear lines of specialisms between teams and disciplines. This revelation might surprise some, as I was never the biggest fan of filling in my timesheets. However, all of the above provide a fundamental structure of support that allows everyone to focus on solving client problems - I missed that.

And then there were the fantastic clients that I also missed, the ones I worked with for many years. I won't name anyone. I can't be seen to have favourites 😉

And what made you decide to return?

The opportunity to return to Fresh Egg in a new role, with a broader and more strategic focus, was something I could not ignore. If I learned one thing over the past year, it's that my digital skills and interests were so much broader than I could apply within the relatively narrow specialism of web analytics.

Once I had decided to move on again from my previous job, I was trying to work out what that ideal role could look like for the next part of my career journey. Talking to a few people at Fresh Egg helped me immensely to understand what I wanted and did not want, what my strengths were and how I could best apply them to support a variety of organisations – it turns out there was a role like that, so they did not have to ask me twice.

What do you think you have learnt since you have been away?

During my time away, I almost exclusively worked on a single client which happens to be one of the biggest tech companies in the world. This opportunity opened up data at a scale previously unknown to me. With this role came lots of new challenges, tools, and processes. If I have learned one thing, it is working across enormous data sets from various sources, pulled and merged across multiple platforms and visualised, interpreted and reported through a plethora of channels.

I have also learned a lot about GA4, surrounded by a team of people who were super enthusiastic about this new platform and explored each new feature as soon as it became available. GA4’s data model is the future of web analytics, and there will be some exciting things to come in this space.

How has the world of analytics changed as a specialism during the last year?

I don't think the job or the specialism has changed much. There has been a lot of noise about GDPR and tracking, about first party and third party cookies, about whether or not the industry would still exist in another year or two.

The truth is, very little has changed in the past year. GDPR legislation for cookie compliance is clear, but we still see some major players not adhering to the rules, and it seems, without any punishment. Third-party cookies have fallen in disgrace, but we are still being tracked around the internet and re-targeted by ads that appear to know an awful lot about us.

The introduction of GA4 has been a breath of fresh air, with its much clearer data model and the ability to stream data straight into BigQuery, where it can be stored and processed to provide so much more than the GA user interface. However, this required new skills from web analysts and created even more specialist roles within an already specialist industry.

Subsequently, the most significant change within the specialism has to be the scarcity of talent. Demand for good web analysts, technical analysts, analytics developers, analytics managers etc., has never been higher, and it isn't easy to see how the industry will overcome this challenge.

You return as a strategy director, what are you most looking forward to in the role?

My background and greatest interest in digital is still data. I have seen how the efficient use of data can transform an organisation. With the tools available through the Google Cloud Platform and Google Marketing Platform, we now have immense power at our fingertips, accessible to anyone.

I am most looking forward to the projects and conversations that have scope to change how an organisation approaches digital, whether that is transformation, optimisation, re-calibration or whatever else it may be. Fresh Egg has a fantastic set of clients that are just at the right point of their journey to benefit from all of this new technology.

Fresh Egg also continuously attracts new clients with complex but super exciting needs. The prospect of helping them define a solution with a clear path and the ability to draw on a broad range of specialists to help along the way is exciting and inspiring for me.

Other than Google Analytics, what is your go to tool?

Over the past year, I have found the true power is not in the individual tool but in how well a suite of tools works together. It is exciting to have the ability to push data collected via Tag Manager into GA and then into BigQuery to modify and merge it with CRM data. From here, I send the data to Google Sheets, where I create graphs and tables that automatically update in a presentation deck every month - it's like a magic card trick coming together.

Google, (love 'em or hate 'em) has put an immense amount of investment into their suite of tools that are still mostly free to use. Combined with a clear idea of what one wants to achieve and a bit of experience, these tools help marketers achieve remarkable outcomes.

How did you get into the world of analytics?

I always had a keen interest in data that showed how users interacted with websites since I first set eyes on Google Analytics about 14 years ago or so. I still remember the then Head of Analytics and Adam pulling me into Adam’s small office when working as an SEO engineer at Fresh Egg (nearly ten years ago now).

They wanted to convince me to join the analytics team. I was never a massive fan of maths, but they must have seen something in me. They promised me that I could have my SEO job back if I hated it, so what could possibly go wrong?? Needless to say, I never looked back. 😊

Do your friends and family understand what you do for a job?

Well, for the past year, I could say 'I work for Google', and it wasn't just a gross simplification of what I do. I still remember my mother getting the giggles when I told her that my new job title was' Head of Insight' at some point in my career.

Now I tell them that I help organisations to define and fulfil their digital strategy. They pretend to understand what that means.

How do you see analytics and data progressing in the future? What are you excited about?

I have stopped trying to predict the future. We are currently in the middle of so many changes that it is hard to plan even for the medium term or know what to expect. One aspect I am sure of – data will always play a huge role for businesses, with growing numbers of data sources and the sheer volume of information. The challenge will always be to extract meaningful information from the data and apply that to provide tangible outcomes.

I encourage anyone with the slightest interest in data to pursue it. You will never have to look hard for your next job.

There is one version of the future where we (as internet users) own our personal data and can ‘trade’ access to that information with brands for discounts or access to certain services. I first heard about this maybe a couple of years ago and found the idea intriguing. Imagining a future where we all own our data - its value excites me.

But only last month, digital minister Oliver Dowden suggested that getting rid of the endless barrage of cookie banners through a ‘relaxation of the cookie legislation’ would be a desirable change. I choked on my cornflakes in horror when I read that! Let’s hope he does not get carried away.

Despite my affinity for and interest in all things data, I firmly believe that a user’s privacy is sacred and must be protected. Cookieless tracking technology exists, and we will always be able to anonymously track how users interact with websites to improve their experience. What we should not do, as an industry, is to gather personal information on our users without their explicit consent.

How do you stay on top of changes in the ever-changing world of analytics and data?

I love a good conference, especially the ‘in-person’ type. As an industry stalwart (can I say that?), I have built a great network of people from across the spectrum of digital marketing. Conferences like MeasureCamp, SuperWeek and MeasureSummit are great ways to check in on what everyone is doing.

Many conference talks are quite generic or top-level, but there are always a few real gems in between – the skill is picking the right track!

Being a Google Partner also helps stay ahead of changes across the Google stack, with early access to new features, beta testing and round table events where partners and power users get a chance to feedback on upcoming changes to functionality or the UI.

Chat with our Strategy team about your digital challenges

Describe working at Fresh Egg in a sentence

Fresh Egg is like my second family, where people share similar values, care about their work, and pursue inspiring interests outside of work. This mix makes for a well-rounded group of individuals, and conversation is never dull.

The greatest German football player of all time?

Didi Hamann. He scored the last goal at the old Wembley Stadium against England. He subsequently almost had a bridge leading to the new Wembley Stadium named after him, after fans (primarily German) hijacked a public poll to name what is now known as White Horse Bridge.

Didi Hamann Bridge was the top vote.

Nena or Lou Bega?

99 Luftballons 

Your favourite way to eat an egg?

A boiled egg (three minutes) with a bit of salt ‘n pepper, smashed on a toasted slice of sourdough. 

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