I came to a realization recently while I was working on a project for Conductor on the natural search visibility of the Fortune 500 – All marketers should learn and use mySQL.
Ok, not all of them. There are a certainly marketers who don’t regularly deal with lots of data – whether that’s leads, or research, or a need to do some data analysis that is beyond Excel’s capabilities – but I can’t think of a lot of scenarios that wouldn’t benefit from some serious data manipulation.
I do sympathisze with those who rely on others to do their analysis – but et me make the following arguments on why it’s critical that a good marketer can roll up their sleevs and dig into the a pile of csvs or premade databases.
- If you’re outsourcing your data analysis to an IT department, they’re going to give you what you ask for. And not a lot more. And probably not very quickly.
- It’s hard to know what you’re looking for – and even harder to be inspired on what to look for – if you can’t take a look at the way the data is structured, you may be missing some intesting and valuable insights.
- The very process of creating your own databases, and mining valuable business information from them expands your horizons on what’s possible. Trust me – you will aim higher.
Now I’m not making an argument that all marketers need to be database experts. You really shouldn’t be worried about performance, reliability, or redundancy. If you’re worrying about these things – call in your IT department. But next time you’re thinking about picking up the phone and asking an analyst for some info – try it yourself.
The easiest way to jump right into it is to download mySQL and run it on your machine. (A development machine if you have one). It’s free, and supported by the open source community. There are two pieces – the mySQL engine itself, and the Query browser – the GUI that you’ll use to load, manipulate, and yes, query the data.
And as a final piece – you get major street cred from the ‘real’ developers once you start throwing ORDER BY arguments when you’re talking at the water cooler.