Do you look at Google Analytics and feel awful things? Do you wish that someone could be your data compass and point you in the right direction to help your business? You could probably use one of the many popular data tools out there on the web.

The Portland State University’s Professional Development Center held another Digital Marketing Breakfast over at the lovely Smith building at PSU. The #PDXDMS crew created a panel comprised digital marketing, social media and data analysts from around the city who talked about their favorite tools. It was a quick refresher course as to what’s available for free, a small sum or a whole bunch of cash, to supercharge your business’ data analytics and operations.

It wasn’t the usual case study and lesson from a local pro, but it was a quick intro to a toolbox of great applications that can potential change the way we approach data at our day to day gigs.

Some notable moments:

Adam Ware of SwellPath recommended a handful of tools, like Google Tag Manager, SEM Rush, SEOmoz and other things, while reminding the crowd that we should always be focusing on three key steps when dealing with data:

  1. Collecting the right data: Gathering the wrong stuff is a big waste of time and no one likes wastes of time-- especially your manager or boss.
  2. Analyzing the right data: Just because it's all in front of your face doesn't mean you have to analyze everything.
  3. Making informed, key decisions from the right data: After completing Steps One and Two properly, this is the part that makes you look amazing, assuming you come up with great and actionable key insights from all that data.

Nate Angell of Little Bird amazed the audience with a sneak peek at some new Little Bird functionality. He explained the growing importance of thought leadership and authorship in search rankings and how Little Bird helps organizations quickly identify thought leaders, but also hone in on the content they enjoy.

You can start to skim the idea of what it’s like to get into your favorite professional, expert or entrepreneur’s mind and drive in 6th gear towards expertise. It’s like on the verge of hacking Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. Okay, maybe not. Still– a pretty cool tool, that Little Bird.

Parting thoughts...

Angell drew a paralel between why we enjoy the internet and our wiring as social human beings. We’re really hitting up the web to learn, understand and engage, just like we do with other folks in real life. Well, we do all that IRL at least with folks whom we enjoy spending time with. It’s a great point that I think a lot of people don’t acknowledge from day to day.

We aren’t really doing anything new on the web in terms of how we interact with people. We’re just doing it digitally. It reminds me a bit of Noirin Plunkett’s talk at Write the Docs. Plunkett’s a super English translator and beautiful human being who speaks about how our current method of digital communications, mainly text, lacks empathy.

As we replace many parts of real-life interaction, engagement and learning with the digital kind, we need to make sure we don’t lose the empathy that text inherently removes. As we rely more and more on tools to automate work, we can’t neglect the narrative flow, cognitive approaches, instinctive qualitative analysis and wholehearted love and empathy that a real flesh-and-blood human being brings to the table.