060: Brie’s BEAST Beacon: Mentoring Marvels and Analytical Adventures

C: Podcast

  • Join us for an inspiring episode as we explore Brie Anderson’s journey from soccer scholarship to digital marketing expertise, discovering the power of saying “YES!” to opportunities and effective mentorship. Gain valuable insights into navigating digital landscapes, leveraging data, and empowering yourself in today’s ever-evolving world. Don’t miss this enriching discussion filled with actionable analytics advice.

Key Points + Topics

  • [01:40] Brie Anderson attended university at a small private college on a sports scholarship for playing soccer. She originally majored in communications with the intent to go into radio work. Eventually, she realized she was unhappy with her current focus and path and decided to transfer. She moved to Western Kentucky University and joined their digital marketing degree program. While all of this was happening, she also started working with a startup in the music industry. Like many of our guests, Brie attributes much of what she learned in her college years to come from saying “Yes,” to opportunities. 
  • [05:01] A mentor, to Brie, is someone who is willing to share lessons regarding not only their career but their life as well. They serve as a sounding board for their mentees. Brie’s first boss out of college was her first (major) mentor. She joined a marketing agency that was mostly family operated. When she joined they had just celebrated their 20th year in business. The owners’ children drifted in and out of working for the agency. The owner was very smart and a very good mom. Since the agency was so small, she kind of took all the employees under her wing. To Brie’s credit, she always took the initiative and put in the effort to make the opportunities presented to her successful. It’s an important element of the mentor relationship – an amazing mentor is only as good as their mentee is willing to be open and actually try something. 
  • [08:10] One of the best parts of working in marketing is that, by nature, we’re constantly connecting with others and networking. Ultimately, all of those Brie considers influential mentors in her life have been colleagues in marketing who have taken a chance on her. She recalls attending her first MozCon as a newbie in the business. She sat down at a lunch table with a woman and just started chatting about SEO and how she was learning so much. The woman said, “You’re going to do really well in this industry.” As it turns out, she was a bit of a legend in the SEO world – Dr. Marie Haynes. Ever since that conversation, she and Brie have remained connected and Dr. Haynes is always sure to share words of encouragement whenever Brie shares her challenges with mental health. 
  • In a similar way, Brie found herself connecting with Greg Gifford. She would always live tweet (she refuses to call it “X” regardless of the recent name change) when she attended talks at conferences. She found herself posting from Greg’s talks often. And when she began speaking at events, he was one of the first to cheer her on and help her get past her imposter syndrome. Later in her conference-attending life, she had just shifted to working for herself and was deciding if she wanted to start an agency or what her structure might be. She met Blake at a conference and started discussing his experience with agency work and other setups. He introduced her to Nick LeRoy – the SEO freelance guru. They bounce ideas off each other to this day in their non-agency, freelance lives. 
  • [13:38] In pursuit of full transparency, the Digital Marketing Mentor crew sends each guest a questionnaire before the recording to get wheels turning regarding mentorship and their careers. When Brie was completing her’s, she realized she couldn’t name any specific people she was mentoring. This bummed her out. So, she spoke with her wife, who helped her realize while she may not have formal, defined mentorships with anyone, she’s dedicated to being open about her mental health struggles as well as the challenges of being an entrepreneur and having a family. As a result of her openness, people will send her messages on social media and she’s always sure to respond and help counsel or provide guidance any way she can. She knows how incredibly difficult it can be for someone to ask for help; it’s not a skill that comes easily to many of us. So, if someone is making the effort to reach out, she’s determined to help any way she can. 
  • [17:42] A good mentor relationship is a two-way street. Brie feels this is something often overlooked. If a mentor is willing to open themselves up to you, you have to go and do the work. She had firsthand experience of this at her first agency job. She would make suggestions to the owner, which would often require some changes to be made and some effort to be put in. Brie’s boss had given her a space for open and honest communication, but Brie also put in the work to bring her changes to life. 
  • [19:05] Google officially retired Universal Analytics (UA) for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in July of 2023 (though it certainly feels longer). Whenever Google announced it was going to be moving to a new tracking platform, she immediately started working on learning it and ultimately created a training course for others based on her learnings. A big misconception with GA4 is that of “missing data.” Brie knows that GA4 has almost everything UA offers. There are a couple things, such as site speed, that can be pushed through using tag manager and some functionality in multi channel funnel reporting. But the majority of the data people were using is still there; it just takes some work and tweaking to display it. The customization is both the best and worst part of GA4. It doesn’t make much sense “out of the box” to users who were used to UA or previous iterations of Google Analytics. She’s currently creating a course to teach people how to use “collections” effectively. Collections are essentially what custom reports were in UA. Like most data-lovers, Brie appreciates working on Analytics projects for eCommerce websites because of the amount of data and immediate results you can gather and observe. 
  • [22:40] Playing competitive sports for fourteen years certainly helped build skills in Brie that help her today, as an entrepreneur. On the soccer field, she played goalie. This meant, despite soccer being a team sport, she was often primarily reliant on herself. She learned how to have persistence through challenges. This helped her learn to, as her (military) father would say, “Embrace the suck!”
  • [24:20] When Brie first entered the world of digital marketing, it was through the lens of music promotion via social media. She was working with her musician friends, and social media content creation was basically going to concerts and taking pictures. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?! Then, she joined her first agency and was told her social media clients were “a sandwich shop, blast-resistant buildings, and storage pods.” This helped her discover she’s not adept at creative writing or content creation. Later in her career, she was told to manage search ads for a nonprofit organization with a $1000 budget. And she was terrified of losing their money. So, she taught herself analytics. At the end of the campaign she was able to demonstrate how the $1000 spent brought in over $3000 in donations. That was the moment it clicked for her that marketing could mean relying on the numbers to make the creative decisions. And that’s what she enjoys. 
  • [30:00] Brie describes her business, BEAST Analytics, as “helping people collect, understand, and use their data.” This means setting up tracking, creating tracking plans, and helping people understand how and what they’re tracking. She knows the education piece is critical. She’s always stressing that while she may make a given decision based on the data, these numbers do ultimately represent people, so it’s not always so black and white. She knows she has to speak the language of her clients and help show them the data they want to see, not all of the metrics you want to show them. 
  • [31:58] A previous guest on The Digital Marketing Mentor said the following (about GA4), “There is less data, but it still provides the data we were truly using and actually needed. There’s less unnecessary fluff.” Brie agrees. She recalls a colleague saying “GA4 made us realize the UA was never perfect.” We had this idea that it was perfect and we were all getting ALL of the data. But it was sampled data, just like what we see now in GA4. If you truly want to see the raw, unsampled, user data, Brie says you could spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing your log files. But that’s not practical. She also reminds us that we get Google Analytics, an incredibly powerful data collection and analysis platform, for free. When she gets new clients, she asks them, “In a perfect world, what would Google tell you about your site visitors?” Then she sees if that info is something they CAN get and how to get it. She then teaches how they’re tracking it and what the data points are really showing them. She saw the switch to GA4 coming from a mile away. While many analytics users thought they’d never force the switch and retire UA, or they’d continuously push the deadline, she knew that cookieless browsing and privacy concerns would eventually force the change, even if Google didn’t. A world with GDPR, cookieless browsing (even coming on Chrome), and more is simply the world all of us, including Google, are living in. 
  • [36:18] Speaking of privacy, whenever Brie gets a new client who’s concerned about data collection via their website, she always tells them to consult with a privacy expert (though, she admits those are hard to find). She does a lot of cautioning and recommends they speak with a lawyer. When it comes to WHAT data they collect, if they don’t truly need it, she says don’t turn on the tracking for the “extra” data. And with cookieless browsing coming at us all, we’re going to have to learn to adjust and trust that the four different models Google is using to track and sample data is accurate enough for our purposes. 

Guest + Episode Links

Full Episode Transcript

Danny Gavin Host 01:02

Hey everyone, my name is Danny Gavin, founder of Optidge, marketing Professor and the Host  of the Digital Marketing Mentor. Today we have Brie Anderson, Owner of Beast Analytics. Brie has been working in marketing since she was 16 and delivered her first digital marketing plan. Since then, she’s grown to be a renowned expert in all things digital marketing and analytics. She’s now the owner of Beast Analytics, a speaker at conferences worldwide, which I saw her recently published in many different publications, and just this year, a mother. Congratulations. Today we’re going to be talking about all things analytics. How are you?

Brie Anderson Guest 01:33

I’m doing well, doing well. The little one is almost one now. He turns one in two weeks.

Danny Gavin Host 01:40

Congrats, and I’m sure that’s changed your life in many ways that you knew or didn’t know, but you share a lot about your kid and being a mom and it’s really awesome. Obviously, I work with a lot of women and a lot of moms, and it’s lovely that we live in a day and age where you can be a rockstar digital marketer but also be a rockstar mom.

Brie Anderson Guest 02:00

Yeah, absolutely. We definitely feel lucky that this was kind of something that was on the horizon for a long time for us. We were really able to prepare and we feel very lucky for that. So, yeah, definitely life changing, but in the best ways.

Danny Gavin Host 02:15

So, Brie, where did you go to school and what did you study?

Brie Anderson Guest 02:18

I started college at a small NAIA school. I played sports, so I played soccer. I had a full ride scholarship to just like a small private school I actually went to. I was majoring in communications because I thought I was going to work on the radio. Glad I didn’t go down that route. That would not have been great. Not to say that you can’t do it, but options are definitely limiting. I went to school for communications.


At that time I had already been working with bands. That’s kind of how I got into marketing, so I had already started working with bands and things of that nature. I started working with a startup, a music startup. They were working on a social media platform aimed for musicians, bands, promoters, venues, labels, things of that nature. And at one point the owner kind of asked me. He was like you should just drop out of college and move to Nashville and do this full time. And I was like, yeah, my parents would not go for that. But thanks, and things weren’t really working out like playing soccer anymore.


I just wasn’t happy and so I decided, hey, this is something that could actually be my future and at the time I was really focused on community building and awareness for these bands and music products I was working with. So I actually found one of the only schools in Kentucky which is where I was at the time offering a digital marketing degree specifically focused on social media marketing, and I transferred to Western Kentucky University. I worked at an agency, I interned at an agency and then I interned for the corporate Airmark, which does all the food services at the college, interned at another agency in town and even did some consulting and stuff like that throughout college. So I went to college, but I would definitely say that the majority of my schooling was in just learning, just from saying yes to opportunities and really getting involved in the industry in any way that I could.

Danny Gavin Host 04:26

Love it. So, when you look back, are there any key experiences that you had, whether it’s inside the classroom or outside the classroom, and internships, that you feel that paved the way to where you are today?

Brie Anderson Guest 04:37

Absolutely so. My sophomore year of college, after sophomore year, so right before junior year I interned at a small agency here in Wichita. It was small, like family owned. I was the first person they brought in to do things like digital. The owner, really kind of like, gave me the opportunity to learn anything that I wanted to learn. You know, they let me run Google ad campaigns, they let me run social ad campaigns. I was running social media, doing social media accounts and things of that nature, but if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to learn, actually do the things and learn they brought me in for meetings and all those things there’s no way that I would be where I am today without somebody taking that opportunity or giving me that opportunity.

Danny Gavin Host 05:28

I love that and I think that ties in well to what we’re about to talk in, which is going to be mentorship. So I definitely want to talk more about your experience at that first agency, but before we get there, how would you define a mentor?

Brie Anderson Guest 05:40

I think a mentor is just someone that’s willing to share not just lessons in their career but life lessons with you and help you figure out how that applies to you as an individual, but also they’re kind of there to be a sounding board. I have a friend that always says we make swim lanes, not like one-way streets, so that they kind of give you that swim lane and help you go wherever you need to go, want to go.

Danny Gavin Host 06:11

So you’ve mentioned in the past and what you just mentioned before about that first agency really giving you room to do whatever you wanted, in a way, right, have the room to learn, be part of meetings. So tell me about that owner. Why was she such an amazing mentor?

Brie Anderson Guest 06:27

She had worked in marketing for a long time, so her agency I think it was when I graduated college. I actually went and worked at this agency right out of college and they were celebrating like 20 years of being an agency. So they started as a traditional marketing company. It was her, her son, her daughter and one other person and her kids came and went. They would work at the agency, they would go off to do their own thing. But it was out of circumstance. She was in a position where it was the choice she had to make and she’s just very, very smart. But I also think she was a good mom. So I think that has to do with some of it right, and because it was such a small agency, I think she kind of took all of us under her wing.


To give myself some credit, I’m very much like a doer. They would give me something and I’d be like okay, it’s done, okay, it’s done. I like to get my hands dirty and learn new things and she always gave me the room to present things. So it was always a comfortable setting. She always allowed me to come to her with ideas. She would hear me out.


Even if they weren’t, she was still taking orders by fax. And I was like, hey, we can still take orders by fax. And I was like, hey, we can get rid of the fax machine. Because I shared an office with her at the time, I was like we could probably be done with the fax machine. And she’s like no, like you know, I see what you’re saying and, yeah, some of our clients do. But, like you have to think, at that time though, they were still primarily traditional, so they were running newspaper ads, and we’re in Kansas, a lot of the newspapers are like rural small towns, and so she was like they still use fax machines, so like we have to keep the fax machine going, but like she always would hear me out and was very receptive to everything I had to say. So I think some of that’s because like I had proved that, like I was willing to do the work, but then she just kind of rewarded that.

Danny Gavin Host 08:24

Yeah. So if I were to interpret it, you were a good vessel. What I mean is it’s one thing to have this amazing mentor, but you yourself have to be willing to receive that and actually do something with it. It’s one thing to be a really good artist, but you need to have that clay or that palette in order to paint or to make it, and you definitely created that situation where your boss was able. She had someone to work with. So, moving to today, I know, working in your own agency, sometimes I can be a little bit lonely, but I do know that you’re lucky to have many amazing people that you consider to be mentors, like Greg Gifford, like Denman Nick Leroy. We’d love to talk about your relationship with them and why they are such good mentors to you.

Brie Anderson Guest 09:05

The really cool thing about this industry is that by nature, we’re connecting with people. We’re in marketing, whatever facet that may be which means we’re constantly networking with each other. Different times I’ve run into people that really what it all comes down to is all of these people took a chance on me at some point or like saw something in me that maybe I did see but I wasn’t sure of, or you know. They just really were there for me and, yeah, you know different points of my career that I really needed them to. Like. The earliest mentor I can think of that still mentors me to this day is Dr Marie Haynes, the first MozCon I ever went to. I sat down at this table that she was at and I was just talking to her. I was like you know, I just got into SEO and this is my first marketing conference that I’ve ever been to. My boss thought it’d be a really good idea. Like I was right out of college, like literally three months out of college. My boss gave me this opportunity. I can’t believe she sent me here. But this is incredible and we were just talking about industry stuff and she was like you’re going to do really well in this industry. And I was like Because at the time I was talking about how I understood maybe 10% of what the people on stage were talking about. Like I was so far, like this is way above my pay grade. But you know, she kind of told me her story and how she got into SEO, and then that was at like a lunch and then you go into sessions and I was kind of looking her up and I was like I was just sitting with like an SEO legend, like she’s incredible, like she had like got, I think at the time Moz, moz was still doing tickets based off of your submissions to the forums or whatever, and she was one of the top people so she got her ticket comped or whatever. It was crazy, it was really cool. And I was just like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.


She just sat and talked to me about random things and she was probably thinking that like I know nothing, but she didn’t you know, and she stayed in touch and as I started, you know, making my way in the industry, she would always kind of like reach out and be like you know if you ever need anything, but also like you’re doing so well and I’m very, I’m very open about my mental health and I struggle with anxiety and depression and things of that nature, and so anytime I would put something out there about struggling or whatever, she’d always reach out and be like just remember, you’re where you’re supposed to be, you are brilliant in your own right, and all that kind of stuff that you need to hear, and especially when it comes from somebody of that nature, it’s really helpful. And today we talked. I’m on my own and she’s on her own, and so we were able to kind of compare four stories and where we’re going to help each other with soundboards for different ideas and things of that nature. Same thing kind of happened with Greg Gifford and when I started going to conferences this is where a lot of these mentorships have kind of started going to conferences. Obviously he speaks at everything all the time, everywhere all at once. I don’t know how he does it, and so we just connected through. I was always a really big live tweeter, so I was always live tweeting all the events and stuff. So we just kind of connected. And then one time I spoke at an event and he was like one of the first people to be like cheering me on and hearing me out about my talk and kind of helping me get past the imposter syndrome that comes with standing in front of you know, a couple hundred of your peers and sharing. And then met Blake at a conference as well and it was kind of the same thing. He was growing an agency.


At the time. I had just gone out on my own and I didn’t know if I wanted to go down the agency route or if I just wanted to stay on my own. I thought about maybe the agency route and we connected and he kind of, you know, let me know where he was coming from, what his journey was looking like, and then he introduced me to Nick LaRoy, who is kind of the freelance SEO king. So because I had kind of made the decision like I’m not ready for the agency world I don’t know if I want to do that again and I definitely don’t want to run one, at least not right now.


I have a little one and it’s just not the right time for me. So now I get to do kind of the same thing with Nick, where we get to bounce ideas off of each other and hold each other accountable about raising our rates and all that kind of stuff. But I really look to these people in my life and say you’re where I aspire to be. What advice would you give yourself when maybe you’re in my shoes? Hindsight’s 20-20. So anything they’re willing to share I take with open ears and try to apply where I can. But also there are just some things you have to learn on your own. So, but I think that’s a good mentor relationship kind of like that.

Danny Gavin Host 13:53

Yeah, I mean it sounds like you’re very lucky. You have a lot of amazing people in your life. But you made those connections, you were proactive, right. You went to these conferences, you met with people. It’s so cool. It’s funny you mentioned Nick, because every time I get on the phone with him and I hear about what he’s charging, I’m like, oh my gosh, I should raise my rates. So I know what you’re talking about there. So in your current role, you connect with people through social media and through your email newsletter. So it’s a different type of mentorship. But how do you look at yourself as being a mentor?

Brie Anderson Guest 14:23

In full transparency. You kind of send out a questionnaire first so everybody can get the wheels running right. And I was thinking about this and it kind of made me bummed because basically, when I was thinking about the agency thing, what I found out very quickly, I hired one person one time and I was like I’m a very good leader but I’m an awful manager. So it made me sad. When I was going through this questionnaire I was like how am I mentoring people? Like that’s a bummer. That’s something that, like, I’m really passionate about is helping others and being a leader in situations where it makes sense. I was a little bit nervous and I talked to my wife about it. I said you know, they asked me this and I have no idea, like I don’t think, like I because I can’t think of like specific people right that like I would say I’m mentoring. I feel like that’s like a huge responsibility and I don’t feel that responsibility with anyone. And she kind of, you know, reminded me that you know you might not have these one-on-one relationships with people necessarily where you’re carving out the time and and you know, sitting down and having these, these conversations. But like I try to be as transparent as I can. Again, with love, especially when it comes to mental health and like being an entrepreneur and, you know, having a family. These are all things that I try to be really open about, because there are things that are still. There’s definitely still a stigma, obviously, but there are a lot. They’re talked about a lot more in the media and things of that nature. So I don’t feel as responsible, but it’s just. It’s something that plays such a big part of my life. So I’m very, very honest about it. I think the biggest one that, like anyone can relate to, is the imposter syndrome that you feel. But also you know, when I have struggles with anxiety, how that presents and how I kind of have to take care of myself. Basically is what it comes down to. I’m very open with how I have to take care of myself, the things that I have to do, but then also I’m a chronic tweeter. I will not call it X, it’s still Twitter but sharing all my little projects and how they work, if they go well, if they don’t go well, very much like a build in public. And then also anytime somebody DMs me, I’m having a conversation with them.


I try to help people as much as I can. So it’s not as much of a one-on-one consistent thing, it’s just showing up for people when they need it. It’s kind of more of where I’m at right now Helping people, like if I can help someone pull a report that they need in GA4, if I can help someone with filing their LLC or whatever that might be. I try to show up for people when they need it in that way as well. So I would say, like one, it’s like being open and honest and transparent on social media and in my email newsletter and all that kind of stuff and then also just showing up for people when they need it, especially when they reach out for help, because I think that’s something that, like it can be really overwhelming.


I’m a very small creator, but as you become a bigger creator online or a bigger thought leader in person or whatever, to have people reach out and ask for help on things or whatever. But I think something that I’ve come to realize a lot over the last few years is that it’s very, very, very, very hard for most anyone to ask for help Like it’s not in ours. I mean it’s yeah, I mean it is probably in our nature, but like it’s still something that doesn’t come easy to a lot of people to ask for help, and so if people are reaching out, I try my best to be able to be there.

Danny Gavin Host 18:10

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, doing this podcast is that it comes in many forms. So I think what you discussed with your wife is so accurate and so true, and the only thing I would add was that I think even in those relationships where you have officially a mentor, like the Greggs and the Knicks, I’m sure that you’re in a sense, a mentor as well, because it’s a two-way street and I’m sure they’re learning from you as much as you’re learning from them.

Brie Anderson Guest 18:39

That’s something that gets overlooked a lot is that mentorship is a two-way street, not even in just like, if you’re a mentee right, if somebody’s being your mentor, like one you have to go and do the work. I think that’s where a lot of mentorship goes wrong. Is somebody willing to share with you but, like, you have to be able to take what they’re saying, what they’re doing, and use it in some way, shape or form. But also, like you know, a good mentorship relationship is a two-way street. So, the same way that I was talking about with the agency owner of the first agency that I worked at, you know, I would make suggestions or just share my experience, which often turns into making changes one way or another, and a lot of that comes down to just trust as well. You have to be able to trust, to have that open line of communication so that everybody feels safe to say what they’re thinking, and then that can turn out really great for both parties.

Danny Gavin Host 19:37

Cool. So let’s pivot to your area of expertise in analytics. So, just to let everyone know, Brie has a really cool GA4, Google Analytics 4 training course, with the fourth switch to GA4 officially in July of 2023, which feels like years ago. Yeah, how are you finding the new world of analytics? You’ve been working in the setup for a few years now, but just in general, what do you think is the biggest misconception? What are some of the superpowers of the new setup with GA4? And maybe what are some common missteps that you’re seeing from others?

Brie Anderson Guest 20:06

The biggest misconception for sure is that it doesn’t have the same data. We’re missing stuff in GA4, but that’s not the reality. The reality is almost everything we had in Universal Analytics we do have in GA4. I would say there are two exceptions. One is stuff around site speed which you can actually push through Tag Manager if you really want it. So the things around site speed, but also there is some functionality missing in the multi-channel funnels as far as attribution goes. But other than that, everything is available in GA4.


It just takes a little bit of tweaking which leads to the best part of GA4, which is arguably also the worst is that it’s extremely customizable. So GA4, you can change. Once you get into the reports section, you can change your navigation. You can change like once you get into the report section, you can change your navigation, you can make custom reports, you can do all sorts of customizing within GA4. But the problem is with that. There are some things that you just have to customize right out of the box. Maybe it doesn’t make the most sense. So I would say that’s definitely true.


One of its superpowers is that it is highly customizable. In the reports section, like I was saying, you can customize your navigation, and so one of the things. So I’m working on a course GA for SEO right now. In that course, one of the things we cover is creating your own collection, because the navigation is made up of collections Creating your own collection just for organic reports, right? So organic landing pages, organic page views, events, and then you can put your search console reports in there as well. You can create your own funnel reports and put them in there.


It has a lot of power when it comes to creating and customizing. It’s just a little bit of a bummer that that is required, because a lot of the folks that are the loudest about how awful GA4 is they had 10 years of experience in universal analytics. So, yeah, it is a bit of a bummer to have to. Your expertise is in one thing. This analytics was a byproduct of that one thing that you were focused on. Over the last 10 years, You’ve been able to get it to a place where you need it, and it becomes second nature, and now, all of a sudden, there comes this brand new platform and you have to relearn it Like that’s going to be frustrating for anyone, and so that’s where I think a lot of the animosity for GA4 comes from.

Danny Gavin Host 22:38

So, with analytics in general, do you have a particular business vertical you most enjoy crunching the data on?

Brie Anderson Guest 22:44

No, I mean I work in most business verticals. I work with a ton of different ones, but obviously you know the one that’s not the one. But one of the best ones to work with is e-comm, just because you get to see those direct dollar signs and the differences that you’re making right, I would say that’s probably the most fun. Or SaaS maybe, but that gets hard because then you’re like how do you track subscriptions and it becomes complicated. But yeah, anything with dollar signs, man Love it.

Danny Gavin Host 23:14

Yeah, that’s fair With your love for music and sports. How does that play into the data work that you do?

Brie Anderson Guest 23:20

I played competitive soccer, like I said, for 14 years up into college. I think it’s definitely helpful, especially in the situations that I’m in now, you know, because I work by myself. I was a goalkeeper in soccer as well, so like I was kind of used to having to rely on myself, like you have 10 people in front of you but at the end of the day it comes down to you and one other person. But like having the persistence when things get tough, you know when you’ve. I was working on something this morning where it’s like so frustrating. I’ve tried 10, 15 different things and for some reason I just can’t get these numbers to line up with what the CRM is saying.


But having a background of having to be persistent, having to persevere and just get through it, and embracing the suck that’s what my dad would always say Embrace the suck. He’s also a military guy, so that might be where that came from and and. But you know, just just working through those hard times and then trusting yourself. I’m not great at that, not as good as I would want to be, but that’s where those mentors really come in, come into play. You can always say am I nuts for this? And then they’ll be like no, you’re fine, You’re just grumpy, makes sense.

Danny Gavin Host 24:35

And I see the symbol in your back. Do you play drums?

Brie Anderson Guest 24:43

Yeah, yeah, I played drums for a while and I kind of let it go to the wayside and then I recently picked it back up last year, so relearning everything.

Danny Gavin Host 24:48

Yeah, I find music to be an amazing outlet for myself, so I’m sure it’s good for you as well.

Brie Anderson Guest 24:53

Yeah, yeah.

Danny Gavin Host 24:54

In your bio, you mentioned doing social media, advertising and learning. It wasn’t your cup of tea. What about analytics? Do you find enjoyable, especially for social media or paid social?

Brie Anderson Guest 25:51

It Looked like I was doing something social. When I started it was all social media stuff. Myspace had just died and so everybody was kind of like moving over to Facebook. But I was working with bands and I was working with my friends, so creating content was like going to a concert and taking pictures. Like who wouldn’t want to do that? That was so fun. But then you go work for an agency and they’re like so your clients are a sandwich shop, blast resistant buildings and storage pods, have fun. And you’re like, oh, okay, that’s not near, that’s not near as fun. I mean like, yeah, I might get a free sandwich out of the deal. And so I realized I’m not a creative writer, so coming up with any of this stuff on social media was not like that. I don’t stay up with pop culture very well. I’m just not built for social management in that sense.


Organic social turned into paid social. At that first agency that I was talking about, they were like okay, this client, you’re going to take this client on, you’re going to have all the meetings. This is going to be you. They’re a nonprofit and they have a $ thousand dollar budget and you’re going to run Google ads. Go meet with them and run these ads and I was like a thousand dollars that’s like three months of my rent. You’re sure I’m 19, right? We’re sure we want to do this right now. And so I was terrified that I was going to lose these people’s money and it’s a nonprofit, they don’t have money to spare and so I quickly taught myself Google Analytics and event tracking and all that stuff, and I was able to, at the end of the campaign, show them that we spent $1,000, but we brought in $3,000 worth of donations for this Thanksgiving campaign that they were running.


And that’s when it clicked for me that like, oh, we could be relying on the numbers to be making the decisions, and that’s just kind of where it all went.


So I went from, like I said, organic social to paid social, to paid Google to organic Google, but all of it. What I liked about it was that it was all a numbers game. Like all these levers, all these numbers about it was that it was all a numbers game. All these levers, all these numbers are different levers that you get to pull, and if this one’s down, we need to make a change here, because these two things are connected, and then hopefully, overall, our numbers are going to go the way we want them to, but it took me a long time to figure out that that’s really what it was that I was enjoying. I always said that I was just very strategic, but in all actuality in marketing, when it comes to strategy, it’s all connected to numbers, because we’re very fortunate or unfortunate depends on who you talk to but we’re very fortunate that we get so much data in the industry that we’re in, in digital marketing specifically, because we really can prove what happened and what our impact on that process was.

Danny Gavin Host 28:35

So naturally, when you started Beast, you know your main focus would be analytics. Did anyone caution you about being so analytics focused and not offering some sort of SEO, PPC or other services?

Brie Anderson Guest 28:45

No, but I think that’s because I actually didn’t start Beast with a focus on analytics. So when I came up with the name it was supposed to be, I did Beam. I had Beam first, which was Brie E Anderson  Marketing, so I had Beam Digital, but then I got rid of that because I didn’t like it that much. But Beast came from. It was supposed to be Brie E Anderson  Strategy and Analytics. So ST was for the strategy. My brother came up with it because he’s a lot more creative than I am, and so I was focusing on strategy and analytics.


Analytics was something that I knew differentiated me from others, but I didn’t think that it could be like a whole focus, and so when I went out on my own, I did what anybody going out on their own does and I said yes to everything. I helped people with their websites, I helped people with SEO, I helped people with PPC and all that stuff, and then eventually I got to a point where I just didn’t feel like I was moving the needle for anyone. They were still happy to pay me, but I was like this, it takes me longer to do this than somebody who specializes in it. It’s not as effective as it could be. This just really isn’t my specialty. I was still helping people, but I just wasn’t happy with how things were going. And then I decided you know what, I’m just going to focus on analytics.


And that happened at the same time that GA4 came out. So it was kind of serendipitous that I started working in GA4 the day it came out, because I was teaching a course on analytics at the time at the local tech school here and I knew that GA4 was something that they couldn’t push off. I knew that that deadline was something. It probably ties back to legalities and the change had to be made. And so, while everybody else was saying, oh, they can’t make us use this, oh, we’re not, it’s going to go away, they’re going to push the deadline, whatever. I just knew that there’s.


I just had a feeling, I guess, that that wasn’t going to push the deadline, whatever. I just knew that there’s. I just had a feeling, I guess, that that wasn’t going to be the case, that it was going to be something that we had to use. I kind of went all in on learning it, making it work, using it for clients, and then I kind of became the person to talk to when it came to Google Analytics 4, because I was talking about it so much when most people kind of just turned a blind eye to it.

Danny Gavin Host 31:13

That’s so cool. So what would you say? Percentage of your current business is related to analytics currently.

Brie Anderson Guest 31:19

Oh, 100% of it’s related to analytics. Now, awesome, yeah, so it’s a difference. So I always tell people the quickest way to say it is, I help people collect, understand and use their data. So you know, we’re setting up analytics, tracking and then creating tracking plans and then helping people understand what the data is saying. I think education is super important, so I’m constantly educating my clients on like this is what this means, this is how you can find it, this is why it matters, and these are the recommendations I would make, based off the numbers that I’m seeing, but also understanding that I only see, you know, I would call it 80% of the story. The numbers are there. They say one thing, but also you have to remember that numbers are still just numbers and we’re dealing with people which are complex, you know, beings.

Danny Gavin Host 32:11

And I love that you have that special focus on making things actionable and actually looking at the numbers so that you can actually make changes and decisions. That’s really, really important, because I feel like for a while, people just looked at analytics and data as things that nerds would review, but that there wasn’t any connection to the actual business.

Brie Anderson Guest 32:30

Well, and it’s hard to I mean, dana DeTomaso was one of the best people to talk about it but when you’re creating reports for your clients, you want to give them all the data that you think is important, but at the reality, you know that they’re looking for three or four different metrics and then they want to know where to go next and you can provide that. It is important that they have the data to back up whatever your recommendations are, but you have to use their language and present it in a way that makes sense to them, and that’s kind of like where GA4 has definitely fallen short is like now. Now the people that are going in and looking for the data don’t even understand where it is or what it’s supposed to be saying or anything, so that can make it hard, but it’s all about like understanding what, like who you’re talking to and what they’re trying to get out of the conversation.

Danny Gavin Host 33:18

That it was going to make us realize what data we truly needed in order to optimize our marketing. So sure people might see reduction in total data available to them, especially with thresholding and a lot of these types of things, but were they really using all of that data beforehand? Likely not, so what’s your view of that?

Brie Anderson Guest 33:46

I think that’s completely accurate. I think I wish I could remember who said it, but somebody said you know, ga4 just made us realize that UA was never perfect, because it wasn’t, but we had this idea that it was, that it was showing us all the data, that the data was one-to-one, that it couldn’t possibly be wrong, but that was never true. All data is technically, to an extent, sampled data. You’re never going to get one-to-one. I mean, you could go read your log files, I guess, if you wanted to. Nobody has time to do that, though, and you could create reports based on that. But what we tend to forget, too, is we’re getting this for free. Google’s just giving this to us and letting us use it. Now, arguments could be made that it’s so that you will buy more Google Ads or buy into their other products. Fine, but at the end of the day, this is still a free product, so the comment about it makes you think about what you really need.


The best part about GA4 was that it was a blank slate for everyone. It kind of sucks a little bit, because obviously you start from zero. You had 10 years worth of data and now you have zero, but I use it as a time for all of my clients and I still do, by the way, like all the clients that I start working with go through an audit process where we sit down, we go what if, like in a perfect world, what would Google tell you? Like, what would you know about the people on your website? And then, like, is it possible to track? How could we track it? What are you currently tracking? If there’s something already in there and we’re able to reassess what’s actually necessary, what’s going to be making a difference and how are we going to use it and then document it so that we know how it’s being tracked, so that when things get turned on or turned off, you’ll know the ramifications of it.


Because, again, universal Analytics was around for 10 years, came out in 2012. But it was an iteration of just Google Analytics, like the classic Google Analytics, which was around for a long time before that, and it was just like an update. So really, you have tons and tons of data and analytics notoriously gets passed along from team to team because nobody wants to own it, nobody wants to be responsible for the numbers. So one minute web dev will own it, and then the next it’s someone in marketing, and then the next. Somehow it’s ended up on IT’s lap and nobody’s allowed to touch it or look at it. You know what I mean. And so all these different people have touched it.


There are random things being tracked. Nobody knows how it’s being tracked, or why it’s being tracked or how it’s being used. So, coming into GA4, we really had an opportunity to sit down, really think about what we need to make sure that it’s being tracked, make sure it’s being tracked correctly, document everything and really create a brand new, a new life, a new analytical life. But then also, yeah, the comment about you know we makes people realize that they weren’t using some of their data and that the thresholding I will say thresholding is about to a lot of people are going to see a fix with thresholding here in the next month because of the they’re taking out Google signals out of reporting identity, which led to a lot of thresholding for a lot of people.


Like a whole other conversation is like we’re seeing an uptick in cookie-less browsing and the deprecation of third-party pixels. Like these are things that that’s not Google’s fault. That’s just like the world we live in now. People realize that their privacy is kind of important and they’re taking precautions, so that’s not just going to affect GA4 users, though, and if you’re going around it and you’re not complying with GDPR, ccpa all these pieces of legislation as they come out, so that you can get your extra 200 rows of data. That’s something that you have to solve internally, yeah.

Danny Gavin Host 37:38

So I mean that fits right into my next question, where, especially these days, there’s a large overlap in the realms of analytics and data privacy. How do you ensure you keep privacy in mind when you’re trying to get the most useful data?

Brie Anderson Guest 37:51

Yeah, so one. I tell all of my clients that they need to consult a privacy expert, which is hard right. There aren’t many of those, but there are definitely, or even just privacy companies. So, whether that’s like OneTrust or CookieBot or whatever, they all have people that you can reach out to and get recommendations from. I always suggest talking to all people that you can reach out to and get recommendations from. I always suggest talking to a lawyer, if you can.


I do a lot of cautioning. We can do this, but just a reminder, you need to talk to someone about it, because none of us want to get in trouble. And then the things that are iffy, like using Google Signals, for instance. If you don’t need the extra data, there’s no reason to turn it on because all it’s doing is giving you gender interests in age. For most people, that doesn’t actually matter. For Google Ads, sure, but unless you’re a media site selling ad space based on your gender split, we don’t need to turn it on and add different more thresholding. Same with custom dimensions and things. All those start to add into thresholding.


But as far as Then we start talking about cookie-less browsing, that’s going to be a tough one, but I think, again, it’s going to be something that affects everyone.


Google has already. When they released GA4, the very first announcement was that it was for privacy purposes and to help, like, get people ready for cookie list browsing, and so where this is taken into consideration is in their reporting. Identity is really where it is, where they’re using four different models to identify a user and connect it to an event, so all of your events are collected. It’s just connecting it to users is where some of that data gets lost. They use Google Signals, user ID, which is if they give you information or if they’re logged into a Google device, and device ID, so it’s connected directly to their device. Obviously, if they’re using cookie-less browsing, that goes out the window. And then model data, which is where some of that, like you know, we start talking about, like artificial intelligence and machine learning more machine learning where they kind of fill in some of the gaps for us. So it’s something that’s been on Google’s radar and they know that they’re going to have to work with, so we can only assume that they’re working on it.

Danny Gavin Host 40:14

I don’t know, yeah, but I think your point is well taken, that the whole. I think one of the big parts of why we even had GA4 is because they knew that this was coming and that modeling piece was there. So just to give an example for people, if you’ve ever seen like that painting of Mona Lisa, they cut out the middle and they use AI to try to figure out what did it actually look like of Mona Lisa, they cut out the middle and they use AI to try to figure out what did it actually look like, and then they actually do a pretty good job. It almost looks perfect. So that same sort of concept is even if you’re missing 10, 25% of your user data, but AI modeling can hopefully fill in that picture, just like they could fill in Mona Lisa’s face, right, right. So I think it’s time for our lightning round. Being that you are a musician, have a musician background, would love to know who are your top three artists.

Brie Anderson Guest 40:56

Okay, so I can’t do just the top three overall. That’s too much pressure. But I can tell you my top three right now, the Wonder Years, is always in the top. So they’re like a pop punk band. We just went and saw I just took my 11 month old to go see Neck Deep this weekend. So they are a pop punk band out of Wales and then let’s see if we had to come up with another one, I’m going to say we’ll say Knuckle Puck. I just went to a Knucklepuck concert like a month ago. So they’re another pop punk band, probably more punk than pop. But yeah, we just went and saw them as well. So yeah, Wonder Years, Neck Deep and Knuckle Puck, We’ll go with those.

Danny Gavin Host 41:37

What are you currently working on? What’s your next big project? I know you are working on that SEO GA4 course, but what else is on the horizon?

Brie Anderson Guest 41:45

Yeah, so I’m working on that GA4 SEO course and I actually just created a website to kind of like to go along with it, but it’s more so going to be a blog where I just share different things. How am I using GA4 for SEO practices and strategies? I’m going to be revamping my marketing merch store so that little poster, the Refoot USEO poster I’m holding all the inventory which is really hard to manage and make sure it’s getting shipped out and all that. And I’ll be completely honest, I was terrible at holding all the inventory which is really hard to manage and like making sure it’s getting shipped out and all that. And I’ll be completely honest, I was terrible at that. So I’m changing it to a print on demand format, so I’m really excited about that, so that it can be a little bit more reliable. I’m working on a book outline. There’s a lot in the works, always a lot in the works.

Danny Gavin Host 42:30

So, brie, where can listeners learn more about you and your business?

Brie Anderson Guest 42:33

They can just Google Brie like the cheese Brie, E Anderson  and all my stuff will come up. But Twitter is where I hang out the most, Trying to get back on that LinkedIn train. Everybody at Brighton SEO is saying that LinkedIn is where you’re supposed to be right now. So I’m trying, I’m trying, trying. And then YouTube, TikTok. I’ve got content all over the place. But, yeah, I would love to chat to anyone. I love making new friends.

Danny Gavin Host 42:57

Awesome. Well, brie, thank you so much for being a Guest  on the Digital Marketing Mentor and thank you, listeners, for tuning into the Digital Marketing Mentor. We’ll chat with you next time.

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