The days of sending out a viewbook and hoping students show up is long over. Marketing has evolved to art and science. Online user experience impacts whether a student inquiries, visits, or applies. Join us for a session in which we walk through real case studies of schools that are using Google Analytics to better inform their recruitment funnels and marketing strategies. From these examples we will leave you with strategies that allow you to (1) Ask the right questions, (2) Set up the right dashboards, and (3) Explore with your enrollment team the actions that can be taken today in order to impact next semester’s class.
In the midst of summer, you are working hard to ensure that your yield strategy is producing results. Nonetheless, there are a number of students who did not enroll despite the fact that they applied, liked your Facebook page, and visited campus. The question is: Why? It is crucial to gain a deeper understanding of why these students didn’t enroll.
Like their Millennial generation peers, your prospective students live online. Online marketing and social media supply them with information about every type of product and service under the sun. If they are interested in your institution, the odds are that they have gone to your web site and/or social media sites to learn more about the school and, hopefully, to request more information, schedule a visit, or download/submit an application. It is crucial that your marketing team understands what web pages and/or sites lead these prospective students to act in desired ways. It is equally important to understand what areas of your web site and social media applications see prospects dropping out of the funnel.
What are you measuring? Do you know how to set up analytics goals? Are you examining pageviews, time on site, bounce rate, and other key metrics that can help you understand your prospective students’ web behavior?
As one of our analytics clients stated, “Our website is one of the most important marketing channels we have as an institution and the analytics provides us with a plethora of data. However, we realized that we were only starting to scratch the surface of what we could learn about our website from all this data we were collecting.”
The following infographic provides some great information related to what you should be measuring and analyzing:
This is part two of a two-part blog post.
To help you achieve and master the basics, it is helpful to utilize Web Analytics. Typically, this means having Google Analytics installed on your website. Once you have Google Analytics installed, you are able to start tracking your web traffic.
Next, set up Goals in Google Analytics. Once you set up Goals, you are able to determine how many individuals are completing the website tasks that you want them to complete. For Admissions, these Goals might include someone submitting an inquiry form for more information about the school, scheduling a campus visit, or submitting an online application. These are each actions that someone can perform when visiting the website. Defining these actions as Goals, it becomes much easier to determine how effective your website is at encouraging users to complete desired actions.
Finally, utilize Campaign Tracking. Campaign Tracking allows you to learn more about your audience and how they respond to specific marketing channels or messages. The power is not in the tactic itself, but rather in how the tactic is strategically employed. This leads to segmentation.
If you have purchased a list of names of prospective students, you have the ability to segment that list based on multiple levels. For instance, you may want to compare how effective a particular postcard is at encouraging prospective students with an ACT score of 30 and an interest in engineering to schedule a campus visit with how effective the same postcard is at encouraging prospective students with an ACT score of 30 and an interest in nursing to schedule a campus visit. Utilizing campaign tracking and segmenting your list, you can compare response rate.
This determination was made possible by implementing the “web as the hub of your marketing efforts strategy,” which encouraged each group of prospective students to visit a landing page. Next, Google Analytics can assess the effectiveness of your efforts. This might mean that the postcard was particularly effective for only one of your target segments. You could then act on that information and decide to use the postcard only for the group that found it compelling.
You will often need to continue testing and refining your efforts, being mindful of what variables (those that you can control and those which you cannot) that affect the behaviors of your target segments.
If you practice these “basics” of higher education marketing (and marketing strategy, in general), then you will have a solid foundation upon which you can use the most effective marketing practices to reach your target audience. Furthermore, this can save money by eliminating the components that are clearly not working.
Once you master the rice, delicious sushi will soon follow.
This is the first part of a two-part blog post.
I recently gave a presentation to admissions counselors at the joint SACAC/PCACAC Conference in Arlington, VA. The presentation focused on the importance of beginning with the basics of marketing and building on that foundation.
When new sushi chefs begin to learn their craft, they spend months, or even years, solely cooking rice. The rationale: if one can’t properly cook the rice, then the rest of the sushi will not taste very good. The rice seems like such a simple element, but it dictates whether the sushi tastes great or terrible. Sushi chefs who are able to make rice correctly are revered for mastering the skill.
So, how does sushi preparation relate to higher education marketing?
Often, we get a great idea and implement it. Or, we are in such a frenzy that we forget to cover all of our bases. We have time and resource limitations as well as many competing tasks. However, if we learn and practice the basics, our criteria will be solid when it is time to evaluate and reassess our efforts.
There are many aspects of marketing that can be considered “basic.” Here are a few key tenets:
Clearly, there are many items that can be added to this list. However, it is really a basic list of components that can make or break your efforts.
Watch out for part two of this blog post next week.
It is very important that you track your campaigns with Google Analytics campaign tracking. However, an issue that many higher education marketing professionals face is that it can be very difficult to create trackable URLs in Google Analytics and then be able to organize them. Take a look at the following article in Smashing Magazine in which I explain how you can create a WordPress plugin to create and organize Google Analytics campaign tracking URLs, shortened versions of the URLs, and trackable QR codes.
In a recent Google Analytics Blog post, A Look Ahead at Measurement in 2012, Google predicts five major trends related to what is on the horizon for the analytics industry in the new year. While these trends are predicted for businesses in a general sense, the predictions serve as a barometer for college and university marketing teams to gauge their level of analytics knowledge, skills, and practices.
So, college and university marketers, a few questions:
2012 is the year to begin to use data to drive your marketing decisions and strategies. The tools are making it increasingly possible to use data more effectively. The key is having the right people to help you implement the tools to their potential. Enter Joshua Dodson, a web analytics expert and Google Analytics certified professional who can help you discover and analyze your data so that you ultimately uncover the mysteries of what has been hiding in plain sight.
Seth Godin wrote a recent blog post in which he poses six questions that should be asked when analyzing a web site:
Seth concludes that these six metrics differentiate successful from unsuccessful companies in terms of their online marketing efforts.
If those questions seem strange or not applicable, they probably won’t be for long. As higher education institutions continue to operate more and more like private sector organizations, these are exactly the types of questions and metrics that will form the basis of evaluating online marketing efforts. Extrapolating these principles to online marketing in higher education, it is time to ask some related questions:
In simple terms, colleges and universities are wasting time, talent, and treasure in terms of online marketing if the following questions cannot be answered readily and accurately:
With all of these questions, you might be wondering where to begin? Visit our web site or call us for a consult. We can help you answer these critical questions. To give you a head start, please access the Analytics presentation (embedded below) that we led for DePaul University last week for a diverse and talented group of online marketing professionals from across the institution who understand that the questions above speak to ROI and serve as the barometer for success.
If you can track it you can measure it. We can help.
The Google Analytics location report can be an essential tool for higher education marketing. There are several ways to examine location-based information about your website visitors. The first method is to take a closer look at the Google Analytics Location report. This report is found under the Visitors and Demographics section.
From this report, you should be able to see information about the geographic locations from which your visitors access your website. Why would this be helpful? This information could be helpful for the following scenarios:
The map overlay view of the Location report will allow you to drill down into specific countries, states, and cities to compare the amount of traffic your website receives from the specified geographic areas.
Note that, in the above example, we can see how effective the website is at drawing traffic from California. From within the California view, we are able to drill down to examine specific cities. We can compare the number of visits from Sacramento to the number of visits from Los Angeles. It is clear from this example that, if we launched a brand campaign for Sacramento, we could deem it a failure (or,at least worthy of further scrutiny).
To create the Advanced Segment for “Traffic from Sacramento, CA,” we could use the following criteria:
Include Region Containing California
Include City Containing Sacramento
After creating the Advanced Segment, we could apply the segment to most of the reports within Google Analytics to add context to the specific report. For instance, applying this Advanced Segment to the Pages report under Site Content would provide a list of pages viewed by visitors from Sacramento. You then simply ask yourself if those are the pages that you would want users from that city viewing. If the answer is yes, then you are moving in the right direction. If the answer is no, then it is an indication that further assessment is needed.
Please provide some examples of how you are measuring your geographic marketing reach.
One of the things that I love most about Google Analytics–and I love quite a lot about it–is that it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. You can even train it to come to you if you do not want to log in to read reports every day. Not all of us are fanatical about examining every piece of data with a fine-toothed comb. If you want valuable information without having to dig too much for it, Google Analytics has already enabled you to set up exactly what you want.
By setting up Google Analytics Intelligence custom alerts, you can receive an email every time something incredible (or awful) happens with your website. If you have a specific campaign to increase visit registrations, you can set up an alert to notify you when your visit registration conversion rate has increased by 20% compared to the previous week. This is a simple example, but it starts to demonstrate the power behind Google Analytics Intelligence.
Below, you will find a screenshot that shows how to create a custom alert based on a 20% increase in Goal conversion rate compared to the same day in the previous week.
You could even expand on this and receive notification when there is a 20% increase in conversion rate from users in California or another target geographic area. This is particularly useful when trying to increase engagement and participation from specific regions.
Apply the same concept to social media traffic. Elect to be notified when you receive an increase in visitors or conversions from social media sources. This is particularly helpful in the context of specific campaigns.
Let Google Analytics Intelligence do the heavy lifting and notify you when something changes with your website usage (for better or for worse). How would you utilize GA Intelligence? Please share your ideas and successes in the comments.
To learn more about how you can use Google Analytics to help your higher ed marketing efforts, request a free, 20-minute telephone consultation.