5 real web analytics solutions to #highered problems

January 29th, 2013 Karine Joly No Comments

Do you know what digital analytics can do for you, your stakeholders, your visitors or your institution?

HIgher Ed Analytics ConferenceThere is so (too?) much you need to know to understand what digital analytics can do…

In higher education, we can’t spend days working on analytics, so here is a quick list of 5 practical things that can be done with the help of digital analytics.

Real solutions implemented by institutions

I’m only including real web analytics solutions implemented by some of your higher ed colleagues who will explain how to do it next week at the 1st Higher Ed Analytics conference (Feb 6, 2013).

1) Integrated tracking plan to know which marketing, advertising and email campaigns really work

At Ithaca College, Colleen Clark has implemented a comprehensive campaign tracking plan to identify which social ads perform better than the others or which search keyword ads should NOT be discontinued despite apparently low click through rates. By segmenting campaign traffic, Colleen can find out very easily what the visitors brought by a given campaign do on Ithaca College’s website. Relying on the same segmentation techniques, Tatjana Salcedo, Web Strategist at the University of Vermont, can make recommendations to her stakeholders using email newsletters or email marketing messages. Tatjana is able to assess the performance of the email lists used for these messages as well, going so much further than the regular open and click-through rates.

2) Event tracking to evaluate the life cycle of a homepage news story

Since the homepage redesign launched last November, John Mills, Online Executive Producer at Emory University, has been able to learn more about the life cycle of the news stories featured on the homepage slider. This wasn’t possible until the implementation of Google Analytics event tracking on the website as all these news stories were part of a single page. Now that the feature is set across the site, it’s very easy to know how many visitors interact with a given story. When activity decreases, John knows it’s time for fresh stories.

3) Search analytics and conversion goal tracking to inform comprehensive or iterative redesign projects

At the University of Chicago, Amy Pizzolatto, Multimedia Content Specialist, has used search analytics – data on the keywords searched by visitors using the internal search engine – to make sure the navigation of the redesigned website would help users find more quickly what they were looking for. Analytics data has also helped Michelle Tarby, Web Services Director at LeMoyne College, sell information architecture decisions to stakeholders by showing the user needs and proving that recommended changes worked. At Maricopa Community College, Mardy Wilson, Web Content Strategist, managed a comprehensive redesign by the book that has supported – among other goals – the green initiative and helped reduce the number of printed catalogs.

4) Deeper data analysis to unearth invisible issues or hidden opportunities on your website

Rebecca Bernstein, Digital Strategist at the University at Buffalo, performed a deeper analysis of the analytics data available for the admissions web pages targeted to international students. She noticed that the visitors of this section were not looking for cost or scholarship information – which seemed very odd given the needs of this audience. Further analysis helped her recommend a change in the main navigation scheme driving this audience to the site, thus resulting in stronger leads from international students.

5) Analytics profiling to learn more about the stealth prospective students of a given academic program

At Eastern Kentucky University, Joshua Dodson, a true master who has been teaching higher ed analytics since September 2011, has gone a step further with analytics. Similarly to the work performed by FBI profilers to catch the bad guys, Joshua has used search and web traffic data to learn more (demographics, location, devices, etc.) about the… good guys of tomorrow: the web visitors interested in the Homeland Security academic programs offered at EKU. This analytics profiling has provided very useful insights to better target initiatives to market these specific programs and can easily be replicated for any other programs.