I’m republishing on this blog the unedited and longer version of my March 2017 column published in University Business issue to make sure you don’t miss it: I need your help with my next benchmarking research project about the state of Higher Ed Digital Analytics.
Digital Marketing Analytics Process: Are We There Yet?
How would you rate the digital marketing analytics process at your institution? Is marketing measurement all set and done at your school?
If I had to guess your answer, I’d say probably not. No matter how good you are, you can never check off the analytics box once and for all. Digital marketing performance measurement is not a project. It’s an iterative process.
This process has become very complex due to the explosion of the digital marketing landscape. The introduction of new platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), channels (social media, digital ads, etc.) and new measurement tools has resulted in an ever-changing digital marketing environment over the last decade. Unfortunately, this increasing complexity has been met in most colleges and universities by a generalized lack of analytics expertise, training and time.
“In terms of investment, institutions are relatively immature with regard to funding analytics as an investment, investing in analytics training, and funding at levels sufficient to meet institutional needs,” reads the Educause report “Institutional Analytics in Higher Education” (PDF) published in March 2016.
Much need to be done with institutional analytics in higher education. And, progress is very slow.
In digital marketing analytics, many schools don’t go beyond the basics agree Joshua Dodson, Digital Marketing Director at Bentley University and Alan Etkin, Senior Analyst at BCIT.
Despite all the talks at conferences or on social media about analytics, the majority of schools are only scratching the surface when it’s time to measure.
Data is collected, numbers are shared and reports are created, but not much is done with all this data. There is so much of it.
A detection script study of 2,575 university websites performed by eQAfy found in December 2016 that only 31% running Google Analytics use Google Tag Manager (GTM) as well. But, about a third of these schools run their tracking code outside of the GTM container – a core function of GTM. This counter-intuitive use confirms that we’re missing some critical basic analytics expertise in higher education.
A New Attempt to Teach (& Preach?) a Digital Marketing Analytics Process for Higher Ed
I spent the past 7 years trying to develop the general analytics expertise of the higher ed digital marketing community, so it’s quite humbling to see how little progress has be made. This is what led me to go back to the drawing board in my quest to close the analytics expertise gap among digital marketers, a gap preventing decisions to be informed and driven by data.
So, I went on an exploration early this year to draw an updated roadmap of higher ed marketing analytics.
I read books and reports, upgraded my own analytics skill set by taking Joshua Dodson’s 4-week course on Advanced Web Analytics for Higher Ed, researched several analytics maturity models and had conversations with a few higher ed professionals whose analytics practice has reached a high level of maturity.
HEDMAR: A Roadmap to Get Higher Ed Rolling on the Digital Analytics Road
This digital marketing analytics roadmap was first introduced a month ago at the 2017 Higher Ed Analytics Conference.
Whether you are not sure what to measure or you’ve been asked for more data to justify your budget, this roadmap will show you what needs to happen for your marketing team to go beyond the basics in digital marketing analytics.
It highlights the different pieces of an ideal performance process for marketers and communicators working for institutions of higher education: strategic foundation, website implementation, tagging planning, reporting automation, analysis and recommendations as well as process assessment.
By breaking down best practices in simple steps, I’ve tried to reverse engineer what would be an ideal process. It won’t work in 100% of the cases.
However, it can provide the direction so many teams badly need, because they don’t have the time or the resources to reinvent the wheel. By offering guidance on the process, I’m trying to help focus efforts on what matters for performance measurement and ultimately for higher ed digital marketing.
That’s why the roadmap includes a few signposts to inform your journey on the road to performance measurement: the metrics wishlist, the data source audit and the analytics dashboard outline.
First Step: Find Your Current Location By Taking the HEDMAR Assessment (5 to 10 min)
Finally, I’ve built a companion online assessment based on the roadmap, so you can assess the use of digital marketing analytics in your office.
Now in beta, this online questionnaire composed of 30 (mostly yes-no) questions was designed as a first practical step to improve your digital marketing analytics process. With questions that are more specific than most in the analytics maturity models currently available, this online assessment will also increase your awareness of best practices. It’s the first step on your learning journey to know what you don’t know or what you don’t do but should.
If you take the 5 to 10 minutes necessary to complete the assessment, you will receive your HEDMAR score as well as the complete digital marketing analytics roadmap.
You’ll also contribute to a larger benchmarking research study I’m conducting this year on digital marketing analytics practices in higher education. In a few months, I will share the results of this research in a column on the state of higher ed analytics. The results will also be used to design the next version of the roadmap and improve the online assessment as a teaching tool to help even more professionals working in higher education.