5 Takeaways From the 2016 Higher Education Analytics Conference

HEA

Did you miss last week’s #HEA16 conference? No worries, we did too! Though here at Zone 5, we make a point to keep our eyes and ears open to valuable Higher Education information, trends and conference highlights, even when we can’t be there in person. With that in mind, here are (Z)5 things to takeaway from the 2016 Higher Ed Analytics Conference:

  1. Reevaluate your SEO.
    Using Google Analytics benchmarking data, @karinejoly showed that organic search is still the primary driver of traffic to higher ed websites. And you’ll reap an additional benefit: those who reach your site via organic search spend more time there—a strong case for devoting resources to your on-site Search Engine Optimization.
  1. Don’t throw darts at the wall.
    A balanced approach to analytics, according to @joshuaddodson, is intentional, contextual and deliberate. It’s important to define where you are and then use the data to identify next steps. “Vanity” metrics — traffic numbers devoid of context — have no place in an effective marketing plan. Balanced measurement is key to implementing your social strategy.
  1. Tell a story with your data.
    Getting campus departments on board with analytics can prove to be a difficult task. Stakeholders are busy; to get their attention you need to create a captivating narrative when presenting your data. Follow @chase_baker’s example: reports should be structured in a clean, simple fashion to highlight key performance indicators, allowing your team to easily spot trends that affect your overall strategy.
  1. Integrate web, social and email analytics.
    Your college’s digital presence extends far beyond your own web site, and that combined wealth of data can lead to insights that can’t be gleaned from a single source. Channel Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross character and “Always Be Measuring.” @lizgross144 advocates using custom URL parameters for additional tracking on social posts. Use Facebook’s Power Editor to manage ad campaigns and create custom audiences from your website. In short, take advantage of the wealth of tools and data at your disposal. Yes, it’s a big attention investment, but a big ROI is the result.
  1. Utilize Google Tag Manager.
    Another great tool from Google that is being used by only 16% of Higher Ed sites, according to @UVMWebTeam. GTM gives you fast, flexible way to future-proof your site analytics — changes to tags and new tags can be made through GTM and do not require changes to website code. Get universal event tracking, better Youtube stats, debug options and version control. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the reward for that effort is the ability to collect granular data about specific user actions with a minimum of effort.

Check out the #HEA16 Storify for more advice on how to make data-driven decisions to help advance your school.