5 Takeaways From the 2016 Higher Education Analytics Conference


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.

Semicon West Wrap, NY / GE Investment, IBM / GlobalFoundries talk


Tim discusses semiconductor industry news on TWCN’s Capital Tonight (Log in required)

Our intrepid Zone 5 team returned from a busy Semicon West week to be inundated with a major new technology investment in our own backyard, wild and rampant speculation on IBM and GlobalFoundries and even a brief TV appearance by your truly.

Semicon West Wrap

Much like the industry it features, this show has seen some consolidation. I’ve been attending since 2006, and the intensity and energy – though refocused – remains. And of course, there is always one constant at Semicon West – Zone 5 will host a killer reception (6 years running now!) with the best wine list of the week. We were thrilled to have our friends at Marcy NanoCenter co-hosting the event with us. As you can see below, a good turnout for this invitation-only event.

Attendees at Zone 5's 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

Zone 5’s 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

On the show floor, it was really cool to see multiple booths featuring 450 mm wafers. Of course, the transition to 450 was one of the ongoing debates of the week….is it a question or “if” or “when?” Have advances in EUV pressed pause on the transition? Where will the money come from to make the transition? It is wild times!

Of course, the big story of the week was the announcement of the new name of the Tokyo Electron (TEL) and Applied Materials (AMAT) merger – Eteris. Apparently, this new name is meant to be evocative of “eternal innovation for society.”  As a brand marketer, I have to give the joint team at TEL and AMAT credit. Far too often, the brands of the semiconductor are developed with much less thought. You know, like by jamming a few guys’ names together and hoping for the best. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with the name yet, but I give credit where due – it’s thoughtful, pragmatic and not too hard for a dummy like me to spell. Let’s see where it goes!

Major announcement in New York

I had barely finished doing laundry from the trip to San Francisco when a media advisory crossed the wire sharing that NYS Governor Cuomo would be making a major economic development announcement in Niskayuna. To those unfamiliar with the Albany, NY region, an announcement in Niskayuna can only mean one major technology leader: GE. Niskayuna is home to GE’s Global Research Center (GRC) and several thousand of the brightest minds in modern science and technology.

Tuesday’s announcement was another in a seemingly never-end string of R&D investments by New York State – this one, a 5 year, $500 million commitment to create the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC) to develop and produce low cost, high performance 6” silicon carbide wafers in partnership with the State University’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. For GE’s part, they’ll have access to new, leading edge facilities at the college to develop these wafers, which could have great promise in high power devices and may have a major synergy with the power electronics business acquired by GE just a few years ago, Converteam.


Throughout Semicon West and this week, the continuing drumbeat on the IBM/GlobalFoundries deal (or battle, depending on your position) gained volume. It has been rumored for months that IBM was looking to unload its chip making business, including assets in East Fishkill, NY and Burlington, VT. In recent weeks, the conventional wisdom in the press seemed to speculate about GF buying the business, then having to decide what to do with the facilities and thousands of workers in a state of flux at those facilities. One of the major questions, of course, would be the future of the trusted foundry certifications of the business if purchased by GF.

That back and forth appeared to reach a crescendo over the weekend, when full page ads appeared in papers in the East Fishkill and Burlington area papers for jobs at GlobalFoundries in Malta, NY. What does this mean for the deal? Really tough to say….and my crystal ball has taken the summer off!

So that’s a wrap to wild week – one that was supposed to be quiet following Semicon West! Keep an eye on the SemiZone for continuing insights we gained at West and keep following us on Twitter for regular updates.

Keeping Transfers On Track

Last week, the New York State Transfer Articulation Association (NYSTAA) hosted its annual conference at The Gideon Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York, home of the famous Saratoga Horse Track. The location was indeed a metaphor for the conference theme—“Tracking Transfers…The Race to Graduate.”

NYSTAA and its members are committed to improving the transfer process and experience for both the student and its member institutions.

This was the first NYSTAA conference for Zone 5 2014 NYSTAA Conference Bookletand myself. Over the many years I’ve worked in higher education marketing, the focus has traditionally been helping colleges and universities attract, enroll and retain first-year college students.

I had to chance to sit in on two key sessions. The first was “Perceptions of Community College Transfer Students.” While many students are excelling academically at their community college, they have concerns regarding the transfer process and going from their two-year to a four-year college. Not surprisingly, cost was a major concern followed closely by the quality of academic advising available to them during the transfer process and upon enrolling at their chosen four-year college.

The second session, “Retention Initiatives: From Enrollment Management to Institutional Interventions,” was even more informative. The focus of this discussion was making sure that transfers not only have a smooth enrollment process but that they also have an engaging successful student experience enough to stay and ultimately graduate. As one of the session speakers pointed out, “for many schools, transfer students have been the ghosts in the overall enrollment process.” These schools must continue to monitor and proactively address the needs of transfer students just as much they do with their traditional, first-year students.

In the end, this conference helped confirm for me that transfer students must continue to be a key target audience for four-year schools. With the ever-rising cost of higher education, four-year schools can’t afford to not address the relevant needs of transfer students—from the point of enrollment and, ultimately, helping them to stay on track to graduation.



Local Social Media: Getting Your Business Seen in Your Community

Social Media breakfast Tech ValleyThe Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley organization is holding a workshop at Zone 5 this Wednesday, at lunchtime:

Starting a small business comes with many challenges, just one of which is getting your business in front of your potential customors’ eyes. But while local recognition is something businesses of all sizes struggle with, marketing in the digital age offers solutions not present even a decade ago. Social media is an attractive destination for businesses looking to get the word out about what they do, and while from the outside, this seems like a simple process, “all you need to do is get on Facebook, and the people will come!” It’s actually a lot more complicated, but don’t worry, from claiming your custom URLs, to dealing with your first negative review, we’ve got you covered.

Join us for the third event in our workshop series. We’ll be exploring the hot topic of local social media with a panel of marketing experts ready to take you through the potential and potential pitfalls of social media marketing for your local business. A more intimate format, and smaller audience, will allow for a more interactive experience with our panelists, and more networking with other like-minded professionals. Tickets include lunch, and participants should come prepared with questions or issues you’re dealing with in day-to-day local social media management. Takeaways include:

  • A customizable content calendar
  • A knowledge of how to define and report on social media success in your local marketplace
  • Tactics on how to cushion the blows from negative online reviews
  • Big-brand marketing strategies that apply to local marketplaces

Our very own Danika Atkins will be joined by Outspoken Media’s Pearl Higgins to present on this much asked about topic. Want to join us? Register today.