Tracking Your Institution’s Digital Results
Whether your institution is a local college or an internationally recognized university, you likely have thousands of students and even more applicants. With a variety of programs and student demographics, there are infinite ways that a student can discover your school and decide to apply. But, once they do, what do you have in place to understand how they found you and what messages led them to learn more about your programs?
A large component of your recruitment efforts are online. Your social media channels, website, and digital campaigns are key platforms that contribute to student acquisition. Here are our three main considerations you should be investing in to improve your digital tracking.
Google Analytics Optimization
Google Analytics is a key information hub for your institution. Website user behavior data can be thoroughly tracked and compared against the different web sources that drive traffic to your site. While almost every school across North America relies on Google Analytics for decision-making information, few institutions invest in maintaining their data integrity.
There is a long list of considerations to keep in mind, but here are a few commonly missed tasks you can address immediately:
- Creating Backup Views: Only have one Google Analytics view for your property? If this view breaks, all of your data could be lost or skewed.
- Blocking Internal and Bot Traffic: Notice that your average session duration is incredibly high? You may want to exclude the time your own employees spend on the site, which is likely much higher than the average person. On the flipside, do you notice that your average session duration is incredibly low? It’s more than likely that you are not filtering out enough of the automated spam coming onto your site.
- Incorrectly Tracking Goals: Setting up tracking for actions a user can take on your website is the main pain point for most schools. Are you tracking all of the different ways a user can submit an application or contact you in an accurate manner?
Looking past the basic tasks listed above, there are many advanced Google Analytics functions such as audience monitoring and application funnel tracking which are underutilized by most institutions. More importantly yet, most schools have a “set it and forget it” mentality to their analytics. Tracking is set-up when the website is launched and is often not properly updated and adjusted as the website changes over time.
What are the main actions you are looking to have people complete on your website? Likely, a few of the following:
- Program applications
- Course registrations
- Contact form submissions
- Newsletter subscriptions
Above and beyond these conversion points, there are numerous actions a user can take that would indicate they are interested in attending your school. These may include some of the following:
- Email address interactions
- Phone calls
- Map interactions
- Beginning a form or application without completion
Given the variety of goals listed above, tracking conversions can quickly become complicated. Some of your goals will trigger on a confirmation page, some when a user clicks, and some as the user hits a certain piece of copy. To ensure the accuracy and full representation of your conversion data, ongoing optimization is required.
Past this, you are likely to have run or are going to try digital advertising in the future. While a platform like Google Analytics will give credit to the last source that sent the student to your website, the advertising platforms themselves have access to some data that Google Analytics cannot see. Take Facebook for example: If someone clicks on a Facebook ad on their phone and then submits an application on their desktop computer, Facebook will be able to attribute the conversion to the ad as long as the person is logged into their account on both devices ( Which is true for the vast majority of Facebook users). However, a platform like Google Analytics which has difficulty tracking users across devices may not. Given this, it is important to keep in mind that conversions should be tracking in all platforms so that your team receives the bigger picture.
Tracking conversions are crucial to understanding your ROI and bottom line. Tracking behavior, on the other hand, is crucial to understanding how to improve the rate at which people complete conversions. In Google Analytics, you can see how much time potential students spend on each page, where they go next, and which pages cause them to leave the website. But, why? Below are some ideas you should consider to analyze behavior:
- Audience Tracking – What is the difference between the behavior of someone who has been on your website before versus someone who hasn’t? What about someone who already submitted an application? By setting up audiences, you can understand these differences and use them to your advantage.
- Heat Mapping – When a user lands on your homepage, where does their mouse move and click most frequently? By using heat mapping software you can begin to understand which images and buttons are capturing your students’ attention and leading them to engage.
- Scroll Mapping – So, you have a lot of great content in the fifth paragraph on your page – how many people do you think actually scroll down to read it? By mapping and understanding people’s scroll behavior on your website, you can begin to adjust your website’s content for the better.
Before your institution takes another step forward, we would advise you take one step back and evaluate how your digital assets are tracking results. Flaws in your analytics, goal tracking, and understanding of site behavior can lead you to make false assumptions and craft campaigns which don’t help achieve the results you are looking for.
Need help auditing and optimizing your analytics? Book a free strategy session today, and let’s see how Snaptech can help.