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How to Utilize Google Analytics for Higher Ed Marketing

May 24, 2018
8 months, 4 weeks ago

Your college or university’s web analytics can be overwhelming—but can also help you make informed marketing decisions

When the average person hears the word “analytics,” it’s safe to say their eyes don’t light up with excitement. It’s more likely a cause for apprehension or thoughts of becoming overwhelmed with data overload. Unfortunately, this narrative seems to stay true for many marketers. The reluctance can come from any angle: Where do I get relevant information? Why is this data important? What can I do with it?

The unpopular, albeit accurate, answer will vary between each school, program, or tactic. The hope is to find the sweet spot where data aligns with the goals of each marketing strategy and ideas that can use that data to complement those initiatives begin to take shape. Before any of that, the most common question precedes any questions about specifics: Where do I start?

How does Google Analytics work?

Google Analytics is a tool that captures more data than any person, department, or institution will likely ever need. It’s easy to see why many feel smothered at the thought of website analytics. Don’t let that deter you from understanding the impact of gathering relevant information to make data-driven marketing decisions.

The Google Analytics journey begins with a placement of code provided by Google on each page of a website. This allows the platform to track data about each user, session, the user’s engagement and behavior, etc. One of the easiest ways to gauge the value to you is to dive into the platform and play around at your own pace.

What can you see in Google Analytics?

To stay encouraged, know that there are plenty of data sets just a click or two away in the Google Analytics platform that could impact marketing decisions. Would it be valuable to see how long users are staying on your site? Which programs attract the most website engagement? Which channel was used to get to the website? Where the users are physically located? Which device they are using? How about getting a sense of traffic before marketing a specific event, during those marketing initiatives, and then the subsequent days after the event? All of this information can be found in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, in Google Analytics.

How can you use Google Analytics to drive marketing decisions?

Further down the conversion funnel, Goals can be set up in no time to track more conversion-based metrics. Do your forms or landing pages direct users to a confirmation or “Thank You” page upon submission? Set up a Goal in Google Analytics to learn more about a user’s behavior during that session. Imagine learning that 50% of those form completions are coming from a geographic location currently not targeted in your marketing strategy. It makes adapting a marketing plan much more coherent when you have hard data as evidence.

I encourage you to evaluate your current digital marketing plan. If you’re using additional marketers, ensure your campaigns are maximizing Google Analytics’ technology through simple tagging or goal tracking.

Focus on a few key metrics to avoid being overwhelmed

It’s almost natural to become overwhelmed with analytics without attempting to understand it. It’s up to each individual to decide what actions to take with the data provided. Understanding the potential value is the first step.

If nothing else, try utilizing your college or university’s Google Analytics. There are endless customizable measurements that can be gathered and configured into clear visualizations with some assistance from our team at Carnegie Dartlet. If you’re interested in learning more about analytics, check out some valuable resources that may help answer more questions.

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