Much to my excitement, lately analytics have become a trending topic in higher ed. From blogs and sites to webinars and conferences, analytics have been the talk of the web. And for good reason: how else would we have a glimpse into how visitors use our site, and if we should continue what we are doing or change strategies? Bring on the numbers!
But, unfortunately, it’s not enough just to be excited and to have access to data. The true challenge is for professionals who sit in departments with clients, such as communications/marketing/IT. As those who help shape the content but who are generally not the content providers, you may not be in the loop on all of the campaigns that exist. You’re probably watching trends, reporting out on what you can read from the analytical tea leaves. Without knowing exactly what other departments are doing makes it harder for you to make informed decisions about why actions are taking place on the web. You probably also aren’t the one tracking PPC performance, and are limited to organic traffic monitoring.
So, with all these limitations what can we report? This varies greatly depending on who you ask. Sitting in a large, client based department, if you’re an analytic team of one, you probably create one internal analytic report for your office and smaller reports for external clients that request them. You may have several reports that you create monthly for different stakeholders that provide the information in digestible and actionable chunks.
It’s important to understand what information you want to provide on a monthly basis versus quarterly. How much can we do with monthly analytic data, especially if we are not tracking existing web based campaigns? This will have a lot to do with your department structure and involvement in the creation of campaigns for departments.
For instance, in our office, we provide a one page, bulleted monthly trend report to Enrollment & Retention, our largest client, that covers the following:
- Site Traffic Year Over Year and relevant data
- Top Organic Referrals
- Asset Analytics (our Virtual Tour, for example)
- Facebook Engagement & Growth
- Twitter Engagement & Growth
- Specific Target Market Traffic
- Mobile Traffic
- International Trends
We also provide weekly or daily numbers during a particularly important time - for instance, watching Facebook pages during the mailing week of housing placements.
Quarterly, we provide in depth analysis (referrals, location, change year over year, etc.) on:
- Undergraduate, Graduate, Financial aid visitors and trends
- New Media Assets
- Social Media Growth and Traffic
- Deeper Info on High Traffic Pages
Of course, we are all striving to get to that place where we can track campaigns all the way through goal completion on our site. Until then, we can work to create other analytics goals including: engagement goals for certain pages, time on site for particular demographics, a certain number of pages viewed in a section, etc.
If flying solo on your analytics reports, what do you track monthly/quarterly? Who do you provide reports to? Do you have others on campus to work through analytics goals with?
Special shout out to Hilary Knox from University at Albany, SUNY for the kick to finally get this post up. It was much appreciated!
Photo Courtesy: Malkolm via Flickr