Why Website Analytics are Key to Optimizing Your Higher Ed Digital Marketing

Higher ed marketing and enrollment teams are focused on digital marketing channels more than ever before. So, what does that mean for your team? It means the success of your marketing efforts hinges on your ability to properly evaluate (and optimize) your digital marketing mix.

Marketers aren’t clairvoyant. If one acquisition channel in your marketing mix is doing well, you can’t assume why without looking at your web analytics. And more importantly, if you don’t know what metrics to look for, you may actually misread how well a certain channel is doing.


Here’s an error we see often: the assumption that your Facebook campaign is doing well simply because it’s getting the most clicks. The reality is, clicks aren’t the be-all-end-all. What you really should be asking is, “How engaged are the prospects that click on our website via Facebook?” And, “Is that specific entry point into the recruitment funnel generating the conversions we want?”

You probably know that a deep dive into your web analytics is overdue. But it may feel like a tall order, given everything that’s on your plate as a marketing leader. Because you’re pulled in so many different directions, it’s no wonder that you don’t have the time to set up your web analytics properly.

But when you do know how to set up your analytics, the data is an invaluable tool that can guide you in future marketing efforts. Understanding what’s working and what’s not in your digital marketing mix can have a huge impact on which channels you decide to explore, tweak, or leave behind.

Identify Your Conversion Goals in Your Web Analytics

If you don’t know what conversions you’re looking for, your website analytics won’t know, either. You might throw $1,000 at a Facebook campaign and get two or three thousand visits to your website. But, if those prospects are only on your website for 20 or 30 seconds and consuming one page of content, that’s not a win. You should examine not just the visits, but the overall engagement with your website.

Here’s what you need to do. First, identify what sort of engagement is valuable for your enrollment efforts and set up your conversion goals. Once you decide which engagement constitutes a conversion, these goals can be delineated as micro and macro conversions.

Micro Conversions vs. Macro Conversions

There are micro conversions, which are good, and then there are macro conversions, which are great. Ultimately, you want your prospects to engage in macro conversions. But micro conversions are a crucial starting point.

Here are a few examples of micro conversions:

  • Spending a certain amount of time on your website
  • Clicking through multiple pages
  • Watching an informational video

Macro conversions are the bigger actions you want your prospect to take. Some examples are:

  • Signing up to receive emails
  • Signing up for a virtual tour
  • Enrolling in your program

Website Analytics Provide Valuable Insights Into Your Higher Ed Digital Marketing

Let’s say your higher ed marketing team ran a campaign on Facebook. Within that campaign, you can examine your source data to see how well it performed — but it requires more digging than you think.

If you go to your Facebook Ads Manager, the story you may get from your initial KPIs is that your campaign is a smashing success! 10/10, no notes. You’re getting multiple clicks and video plays, and by a Facebook analytics standpoint it’s a successful campaign. But, here’s the thing: While it’s true that some of those clicks may result in macro conversions, you won’t actually know unless you take a closer look at your acquisition data.

This is where things can get confusing. There’s a difference between what Facebook counts as a website visit versus what Google counts as a website visit. Facebook measures clicks alone, but a click doesn’t necessarily mean that the prospect is being nurtured into the enrollment funnel. A prospect has to spend time on the website, and ideally visit more than one page, in order for that first click to be meaningful.

That’s why it’s so important to have your analytics set up properly. When you configure your tracking goals to highlight meaningful micro and macro conversions, you can be confident knowing that you’re not just seeing clicks and impressions, you’re seeing the whole story.

Take your website’s pageflow. When properly set up, your website analytics should be able to tell you how your prospects found your website, how many pages they visited, and in what order they visited. Maybe they found your home page through an organic search, and then navigated to the About Us page before landing on a Contact Us page. It’s on the Contact Us page where they entered their information to join your mailing list. Score.

But that’s not all there is to know. You can actually see on your analytics how many website visitors followed that exact pageflow. If 20 visitors out of 100 followed that flow from an organic search, you know you’re doing something right with your SEO.

Accurate Web Analytics Can Close Gaps and Unveil Major Opportunities

So many of the gaps and opportunities in your marketing mix can go unnoticed for months — or even years — and that can lead to a host of misguided strategy decisions. Without a solid understanding of acquisition, you could be wasting money on poor-performing campaigns, or worse, missing out on winning opportunities. And sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to put your campaigns on the right track.

Knowledge is power. Tracking the most important data can lead to game-changing insights about your strategy, and can uncover even more opportunities to expand your digital marketing channels.

A Higher Ed Digital Marketing Agency Can Make All the Difference

You shouldn’t be monitoring data that’s meaningful to just any industry. Higher ed institutions have specific conversion goals that are important to track, such as the number of enrollment video plays, or the number of degree program information requests.

But, not every marketing team is looking at the story leading up to those conversions — even those teams that are in-house. That’s where a higher ed marketing agency comes in.

An outside agency with extensive experience in higher ed website analytics can set your team on a path towards increased enrollment numbers. Not only can this type of marketing partner track metrics relevant to you, but they can steward your campaigns based on insight that’s not immediately obvious.

In an oversaturated digital marketing landscape, it’s not enough to just have one or two people on your higher ed marketing team periodically checking your analytics. Partnering with a higher ed digital marketing agency can give your team the edge it needs to meet enrollment goals.

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