Google Analytics and your Admissions Team

Tonya-MelissaAre you using Google Analytics to enhance your Admissions Marketing? If not, you should be; it helps makes sure that your website is offering what your visitors are looking for.

Google Analytics is a free tool that with a little assistance from your IT Webmaster allows you to evaluate your webpage. Google Analytics has helped the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the University of Wisconsin-Stout reevaluate our web request form, website layout and track marketing campaigns. In our research, we realized that we had an underutilized web request form and that although prospective students may have been going to the pages, they were not filling out the request form. Both of our institutions are in the process of working with Hobson’s Connect (the CRM we use), to create a shortened request form that will be embedded into our top visited admissions pages. And how did we determine what our top visited admissions sites were? Through Google Analytics of course!

Google Analytics allows you to track your audience (new versus returning visitors), where they are coming from, what content they are looking at, how long they are staying on the page and what the flow visualization is (what pages visitors usually go to after entering your main admissions site) and my personal favorite conversion goals. Yup, that’s right just like we track our conversion goals of our applications; we can set conversion goals for transactions on our website (i.e. complete request form, visit campus form or register for a preview event).

Some key analytics for the admissions user should be evaluating how many visits you are getting, new versus returning, average visit duration, bounce rate, operating system (did they visit on a computer, mobile, etc.), what country and city (great when running targeted marketing campaigns in specific areas), sources that are bringing them to your website and are they coming from a social network. Like most Google products, the reports are easy to read are customizable and can help evaluate the need for resources to help enhance your online presence.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout has had a lot of success with Blogging. I bet you didn’t know that blogging is rated higher in Google Search Engine, so your blog is likely to show up higher than other websites. The blog is a great opportunity to address common search terms or frequently asked questions through a creative outlet. Want to see a great example, check out MIT Admissions page. Some strategies that UW-Stout used included keywords in the blog content (found of course through their Google Analytics), keywords in the title and shared through multiple media outlets.  Check their blog out at Stout and About!

Both of our offices have learned some important takeaways in our search to enhance our web presence through Google Analytics. First of all evaluate, you don’t have to do everything at one time, don’t be afraid to move things around and be a little creative, set goals for conversions on key transactions, data influence decisions makers and blogs rule. Do you work with vendors and sometimes wonder if you are getting visitors from their sites? Using Google Analytics you can see how many visitors you are getting directly from their websites.

Besides being free, it is extremely easy to use. Set up a meeting with your IT folks today to design your custom dashboard to monitor your web activity. Questions? Follow us on Twitter @rothtonya and @melissadperez or email us troth1@uwsuper.edu and perezm@uwstout.edu.

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