Guest post by Eric Olsen
Web Content Manger, Lewis University
Did you know that many analytic tools such as Google Analytics can automate weekly or monthly reports, and e-mail them directly to your higher-ups? Isn’t that cool?
Please don’t ever use this feature.
When working with analytics, don’t present numbers. Give recommendations. Trending reports simply aren’t insightful without context. Feel free to use screen grabs and numbers to support your recommendations. But make sure your recommendations are the star, not the data that helped you make them.
For instance, Google Analytics includes a Site Search metric that lets you see the most popular search terms used within your internal search engine, if you have one. Don’t just put a snapshot of this graph in your report. Think about why your visitors aren’t finding these pages within your existing menus, and propose a navigation solution.
That’s what your Higher Ed Analytics report should be – a highlight reel and action-item suggestions.
Use In-Page Analytics to see exactly how users navigate your menus. Wow, you notice one menu really isn’t prioritized top-to-bottom to match student traffic. So, recommend changes to the menu order, or even the removal of really unpopular items to simplify the user experience.
Are you getting it? Good. What else? Ok, you notice that 60% of your traffic to the Bursar Office comes from a link you put on the Financial Aid page. You put that link there, because your students often confuse the two offices. Good thing you did, apparently. But you’re currently relying on students getting lost on your site in order to eventually find their way to where they need to be. You check and, yes, “bursar office” is consistently near the top of your internal site search rankings as well.
Your recommendation? We should consider merging our Bursar and Financial Aid offices.
“What? You can’t do that!” You can when no one outside (or inside) of higher education knows what a Bursar Office is. And our analytics have shown that it’s really confusing to our students. That’s what you say. Just like marketing should shape your offering, and not just react to it – you should expect Analytics to shape your internal systems as well.
Traffic. Top pages. Bounce rates. If that’s what your monthly analytics report looks like, they’re not reading it. That’s the truth. But if you start noticing problems, proposing solutions and using your analytics to back up your reasoning, they’re going to start loving your monthly e-mails!