In our 2018 Digital Priorities Survey we asked higher education institutions about their priorities for this year. In their responses, over 70% indicated they were planning on adding or improving their analytics capabilities.
Q: Do you plan on adding or improving your analytics capabilities in 2018?
The results confirmed our suspicions that web analytics are more important than ever for higher education web professionals. We also found that there are some common challenges with collecting and analyzing user data in Higher Education.
In this blog we take a closer look at why analytics matter in Higher Education, what challenges web professionals are facing, and how to maximize the power of the data you collect.
Analytics Help You Understand Your Audience
Who is visiting your website? Where did they come from? What are they looking at? What are they - and aren't they - finding? These are all important questions that help you understand who your audience is and if you are supplying the right information to them.
Web analytics software is important to have in place. Many organizations use Google Analytics and most web content management systems - including Ingeniux - integrate with it to give you the insights you need.
To find these insights, you need to capture demographics and interests so that you can break down your audience by location, age and/or interest. You can also set up segments to organize types of visitors using those demographics and interests. Cohort analysis can also help you quickly group visitors based on a common element or behavior. Once you have your segments defined, you can use them to help you identify patterns in website usage - which is where the real ROI of web analytics is found.
Consider that when you start to design your web experience, you usually define a set of personas and build the experience around them (e.g. prospective student, student, alumni, parents, etc.). You may have made assumptions based on what you think those personas are looking for or what they might want to do. Analytics will help you understand if that thinking was correct, or if you need to adjust the experience.
You also want to understand if people are looking at the content you provide. Set up click events and track the downloading of content like student guides or course catalogs. Examine search queries to determine the type of things visitors are looking for and if you have the content to support those queries.
Your analytics will also tell you what devices visitors use when they come to your website. If you have a highly mobile audience (smartphone or tablet), you should consider following a mobile-first approach to web experience that focuses on designing for smaller form factors. When you approach design with a mobile-first focus, you look at content and IA very differently than when designing for a desktop that includes responsive delivery.
The Challenge with Analytics
Although most higher education institutions recognize the importance of analytics, almost as many struggle with implementing them. Training internal resources will be a high priority because these are the people who understand the audiences best and define the content and website experience to support them.
Q: What challenges do you face with analytics?
However, many internal teams struggle with understanding how to apply analytics appropriately, and budget constraints keep institutions from getting the training and the tools needed to do effective analysis. Building great experiences is something every higher education institution aims for, and analytics is a way to help achieve this.
Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to implement them and leverage them to adapt and improve the experience for all audiences.
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