If your college or university is interested in enticing a fresh crop of students every year, you’re already looking at basic marketing metrics. To determine how successful your outreach efforts are, you’ll look at page views and unique visitor numbers to see if your word is getting out. Unfortunately, basic marketing metrics like these have shortcomings.
If your educational institution is neglecting more advanced metrics, you’re missing a more complete picture of the user experience. Without this information, you’re at a loss for ways to increase your ROI and improve your institution’s visibility. Here are marketing metrics that your college should be measuring to get the best return on investment.
As in any other arena where your university seeks to grow, your institution needs a marketing plan with quantifiable numbers and benchmarks. In a piece on the shortcomings of Google analytics, Jaime Brugueras says that basic analytics give us “no clear direction on how to act on data.” Page views, unique site visitors, and keyword research don’t tell you anything about the shortcomings embedded in your marketing plan. In order to get a more accurate impression of your marketing efficacy, you need to incorporate several advanced metrics.
Measuring User Experience
The money and resources you’re expending to get visitors are only worth it if your website is optimized for their use—and repeat visits. If your institution’s site has a poor user experience, then your marketing budget is sand through a sieve. To maximize your marketing ROI, you need the best possible web experience.
Once a user has landed on your page, you’ve got a page view, but you need to know more. How long did it take the page to load? Almost half of web users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. Were they able to do complete the task they came for? The average task completion rate, the basic measure of whether your site does what it says it will, is only 78%.
To get a more complete idea of the user experience, you need to measure bounce rate, return visitors, and average time spent. A high bounce rate, according to Mashable, “is the kiss of death”: indicating people leaving your site and never returning. High numbers of return visitors and a long average time spent, on the other hand, indicate that your site is well designed and functional.
Advanced Social Media Metrics
Making the best use of social media for marketing involves knowing not only who is talking about you, but what is being said. Social media marketing is effective not only because it’s cheaper than traditional advertising, but because the nature of a network means information carries the social proof of passing through trusted gatekeepers.
First, your institution needs to track social referrals—the specifics of which networks are best serving your marketing goals. In a study on social referrals, Oracle found that 74% of institutions found their subordinates to be effective recruiters. These subordinates will send the most receptive visitors to your site, giving your educational institution its best marketing ROI. To know this, you need more advanced social referral analysis.
Beyond who is talking about you and where these conversations are happening, your institution needs to be part of the conversation. Your organization needs to use Social Media Monitoring (SMM) tools in order to manage your image and engage with the wider community. Between 2012 and 2013, SMM programs across-the-board incorporated more features in response to greater demand for advanced metric measurements.
Trackbacks show you what sites are sharing your content, giving you a chance to develop relationships over the web with receptive audiences. Tools like Topsy enable you to be part of the conversation, broadcasting positive feedback and responding to criticism. Advanced social media measurements are a necessity to integrate your social media plan into your overall marketing strategy.
Ultimately, your educational institution needs to show that its marketing plan is leading to lead acquisition and conversion. In order to justify your marketing expenditures, you must be able to point to metrics like increased conversion or click-through rates. At the end of your marketing campaign, there are numerous ways to gauge success by measuring customer response. Ultimately, all your strategy comes down to their clicks, and a complete marketing strategy will be able to create a quantifiable increase in clicks.
Your college or university has to keep track of a lot more than just how many visitors your site boasts each month. How many of these advanced metrics is your educational institution factoring into your marketing plan? Is your institution measuring all of these metrics, and integrating them into a coherent strategy? A great digital marketing agency can take care of all of this.