How To Understand Students’ Online Activity in 20 Minutes

It’s no surprise that if higher education marketers had a better understanding of their prospective and current students, they’d be able to prepare better recruitment and retention strategies. For those of us facing SEO for higher education, gaining that understanding doesn’t have to be a fantasy – or require a large time investment.

How is this possible? By unlocking the power of dashboards in Google Analytics. After the initial 20-minute set-up process, you get access to snapshots of your college’s most important data (filtered to any timeframe). Gain powerful insights into student digital body language – and even your site’s weaknesses – by strategically customizing your dashboard.

Take a few minutes to set up the top widgets for colleges and universities:

Application Submissions by Day of the Week

Are Fridays more valuable to your university than Sundays? If you see days with a high number of application submissions, engage with your audience on social media outlets to use the natural momentum. Conversely, if you see a day that’s struggling, send out a targeted email message to get in front of your students.

application submissions

Visits with Site Search

Are you losing potential applicants with a convoluted site structure? Students should be able to easily accomplish your defined goals once they reach your homepage. If you see a high percentage of your users relying on site search, it’s time to look at your navigation for conversion rate optimization opportunities.

Site Search

Device Report

With mobile internet usage projected to overtake desktop in 2014, you need to know how users are accessing your site. If you see an increase in mobile and tablet traffic, be sure your site is optimized for mobile to capture those potential students.

Device Report

Average Bounce Rate by Program

Create a filter for your priority programs and look at their individual and collective bounce rates. Are they higher than your site average? Using this data, you can hone in on pages that lose engagement – and potential students. Reduce user friction by editing the page’s content or highlighting the call to action to boost your conversion rate.

bounce rate

What metrics do you use to gauge your university’s performance? Share them in the comments below.


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About Kelly Krasuna

A graduate of the University of Toledo, Kelly holds a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. She is a Senior Digital Specialist on Fathom’s EDU team, and brings several years of experience in ecommerce and lead-generation across both regional and national enterprise accounts. She holds certifications in Google Analytics and Google Adwords. Kelly enjoys Cleveland sports, her fiance Jeff, her calico cat and traveling.

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