An Intro to Web Analytics - Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - Feb 2008

For the last five months I’ve been putting together a monthly web report for Wofford.  This report has been a way to frequently monitor and track our presence online and keep track of our effectiveness.  I distribute the report to everyone who I think will read it, the more people who understand what is going on online with Wofford the better.

analyticsdatalogo450 An Intro to Web Analytics   Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary   Feb 2008

From what I’ve been able to pick-up web analytic tracking isn’t something that is widely done in Higher Education?

Tracking allows you to do multiple things:

  • Keep up with effectiveness of your site over time
  • Regularly monitor what is working and what isn’t
  • Identify areas that might not be performing as well as you would like
  • Provide proof of the effectiveness, or lack, of your online presence

The web is the one medium where you can accurately track effectiveness.  With television, snail mail, radio, and magazine you can attempt to guess, but the web is the only one that truly provides reliable and accurate tracking data.  Although it’s still debatable about exactly how accurate analytic tracking is, studies have shown it to be very accurate.

A speech that I constantly find myself making is, you can have the greatest website in the world, but it doesn’t matter if nobody is visiting it.  Similar to the myth that a tree doesn’t make any noise in the woods if nobody hears it, don’t let the same be said for your website.  Tracking allows you to know if what you are doing is being effective and how and what to change.

Because this is the fifth month I’ve compiled this report it has grown and has changed in the areas that I track.  Each institution or business could justify tracking similar or different areas depending on the goals set forth.

For Wofford I break the tracking down into six categories:

  1. Alexa Ranking - this provides an industry standard to compare a site visitors against direct competitors.  Although I’ll admit Alexa isn’t completely accurate, but it does provide a base that can easily be comprehended by anyone.  Compete and/or Quantcast could easily be substituted for the Alexa ranking and those might be things that we consider adding down the road.
  2. googleanalytics200 An Intro to Web Analytics   Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary   Feb 2008Website Analytics - all our data is pulled from Google Analytics.  Google Analytics is an excellent product and one that I would highly recommend.  Because it is free, if you aren’t currently using anything this it is a no brainer to sign up and start using it today.
  3. Video Analytics- Wofford videos are hosted through an agreement with the local newspaper, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, and Brightcove.  Brightcove provides us with a corporate competitor to YouTube.  We do post some videos on YouTube but not everything and do track this also.
  4. Mailshot Analytics- Mailshot is what we call list distribution or email marketing.  A mailshot, done properly, is an excellent way to segment and communicate with constituents.  Wofford segments into Prospective Students, Alumni, Donors, News Releases, Website Updates, and Athletics.  The system that we use, Bronto, provides excellent tracking and analytic capabilities to really know what is being effective and what isn’t.
  5. RSS & Blog Analytics - These are two very new and growing areas, but it’s still an important area to track.  Feedburner is the best and honestly only realistic way to track RSS.
  6. Social Networking - This is actually a brand new category that I’ve added this month.

Below is a link to the summary version of the February 2008 report.  I’ve removed some information (although I’ll admit very little), but it should give you an idea of how you could track your web presence with some real world data examples.  I’m also going to Google Analytic training later this month.  I’m sure I’ll have some brand new metrics to monitor and share after the training.

I would love feedback about things that we could track better or ideas for new things to track.  If you aren’t currently tracking anything then I highly recommend adding one or two things a month and going from there.  Monthly updates provides a regular window, without spending to much of your time tracking and not improving your site.

Februrary 2008 Wofford Web Analytic Report Summary
(PDF)

NOTE: Be aware that because we spent a good portion of the last two months moving our site to a new CSS framework some of the pages didn’t get the tracking code installed properly.  Because of this the Google Analytic data is lower than actual data.

web analytics - web stats, web analytics and tracking your site


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Read Related Posts on .eduGuru:

  1. Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - March 2008
  2. Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - May 2008
  3. Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - April 2008

This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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14 Responses to “An Intro to Web Analytics - Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - Feb 2008”

  1. Avatar image
    Jeremy Wilburn Says:

    This is excellent information. We use Analytics on our sites, but unfortunately I don’t have access to them. It is hugely important for a University to track their traffic. Do you use ClickHeat at all?

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Kyle James Says:

    Jeremy, We don’t have ClickHeat installed, but I am in the middle of some analytics testing right now on this blog. I’m a little afraid of tossing a bunch of stuff up on Wofford’s website without testing it on a smaller forum first. One of the services that I’m testing is a HeatMap service Crazy Egg https://crazyegg.com/

    I’m about halfway through that test now as I want to run it for a month and then I’ll post the results.

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    Andrew Careaga Says:

    Nice work, Kyle. Thanks for sharing your monthly report with us. We’ve just installed Google analytics on our website and after we get a good month’s worth of data will start analyzing. Regarding your blogs and social networking presence, do you track networking/influence at all by linkages, or conversation (by comments)?

    Reply

  4. Avatar image
    Kyle James (author) Says:

    Andrew, No I don’t track any of those with our blogs and social networking presence. As I learn more about those aspects, writing this blog has been a HUGE eye opener into that area, I think those sound like a natural evolution to come next. As you can see in the report our blogs do not really have a ton of readers right now. I have been attempting to do more marketing of them by featuring on the college website homepage and through e-mail marketing, but that is still slow in gathering adopters. Let’s face it blogging is still in it’s infancy for anyone outside of technology and marketers.

    Reply

  5. Avatar image
    Andrew Careaga Says:

    Kyle - We’ve just started using analytics for our blogs, too. (We don’t do any student blogs, though.) We don’t get much commentary on our blogs, either, but have established some niche readership. The only blog that received many comments was Name Change Conversations (more than 500 for 80-some posts) but that was because it dealt with a controversial issue.

    I wonder how successful student blogs are for connecting w/ prospective students.

    Reply

  6. Avatar image
    Kyle James (author) Says:

    What I’ve noticed through our E-mail marketing is that prospective students click more on videos where alumni click more on blogs. I thought that was some very interesting data and not something that I had assumed.

    Because of this data and looking through comments I say that it’s safe to assume that blogs are more for parents of prospective students and alumni to find out what is happening on campus. Prospective students don’t want to spend the time reading the blogs and prefer the videos because, well it’s just easier.

    Going into next year I think we are going to look at student blogs more from that angle. Target more writers that would produce content more interesting to Parents and Alumni discussing college life. I just don’t see any data saying prospective students spend the time with blogs. One additional angle we have begin playing with is a video blogger. I think that might be the angle that you can get a prospective student to get interested and excited about a blog.

    Reply

  7. Avatar image
    Rob S. Says:

    Thanks for sharing your report. It’s great to see someone else’s concrete example of a report like this.

    I’m a huge fan of CrazyEgg for easily actionable information for fine tuning Web pages and analyzing the effectiveness of landing pages referenced in print or e-mail campaigns. Awesome product. (And it is simply a line of javascript added to a page, so a person doesn’t need high-level access to implement it or access the results.)

    I’d add a disclaimer to your e-mail stats. “Opens” is a very questionable metric. All it really means is that a person either opened or previewed the e-mail in an e-mail client that displays images by default (or they actually clicked display images), since an open doesn’t register unless the 1×1 pixel tracking image is displayed. Fewer and fewer e-mail clients display images by default.

    Thus the metric is validation that at least some people opened the e-mail, but is really no indication on how many people opened an e-mail.

    It can be useful within segments, however. If two e-mails were sent to the same list within a relatively short time frame, it can give you some idea which e-mail/subject line performed better than the other. Thus the open metric is good for trends, but not for concrete data.

    Reply

  8. Avatar image
    Rob S. Says:

    I forgot to add, too, that I applaud your courageous statement backed up by analytics that student blogs don’t necessarily live up to their hype in terms of recruiting.

    Sometimes I think part of the reason student blogs exist is to make the college president and vp for enrollment feel like the school is on top of technology ;)

    I personally think they are over-hyped. Put those bloggers in a Facebook class of ___ group and they can probably do more to impact yield, though perhaps not initial applications.

    Part of where blogs have benefit is finding areas that are of interest to prospective students, and further featuring that on the Web site, e-mails, etc.

    It could be argued that sort of information might be more easily discovered through Facebook class of groups and similar student forums - see related discussion at https://squaredpeg.com/index.php/2008/03/11/facebook-not-in-our-house/

    Reply

  9. Avatar image
    Kyle James (author) Says:

    Rob, Thanks for the advice about Open rates on emails. You are absolutely correct and although I know that when I look at the data the people that I present this too have no idea unless I tell them. I’ll definitely make that known in future reports. Another angle that we do to help the open rate is provide a link at the very top of the template that says “Trouble viewing? Click here for web version” or something like that. Open rates are good and we get some fairly high ones. Bronto the company we use for our email campaign provides industry data on their site, which is very helpful.
    https://bronto.com/stats/

    As far as the blogs stats, the good news is now we have hardcore data to back speculations so next year it’s much easier to support pushing in other directions instead of student blogs. Although we are pushing student blogs much heavier off the homepage and admission site as of recent and I’m hoping that will continue to provide positive returns.

    Reply

  10. Avatar image
    Rob S. Says:

    Another quirk of open-rate stats - some ESPs automatically count a click as an open, others don’t. (You can obviously ask Bronto if they count a click as an open even if the tracking image is not displayed.)

    I bookmarked that Bronto stats page a while back. It is one of the few resources I’ve seen like it :)

    (E-mail marketing is my biggest niche in terms of time spent.)

    Reply

  11. Avatar image
    Eddie Merille Says:

    Kyle, great report. Thanks for posting this. These are great tools.

    Reply

  12. Avatar image
    River Says:

    This is an excellent information.I like the way you compare the website with a tree that makes noise in the wood even if we don’t hear it.I agree that tracking allows people to know if what they are doing is being effective and how and what to change.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Let’s just say they couldn’t say no.  If  I wasn’t already enough of a champion for Google Analytics in the past, then this training reinforced my [...]

  2. [...] Just a quick post.  I just finished compiling Wofford’s analytical data for March.  Since my Google Analytics training I’ve been setting up a lot of different profiles so next month I should be able to pull out some other specific data like off-campus visitors.  We are also installing the tracking code on our blogs this week so that should provide much more interesting data than what Feedburner currently gives us.  If your new to my blog and want to understand more about what I’m trying to do with this tracking you might want to check out, An Intro to Web Analytics - Wofford Monthly Web Analytics Summary - Feb 2008. [...]

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