How much is a new student worth to your institution?

Today and tomorrow I’m out in Durham, NC for Google Analytics training that ROI Revolution is hosting.  ROI is a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant and AdWords Qualified Company.  ROI Revolution are also trained professionals in Google’s Seminars for Success program as this training can attest.  Through day one I am very impressed with their training program.  About a month ago they posted a One Time Offer on their blog for free Google Analytics training for non-profit organizations.  All I had to do was talk Wofford into getting me up to Durham (little over a three hour drive) and put me up in a hotel for a couple nights!  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 commitment.

The two day Google Analytic training course is taught by their CEO, Timothy Seward, along with two of their top gurus, Director of Web MarketingHarrison and Shawn Purtell.  You can see short bios of all three on the link above.  Although we didn’t get into the hardcore customization, that’s day two, they none the less offered up some valuable tips and strategies.  Also this was my first real exposure to Google AdWords.  Just like all of Google’s products I’ve experienced (Google Trends, Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, AdSense) AdWords is a top notch product and also free!

Installing Google Analytics and viewing their reports is only half the picture and I now know that there is a completely other part of the equation that is potentially just as valuable to this service, Google AdWords.  Much of today was spent exploring AdWords and the additional functionality that this service provides that directly complements everything in Google Analytics.  Words like CPC (cost per click), ROI (rate of return), and KPI (key performance indicators) were thrown around regularly and the journey was quite eye opening. 

If your institution is like Wofford then most likely you don’t track conversion rates and run a/b testing on your website?  The reality is you do not need to have an ecommerce site to use conversion tracking or do a/b testing.  One, of the many, incredible tools in AdWords is Website Optimizer.  This tool allows you to test your site while it is live and constantly be tweaking various setting based on actual results.  ROI Revolutions has a six part tutorial looking at Website Optimizer that you can signup and watch for free.  I haven’t viewed the tutorial yet, note to self of things to do next week, but I’m sure it’s top notch.

Back to Wofford

We have web forms all over the site for everything for scheduling a campus visit to scheduling for an Alumni event.  While some forms are more important than others, listening to this presentation got me thinking.  How much is getting a student to visit or apply to Wofford worth?  I now know much more about this wide wealth of tools that Google has and one of the greatest things about them is that if you can put a dollar value on something then there are services that will allow you to spend that amount to accomplish your goal.

googleanalytics200 How much is a new student worth to your institution?A few months ago a Google representative called me after I had setup a Google AdWords account for Wofford but never went any farther.  After sending me some data the one thing that stood out was the sticker price for their advanced service, $200/day!  That’s over $70,000 a year!  I was talking to a guy who works for a UNC graduate school who presented me a rather eureka moment.  At Wofford it costs $37,000 per year for a full time student.  If Wofford, like most schools I imagine, is wanting to expand it’s recruiting footprint beyond the surrounding states how does it go about doing this?  We could hire more Admission counselors and send them to the corners of the US and beyond or we could do more advertising.  If buying ads online can produce two quality applicants who ultimately come to Wofford then doesn’t that pay for this Google AdWords investment?  I realize that the whole formula is much more complicated than this and it is a heavy investment, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this.  You need a qualified person to handling the marketing campaign and need to set a limit of how much you want to spend on a service like AdWords but then you have significantly expanded your recruiting footprint to any targeted area you would like for minimal costs.  Minimal is relative, but imagine what it would cost to higher more counselors and their travel expenses for new areas of the country?  Also it would take the time for the individuals to get comfortable and understand their new territory. 

Maybe this isn’t as revolutionary to some as it is others.  After sitting through a day of training I understand the tools so much better, and can reason that the cost to enter this new marketing avenue aren’t nearly as painful as I once believed. 

Some Google Analytics Theory and Tips 

A few of the invaluable theory ideas that were presented by the guys at ROI Revolution today:

  • Setting up multiple profiles and testing various things while keeping a Raw data file.  Google Analytics provides you with the possibility of having 100 profiles which should be more than enough to let you apply all sorts of filters without messing up your hardcore data.
  • An Absolute Unique Visitor is based on the time frame over which you are pulling the report.  If this is a month worth of data or a day, the term absolute unique visitor is adjusted to match your range.
  • With direct traffic (users who type in your URL to their browser or have your site bookmarked) the only thing that you can affect is the landing page.  Because of this it’s not always best to send direct traffic directly to your homepage instead setup landing pages for targeted campaigns.
  • Follow the 10/90 rule when looking at an Analysis package.  This means spend 10% on the tool and 90% on analysts.  In the case of Google Analytics it’s free so even better!
  • Bounce Rate occurs when a user enters the site on a page then leave the site without visiting any other page.
  • You do not have to pay for Google AdWords to use Website Optimizer and their other tools in the service.
  • Analyst should spend only 20% of their time reporting and 80% doing actual analysis.
  • Give an additional 10% of additional insight when asked for a report.  This will force you to take a harder look at the data you are reporting on and will be providing upper management something else to act on.

ROI Revolution has a wonderful blog that I’ve been reading for some months now, hence how I knew about this great training.  If your interested in Web Analytics specifically using Google Analytics then I highly recommend adding their blog to your RSS feedreader. 

I’m sure in the coming weeks I’ll have a whole lot more to share about using Google Analytics and AdWords, but this eureka moment had to be shared.  Besides what else am I going to do in a hotel room tonight?

13 Responses to “How much is a new student worth to your institution?”

  1. Says:

    Thanks for typing all of this up for those who couldn’t make it! Hope you’re catching some March Madness in Durham.

    I didn’t know the fact about the Absolute Unique Visitor, very cool to know.

  2. Says:

    Hi Founder-

    Excellent post! We’ve had some discussion today on the uwebd site on Ning about Google Analytics, including the creation of a new group. You may want to share this there as well.

  3. Says:

    Great info, Kyle! Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate all the detail and the effort you’ve put into this post. I’m looking forward to reading more about what you learn.

  4. Says:

    You are likely aware of this, but many e-mail service providers (ESPs) also provide integration with Google Analytics, including the ESP you use, Founder:)

    That offers some interesting additional insights.

  5. Says:

    Rob, I’m not sure if Bronto does yet, but I’ve been talking with them about making this available. Some of what I’ve learned today it looks like with some additional parameters from the URLS I can pass everything I need from an email marketing campaign into GA and know how effective the campaign is. This is most effective because instead of knowing how many click throughs you got from a message now you know how long they spent on the site and where they went. :)

    I’m sure after I’m implemented some of this I’ll write a blog post. I’ve got so many ideas for GA posts now… where to start.

  6. Says:

    Most any ESP should be able to pass along the parameters. Some ESPs have gone the next step in integration to be able to create them on the fly within the ESP interface. One click of a box instead of having to separately tag every URL - major time-saver.

    If Bronto doesn’t have this level of integration yet, they likely will soon. ESPs seem to be ramping up on this feature the last couple months, as there is a major recent push toward looking beyond page view and click metrics to conversion metrics in emarketing, particularly with online and search engine ads.

    Along those lines, check out the MediaPost family of e-newsletters/blogs if you get a chance. They’ve been pounding these issues for a while.

  7. Says:

    I did some experiments with some AdWords terms and found some tremendous gems that are totally underutilized for higher ed… I would have tested them more and published about them but the cost to get something statistically useful was prohibitive. Too bad no one pays me for consulting, I guess.

    Analytics is grrrreat!

  8. Says:

    Interesting, succinct blog post re: analytics and e-mail:

    It is easy to see how the bigger shops employ entire staffs dedicated to these efforts. In higher ed it is often a one-person shop and one-of-many responsibilities.

  9. Says:

    Oh! Perfect job!
    Very good and useful post.
    I add your interesting blog in my Netvibes page!

  10. Says:

    interesting !

    Thank You For Amazing Information

    I Stumbled


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