Whether you pull up your sleeves and dive into Google Analytics, have a handy dashboard that parses data down to their core, or rely fully on an outside agency to interpret data for you, you probably understand one point: data matter. They are the brains of digital marketing and the reason it can be used so effectively. But there are so many data points to consider, it’s often difficult to decide which digital marketing metrics matter to you. If you use digital marketing to improve enrollment yield, these are the digital marketing metrics you must use to measure success:
1) Website Traffic Metrics
A mere increase in traffic to your site can be a vanity metric if that traffic isn’t tied directly to an action you took to achieve it. After all, you can have a spike in traffic that comes from developers in India and that will have no bearing whatsoever on future enrollments. On the other hand, if you built a marketing campaign that targets prospects with the goal of having them come to your site—and it works—that’s a metric worth noting.
2) Website Conversions
More important than mere traffic are conversions that occur once users come to you site. Are they taking the action you encouraged them to? Thanks to digital marketing metrics, you can set multiple conversion points. In higher education you might, for example, choose conversions such as a request for more information, a brochure download, or an application start. And if you use lead scoring for higher ed, each of those actions could be assigned its own corresponding value to determine the likelihood that your prospect will become a student. Use metrics to create even more metrics.
3) Conversion Rate
Your conversion rate is the total number of conversions divided by sessions over a given time period. While conversions are important, your conversion rate can be even more telling. That’s because you can dive into the metric to see which campaign or channel is truly producing the best results. For example, let’s say you run a paid media campaign that brings 5000 sessions to your site that then result in 50 conversions. That’s a 1 percent conversion rate. Over the same time period, you also run an email campaign that brings only 1000 sessions to your site, but it results in that same 50 conversions. If you do the math, you see it has a 5 percent conversion rate. And when you consider the costs of paid media verses email marketing, the ROI of email easily wins in this example.
4) Cost per Clicks and Conversions
The ads you run through search or on a social media platform like Facebook often only cost you when someone clicks on the ad. Those costs are determined by a combination of factors including the bid you set, the competition at the very moment of the click and your quality score. Obviously, the lower the cost, the better. Same goes for cost per conversion. Pay attention to both of these measurements and use conversion rate optimization to continually improve on even good results.
5) Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate for a pay-per-click campaign means a user comes to your landing page and takes no action; they don’t convert. It’s important to pay attention to your bounce rate as it can impact your quality score and force you to bid higher for your ads.
With organic traffic to your website, bounce rate is a little more complicated. The definition is essentially the same. A user comes to a page, takes no measurable action, and interacts with no other page on your site. Google considers that a bounce. However, in the case of a blog, the user may have come, read the post and exited. It’s still considered a bounce even though the action you may have wanted was exactly what the user did: read the post.
6) Time on Page Metric
Just like it sounds, time on page is how long a user spends on an individual page. It’s easy to see now that you’ll be combining data to build a true picture of what’s going on with your site and landing pages. In the organic example above, if a user “bounced” from your site after five minutes, you can infer that they actually read the post. On the other hand, if they bounced after a few seconds, your content likely didn’t appeal to the user.
7) Website Traffic by Sources
Where your traffic comes from is critical knowledge if you want to make the most of your marketing budget. Through analytics you can determine which sources are producing results and adjust your campaigns accordingly. For example, if you note that you receive considerable traffic from paid Facebook ads, but users don’t convert (think conversion rate), but you see traffic and conversions from LinkedIn, you’ll likely want to shift your marketing spend.
8) Website Traffic by Device
You can see whether users are coming to you by desktop, mobile or tablet. Why does that matter? When you understand your users’ viewing habits, you can build better content. Since Google’s mobile-first initiative, you surely already use responsive design. However, if most of you users view your pages on their phones, you’ll want to be extremely concise in your copy. What do you offer students? What do you want users to learn from an interaction with your school? What’s your call-to-action? Get to the point—quickly.
9) Website Traffic by Hour and Day
Similarly to understanding how users view your pages, when they view also matters. Especially with regard to paid media budget, you don’t want to waste spend on times of the day or days of the week when users are unlikely to view your content or take action. And in higher education, you’ll also want to account for seasonality.
10) Cost per Acquisition
The end goal of your marketing efforts is to get qualified students to enroll. Link your marketing efforts to the efforts of your admissions team so you understand the profile of the students who actually apply and enroll—and the marketing path they took to get there. What was your investment and what’s your bottom-line marketing ROI?
Believe it or not these 10 metrics are only a small sampling of what you can examine when it comes to digital marketing metrics. It’s complicated! That’s why you need a digital marketing agency that understands it all—and specializes in higher education. Give us a call and we’ll discuss what ESM Digital might be able to do for your institution and your enrollment goals.