Several weeks ago, I had the "privilege" of renting and watching the Katy Perry movie, "Part of Me," with my tween daughter. Never having jumped on the Katy Perry bandwagon, I was amazed to learn a few things. Perry released her third album in 2010, Teenage Dream, which spawned five number one singles and became the first and only album (since Michael Jackson's Bad) to do so. She has garnered numerous accolades, including being named as Billboard's 2012 Woman of the Year and ranking 14th on the list of Billboard money earners in 2011. How did she achieve this success? Simply: Katy has a passion for music and she makes it her own. Even more importantly, she is completely passionate about and commited to her fans.
You might be thinking, "How in the world does this relate to Google Analytics?" Well, last week, I had the privilege of attending Converge's two-day Google Analytics Workshop in Chicago. The experience was fantastic as there were more than 30 people from great colleges and universities all trying to understand how one could use Google Analytics to understand user experience online better and inform the web experience of site visitors. The questions were insightful and the dialogue interesting. The workshop attendees were passionate and truly wanted to figure out and learn from each other how Google Analytics could really impact their understanding of what works from an engagement perspective.
As I think about how Katy Perry created her success, there is a direct link. Katy created an amazing following and an unbelievable world tour by making her fans her number one focus. At every show that Katy performed, she gave away tickets to dozens of fans to be on stage with her. She hosted events before/after every single concert to meet and give back to her fans. She listened to them, engaged with them, learned from them, and let them become part of the experience in a real way.
Colleges and universities have a number of tools at their disposal to create a "wow moment" where students/alums feel like they are part of the experience and engaged in a real way. One way in which to create that moment is to optimize their experience by analyzing your web site data and then modifying its look, feel, navigation, and content in accordance with what the data tells you about what they find interesting, where they spend their time on your site, etc.
What can you learn from this free tool given some creative thinking about the online experiences of your prospective students and alumni? Here are three tips that will be helpful:
1.) Analyze Search Terms: See what visitors are searching for on your site. If there are many site searches done for certain things that people can't easily find in your navigation, you may need to think about renaming or restructuring part of your site. Making your site as user-friendly as possible so that visitors can find what they need quickly and intuitively.
2.) Analyze Mobile Traffic: As more and more people engage in visiting your web site from tablets or mobile device, it is imperative understand what devices they are using, who the audience is, and what pages they are visiting. Test your site out from your own mobile device. How is the experience?
3.) Understand Social Engagement: Run a report on social engagement to understand what social sources people are coming from, and, more importantly, which of those social networks are driving conversions for specific activities. Knowing that dozens of people who came to your site from Facebook completed a campus visit event form is important in terms of understanding user experience as well as how to focus time and resources.
The University of Notre Dame deserves a shout out for their work in supporting the Alumni Clubs and listening to their alumni. I had the pleasure of speaking to Paul Weikel from their team and learning that Notre Dame supports all of their alumni clubs by having set up Google Analytics and reporting for nearly 400 clubs on a monthly basis. The reports allow the clubs to better understand how alumni are engaging with their web site. This is a great best practice and focus on experience.
How can you use Google Analytics to make a more impactful experience for your audiences?