Data-Driven Reporting in Higher Education
Reporting can be challenging. Digging up all the data you need can feel overwhelming, not to mention the effort to share your numbers. But is it worth it?
We emphatically say: yes!
Use numbers to break down internal silos
With competing priorities, institutional reputations under a microscope, and pressure from leadership, chances are there are multiple teams at your institution that would like to have a say in your marketing and digital efforts. And of course, they all have different ideas of what success looks like.
Good reporting starts with a question and ends with actionable insight.
What should we do more? What should we do differently? What do we define as success?
When you use data — the hard numbers — to show what’s working and what’s not, you can unify and align your team around shared metrics of success.
Success looks different in each channel. The key is to move stakeholders from the sidelines to engaged partners; they’re more likely to be receptive to optimization, more agile, and more comfortable implementing change. When everyone is speaking the same language, obstacles begin to disappear.
Provide frontline marketers with the numbers they need
If the word reporting conjures images of a painstaking process undertaken once a quarter to produce an (ugly) chart for leadership, it’s time to rethink your data.
Good reports quickly become indispensable in the hands of frontline marketers focused on the day-to-day minutiae and clear delivery of your message.
In an email, an advertisement, or in 240 characters, data feeds your frontline team’s approach to directly influencing prospect and student behavior. A data-infused culture shapes actions and strategy from the provost’s office, to your institution’s Twitter account.
Greater transparency spurs greater accountability. Directors, managers, and individual contributors looking at the same metrics can see — and own — their role in the larger mission. This is where a data-driven culture begins to form, and when reports become a jumping-off point for a cycle of optimization rather than a post-mortem assessment.
Implement practical metrics for today
Start small by asking big questions to understand the prospect journey and what data to use as an indicator of success. Here are three metrics to get you started:
1. Website traffic by device
If 75% of your website traffic is mobile, make sure you have optimized content for mobile. Large navigation menus and image-based text are not ideal. Ensure your popular content is readily findable and readable.
2. Channel Conversions
Which channels bring in the most new applicants? What actions are they taking on your site? Are those actions optimized? Invest in what is most effective for your institution based on the success metrics and ROI of each channel.
3. Visitor Engagement
Use site behavior as an indicator of what might need some immediate attention. If a page has a high bounce rate, chances are site visitors aren’t finding what they came for. If your engagement metrics are trending in the wrong direction, check out your site navigation and architecture to make it easy for potential students to find your best content.
With a few shifts, pulling data into reports is no longer known as a necessary evil. These metrics can be central to your strategic decisions at every level, equipping your team for success in a digital-first landscape.
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