Analyzing Web and Social

Kayla Green headshot
University of North Texas portrait of Kayla Green, Photographed on 10 February, 2017 in Denton, Texas. (Madison Gostkowski/UNT Photo)

by Kayla Green, M.Ed., Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Engineering, University of North Texas

One of the most common questions we get in marketing and communications is about metrics and how we go about collecting and analyzing them in an ever-evolving digital world. It can be a challenge keeping track of all the important metrics and knowing just what to do with them. It can be an even greater challenge deciding which to present to leadership, specifically when it comes to web and social. 

As marketing and communications folks, we know that the website is the most important marketing and recruitment tool we have in our toolkit. It’s our one-stop shop where prospective students can go to learn about our programs, find out our admissions requirements, and hit that magical “apply now” button. Because of this, we use Google Analytics at UNT Engineering for just about every interaction we have on our website. We track newsletters. We track social media. We track the comings and goings of our recurring and unique visitors. And we break it all down by internal and external users. And, thanks to Google’s synergistic development, we’ve interconnected Google Analytics with Google Ads. Having both synced makes our website and our ads stronger and perform better for our marketing and recruitment needs.  

When it comes to presenting web metrics to leadership, we tend to focus on unique visitors per month, geographic location, time spent on the site, and behavior to understand where our visitors came from and what pages they’re visiting the most. We also keep an eye on the email open rate and track the clicks via a unique sourcing code we’ve developed for our email links. For a deeper dive into newsletters, we use Constant Contact. Constant Contact, and other similar email platforms, provide metrics like click-through rate, bounce rate and number of unsubscribes, along with the open rate. 

As for social, we use our engagement rate to measure how we’re doing on our goals and then compare it to the higher ed benchmarks to see where we sit nationally among university social accounts. For a more accurate comparison among colleges of engineering, we use Sprout Social’s Reports to view our most common metrics (impressions, engagements and clicks) and to compare ourselves alongside our peers and aspirational peers. This tool gives us a better idea of what it is we’re doing in relation to our peers and how we could improve and provides stats like fan audience growth, publishing behavior and post breakdown.

Of course, as communications folks, we find all of the above information to be beneficial as we progress toward our goals. It’s a good set of metrics for our leadership to receive, but it’s also common that those we report to are far more interested in the other exciting numbers like likes, followers, and shares – and, if they’re on Twitter, their own retweets. We’ll often present these as percentage increases or decreases or in trend graphs so they’re easier for our leadership team to digest alongside our engagement rate and web analytics. 

Providing context will always be key, so we’ll often take all of these metrics – both from web and social – and tie them back to our college-wide goals and initiatives. If we had planned this year to focus more heavily on research, then we would pull that out as a specific measure and showcase how often our audience engaged with our research-specific content. If we planned to focus more on student engagement, then we would highlight that element accordingly. By focusing our efforts in this way, we’re able to further emphasize the impact marketing and communications has on the college and the community at large as well as provide a more comprehensive understanding of what marketing and communications is.

Member Q&A: Thuy T. Tran

Thuy Tran holding a trout.

Name: Thuy T. Tran
Institution: Oregon State University, College of Engineering
Position: Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

Thuy Tran headshot

What do you do for fun?

There’s nothing more peaceful and, at the same time, more thrilling than swinging flies for steelhead on Oregon’s famous Deschutes, Umpqua, and Rogue rivers or on the lesser-known Trask, Siletz, Alsea, and Nestucca rivers. Once in a while, you might find me chasing bonefish on the flats on Kauai, Oahu, or Christmas Island.

What is your favorite thing about working in engineering communications?

Engineering is an endless source of great stories, including fascinating research, inspiring resilience and achievements, and heartwarming spirit of giving.

Something really cool currently happening in engineering at your school?

We have just launched a graduate program in artificial intelligence as an interdisciplinary field of study.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

There’s never enough time to finish the work. But, instead of making my to-do list a source of frustration, I try to remind myself that with each completed task comes the opportunity to tackle even more challenging and (hopefully) interesting work.

Project or achievement in your current position that you are most proud of?

I am proud of “Engineering Out Loud,” a podcast that my team launched in 2016 that has continued to gain popularity (71,000+ downloads by all 50 states and 96 countries). This project truly captures the creativity, perseverance, and teamwork of our group. I am also thrilled with “Rooted in Community,” a short film in which six women speak about their experiences in academia: how they broke through barriers, made impacts through research, and are guiding the next generation of engineers.

Advice for someone just starting out in higher ed communications and marketing?

Newcomers to engineering communications and marketing have vast new knowledge to acquire and countless existing skills to refine. Creative storytelling, tech fluency, and effective collaboration are all critical. Most importantly: Commit yourself to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization. You can start with internal learning opportunities already offered at your university. Also, carve out time to develop your leadership skills. It’s never too early. Leading While Green: How Emerging Leaders Can Ripen into Effective Leaders is an excellent place to begin.

Thuy Tran fishing

Thuy Tran fishing