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.