University Web Developers

University Web Developers

As we are coming to a calendar year close and recently completed an advertising campaign, we have been looking at our web analytics to see how we did. Trying to compare overall web traffic we have seen a decrease this year (-4% +/- depending on some factors). The problem I'm running into is that it doesn't correlate to our increase in applications and accepted students.

My initial reaction is "better web traffic"? We've seen increases in: time on page/site, % of new visitors, traffic from external networks, and traffic to some of our key pages (although not all of them). We've also seen extremely high results on our direct mail/application pieces.

So am I foolish to extrapolate that our general brand awareness could have increased, our prospective students don't have to navigate all over our site, are applying quickly and easier through our direct pieces, which is cannibalizing some of our traffic?

Views: 497

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Kevin,

I would say that lower 'qualified' traffic is much better than a large volume of  'general' visitor web traffic.  It seems to me that your brand advertising and direct marketing campaigns could be resonating better with your target audience.  This drives qualified traffic to your website and higher ratio of applications/visitor traffic.

Same here. We just brought in a record class, but overall site traffic is down 4% compared to last year. And this is after several years of growth. I haven't been able to figure it out.

The more I hear others mention this, the more I think its a technical issue or something related to privacy that was updated in browsers.....but so far I haven't found anything to validate those thoughts.

I've been speculating for some time that there might be a generalized flow of our users away from web sites and towards accessing information through social media. This could be a very soft effect: a tweeted question that replaces a hit on a web page here, a skim of a Facebook page instead a hit on an event calendar there... just a slight drift away from the web site as the first go-to resource. These slightly lower numbers would be in keeping with that kind of small shift in user behavior. If so the pattern of lower numbers would continue over time, and web resources that can be accessed on multiple social media platforms or from peers would probably show the most drop.

Keep in mind, while a 4% change in traffic might be out of the norm, it's also not statistically significant in most cases. After all, where is that dip happening? It's possible your home page views are down, while views across the rest of the site on the whole are up. That'd be because of the sheer volume of views the homepage gets, and people that might be getting to deep pages on your site via a search engine. Imagine how many views of the homepage would be cut out if just a couple computer labs on campus changed the default homepage to Google, for instance.

When I hear someone say "traffic changed by X amount," I immediately think you're talking about total pageviews or visits singularly (I also question if on-campus traffic was excluded in the report, for reason like the lab example above). It's extremely important to make sure folks understand that these are, essentially, garbage statistics. What matters is the value you get out of those. In your case, you say you're seeing increases in applications and acceptances. If that was your goal, and you achieved that goal with fewer pageviews, you're actually doing a better job since the base conversion rate is higher.

Increasing pageviews or visits isn't a goal. It might be a means to a goal, but it should be viewed as the start, not the finish, when it comes to analysis. For instance, if you've seen that drop, and you think it's because of incidental flight to social media platforms, then measure your engagement rates on Facebook and Twitter and see if there's a corresponding bump. The tough part is, there's a certain mad scientist skill that comes into play sometimes to get all the numbers to make sense, and in that process, you lose some of the folks you have to sell on the info, which is why we revert back to this basic pageview/visit scoring.

Totally agree, overall traffic is not a goal. But the narrative for most higher ups is more traffic = more reach and awareness. And so they want an explanation when it drops. I don't think it's worth worrying about unless it goes past 5-6%, but there should be an explanation for it.

In my case I'm looking at visits instead of pure pageviews because traffic patterns will always shift around, but ultimately we want more people coming to the site, or at lest the same people coming back more regularly. While "unique visitors" is up almost 6%, "visits" is down 2% - meaning we're getting more people (or the same people on more devices anyway) but they're not coming back as much. Which may be fine - all comes down to how we define success and how we're reaching out to them in other channels.

We've been considering reporting aggregate metrics for social media and web in a more unified presentation, realizing that there will be traffic shifting between channels, and that a better view of overall engagement and effectiveness will come from looking at the channels together, even as traffic flows and shifts between them.

I agree that results-oriented metrics are the ones that matter. Management knows they need this kind of more nuanced analysis too, so I think moving away from a 'views and visitors' orientation to a conversions and results orientation is on everyone's agenda.

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Sara Kisseberth posted a discussion

Archived magazine stories

Greetings,What are you all doing online with "old" magazine stories? Do you delete issues after so  many years? 5 years? 10? I'm torn between keeping all on for historical purposes or keeping just a few years online to simplify the site (ala Gerry McGovern.) Curious as to what you see best practices being.ThanksSara KisseberthBluffton Universitywww.bluffton.eduSee More
Jun 10
Erin Jorgensen posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Accessibility Summit

The HighEdWeb 2020 Accessibility Summit is a one-day, online conference about digital accessibility in higher education happening June 25, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.Join in to learn best practices, share stories and connect with your higher ed peers on topics including social media accessibility, web development, user experience and more. Sessions are designed to boost knowledge at every level, from accessibility beginners to technical experts. Conference registration is $25, with…See More
May 29
Erin Jorgensen is now a member of University Web Developers
May 29
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Annual Conference - ONLINE

October 19-20, 2020https://2020.highedweb.org/#HEWeb20     Join us ONLINE for HighEdWeb 2020, the conference created by and for higher education professionals across all departments and divisions. Together we explore and find solutions for the unique issues facing digital teams at colleges and universities. In 2020, the Conference will be held completely online, offering multiple tracks of streamed presentations, live…See More
May 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Throughout April, we're hosting webcasts exploring how colleges and universities across North America are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Register for the series today! https://bit.ly/2xsXhK9"
Apr 13
Christelle Lachapelle is now a member of University Web Developers
Apr 6
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Download our latest white paper to learn how the demographics of today’s higher ed learners are shifting, and how schools can adapt to meet the needs of these new learners. https://bit.ly/2wTKdgB"
Mar 31
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join our next webcast with Amrit Ahluwalia from The EvoLLLution to learn about the new "modern learner" in higher education. https://bit.ly/2UuDh2I"
Mar 30
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"As we ride out the latest developments and impact of the coronavirus, there's no better time than now to learn the three Bs of crisis planning. http://bit.ly/2ITVkc2"
Mar 16
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Is your college or university prepared to meet the challenges that come with disasters and emergencies like the coronavirus? Learn how your CMS can help. http://bit.ly/2TUZUM8"
Mar 12
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Can’t afford the time and money to launch a comprehensive guided pathways model? Register for our FREE webcast to learn tricks for simulating a digital guided pathways experience."
Feb 21
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"With college enrollment decreasing for the 8th year in a row, boosting your college or university marketing efforts is more important than ever. Here's how to get started. http://bit.ly/2vTQAzz"
Feb 20
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Annual Conference

October 18-21, 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USAhttps://2020.highedweb.org/#HEWeb20     Join us for HighEdWeb 2020, the conference created by and for higher education professionals across all departments and divisions. Together we explore and find solutions for the unique issues facing digital teams at colleges and universities. With 100+ diverse sessions, an outstanding keynote presentation, intensive workshops, and engaging networking events,…See More
Feb 19
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Call for Proposals is Open!

The 2020 Annual Conference of the Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb) will travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, this October 18-21 — and the call for proposals is now open! As a digital professional in higher education, we know you have great ideas and experiences to share. From developers, marketers and programmers to managers, designers, writers and all team members in-between, HighEdWeb provides valuable professional development for all who want to explore the unique…See More
Feb 14
Christine Boehler shared Sara Clark's discussion on Facebook
Feb 14
Christine Boehler is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 14
Brian Bell joined Kevin Daum's group
Feb 14
Brian Bell joined Mark Greenfield's group
Feb 14
Kenneth George is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 13
John Sterni is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 6

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2020   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service