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Leveraging Data Analytics in Higher Education Decision-Making

Data Analytics in Higher Education Marketing

Higher education marketers should utilize website analytics tools to gather data on their user behavior and preferences, which can guide their marketing efforts and optimize their websites. This blog will help higher education marketers formulate a data-driven approach that turns analytics into action.

The Impact of Google Analytics 4 on Data-Driven Marketing

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There is no doubt at all that Google Analytics 4 disrupted the marketing industry. As the July 1st deadline came and passed, many marketers were left wondering what to do next. 

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) differs greatly from Universal Analytics – everything from the user interface to the metrics we knew and loved. In our ‘Guide to Google Analytics 4,’ we investigated why this change occurred and how GA4 differs from Universal Analytics. In short, rather than having an idea of what a user is doing on a specific page, GA4 allows higher ed marketers to understand how the user interacts and engages with the website as a whole journey – rather than the page-by-page level. 

This change has impacted not only the way data is recorded but also how marketers think about their data and user engagement. This led to marketers wondering how they would interpret and use this data to drive strategic decision-making.

Measure what Matters: Data that Drive Insights

Data analytics in higher education from platforms like GA4 can help marketers refine their digital marketing strategies, improve user experiences, and drive enrollment and engagement on their college and university websites. We’ve identified a few of these key metrics below:

1. User Demographics, Interests, and Affinity Categories

Understanding the demographics of website visitors can help institutions better target different audience segments. What hobbies and interests do visitors have? What sort of content and information are they looking for? These questions guide content creation that matches user intent. Marketers can personalize their messaging and reach their target audience with detailed user insights.

2. User Behavior Flow

This visualization helps marketers understand their users’ paths through the website, revealing how prospective students navigate the site and where and why they may drop off. What are they looking for? How do they get there? The path analysis report in GA4 can help you visualize and analyze the different paths users take on your site. It’s essential to understand the complex decision-making process that students go through when considering higher education options.

Path analysis navigation map

GA4’s path exploration graph consists of the following elements: (1) starting/ending point, (2) node type, (3) node, and (4) add node. Learn more on how to explore user journeys in Google’s support page

3. Event Tracking

GA4 allows you to track specific user interactions, such as form submissions, downloads, or video views. This data is valuable for measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns and calculating conversion rates. Other key events to track include application submissions, requests for information, and campus tour sign-ups. 

4. User Engagement

How do prospective students engage with your site? In Google Analytics 4, you can understand this through metrics like average session duration, pages per session, and bounce rate.

5. Landing Page Performance

To reconsider the role of journey mapping, it is essential to analyze the performance of landing pages (think Academics, Admissions, etc.). Metrics like average engagement time and views per user will glean insights into what attracts and retains visitors to your site. A thorough investigation of landing page performance will provide clues into what sort of components and patterns will work best to optimize program pages or draw users to desired outcomes.

Why Should Higher Education Marketers Leverage Data Analytics for Decision-Making?

Our short answer? Doing so will help you optimize your content strategy, enhance your admissions funnel, and future-proof your marketing campaigns.

There is a widely known saying that “what gets measured gets attention.” Naturally, we want to invest our resources on what matters most to prospective students.

Data analytics provides insights into our audiences’ intent, behavior, preferences, and needs. Further, we know what we think differentiates our organizations, but what do the students think? Let the data help reveal which pages and content are most popular and effective, and where there are areas of opportunity. Lastly, you can develop your marketing strategies to weather market dynamics by responding to evolving trends and student demands.

How ERI Can Help

When it comes to data analytics in higher education, ERI stands strong. We’re proud of our work with colleges and universities on optimizing their data analytics for decision-making. We work with you to preserve the insights you’re used to, as well as mine new insights from GA4 to give you a more complete picture of your data. Interested in how you can leverage data analytics for your higher education decision-making? Let us know, we’d love to help you get started.


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