14: Advanced Digital Measurement Tools at Wayne State University w/ Nick DeNardis

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Nick DeNardis, Director of Digital Communications at Wayne State University discusses the must-have tools for your higher ed measurement tookit.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university. I'm Miracleson AVP of marketing at Helix Education and we're here today with Nickton, artists, director of digital communications at Wayne State University. Nick, thanks so much for joining us today. Oh, no problem. Thanks for having me absolutely nick is someone who was incredibly gracious to me with this time as I made the move from the AD agency world a higher had seven years ago. He continues to be incredibly gracious and generous with his thought leadership to myself and the entire higher community. He and his team are also doing really advanced things at way state when it comes to digital measurements and strategy. But before we get too deep into that, nick, can you get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Wayne State and your rule there? Yeah, so Wayne State is a Public Urban Research University and Detroit and my role I oversee most all of the public facing websites on campus and that also includes digital signage around campus, social media and the like, as email templates and a bit of the campaigns and tracking email communication to...

...prospects and internally. And My background is primarily in computer science and Information Science, and so I've been doing this for quite a while here on the web and enjoying every step of the way, especially in higher a awesome, awesome a lot has changed in the last few years, in particular, with marketing measurement models and tools becoming more sophisticated and more integrated into our paid media channels. One of the biggest advancements in digital measurement that you're currently leveraging at Wayne State. So, you know, something that I've seen a trend, oh, you know, over and over is just kind of more and more data all of I guess it's just kind of almost like grown tenfold since I started, you know, and in a guess, probably in the past five years it's actually grown exponentially just because of the tools themselves. are able to get more fine grained with the interactions, and so we're trying to use as much of that data through different tools that are sustainable, not just every new tool that's out there, because every other week there's a new tool that comes out there. We do test a whole bunch, you know, and but sometimes we find that this yes, it does a little bit differently, but does is it going to work for us, or how can we combine things that can we actually make it so useful? And when we find those tools that are really useful, we stick to them and we try to just kind of know that their process right now isn't, you know, the best, but guess what, tomorrow will make it a little bit better and a little bit better and just kind of learn more and more each day and before you know it we will have you know, we, you know, grown a suite of tools and processes and, you know, allies around campus that we can work with to really improve things over time. So, with all these new tools coming out, what are the ones that have stuck it? Can you talk to me a little bit about what is landed in your you know, must have measurement tool kid at Wayne states and then and then maybe recommend, you know, one specific tool that everyone should have in their arsenal. All right, it's so one that hasn't changed really has been google analytics. It continues to be free, which I'm completely amazed for in about unless you,...

...you know, get past that like ten million visitor mark and or you wanted, you do want, to pay for the whole like three hundred and sixty sweet, but they offer so much still for free, and for a long time they were every other week just yes, it was annoying to change their interface a bit, but I felt like they were increasing the abilities within that interface over that time. So Google analytics is really like our main stay and it's always been in our tool belt. Same thing with well, web master tools is evolved the tiny bit. I feel like it went through redesign and then they like pulled that back or something, but it seeing how our sites are performing in search results. That is, you know, by far crucial to our decisions when we look for how we're wording things online. What are people finding, what aren't they finding and where we should be focusing our energy. And then two of the newer products in our tool belt that I'm some of my more excited about is Google's release of optimize. So Google optimize allows, you know, somebody to WHO's say, non technical, but it doesn't require the orchestration that used to have to happen when you wanted to run an a b test or, you know, our multivariate test. You know, there used to be a lot of nuts and bolts that you had to have in place in order to make it all work, and Google optimize does a lot of that heavy lifting and it really leverages Google analytics as goals and you know, I want to say, the more advanced like cesus and javascript abilities that pages have now to really just dynamically replace things on a page and it I feel like it does a whole lot of the heavy lifting to create tests and we found that being super valuable. The last tool that that we've added to our tool belt, which I'm excited about, is hot jar. We used to use a number of different tools that accomplish the same thing that hot jar does. Hot Ch are allows for keet mapping of individual pages or a suite of pages and or based on like triggers that you know, if you...

...want, if you know that somebody is a certain user type, then you can only work, you know, you know, record the you know where they click and things like that. It also includes the user journeys, like recordings of it basically recreates their session based on screen size, where they click, where they scroll, everything like that, and so you can replay those and basically do it, you know, usability test with somebody at their, you know, their regular location, doing their regular tasks and things like that. That we've gotten surprising results out of. It also does kind of like funnel management and you can, you know, have a little request for information forms and or questions that pop up on the pages based on different things. So we've gravitated. We actually got rid of two or three tools and went just a hot jar because it packed them all into one tool set, which was great. I love it. I love it and speaking of Google optimize, you talked about how intentionally Google made it so that it can be extraordinarily user friendly. I guess has that led to any shifts in terms of conversion governance on your team, in terms of are you empowering more people to play and report their findings? And maybe what is the single biggest surprise you stumbled across so far that you guys have tested for that you might not have Lord if not for testing? Yeah, it totally has expanded it for from basically, you know, our our marketing manager myself, saying Oh, we should test this and then getting it on a developers plate and getting it all set up to now, you know, we're probably running double or triple the amount of tests. And it's not just me or marketing manager in our PR director and our web content administrators are also free to, you know, start tests whenever they choose, as long as, you know, of course, they tell us about it because we don't want to see something crazy shift around. But yes, it's it allowed a free up the developers time to worry about other things and all, empowered more users around our department to test things out...

...and to really look from, you know, their assumptions based on data that they found through some of these other tools and and really put it to the test. And so you know, something we're testing right now, which is may feel like it may not be obvious, is so we have on our on our home page or on a lot of our sites, like an area for news and area for events and an area for spotlights, and historically we've always put a heading on top of that which kind of called out like news, events, spot lights. But we wanted to see, you know, is this just noise on the screen, like can some like the visual look of the news listing and the event listing and the spotlight are totally different, like can somebody just infer that this is news and then fur that these are events without having that heading there? And so that's actually test that we're running right now and it's it's only been maybe a week and a half, so it's not complete yet, but it's surprising to see how equal the results kind of come out. has come out so far, that there is really no difference with it there or without there. I know that isn't a fully conclusive result yet, but it was just surprising. We thought that would have been having the titles there would have definitely yielded more interaction. But I think our biggest surprise, of something that we definitely have learned in the past, is less usually gets more clicks. Right. So that may not be the initial mode of thinking. Everyone wants to have every link to every one of their programs on home it's right and like even like a school in College, maybe they have four different programs but each program has some sort of specialization or, you know, multiple specialization. So they want, you know, all four programs plus say two or three specializations, all listed out on the home page to to get someone directly to where you know, right to where their interest lies. And what we found is when we test just the programs and the programs plus specializations, usually this pattern is re emerged, but in in most cases with less links. So getting just the programs out there it would yield...

...more clicks overall and a higher overall conversion rate when it comes down to all the way to yielding to like requesting information or scheduling a tour, taking some sort of like next step action. So that's been our biggest surprises. Less links actually get more clicks than packing a page with every possible option. That's awesome and I love that this is not doesn't become a philosophical fight between folks of your campus. You just test it and and the belt design proves itself. You mentioned hot jar and I think there's some misconceptions behind what you do with user recordings, the idea of Oh, okay, in the aggregate I can kind of see heat mapping wise where people are viewing, but I also have these recordings of students in their actual scroll throughs. How do you how do you utilize both and both together to actually learn about and inform your decisions about Ux? So it's really eye opening when, because we we as in web professionals, right me, you, probably most of the people listening to this, use the web in a certain way and we don't even realize that we use the web in a certain way. And Really, at the end of the day, no one there's no class on how to use a website like and school or anything like that. Everyone just kind of like figures it out. And what surprises us the most about the heat maps and we sit down with a unit around campus and you know, we, we know a lot of you know what goes on in aggregate across campus and patterns and things like that. But every unit around campus has a different audience and they use their sites differently, and so we learn stuff every single time, which may not be a hundred percent of parent, about where people click on certain things and and when they don't click on things and what feels obvious and what's not obvious from like a terminology standpoint. And so for us we look at what can we discover from this heat map that we can test or that breaks maybe...

...one of our assumptions or confirms one of our assumptions, and then from there that that has yielded most all of our Ab tests has been some piece of information from a heat map. And then when we the biggest thing that we used user recordings with, we still we view them usually with the client, client, the unit around campus. We I say client because we we're actually set up like an internal agency, and so love any area of campus is technically like our clients, and so we have a relationship where we're doing. You know, we are building a process around how somebody, as a student, interacts with multiple departments around campus because obviously, if perspective, students going to go to admissions and then financial aids, scholarships, housing, and so we're going to want to make sure that we have some repeatable patterns that they're used to and comfortable with. It feels like the university. Well, at the same time, when we get down to like the registrar's office or something like that, like somebody may be going there for something really specific and we think we know but we don't really know. And so those are when we just kind of will sit down with a unit around empis and just watch recordings as if it was like, you know, a TV show, and just play one after another and after another hand and it's amazing. By the time we get to, you know, five or ten of them, we start to develop patterns that that really some form the architecture of a site and the placement of elements within pages, whether they be navigation elements or on on screen elements, all of the time are you know. And so for me that's the real power of hot J are in those recordings and those heat maps, is really getting into the users shoes in their their natural environment and then getting into our the the unit shoes, to really confirm or our question what our assumptions are. I love it and I really love that one to punch idea of utilizing the heat maps to inform and suggest a B test for for for...

UNR team to test. That's awesome. Let's talk about reporting. Google analytics, for instance, makes it extraordinarily easy to add individuals to automated lists and be emailed weekly reports that they never ever read. Talk about what you've done. It way in state to get people to not only care about reporting but be interested in pay attention what's happening. So we, you know, we do the standard, you know, monthly reports. As far as like traffic, entrance sources like then the key takeaways from there. But what we found actually is the the goal, like alert triggers, do get attention because most of I don't say most of the people, but there are a lot of people who have access to analytics. They all that data is available at their fingertips. They just have, you know, ten other jobs to do and this is the last thing on their mind. And you would be like, although you said that, you know, email itself is can get ignored and stuff like that, when it's tied to one of the goals that they are, you know, charged with, as far as bringing in more prospects or campus tours or or getting somebody to read more like more than one article. Right. So, like if we have a news release or news article or some sort of timely news content that the PR team has put a lot of time and effort into. One of the things that their goals there's just to get somebody to stay in the site more than what they would, you know, more than thirty seconds or a minute, and then get them to read at least one, like a second article. Right. So if it's the first time visitor that reads two articles, that is, you know, their their goal and when they get an alert and their email when, week over week, say so. For us it's one of the best, I guess, ways for people to pay attention is if you set up a alert trigger for if one of their goals week over week goes plus ten percent, or name if ten percent. So we found that that gets someone to pay attention.

Plus ten percent. You know, they're excited and they, you know, the send that off to their team. When it gets goes down ten percent, they're like, oh, what's going on here, and can get them, you know, in a mode of like what what happened last week? What what happened this week? What, like what could be the reason for this because that variance, I think that's something that they pay attention to, you, especially since the goal that they have some vested interest in control over. And so for us that's been the best way to keep people on their toes and paying attention to it and top of mind without having to like, you know, have a dashboard of a, you know, ten different goals on one large screen in the middle of the you know, the our office, you know it. That is great, but it ends up becoming, you know, people become blind to it because the numbers don't honestly don't mean anything, but after a while they look so similar it's hard to tell. Are we doing good, are we not doing good? And dissiling it down to a metric that that that you, individual user can control. I think it's the best way that we found them to pay attention to. It's a really good approach. I love that idea of you're not sending reports, you're sending answers to questions that they specifically have and their specifically charged with answering. I love that. Nick. Any next steps for listeners who might not exactly be sure where to start in terms of prioritizing this kind of enhanced digital measurement strategy at their institution. You know, something that helped us out a lot, as if there is if you are the individual or if there is an individual that you know on campus, is start talking to them more and, if you're that individual, start talking to others more, especially about the data that you have that they may not have access to but they might be interested in. They it might take a it might take a bit, right it not everybody loves to you know, dreams and data, right, but if you're able to at least show that you have this data, you and you want, you're willing to share it and you're able to, you know, if they want, give them access to it. And it may be uncomfortable at first because some people, you know, may be more access than...

...they have historically gotten to see insights into, maybe more than beyond just their website. Right. That is like the first step because that provides them and a comfortability for them and you to have an open dialog around what is important, what should we be tracking? What what don't we have access to at this point? Right? And so, no matter what area are in, you know, we, although we're in the marketing department, we work really closely with our enrollment group and based on the realities at your institution or, you know, whatever organization you're at. It may be that they don't track certain information, or they do but it's just not accessible to other people. Or and in really kind of slowly cracking into pulling that data together and not bringing down any walls of people from a defensive standpoint. You know that have historically been. Well, this is my per view and my you know, my data and I don't want to to give it up because it they might be afraid that it may not be not showing, you know, their unit or their area in the best light. But the only way to really improve that is to, you know, have the reality of okay, we're getting this many people to the this page and this many people are converting, but then we're what can we get next, and making sure that they feel comfortable sharing their data by you first putting any data that you have out there and not judging the individual for any data that they put out there. And I think just bridging those relationships across campus or your organization for us has definitely helped. I know that we have way more people than than I know in our analytics set up but you know what, it has really helped them feel comfortable when we start talking to them about great designs and and their best interests in their sites, users and things like that, that we're not just like pulling it out of the sky, like we're really looking at this data from, you know, an objective perspective and and I think that that that's a great...

...first step. And then, you know, hopefully your it area, if it's not available to you where you're at, is open to adding, you know, potentially some additional scripts to pages. And if they're not, I would try to move towards like a Google tag manager where they can put one script on their site and then, like you can do you know, the underlying work to add any additional ones and things like that at to your pages, because a lot of these tools you'll want to experiment with, and making friends with the IT group on campus or any whoever kind of controls the overall templates is important because traditionally and high read, lots of different units work on that, lots of different systems, and they're not, you know, as easy as all let's just change the one template and it goes across all the areas. It really couldn't be different, different whole systems, and so showing that you're going to share the data with them potentially is, you know, a great in road with it is what we've found. So much kill or advise their next such good stuff. What is the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions after listening to this? I am pretty active on twitter. I will go through sports of being on there not on there, and it's mainly because I have two kids and so it's like every day is a little bit different and so but I do check twitter and I'll respond and read messages. If you follow me or you tweet at me, my username is at Nick Didn Artists. Awesome. Thanks again so much for joining us today, Nick. Oh yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (264)