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 meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand 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 enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaderslooking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for freshenrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the rightplace. 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 somuch for joining us today. Oh, no problem. Thanks for having meabsolutely nick is someone who was incredibly gracious to me with this time as Imade 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 andthe entire higher community. He and his team are also doing really advanced thingsat way state when it comes to digital measurements and strategy. But before weget too deep into that, nick, can you get the listeners a littlebit better understanding of both Wayne State and your rule there? Yeah, soWayne State is a Public Urban Research University and Detroit and my role I overseemost all of the public facing websites on campus and that also includes digital signagearound campus, social media and the like, as email templates and a bit ofthe campaigns and tracking email communication to...

...prospects and internally. And My backgroundis primarily in computer science and Information Science, and so I've been doing this forquite 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 lastfew years, in particular, with marketing measurement models and tools becoming more sophisticatedand more integrated into our paid media channels. One of the biggest advancements in digitalmeasurement that you're currently leveraging at Wayne State. So, you know,something that I've seen a trend, oh, you know, over and over isjust kind of more and more data all of I guess it's just kindof 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 ofthe 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 thatare sustainable, not just every new tool that's out there, because every otherweek there's a new tool that comes out there. We do test a wholebunch, you know, and but sometimes we find that this yes, itdoes 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 tothem 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 ita little bit better and a little bit better and just kind of learn moreand more each day and before you know it we will have you know,we, you know, grown a suite of tools and processes and, youknow, allies around campus that we can work with to really improve things overtime. So, with all these new tools coming out, what are theones that have stuck it? Can you talk to me a little bit aboutwhat is landed in your you know, must have measurement tool kid at Waynestates and then and then maybe recommend, you know, one specific tool thateveryone should have in their arsenal. All right, it's so one that hasn'tchanged really has been google analytics. It continues to be free, which I'mcompletely amazed for in about unless you,...

...you know, get past that liketen million visitor mark and or you wanted, you do want, to pay forthe whole like three hundred and sixty sweet, but they offer so muchstill for free, and for a long time they were every other week justyes, it was annoying to change their interface a bit, but I feltlike they were increasing the abilities within that interface over that time. So Googleanalytics 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 orsomething, but it seeing how our sites are performing in search results. Thatis, you know, by far crucial to our decisions when we look forhow we're wording things online. What are people finding, what aren't they findingand where we should be focusing our energy. And then two of the newer productsin our tool belt that I'm some of my more excited about is Google'srelease 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 haveto happen when you wanted to run an a b test or, you know, our multivariate test. You know, there used to be a lot ofnuts and bolts that you had to have in place in order to make itall work, and Google optimize does a lot of that heavy lifting and itreally 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 justdynamically replace things on a page and it I feel like it does a wholelot 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'mexcited about, is hot jar. We used to use a number of differenttools that accomplish the same thing that hot jar does. Hot Ch are allowsfor keet mapping of individual pages or a suite of pages and or based onlike triggers that you know, if you...

...want, if you know that somebodyis 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 sessionbased 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, youknow, have a little request for information forms and or questions that pop upon the pages based on different things. So we've gravitated. We actually gotrid of two or three tools and went just a hot jar because it packedthem 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 madeit so that it can be extraordinarily user friendly. I guess has thatled to any shifts in terms of conversion governance on your team, in termsof are you empowering more people to play and report their findings? And maybewhat is the single biggest surprise you stumbled across so far that you guys havetested 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 managermyself, saying Oh, we should test this and then getting it ona 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 justme or marketing manager in our PR director and our web content administrators are alsofree to, you know, start tests whenever they choose, as long as, you know, of course, they tell us about it because we don'twant to see something crazy shift around. But yes, it's it allowed afree up the developers time to worry about other things and all, empowered moreusers around our department to test things out...

...and to really look from, youknow, their assumptions based on data that they found through some of these othertools 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 beobvious, is so we have on our on our home page or on alot of our sites, like an area for news and area for events andan area for spotlights, and historically we've always put a heading on top ofthat which kind of called out like news, events, spot lights. But wewanted to see, you know, is this just noise on the screen, like can some like the visual look of the news listing and the eventlisting and the spotlight are totally different, like can somebody just infer that thisis 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 beenmaybe a week and a half, so it's not complete yet, but it'ssurprising to see how equal the results kind of come out. has come outso 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 justsurprising. We thought that would have been having the titles there would have definitelyyielded more interaction. But I think our biggest surprise, of something that wedefinitely have learned in the past, is less usually gets more clicks. Right. So that may not be the initial mode of thinking. Everyone wants tohave every link to every one of their programs on home it's right and likeeven like a school in College, maybe they have four different programs but eachprogram has some sort of specialization or, you know, multiple specialization. Sothey 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 whereyou know, right to where their interest lies. And what we found iswhen we test just the programs and the programs plus specializations, usually this patternis re emerged, but in in most cases with less links. So gettingjust the programs out there it would yield...

...more clicks overall and a higher overallconversion rate when it comes down to all the way to yielding to like requestinginformation 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 packinga page with every possible option. That's awesome and I love that this isnot doesn't become a philosophical fight between folks of your campus. You just testit and and the belt design proves itself. You mentioned hot jar and I thinkthere's some misconceptions behind what you do with user recordings, the idea ofOh, okay, in the aggregate I can kind of see heat mapping wisewhere people are viewing, but I also have these recordings of students in theiractual scroll throughs. How do you how do you utilize both and both togetherto actually learn about and inform your decisions about Ux? So it's really eyeopening when, because we we as in web professionals, right me, you, probably most of the people listening to this, use the web in acertain way and we don't even realize that we use the web in a certainway. And Really, at the end of the day, no one there'sno 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 themost about the heat maps and we sit down with a unit around campus andyou know, we, we know a lot of you know what goes onin aggregate across campus and patterns and things like that. But every unit aroundcampus has a different audience and they use their sites differently, and so welearn 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 onthings 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 mapthat we can test or that breaks maybe...

...one of our assumptions or confirms oneof our assumptions, and then from there that that has yielded most all ofour Ab tests has been some piece of information from a heat map. Andthen when we the biggest thing that we used user recordings with, we stillwe 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 sowe have a relationship where we're doing. You know, we are building aprocess around how somebody, as a student, interacts with multiple departments around campus becauseobviously, if perspective, students going to go to admissions and then financialaids, scholarships, housing, and so we're going to want to make surethat we have some repeatable patterns that they're used to and comfortable with. Itfeels like the university. Well, at the same time, when we getdown to like the registrar's office or something like that, like somebody may begoing there for something really specific and we think we know but we don't reallyknow. And so those are when we just kind of will sit down witha unit around empis and just watch recordings as if it was like, youknow, a TV show, and just play one after another and after anotherhand 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 someform the architecture of a site and the placement of elements within pages, whetherthey be navigation elements or on on screen elements, all of the time areyou know. And so for me that's the real power of hot J arein those recordings and those heat maps, is really getting into the users shoesin 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 andI really love that one to punch idea of utilizing the heat maps to informand 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 easyto add individuals to automated lists and be emailed weekly reports that they neverever read. Talk about what you've done. It way in state to get peopleto 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 takeawaysfrom there. But what we found actually is the the goal, likealert triggers, do get attention because most of I don't say most of thepeople, but there are a lot of people who have access to analytics.They all that data is available at their fingertips. They just have, youknow, ten other jobs to do and this is the last thing on theirmind. And you would be like, although you said that, you know, email itself is can get ignored and stuff like that, when it's tiedto one of the goals that they are, you know, charged with, asfar as bringing in more prospects or campus tours or or getting somebody toread more like more than one article. Right. So, like if wehave a news release or news article or some sort of timely news content thatthe PR team has put a lot of time and effort into. One ofthe things that their goals there's just to get somebody to stay in the sitemore than what they would, you know, more than thirty seconds or a minute, and then get them to read at least one, like a secondarticle. Right. So if it's the first time visitor that reads two articles, that is, you know, their their goal and when they get analert and their email when, week over week, say so. For usit's one of the best, I guess, ways for people to pay attention isif you set up a alert trigger for if one of their goals weekover week goes plus ten percent, or name if ten percent. So wefound 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 amode of like what what happened last week? What what happened this week? What, like what could be the reason for this because that variance, Ithink that's something that they pay attention to, you, especially since the goal thatthey have some vested interest in control over. And so for us that'sbeen the best way to keep people on their toes and paying attention to itand top of mind without having to like, you know, have a dashboard ofa, you know, ten different goals on one large screen in themiddle of the you know, the our office, you know it. Thatis great, but it ends up becoming, you know, people become blind toit because the numbers don't honestly don't mean anything, but after a whilethey look so similar it's hard to tell. Are we doing good, are wenot doing good? And dissiling it down to a metric that that thatyou, individual user can control. I think it's the best way that wefound them to pay attention to. It's a really good approach. I lovethat idea of you're not sending reports, you're sending answers to questions that theyspecifically have and their specifically charged with answering. I love that. Nick. Anynext steps for listeners who might not exactly be sure where to start interms of prioritizing this kind of enhanced digital measurement strategy at their institution. Youknow, something that helped us out a lot, as if there is ifyou 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 talkingto others more, especially about the data that you have that they maynot have access to but they might be interested in. They it might takea 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 showthat you have this data, you and you want, you're willing to shareit and you're able to, you know, if they want, give them accessto it. And it may be uncomfortable at first because some people,you know, may be more access than...

...they have historically gotten to see insightsinto, maybe more than beyond just their website. Right. That is likethe first step because that provides them and a comfortability for them and you tohave an open dialog around what is important, what should we be tracking? Whatwhat don't we have access to at this point? Right? And so, no matter what area are in, you know, we, although we'rein the marketing department, we work really closely with our enrollment group and basedon 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 butit's just not accessible to other people. Or and in really kind of slowlycracking into pulling that data together and not bringing down any walls of people froma defensive standpoint. You know that have historically been. Well, this ismy per view and my you know, my data and I don't want toto give it up because it they might be afraid that it may not benot 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 pageand 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 puttingany data that you have out there and not judging the individual for any datathat they put out there. And I think just bridging those relationships across campusor your organization for us has definitely helped. I know that we have way morepeople 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 aboutgreat designs and and their best interests in their sites, users and things likethat, that we're not just like pulling it out of the sky, likewe're really looking at this data from, you know, an objective perspective andand I think that that that's a great...

...first step. And then, youknow, hopefully your it area, if it's not available to you where you'reat, is open to adding, you know, potentially some additional scripts topages. And if they're not, I would try to move towards like aGoogle 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 onesand things like that at to your pages, because a lot of these tools you'llwant to experiment with, and making friends with the IT group on campusor any whoever kind of controls the overall templates is important because traditionally and highread, 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 theone 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 datawith them potentially is, you know, a great in road with it iswhat 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 anyfollow 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'smainly because I have two kids and so it's like every day is a littlebit 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 atNick Didn Artists. Awesome. Thanks again so much for joining us today,Nick. Oh yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. You've beenlistening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss anepisode, 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 (230)