Everyday Analytics in #highered: tools and tips by Alan Etkin from @bcit

January 15th, 2013 Karine Joly No Comments

Alan EtkinAlan Etkin, Project & Web Analytics Manager at British Columbia Institute of Technology, is one of the 12 presenters lined up at the 1st higher ed analytics conference. He has been using analytics to manage websites for the past 7 years at his institution. He knows first-hand the complexity and challenges of working with higher ed websites, and has developed a number of tricks for extending the influence of analytics across the institute.

In this 3-question interview, Alan tells us about his biggest success story with analytics, favorite tool and a great tip you can use.

1) What is your biggest win using analytics?

The single biggest win I’ve had using analytics at BCIT was an analysis of the impact our print course catalogue has on web traffic and registrations. We produce 3 catalogues a year, and distribute about 200,000 each time.

I created a detail-rich Excel chart combining pageview data from our online catalogue with course registration data from our enterprise data warehouse. I then added the dates for catalogue distribution, external advertising campaigns, and term registration starts to the chart.

The combined view of the data clearly showed gaps and opportunities in our existing approach. The analysis is now being used to inform a change in strategy.

2) What is your favorite analytics tool? Why is it so useful in your higher ed job?

Google Analytics Dashboards PresentationI don’t have a single favourite, but I love reports that clearly show conversion rates and compare one work group to another.

Ultimately, I want web analytics to identify what’s working – or not working – and motivate change. There’s nothing quite like sharing reports between our various schools to fire up competitive instincts!

3) What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a colleague starting with higher ed analytics?

My first attempts at introducing web analytics at BCIT overwhelmed the folks I was trying to help. I tried creating custom annotated reports with specific recommendations. I tried email distribution of standard reports directly from Google Analytics. I tried regularly scheduled meetings….

What I’d recommend is to find the parts of your school’s operations that are highly motivated to pay attention to the insights web analytics provide.

  1. Start with anyone responsible for advertising budgets, nurture a relationship, identify campaigns, tag your conversions, report on how well they’re doing.
  2. Offer specific suggestions on how they can do even better.
  3. Then, share the success stories.

By having specific examples of how your web analytics work has helped, you’ll tweak the interest of others, and you’ll generate the credibility needed to influence their decisions.