Joshua Dodson, Director of SEO at the Southern New Hampshire University, is one of the 12 higher ed professionals presenting at the 2016 Higher Ed Analytics Conference.
In this 3-question interview, Joshua tells us about the biggest surprise of 2015, the main challenge using digital analytics and what colleges and universities should focus on in terms of analytics in 2016.
1) What’s the most surprising outcome you experienced in 2015? What did you learn from this experience?
Small changes can make big differences. I am always surprised when I see how small tweaks can have large impacts over time. By now I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am. At the same time, though, sometimes bigger changes can have less of an impact than anticipated. The important thing is to watch the changes closely and see how the needle moves. Know the metrics (KPIs) that will indicate success or failure and watch them carefully.
2) What’s been the biggest challenge at your school to use digital analytics since you started? How did you deal with it?
I am luckily at a place that has used analytics for years to make strong decisions. One consideration that we regularly discuss is the importance of ensuring that the data is clean/accurate and that we are looking at the right data to answer the relevant question. This is less of a challenge and more of a focus area that we all consider. Members of the team regularly discuss how to get the right data to answer the questions. When there is a lot of data available, it can sometimes be a challenge to think of all of the nuances. Regular team discussions can really help ensure everyone is on the same page.
3) In your opinion, what should your higher ed colleagues focus on in 2016 when it comes to Analytics?
Attribution and statistical significance are both big deals. This is something that few focus on and even fewer get right. With the increased ability to work with “big data” to pull out important trends, it becomes more important to apply the techniques to web and marketing analytics. Understanding (with statistical significance) which pieces truly contribute to the success or failure of an initiative is important and must become more of a focus for analytics practitioners in 2016.