Higher Education Marketing

Web Analytics Explained

Date posted: September 22, 2010

In this edition of the Higher Education Marketing newsletter, we’ll be looking at the increasingly important world of Web Analytics and what it means to your school’s website and web marketing strategy.

The official definition used by the Web Analytics Association (which can be found on Wikipedia), is as follows: “Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.”

In other words, Web Analytics is information culled from your website and used as the basis of all future Web optimization. With a Web Analytics tool (like Google Analytics, which we’ll discuss later), schools can find which advertisement medium (print, email, social media, radio, television, etc) is most effective, and can measure the impact of each advertising campaign.

As well, using Web Analytics as a guide, a school can effectively monitor their website’s statistics in real time and gauge the impact of higher education marketing initiatives, such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for schools and Pay Per Click Marketing (also known as Search Engine Marketing). Doing so allows them to make informed decisions on website design and optimization, and ultimately maximizes their return on investment (ROI).

Web Analytics is generally used for four major website categories: lead generation, e-commerce, customer support, and content. Higher Education Marketing specializes in Web Analytics for lead generation and e-commerce websites.

Here are some of the more commonly used Web Analytics terms, as defined by the Web Analytics Association:

Page views
The number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed.

When people talk about a website’s popularity (e.g.”It gets a lot of hits”), they’re usually referring to page views. However, this doesn’t actually represent the amount of people visiting your site.

A visit is an interaction, by an individual, with a website consisting of one or more requests for an analyst-definable unit of content (i.e. “page view”). If an individual has not taken another action (typically additional page views) on the site within a specified time period, the visit session will terminate.

Unique Visitors
The number of inferred individual people (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe, with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period.

Entry and Exit Page
The first and last page of a visit.

Landing Page
A page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort.

Visit Duration
The length of time in a session. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session.

The referrer is the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object.

Search Referrer
The search referrer is an internal or external referrer for which the URL has been generated by a search function.

Number of times a link was clicked by a visitor. This may occasionally be refered to as “clicks”.

Click-through Rate/Ratio
The number of click-throughs for a specific link divided by the number of times that link was viewed.

Single Page View Visits (Bounces)
Visits that consist of one pageview.

Bounce Rate
Single page view visits divided by entry pages.

A visitor completing a target action.

Conversion Rate

Percentage of a visitor type who complete a multi-step conversion process with a defined beginning and end within 30 minutes, whether it be signing up for a newsletter, buying a product online, or some other desired outcome.

Take the time to review and understand these terms. Knowing your way around the basic terminology is the first step in truly understanding what you’re measuring when working with Web Analytics.

To sign-up for future editions of the Higher Education Marketing newsletter, please use the e-mail form on the right.

As a certified Digital Analyst, Philippe Taza founded and created Higher Education Marketing, providing Internet marketing solutions for education institutions, such as K-12 schools, universities, and community colleges. In all, he has been working in the education market since 2001, specializing in Google Analytics, Education Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Pay Per Click Marketing, among many other education marketing tactics and tools.

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