Analytics is attitude – we need an adjustment

At work, we’re implementing a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool in an effort to better our communication and … well … customer relationship management.

What we’re finding, more than anything else, is that customer relationship management is not about technology at all. It’s an attitude. It’s a mentality. This isn’t a new concept, but I do think that we take it for granted. We expect the tool to just do everything inherently. That’s not how it works – GIGO is so true and happens all too often.

To have good customer relationship management, an organization doesn’t have to have any technology *tool* – it simply has to have the commitment and attitude to manage relationships better in order to make the customer’s life better. Period. Tools may make that easier to do, but if the mentality isn’t there, the tool does nothing.

The same can be said for web analytics. All this talk about Google Analytics, Omniture, WebTrends – what they can and can’t do – none if it matters if we don’t have a true desire to use the data that is pulled from these tools to improve the usability of the web site.

Before the tool, it starts with goals. No, not website goals … before that.

  • What are your business goals?
  • Based on your business (school) goals, what are your unit goals?
  • Based on your business and unit goals, what are your website goals? What do you want your users to be able to do?

Seriously, really think about those questions. The corporate world is good at answering those questions, but higher education? Not as good. Sure, the school has a mission, but do our units? Do our websites?

Remember that all websites, even higher  education websites, are customer service sites. Yes, I know we don’t like to talk about our students as *customers* but they really are. They pay us to provide them with a service. They are customers, whether we like that term or not.

KPIs! KPIs! How I love my KPIs!! What are our key performance indicators? Do we have any baseline data to measure against? Here are some quick examples of website KPIs (remember they will be different depending upon the type of website):

  • Landing page bounce rate (remember a landing page is *any* entry page!)
  • Form completion rate (how many times did they view the form vs. actually fill it out)
  • Percent of visitors who use the course catalog
  • Percent of visitors who use the knowledge base

… and on and on and on … again … all different depending upon type of site. Also remember that analytics doesn’t mean just *online* data. Are you a support desk or a call center with a corresponding website? Track call volume. When a knowledge base is implemented, does the call volume go down? It should, especially for simple questions.

Finally, *after* we answer these questions, then we can talk about analytics implementation.

Now let’s talk implementation. Just because we slap some javascript above the </body> tag of our pages doesn’t mean we have an analytics mentality. Repeat after me – I/we have a true desire to deliver to the customer the best, most usabie website in our power. We need to become user advocates! Now we’re getting it … now we have the attitude!

Ok, now that we have the attitude and the mentality of analytics, let’s get started on the technical stuff.

First, take a look at this quick list of implementation tips from our good friend Avinash. That post is almost 2 years old, but I think it still holds true today.

If you’re implementing a proprietary tool like Omniture or WebTrends, make sure to talk to your vendor about your business and web site goals before implementation.

Since most of higher ed uses Google Analytics, here is a quick list of implementation and other tips and tricks:

There are so many more as well.

Now that we have the user/customer/student advocate mentality *and* we have the tool to help us, now we can truly say we have an analytics attitude!


6 Responses to “Analytics is attitude – we need an adjustment”

  1. [...] Upward, analytics blog for higher education By universityusability Check out Trending Upward, an analytics blog for higher education whose latest post definitely falls into the category ‘I wish I’d written that’. [...]

  2. Hi!

    Nice blog – there’s definitely a need for more information on the use of analytics for university websites. While some of the metrics used in e-commerce can apply to higher education our situation is complicated by the range of users, and the different tasks they wish to accomplish, on a university’s website. Keep up the good work!

    Lund University, Sweden.

  3. John –

    Thank you for your nice comment. I think you are absolutely correct when you say that our situation is complicated by the range of users and different tasks.

    Another issue, especially at larger university’s like Penn State, is that each unit, college, etc. has their own website with their own analytics. If the applications and other forms don’t live on your own site this makes things more complex and forces units and colleges to work together. Sometimes that’s difficult.

    Instead of having to force ourselves into the e-commerce models that come standard in our analytics tools, I wish the web analytics vendors would create industry-specific packages, but I guess that’s down the road a little.

  4. quranreading says:

    This is nice effort and a great blog.Good information in your blog.I will refer to my student.Keep it up

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  6. [...] Goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) are so important. What metrics should you use to see if your Web site is meeting its goals? Your Web site as a whole will have goals and KPIs, but your marketing efforts will (or should!) as well. [...]