Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category

Web Analytics Community at Penn State

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

I love talking to colleagues about web analytics and yesterday I got to do just that – but on a much larger scale.

A little background … Penn State is very large. We have about 43,000 students at main campus and about 78,000 students throughout all of our campuses. Needless to say we have a lot of websites – I can’t even guess how many we have – 200? 400? 500? Not sure. It’s a lot, though. That much I know.

With so many websites owned by so many different units, community is so important. We have a great web community with a fantastic annual web conference and yesterday we started a different kind of web community – one devoted to web analytics.

Since most units at Penn State use Google Analytics, it was called the Google Analytics User Group kickoff event. Going forward we’re probably going to call it something less tool-specific, but we’ll see.

Some great folks at the Penn State Libraries – including doteduguru Nikki Massaro Kauffman – put the event together. It was an awesome event  and the attendee list was completely full only a few days after invitations went out.

We gathered in the morning at the libraries to kick off the event with an open panel – discussing how Google Analytics was being used at the university within different departments. It was so great to hear the different ways web analytics is having an impact at the university and how website owners are using it. Experience with the tool (and analytics in general) ran the gamut from just getting started to years of experience.

There were many sessions throughout the day including methodologies (which led into a discussion about privacy issues), Google Analytics implementation, new users, and reporting.

At the wrap up discussion we talked about how we will continue with the community. I’m very excited to continue the conversation within Penn State and we already have ideas of specific projects going forward. What a great way to end the week! I’m excited to continue the conversation.

Frustrating Conversations – We Don’t Need Web Analytics

Monday, October 19th, 2009

It seems that some (notice I said some, not all!) higher education web professionals still don’t think using web analytics on their site is useful.

Why do I think this? It became apparent after a couple conversations during the HighEdWeb conference I recently attended in Milwaukee. First, let me say that this has nothing to do with the conference. It was a fantastic conference and I learned a ton from the great presenters and attendees. I would go again in an instant.

More than once, however, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about how using web analytics is pretty much “useless.”

I doubt that the people in the conversation had any idea who I was (who would?) and that I was actually presenting at the conference about web analytics (both conversations took place before the presentation). So, I decided to keep my mouth shut and just listen. I wanted to see *why* they thought web analytics was useless on their sites before I jumped in to defend the practice.

Conversations like these happen all the time. They could have very easily happened at any of our campuses. In any of our offices. I’ve heard it all before and I’m sure I’ll hear it many times again. So, I’ll bring up some excuses I heard and offer some recommendations.

So … here goes …

Help! We have major issues with our analytics!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

On Monday, Joshua Ellis (a co-worker and Google Analytics guru — and someone I’m hoping to get to guest blog here soon!) and I presented at the Penn State Web Conference. Our presentation was called Actionable Web Anaytics for Higher Education.

As attendees started asking question during and after the session, a theme developed – a theme that we are all familar with and is consistently brought up (especially in higher education).

Common Theme - I/we have issues with our analytics set up/implementation/limitations – what do we do? Help!

Getting Ready for the Penn State Web Conference

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

This will be my 3rd year attending the Penn State Web Conference, but I’m especially excited this year because I am co-presenting at the conference.

Our presentation, Actionable Web Analytics for Higher Education is part of the Web Project and Information Management Track and is, of course, among the last group of presentations of the day. I hope people don’t bail before that time slot. We’ll see.

We did a “dry run” to our co-workers in Outreach Marketing and Communications this past Thursday and I think it went pretty well.

One thing we are emphasizing in the presentation is the fact if the attendees are working with/on a Web site that can be found in a search engine, or if they send out emails with links back to their Web site, then they are marketing that Web site whether they know they are or not.

I’m also looking forward to a lot of other sessions that will be taking place. Mark Greenfield always has awesome sessions and I’m sure this year will be no different. Always look forward to attending his sessions. 

Follow the whole conference on Twitter using #psuweb2009.

A Unique Visitor is NOT a Person

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

A few weeks ago, Brian Clifton wrote a great blog post about how measuring unique visitors is meanlingless.

I wholeheartedly agree. Especially in higher education, the recipient of an analytics report rarely knows what the term *unique *really means in this context or the problems with measuring unique visitors.

“Unique visitors” is misleading. Why? According to Brian’s post:

Firstly, cookies get lost, blocked and deleted. Research has shown that after a period of four weeks, nearly one third of tracking cookies are missing, which means the visitor will be incorrectly considered a new unique visitor should they return to the same website.

The longer the time period, the greater the chance of this happening, which makes comparing year-on-year data invalid for example. In addition, browsers make it very easy these days for cookies to be removed – see the new ‘incognito’ features of the latest Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers.

However, the biggest issue for counting uniques faced by both on and off-site web analytics tools is how many devices people use to access the web.

The problem I see with unique visitors is the name. Most (and by most I mean the recipients of your report!) *assume* unique visitor means a person. Unique implies … well … that it’s just that … unique – one – a person.

After Omniture Summit

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The Omniture Summit ended on Thursday night with a grand reception for the conference goers. Omniture went all out with the highlight of the nightly shingdig’s being the Maroon 5 concert at the Grand America Hotel on Wednesday night. I’m not a Marron 5 fan, but it was still a great time and completely ridiculous that I was about 20 feet away from the band.

This was my first year at the summit and it was completely worth every penny. I learned so much, mostly in the Omniture University course I took last Monday.

Other than learning about classifications, VISTA rules, and advanced campaign strategies at the Omniture University course, I went to sessions on advanced use of SiteCatalyst, tracking Web 2.0 technologies, and video tracking.

I’ve always said that the one reason web analytics hasn’t made it into the higher ed community at the rate it should is that it has always been considered a *marketing* function – something that those marketers do and we as admissions, help desk, library, whatever, don’t have time or the need to pay attention to.

Live Blogging From Omniture Summit

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

I’m looking forward to attending the Omniture Summit next week in Salt Lake City. Having not been to a conference since last summer, I have to get back into the groove mentally.

Just like setting goals for a website, I find goals helpful going into a conference.

So, I’m going to focus on:

  1. Social media metrics
  2. Video metrics
  3. Moving to the next level with Discover (Omniture’s advanced segmentation tool)

What *aren’t* we taking advantage of and how can we start? For example, I have yet to truly dive into video metrics, so I’m very excited about getting my hands dirty with video metrics.

One thing I am alsoo excited about is live blogging throughout the conference. This will be my first time live blogging, so we’ll see how it goes.

Stay tuned … off to Salt Lake.