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6 Things You Should Do With Your School Website Data
Connor Gleason

If you’ve ever felt a little lost within the complex world of website analytics, you're not alone. With everything you have to do and so little time to do it, sometimes it’s like knowing where you want to go, but not really knowing how to get there. 

If you look a little closer, the directions you seek are kept right within your school’s website; a treasure trove of analytics and metrics just waiting to help steer you in the right direction.

That’s because a school’s website data can be an untapped resource for school marketers to make better-informed decisions about when a school communicates with families, how to market its amazing programs, and why a marketing office spends its precious time the way that it does.

Better yet, knowing all the sneaky ways to leverage data leads to better engagement and a more informed school community. Let’s discover what we can do with website data and where to find it.

1. Use data to inform enrollment and marketing strategies

Creating a great online experience really boils down to improving the user journey for your website’s visitors, especially on pages that are critical to your enrollment and marketing efforts, like admission and inquiry pages, content downloads, ad landing pages, your homepage — critical entry points to your website.

Screenshot of GA4 engagement

By looking at your key pages’ analytics and reviewing their bounce rates, the amount of time spent on pages, conversion rates, exits rate, and of course, the number of unique views, the data can show how users are behaving on your site. 

After someone clicks on an ad and is sent to a landing page, are you offering the right content to keep them engaged? Are prospective families motivated to submit an inquiry form? Those are the important questions and data that can indicate whether or not you have the right target audience, intuitive navigation, well-designed layouts, and content that’s interesting, accessible, and easy to read — especially on mobile devices.

How and where do you collect this data?

Site Analytics

Whether you're still using Universal Analytics or have jumped over to Google Analytics 4, the revealing metrics of your site and your user’s behavior can be extracted from the web analytics tools provided by Google. From there, you'll be able to easily track traffic to your school's site and review acquisition, engagements, retention, and monetization reports in real-time across different devices.

Look for spikes in website traffic and mobile visitors to see how your site is piquing interest among constituents and prospects. If you recently launched a responsive website, comparing mobile traffic to desktop traffic will provide insight as to where your school's total overall website traffic comes from.

User Experience

Using website optimization software like HotJar or Crazy Egg can bring some truly revealing stats about how users are engaging with your website and its content. Heatmaps, scroll maps, confetti reports, and screen recordings can paint a clear picture of how users are actually viewing your site, with detailed statistics on where they click, how they scroll, and what catches their eyes.

screenshot of crazy egg report

In this example of a scroll map provided by Crazy Egg for a page on Finalsite.com, you can see that users are mostly engaging with the content “above the fold,” and then their interest seems to dissipate as they scroll further down the page. That could suggest that a “Get Started” CTA would be effective toward the top of the page, as opposed to further down below the fold. Would that be as effective on your site, too?

Keyword Research

When it comes to finding the right audience for your admissions and marketing strategies, keyword research plays a critical role in tapping into the terms, content, and demographics behind your prospective families. Keyword planners like SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, or Ubersuggest analyze millions of websites, search queries, and links across the Internet to find what people are searching for, and those tools can help guide your on-page search engine optimization strategies and digital marketing campaigns.

SEO & Digital Advertising Fundamentals for Schools

2. Use data to guide your school’s content strategy

Imagine you just created an amazing “guide to choosing a private school” for your prospective family audience. You’ve promoted it front and center on your admission page, but no one’s downloading it… As you rack your brain about how to solve that problem, you receive your ninth email of the day asking where your school’s calendar is on your website…what to do?

If no one can find your content, is it because it’s hidden deep in your navigation, or maybe it’s not clear when using a smartphone? If more than half of your users are using an iPhone, could your content download page be better optimized for mobile traffic with less text and larger buttons?

How and where do you collect this data?

Once again, using Google Analytics to review page traffic, views, clicks on content download pages, and conversion events to see where your traffic is coming from is a great starting point. For Finalsite clients, there are also additional ways to take a deeper look at what content is making a splash.

Site Search

Knowing what’s being searched for on your site can also indicate what content is hard to find on your site, or at least what can’t intuitively be found within the site’s navigation. By looking at what’s top of mind for your visitors, you can streamline that user journey and quickly provide the content folks are searching for, either by relocating it within the navigation, using a pop-up, or adding it as a quick link.

Composer’s search analytics contains the search data for the previous seven days so you can find out how many searches were made on your site, what the top search queries were, what searches returned hits, and even what countries the searches originated from.

advanced search analytics

In this example above, folks are looking for the district summer reading and math packages, which could indicate it’s not easily found on the site, or they are losing patience and going straight to search.

3. Use data to improve school communication strategies

Are your subject lines working? Was your call-to-action creative enough? Did you send that email to the most appropriate list? Looking at your email engagement reports can provide great insight into how you can boost engagement to improve your school-to-home communications.

By surveying your open rates, click-through rates, and the number of bounces, these important stats indicate if your communications are actually being read and engaged with. Keeping an eye on these metrics is important on a per-email basis, but don’t forget to step back and evaluate month-month engagement rates for your school or district’s weekly newsletters, too.

Are open rates gradually falling? Perhaps families are growing tired of the same content week after week. Are important emails going unopened for days? Perhaps a more urgent subject line is needed, or you need to post your announcements to a parent portal to ensure it’s read elsewhere. These are the important takeaways that data points can help reveal.

How and where do you collect this data?

Email Engagement

If you’re using Finalsite Messages, all these questions and more are answered through the analytics dashboard reports, which include statistics for the messages you’ve sent, including the open rates*, engagement, conversions, and lost contacts through unsubscribes or suppressions.

screenshot of messages dashboard

What’s also revealing is the "Click Performance" table that breaks down the links within your email and shows you how many people clicked on them and how many total clicks were recorded. You can even see which recipients clicked on the link and how many times.

*Note: With recent privacy updates that were launched for Apple iOS, emails are seeing artificial inflation in open rates due to Apple devices appearing as if they always open emails. It’s important to take this metric with a grain of salt moving forward and focus primarily on your active engagements through click rates and conversions.

4. Use data to inform your marketing budget

When planning your marketing budget, data really drives how much you should spend and where you should spend it, and whether you have $10 or $10K to invest, the success of your digital marketing strategy will be determined by the data.

For example, if you were to look at your ads’ reach, engagement, and conversion rates and decided your retargeting campaigns are doing well with conversions, but your top-of-the-funnel prospecting campaigns are not, you could pull back on awareness and redirect the budget toward converting families who have already shown interest by visiting your website.

screenshots of Baylor School ads

With the digital ads above, Baylor School can leverage performance data for its boarding school ads running between Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram, and they can be flexible enough to adjust their spending between awareness or converting prospects.

How and where do you collect this data?

Digital Advertising

From advertising on Facebook and Instagram to investing in your first PPC ad, look at what’s being spent across platforms, and the performance on keyword bids, qualified vs unqualified traffic, and spikes in ad spend to see where you can improve or reallocate your budget to a platform for a better return on investment. 

If you’re running ads on Google, monitor them through the Google Ads dashboard, and if you’re reviewing ad spending on social media, review them through the platform or a social media management software like Sprout Social.

5. Use data to build communication schedules

Timing is everything! Whether it’s the Sunday evening before a busy week or a Tuesday morning as parents open their email, delivering your communications and content at the best time for your audiences will help see engagement soar.

Knowing your audience’s preferences and active times is part of an important strategy when scheduling your communications and planning your social media content posting schedules. Emailing important reminders or posting the latest Instagram Reel when your fans and families are active and engaged ensures more families will see your messaging and content.

With social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, look at when your followers are online and active and schedule your posts accordingly. Your specific audience may differ slightly from national data, but there’s generally a best time of day to email or post. 

For example, after analyzing 4.8 million tweets, it was revealed the most popular time to tweet is between noon and 1 pm each day, with the most engagement seen on Wednesdays and Fridays, depending on your time zone, of course. Instagram has a similar schedule, but would that makes sense for your families?

How and where do you collect this data?

Social Media Stats

To complement each of your social platform’s propitiatory analytics dashboard, Finalsite’s social integration module, Finalsite Feeds, has built-in analytics that provides context on the relative performance of your social media content, which can give you insight into how well it works to pull users to your site and get them to engage with your content. With a close look at clicks, follows, and page views, you can see which content performs the best and when.

Screenshot of Finalsite Feeds stats

A social media scheduling platform, like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, can help organize, plan, preschedule, and analyze your posts, so you’re not having to scramble at the last moment. Below, we see an example of how Sprout Social can share some revealing engagement rates of posts across different platforms during a reporting period.

screenshot of sprout social engagement

6. Use data to set goals and benchmarks

Knowledge is power, and once you have the data to help understand how your efforts are performing, you can start to set some SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) for your office.

By having a basis for comparison, you can begin to set benchmarks for improving email click rates, social media metrics, website traffic, and more with specific KPIs (key performance indicators) to help support your SMART goals. For example, quantifiable measurements to improve engagement on your school’s tuition page could be to:

  • Lower the bounce rate by 5 percent
  • Increase the time on page by 10 seconds
  • Increase the unique page views by 5 percent

For email, compare your month-to-month stats for open rates and click-through rates and create a SMART goal, such as: Increase the click rate of our school’s weekly newsletter by 10 percent by the end of next semester. 

To assist with that, you can look at what subject lines have the highest open rates and replicate that success with future emails, review the percentage of clicks on emails that are read on a mobile device, and evaluate if your content is mobile-friendly or review the time your newsletter is sent and see if there could be a better time to hit “send.”

Key Takeaway

Discovering the secrets behind your school’s website data is an important first step toward understanding data’s impact on school marketing decisions, communications, and user engagement. Whether you’re looking to drive more awareness from a well-targeted ad or you want to create an optimized page that increases conversions, listening to the story data is telling has the potential to transform the amazing work you do.

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Connor Gleason Headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.


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