Search Real power of Google Analytics

The power of Google Analytics is not only found in the standard out-of-the-box reports. These reports aggregate all data without segmentation. The trick with Google Analytics (GA) - and what makes it different from other analytics packages - is you need to think ahead.

GA pulls all the data together, and presents it in excellent reports. However, once the data is pulled in, it can't be filtered. The filtering needs to happen before the date is gathered. This is where profiles and filters come in.

Profiles are essentially big-picture segmentation. Profiles alone are no different amongst one another. However, profiles can have filters, which make them different. For example: Let's say you are running a University site (for the clarification, let's say you are able to add the GA tracking code to every department on your .edu domain). When setting up GA, you would create one profile. This profile wouldn't have any filters built into it; therefore it is receiving all data from all departments.

Search Real power of Google Analytics

Great, so you have a lot of data about where people are visiting. But what about each department? They don't want to have to filter through the hits that didn't occur on their pages.

Enter the next profile. You would create a new profile, but still base it on the original profile (if you are asked to add a new tracking code, you did it wrong). Now in the profile, add a filter based on only hits to a certain directory (/admissions, for example). At this point, this profile will only return data based on traffic to the pages in the /admissions directory. You can then add your admissions staff to this profile so they can run their own reports. You also still retain the ability to look at your domain as a whole (something you lose if each site has its own GA tracking code).

This is a very elementary example, and in reality you would add more filters (ex., exclude on campus users). However, the point is that you only need one main profile for your campus. You then base secondary profiles on this profile to segment departments.

GA is an awesome marketing tool. I will discuss more in the future (using it for campaigns, segmentation, regular expressions, cross-domain functionality, tracking external links, etc...), but remember to have a strategy before relying in-depth on your data. Even with this requirement, it is still the best free analytics package on the market.

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Distance Education – The New Era of Education System

Distance Education is the new era of the modern day’s education world. Distance Education brings the revolution in the world of traditional education system. Its change the old concept of education system where students physically appearance is must for studying purpose. In simple term Distance Education is a new kind of education system where students study and learn while sitting at their home. In Distance Education schooling system students have no need to visit the school to learn the subjects and over and done with their study.

Sources of Distance Education 
Technology plays an important part in the modern education system. The concept of distance education is entirely based on the latest and fast forwarding technology. There are numerous technologies available which help in the distance education schooling system. Selecting the right sort of source plays a vital role on the competence of distance education. The selection is completely based on the objectives, students, and studying environment. In current ever changing technology world there are numerous sources of distance education are available like -

* Print medium
It is the most common source of distance education. Examples are notebooks, textbooks, study guides etc.

* Audio and Video medium
Here we can include audio and video Cds and DVDs of syllabus.

* TV and Radio
It is one of the convenient sources of distance education.

* Teleconferencing
In here we can include various types of telecommunication medium which provides a platform to interact between teacher and students.

* Internet
It is one of the popular and most demanding sources of distance education which is gaining rapid popularity.

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Users Don't Care About the Status Quo

I was recently discussing a portal implementation with a small college. The portal "solution" was purchased so that current students could conform to institution business functions (pay tuition, graduation check-lists, grade summaries, etc...). The institution was excited about this new tool, however they had one problem: current students weren't using it. When the institution was asked why not, their response was: "The current students don't know that this is where they are supposed to be. We need to spend more time, money and energy on converting the students." (not verbatim, but the gist).

Wrong, they need to return the portal and reinvest time, money and energy into understanding what their students want.

Portals Aren't Solutions
Those of you that know me well, know that I hate portals. Portals are a poor excuse of bolting on a silo of political process to a university's website. Portals are not designed for the correct target audience (students), rather they are designed to enforce out-dated, non-user-centric workflows that appease [non]decision makers. Furthermore, portals fail to aggregate the student life experience. They do not combine all aspects of student interests (academic, residence life, involvement, advising, athletics), instead they primarily focus on only the academic side.

In addition, portals do not provide branding. Slapping your logo on the top and scheming the colors isn't branding. Branding is entrenched into user experience. Branding revolves around your students' experiences and expectations related to your institution. Portals cheapen brands by lowering user experiences and hindering expectations.

Though I am very condescending of portals, I understand how they have become a major part of academia. Institutions have primarily been siloed beasts. Divisions, political turfs, and process-centered areas are the norm. The organizational chart of colleges and universities are long, vertical lines. This has benefits when it comes to student segmenting, decision making, accountability, and development. However, this organizational system will struggle to maintain stability and timeliness as our students become more complex, more entrenched in interactive channels and more demanding of service.

Portals are designed to accommodate processes, but our future interactive communication (primarily the web) needs to be designed to accommodate the user (student) experience. Students do not see our institutions as a collection of silos, rather they see us one brand. User experiences dominate silos. Why? Because a user experience involves many areas that from a user's point of view should be one seamless entity. Students want to be able to join a club, register for classes, buy books, read profiles on professors and sign up for yoga without having to relearn navigation structures, processes, or workflows. Students don't care that the IT department runs the e-commerce section and the registrar handles the schedule of classes. To them, it is all one entity. Our job is not to educate the student on our silos, rather to design based on their expectations.

Experience Architects Needed
We need to start navigating towards a more holistic, user-experience-centric approach. "Experience Architects" need to work with students (current and prospective) to determine online content and design. Student input needs to become the dominating impact on our future realignment strategies. The marketing team is no more in charge than the IT team, nor does registrar's office have more clout than the housing department. The "Experience Architects" will hold the conversations with students, and both will work collaboratively.

In the end, our sites are for the students - they are the user's who have a need to accomplish a task (the degree). By taking their perspective, we can eliminate the friction that so often accompanies academic processes.

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Don't Track Me Bro - Even Though I Like It

AOL is launching their Do Not Track list by the end of the year. AOL will link consumers directly to opt-out lists run my large advertising networks to keep these networks from gathering behavior specific data about a user in order to provide tailored advertising. It doesn't eliminate advertising, it just changes the ads to be less targeted. Privacy groups are expected to propose such a list to the federal government as well.

What is interesting about this is how it relates to consumers views of online advertising, most specifically product recommendations. For instance, take a look at some data from a recent Avenue A | Razorfish survey:

More than 7 out of 10 consumers find personalized recommendations helpful. These personal recommendations are based on tracked information — buying habits, page views, geographic location, demographic information and more.

What I like about AOL's strategy is that they are increasing consumer trust. They are providing details on their privacy policy, and showing that tracking is negotiable. They are educating the consumer about tracking and the benefits if they choose to allow it. As long as personalized communication is delivered, there is a pay off for consumers to allow tracking.

As institutions, it is important for us to do the same. Let your constituents know why you are gathering requested information. Show them how it has the potential to help. And give them the ability to opt-out if they don't want their information tracked

Facebook Pages - Get Your Institution Started

In the past few weeks, Facebook has been launching new advertising avenues for marketers. This week, they have come up with another avenue - Facebook Pages.

Facebook pages allow institutions to create micro sites on Facebook for promotional purposes. It's like a MySpace for Facebook. On these pages, you can add videos, photos, and virtually any content you may want. Most Facebook applications will work with these pages as well. You can even create your own application to run on your Facebook page.

Users of Facebook can them become "Fans" of your institution by joining your page. They can write reviews and share information about your institution directly on your page. As consumers "fan-sumers" turn to social connections more for endorsements, this becomes more crucial in the marketing mix. It is no longer about controlling the message, but providing an area for discussion.

In addition to the pages, Facebook has said it will give marketers metrics on activity, performance and user demographics of Fans.

I plan to experiment with this more in the next few days.

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Apply online - through Facebook?

I have been trying to find a good prospective student recruitment application idea for Facebook. A requirement for the application is the need to tap into the social graph of each user. In other words, a user must be able to share his/her thoughts and experiences through the application with his/her friends.

While looking through applications, I came across the College Planner application by Embark. The College Planner application is a tool which allows prospective students to research and apply for schools without leaving their Facebook profile. I installed and played with it for a while. The execution of the tool isn't great, but I like the idea (I don't want to turn this into a review of the application, but rather a conversation on the idea).

At the very basic level, a prospective student can indicate a desired major or geographical region. The application will then provide a list of schools based on this information and what other users have selected.

Once a list of potential schools are selected, the student can then join mailing lists or even begin the online admissions application directly from his/her profile (I tested this with two schools, but Embark's servers were encountering errors).

That is where the power of this comes into play, and what makes the Facebook application platform so appealing -- the ability to bring your institution directly to the prospective student's profile. Imagine having the ability for students to submit an online application through Facebook, and then immediately be able to share that information with their friends. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see more of this over the next few years.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue looking into prospective student recruitment Facebook applications. I could see something with online event registrations or major-picking tools, all of which may one day feed into a Facebook admissions application.

What university Facebook applications have you seen or used? May be somewhat likes Online education.


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Viral Video Techniques

Dan Ackerman Greenberg, co-founder of viral video marketing company The Comotion Group, has a blog post on TechCrunch outlining his strategies for making a video go viral. His original post outlines what many commenters consider shady techniques. Dan follows up with a more detailed explanation in a later save-face post.

Some of his strategies include:

    Make it short
    Make it shocking
    Create fake titles
    Appeal to sex
    Posting to blogs, forums, social networks, email lists
    Fake discussions and comments

I'm glad this was posted. These unethical techniques are many of the reasons why it is so difficult to make great marketing-embedded viral videos (that is assuming you have found a great product, created an awesome story, and produced an excellent video — all feats which are extremely difficult on their own). Dan tries to save-face with his follow-up post, but it is almost certainly happening in the industry.

Can you imagine the alumni and community backlash if something like this happened at a University? As part of the higher-ed community, I know we operate at a higher standard — it's one of the perks for working in higher-ed.

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