How To: Use Your Website as a Learning Tool
Most schools do a pretty good job of using their website to convey information about their campus, classes and offerings, but fall short when it comes to learning from student website behavior and feedback. Here are a few ways you can leverage your website to better understand your users:
The most obvious way to learn about your students through your website is through looking at the analytics. Google Analytics is the gorilla in the space, but Crazy Egg, Qualroo, Clicktale, KISS Metrics, Hotjar and others all have additional insights to offer. Log in and start taking a look at things. Do you notice any interesting patterns? If you zero in on one segment of traffic, what do you see? How do they compare to another segment of traffic? Analyzing your analytics is even more beneficial if you have a specific goal in mind — e.g. “I’m trying to increase downloads for this particular white paper.. I wonder what’s holding it back.”
Another way to observe users is through user testing — whether in-person or via a tool like UserTesting.com. It’s amazing the qualitative feedback you can get by watching a student interact with your message. Split testing (also known as A/B testing) is how you experiment with your users. Using technology, you can effectively ask your website visitors (ahem, potential students) questions like “Would you rather receive email or text notifications about school updates?” This is done by systematically showing one message to say the next 100 students today and a different message to the next 100 and then seeing which one gets better response. Big companies like Amazon are currently “optimizing their way to success” by doing thousands of simple A/B tests each day.
Another way to learn about your students through your website is to just ask them questions. Popup surveys can be annoying and often ignored, but if deployed correctly they can give you incredible insight into user behavior. Keep them as short as possible. Use progressive profiling if you can (only ask one question each time they come to visit). Don’t ask questions you can find the answer to through other channels. Good tools in this space include Survey Monkey, Hotjar, Google Forms or, of course, create your own.
At Higher Metric, we believe one of the major things that will divide 20th century schools from 21st century schools will be the use of data to guide decisions. Make sure your school is ahead of the curve and ready to make the most of all the information available to you.