4 Higher Education Marketing Trends To Watch in 2023

In higher education and many other fields, staying on top of the industry news and trends is crucial to gaining a competitive advantage. You can benefit significantly from using a strong higher education marketing strategy that aids you in identifying opportunities for growth, generating leads, and retaining students.

Read on to learn more about the current higher education marketing trends, how to adapt to digital transformation within the industry, and how to use cutting-edge technologies to succeed.

4 Higher Education Marketing Trends for 2023

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education can be noticed in the visible shift in marketing strategies toward digital reinforcement and virtual events. In comparison to before, the path to reaching prospective students has changed. The immense use of digital platforms has necessitated a similar approach to marketing strategies.

The key to higher education success is not only accepting these marketing trends but fully embracing them. So, read on and learn more about higher education marketing strategies you can use to stand out from the crowd in 2023.

1. Student-centered content has the potential to drive significant results in higher education marketing

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Considering the rising cost of education and the heavy burden of student loans, today’s prospective students are facing new challenges in deciding what higher education they should enroll in or if they should do so. As a result, higher education marketing must shift towards a more student-centered approach to drive results. Before, higher education institutes’ marketing concentrated on “this is why we are great” messages. Now, it focuses more on “this is why we are great for you.”

There are many ways you can reach prospective students by developing your brand identity, including content marketing. Quality content naturally helps boost engagement and helps build credibility. You can reach audiences on various platforms ranging from written content to audio and image.

Firstly, a common communication channel between higher education institutions and their audiences is blogs—spaces where the school can share relevant content, introduce various topics and programs, and create a community. Blogging is a highly effective tool for content marketing associated with many benefits on top of educating and engaging students. According to a study conducted by HubSpot Marketing, on average, companies that blog have:

To attract even more prospective students, you can utilize guest blogging to share content on a third-party blog. This way, you can create hyperlinks that direct visitors to your site and thus improve your visibility and web traffic.

Another format you can utilize for content marketing is podcasts. The popularity of such a tool has been at an all-time high in recent years. Statistics show that in the U.S., around 41% of the population listens to podcasts every month, with 28% doing it weekly. Because podcasts are naturally conversational, often featuring guest speakers that introduce content in a more personal way, there is plenty of room to create student-centered content. 

Video content is also gaining popularity in higher education content marketing. Both long-form and short-form videos are helpful, depending on the content you are presenting. For example, in higher education, you can utilize long-form videos for personalized campus tours, explanations of the application process, financial aid explainers, tutor introductions, and much more.

Your strategy should be to create high-quality content and incorporate it within your social media posts to reach customers. Link your blogs, podcasts, videos, and more on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more—provide your audience with a glimpse of the content they can access by visiting your site.

2. Use short-form videos to promote your higher ed institute

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Short-form videos provide viewers with a timely snapshot of important events and programs within your school. You can accompany them with a clickable link, sticker, message option, hashtag, and more to increase engagement and stay connected with your audience.

A popular destination for such videos is TikTok which has quickly grown in popularity, with over  80 million monthly active users in the United States. An interesting statistic to keep in mind is that 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers—a prime demographic for higher education institutions. Therefore, TikTok is an excellent platform for your university or college to connect and engage with Gen Zers as prospective students in an entertaining and relatable way.

Though you can create videos that provide students with scholarly content that gives them an idea of what your university can provide academically, it is best to mix such videos with non-academic ones. Videos focused on student experience, athletics, your university’s student services, the campus, and much more are where the real engagement opportunities lie. We advise you to involve your student body in order to present the most authentic representation of what life would be like for students at your university.

3. Consider shifting your PR strategies online in order to improve your higher education marketing efforts

You can also improve your higher education marketing by shifting your PR strategies online and collaborating with other professionals. Consider shifting your focus from school-produced content to student-focused and student-made content in order to better connect with your target audience. Furthermore, place ads on content websites typically frequented by prospective students and increase the chances of them interacting with your site.

Another element you should add to your marketing efforts is establishing ties with professionals that can help you create content as well as have an established presence on social media platforms with a dedicated following, such as:

Leverage such tactics by embracing these influencers with the ability to reach your prospective students more effectively through their content.

4. The importance of local SEO for higher education marketing is expected to increase in the future

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It is no surprise that SEO has considerable control over today’s marketing strategies, and rightfully so. It is the marketing channel that helps your site rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP) and consequently receive more traffic. However, a more recent marketing trend you should consider using is local SEO to optimize local searches. According to statistics, about 46% of all searches have local intent. Therefore, implementing basic local SEO strategies will help your site’s ranking in the local market, reaching many prospective students for recruitment. 

You should work with SEO experts and devise a strong content strategy that focuses on producing content answering questions from searches near your area and containing relevant keywords so as to improve local visibility. All improvements made in your online presence within your region will help recruit local students.

Conclusion

It is clear that one must always stay updated with higher education marketing trends as the field is constantly evolving. To stay ahead of the curve, keep generating leads, attract students and retain them, you should keep up with the trends and implement the necessary practices in your strategy. Recently, for example, higher education marketing trends include the increased importance of digital marketing, especially through student-centered content, short-form videos on popular platforms, and local search engine optimization. 


A well-chosen digital marketing strategy is crucial to expanding your institute’s student base. Our digital agency can help you stay on top of the current trends and be one step ahead of all that is to come. We’ll devise and implement a successful digital marketing strategy that encompasses all the above trends and much more. So, schedule a free consultation, and let us help you grow your education institution!

Top SaaS Conferences To Attend in 2023

One of the industries that have been growing exponentially is the software-as-a-service industry. Expected to grow by nearly $100 billion by 2025, the SaaS industry shows no signs of stopping. More and more organizations are embracing remote work and are looking for new and cost-effective solutions to boost their work efficiency and production—something SaaS companies offer.

Such growth in the industry has resulted in multiple SaaS conferences being held worldwide, online and offline, that are worth attending. At these conferences, tech and SaaS marketing professionals have multiple opportunities for learning and exploring the current trends in SaaS marketing, the tech industry, etc. Furthermore, SaaS conferences are great for meeting new clients, connecting with business leaders, and nurturing long-term business relationships. 

Why Should You Attend a SaaS Conference?

Whenever possible, whether you have been in the business for a while or especially if you are new in the industry, it is a good idea to attend SaaS conferences. The reasons why you should attend a SaaS conference are as follows:

Networking opportunities

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While the development of technology has made it easier to connect with anyone, anywhere through video chat, networking face-to-face has some advantages that just can’t be beaten. 

People from different countries in the world come together to attend conferences, among which even niche experts you wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet at all. Conferences bring together all kinds of professionals including company founders, VCs, SEO specialists, back-end coders, etc., and you have the opportunity to engage in conversations and pick their brains. 

Furthermore, live SaaS events and conferences make it possible for you to meet fellow marketers, to get to know other attendees, and for other people in the industry to get to know you.

At any event or conference, you will find hundreds or thousands of professionals that are part of the SaaS community to have roundtable discussions with, and it only takes a good icebreaker to spark up a conversation. These simple interactions can lead to more meaningful connections and even open the doors to new opportunities for you.

Learning from others

Most people think of conferences as opportunities to learn new strategies for business success, however, there are many other benefits to attending them.

One thing conferences offer is the opportunity to hear about the successes and failures of different SaaS companies, which in itself can be beneficial for you as you can deduce whether you are on the right track or need to change things along the way.

Conferences can also help with your promotional needs. For instance, if you’re having trouble promoting your newest SaaS offering, attending top industry conferences can connect you with companies that can assist you with that and other issues you may be struggling with.

Learning from industry leaders 

Not all SaaS conferences are the same, especially in terms of what interests you and what you will likely benefit from. That’s why it is always important to learn more about the conferences you are considering attending to find out whether they fit your needs. 

One thing you should always check is the speaker list at the conference. What you should be looking for are conferences where CEOs and SaaS founders of the top companies in the industry are giving a talk. Such successful people that have been in the business for a while and running big companies usually share valuable market insights and growth strategies.

At such events, you can have ‘access’ to the expertise of professionals in the field who would otherwise be too busy in their everyday life to share their knowledge with those interested.

Is It Worth My Time and Money To Attend a SaaS Conference? 

Attending SaaS conferences will take up some of your time and money, so you might be wondering if that’s really worth it. The short answer is yes. SaaS conferences can be an excellent investment of your time and money if you know which ones to attend and how to get the best out of them. 

One way to go about this is to consider the needs of your SaaS business and try to match them to the content of events you are interested in. Check the list of conferences to see if you can find one that can help you boost your business.

While there might be valuable SaaS marketing content at every conference, not every one of them will fit your needs. In reality, you want to go for the companies that can help you in multiple aspects—for example, look for companies that can get you coverage in leading places like HubSpot, Freshdesk, and BigCommerce.

How To Choose the Right SaaS Conference To Attend

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As we have mentioned before, conferences are an investment and therefore you should always do some research before you commit. The way to determine which is the right SaaS conference for you to attend is by:

  1. Making a list of what you hope to accomplish from attending a conference: Say you want to learn more about a specific aspect of content marketing, for instance,  well-optimized SaaS landing pages, then you should pay attention to the events or conferences that focus on that field.
  2. Researching the background of the different speakers at the conference: This is a great way to check if their particular expertise would benefit you and your business.
  3. Checking the size of the event: Event size can give you an idea of the quality—look at how many people have signed up. This is an important aspect to consider because you don’t want to invest money in a conference where there won’t be any attendees you can benefit from.

Top 5 SaaS Conferences You Can’t Miss in 2023

Last but not least, below you can find a list of top SaaS conferences that we believe are worth attending this season:

1. B2B Marketing Exchange Experience

The B2B Marketing Exchange Experience has over 80 sessions and five tracks that cover different topics including social media marketing, brand positioning, etc. At this conference, you will learn how to market your B2B products.

2. Startup Grind Global Conference

This is a conference for startup businesses. Those who exhibit their product will receive quick-fire pitch slots. It is still an incredible experience if you choose not to exhibit your product as there will be incredible speakers currently working to come up with innovative products and experiences.

3. Traffic & Conversion Summit

At the Traffic & Conversion Summit, you’ll learn how to harness the power of digital marketing. This conference features sessions where participants can get insight from some of the best in the business, such as Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketer or the entrepreneur Logan Paul.

4. MicroConf

This event aims to provide participants with strategies and growth insights from self-funded SaaS founders which will help startups expand their businesses and catapult them toward long-term success.

5. Adobe Summit

The world’s largest digital experience conference, the Adobe Summit is led by expert SaaS marketers, content managers, and leading advertisers. It is a three-day event with 200+ sessions and training workshops to help participants create positive customer experiences via content creation, campaign management, etc.

Conclusion

Attending a SaaS conference can provide numerous benefits for businesses in the software as a service industry. These events offer opportunities for face-to-face networking, learning from industry leaders and peers, attracting investors and partners, finding new clients, promoting your business, and staying up-to-date with industry trends and technologies. 

It is important to consider your goals and budget, as well as research the background of speakers and the size and location of the event when choosing the right SaaS conference to attend. 


There are many top SaaS conferences to consider attending in 2023, including B2BMX, Startup Grind, MicroConf, Traffic and Conversion Summit,  Adobe Summit, etc. By taking advantage of the opportunities provided at SaaS conferences, businesses can improve their skills, knowledge, and networking capabilities, ultimately leading to growth and success in the industry.

How To Edit Shopify Robots.txt

When building an eCommerce site, the robots.txt file will be one of the most important elements of your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).

eCommerce sites are typically bigger than the majority of sites on the Web. What contributes to these sites’ size is also the fact that they contain features such as faceted navigation.

This is why eCommerce sites need to be able to better control how search engines like Google crawl their site. By doing this, sites like these can manage crawl budgets and prevent Googlebot from crawling low-quality pages from their site.

While the default robots.txt on Shopify is very solid for most cases, you might need to do some adjustments to this file for some sites. Shopify has been growing exponentially with more sites starting to use the platform. The sites using Shopify are getting larger and more powerful, which means they require more crawl budget management—i.e. optimizing the robots.txt more.

In this article, we will discuss:

What Is Shopify Robots.txt? 

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The Shopify robots.txt file’s function is to give directions to search engines e.g. Google, Bing, etc. on what URLs on your site they may crawl. The robots.txt file will usually block search engines from crawling low-quality pages that you don’t want to be crawled. We generate the Shopify robots.txt by using robots.txt.liquid file.

What Is NOT Indexed by Default in Shopify’s Robots.txt?  

If you look at your Shopify site you will see an already configured robots.txt file. To find the robots.txt file you need to go to: domain.com/robots.txt

When you access the robots.txt file, you’ll find a set of preconfigured rules. The default preconfigured rules are set to block search engines from crawling nonessential pages. Here are some of the most useful rules you will find in the default Shopify robots.txt file:

Most Shopify store owners won’t even need to make any adjustments to their robots.txt file as the default configuration will be enough to manage most cases. Because the bulk of Shopify sites is typically on the smaller side, crawl control isn’t a problem for many of them.

However, for the sites that do need it, it is possible for store owners to create additional rules to customize the robots.txt for their site. You can do this by creating and editing robots.txt. file.

Where Is the Shopify Robots.txt File Located?

In order to make adjustments to your Shopify robots.txt file you need to first locate this file. To find your Shopify robots.txt file you need to consider the root directory of the primary domain name of your Shopify store. So, essentially it is the domain name slash robots.txt. 

For example: examplestore.com/robots.txt

What Is the Process for Constructing a Shopify Robots.txt.liquid?

Below you will find a step-by-step guide to constructing the Shopify robots.txt.liquid file in your store:

  1. Go to the left section of your Shopify admin page, go to Online Store > Themes
  2. Select Actions > Edit code
  3. Under “Templates”, click on the “Add a new template” link
  4. Click the dropdown on the far left and choose “robots.txt”
  5. Select “Create template”

After this the Shopify robots.txt.liquid file will open in the editor and you can go on editing the file.

How Can I Modify the Shopify Robots.txt File?

There are a few ways to modify or edit the Shopify robots.txt file:

  1. You can add additional rules to the Shopify robots.txt by writing new blocks of code to the robots.txt liquid file like in the example below:

{%- if group.user_agent.value == ‘*’ -%}

{{ ‘Disallow: [URLPath]‘ }}

{%- endif -%}

  1. If your Shopify site uses /search-results/ for the internal search function and you want to block it by editing the robots.txt, you simply need to add this command:

{%- if group.user_agent.value == ‘*’ -%}

{{ ‘Disallow: /search-results/.*’ }}

{%- endif -%}

  1. For blocking the multiple directories (/search-results/ & /private/, you need to add these two blocks to the file:

{%- if group.user_agent.value == ‘*’ -%}

{{ ‘Disallow: /search-results/.*’ }}

{%- endif -%}

{%- if group.user_agent.value == ‘*’ -%}

{{ ‘Disallow: /private/.*’ }}

{%- endif -%}

When you complete this action these lines will appear in your Shopify robots.txt file:

Disallow: /search-results/.*

Disallow: /private/.*

Sitemap: ##########

Know the Limitations of a Robots.txt File

While you can edit your Shopify robots.txt file to direct search engines to keep away from the pages you don’t want to be crawled, there are still some limitations to this, such as:

Possible Use Cases of Modifying Robots.txt

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Editing a Shopify robots.txt file is difficult and it is not recommended to do if you don’t need to or if you don’t know what you are doing. So, how do you determine if your site would benefit from editing the robots.txt file? Here are some of the cases when you could seriously consider editing your Shopify robots.txt file:

Internal site search

One of the best things to do for your site’s SEO is to block your site’s internal search through the robots.txt file. The reason you need to do this is because users can enter an infinite number of queries in search engines. Allowing Google to crawl these pages on your site will lead to a plethora of low-quality search results in the index.

The good news is that you can use Shopify’s default robots.txt to block the standard internal search with this command:

Disallow: /search 

Having said that, many Shopify sites don’t utilize their default internal search. Instead, many Shopify sites opt for using apps or some other internal search technology. Doing this will frequently change the URL of the internal search. When this occurs, Shopify’s default rules can no longer protect your site.

In the example below the internal search results render at URLs with /pages/search in the path:

This means that Google is allowed to crawl these internal search URLs:

In such cases, the site owner should consider editing Shopify’s robots.txt rules, i.e. add custom commands to block Google from crawling the pages or search directory.

Faceted navigations

Another case where you should consider adjusting your Shopify robots.txt file is when your site has faceted navigation, i.e. a filtering option you can apply on your category pages. You can usually find these on the left-hand side of the page. 

Let’s take as an example a clothing Shopify site that lets users filter the products by color, size, product type, etc. If we were to select the “Black” and “White” color filters, we would see a URL with the “?color” parameter loaded. In this instance, Shopify’s default robots.txt will successfully block certain page paths that faceted navigation might create, but not all of them. When the facet, “color” is not blocked,  Google is allowed to crawl the page.

In such cases, you should consider blocking pages with robots.txt in Shopify. This is because there are a  large number of these faceted navigation URLs that could be crawled due to the number of combinations. To reduce or prevent the crawl of low-quality or similar pages you should block multiple facets e.g. size, color, etc., and add rules in the robots.txt to block their crawl. 

Conclusion

The default setting on Shopify’s robots.txt doesn’t allow search engines to index certain pages on stores, such as password-protected pages and pages related to the checkout process. However, users can modify the Robots.txt file which is located in the root directory of your store’s file system to allow or block specific pages as needed.

To construct a robots.txt file, you can use the default file provided by Shopify as a starting point and add or modify the instructions as needed.

It should be noted that there are limitations to Shopify’s robots.txt file. The file can be used to instruct search engines not to crawl pages you don’t want to be crawled but it does not guarantee it will block pages from being indexed. That’s why it is important to regularly review and update the file as needed to ensure that it is accurate and effective.

There are some cases where it is advisable to modify the Shopify robots.txt file, such as: blocking pages related to internal site search and faceted navigations, allowing or blocking specific pages as needed, etc. By understanding how to use the robots.txt file and taking advantage of its capabilities, you can improve the visibility and SEO of your Shopify website.

New to SEO or looking to improve your visibility in search results? Manaferra offers a free SEO gap analysis to estimate your website’s potential.

SaaS Content Marketing: 5 Strategies to Help You Reach Your Goals

Content marketing plays a key role when it comes to organically growing your SaaS business. This is because a good SaaS content marketing strategy helps you establish yourself as a thought leader and increase sales by attracting potential customers interested in the kind of product or service you provide.

Follow this five-step guide to get the best out of the content on your website and grow your SaaS business organically. Here you will learn how to devise and implement a good SaaS content strategy and develop new and compelling content ideas tailored to your audience’s needs.

What Is SaaS Content Marketing?

Before diving into any step-by-step guide on creating a good content marketing strategy, we must first understand what exactly SaaS content marketing is. 

When implemented in SaaS businesses, content marketing is defined as a long-term marketing strategy that SaaS businesses use to attract, convert, and retain a target audience by consistently generating and sharing unique, relevant, and beneficial content.

If we were to get more specific and thorough with the definition of SaaS content marketing, it would be something along the lines of this:

1. SaaS content marketing is a long-term strategy

Content marketing focuses on your potential customers—not the product or service you provide. So, your ultimate main objective shouldn’t be to aggressively advertise your products but rather to build a solid long-term relationship with your target customers. And good relationships require time and effort.

The increased organic traffic on your site is a good indication that your content marketing efforts are working. However, even with a good strategy, you will likely have to wait a few months to see actual results.

2. SaaS content marketing should appeal to a target audience

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SaaS content marketing isn’t about attracting just anyone and everyone to your site. An effective SaaS content marketing strategy is one where you create content for only a specific target audience—not for everyone.

The content on your site should appeal to people interested in a product or service like the one you provide. Digressing from your site’s “main point” will only negatively affect the traffic.

3. SaaS content marketing must be consistent

Content marketing isn’t a strategy you implement one time and be done with it. Consistency is vital to achieving positive results with your content marketing.

A common mistake companies make is putting a hold on posting new content until they get a positive ROI on previously posted content. SaaS companies are in part successful because customers can always rely on them being consistent; that’s why you must keep sharing new and beneficial content even if you haven’t gotten a positive ROI yet.

How Can Content Marketing Help Your Business?

Content marketing can be advantageous to your SaaS company in different ways. Below you will find several positive outcomes you can expect when you start implementing SaaS content marketing:

1. Increased brand awareness and authority

Constantly posting high-quality blog posts will increase your odds of ranking on the top of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The detailed, high-quality content you post will help you establish yourself as an authority on a certain domain as search engines will see your content as the most relevant one to the topic—thus ranking your site higher. The higher you rank, the more your click-through rates (CTRs) and visibility will increase.

2. Higher ROI (without a massive budget)

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Studies show that businesses receive three times more leads and invest less money when they opt for content marketing instead of traditional marketing. High-quality content doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. You can either have an in-house team member complete the task or sign up with an agency.

3. A powerful connection with your customers

Another way to use content marketing is to build solid customer relationships. Customers that are constantly exposed to the content you produce will get used to it and trust it, thus relying on you and treating your site as an authority. 

When you win the trust of your customers not only will they keep purchasing your products, but will also most likely recommend your products to other people.

Examples of SaaS content marketing

The best place to look for excellent examples of SaaS content marketing is on the leading SaaS companies’ websites or social media pages, e.g., BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, etc.

One thing all successful SaaS companies have in common is regularly posting high-quality, beneficial content to educate their target audience and attract more customers via search engines.

A great example is HubSpot. This brand uses detailed blog posts, reports, and free certification courses to attract new users to its SaaS product.

How To Create a Powerful SaaS Content Marketing Strategy

It is important to remember that in order to use content marketing to grow your SaaS business, you can’t just focus on the content you create. The content only works when you have a good marketing strategy in play. 

Before starting with content creation, you need to get your processes, tools, and assets in place—prepare a game plan, if you will.

So, how do you create a powerful SaaS content marketing strategy step-by-step?

1. Define your content marketing goals 

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You start by setting a few realistic goals or objectives you can work towards and using them to measure your progress.

Consider setting up two types of goals:

Generally, most SaaS companies have these three content marketing goals:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Lead generation
  3. Website traffic

2. Target your audience

Defining your target audience is the first step to having a focused marketing campaign. Start by creating a checklist with a few characteristics like age, gender, profession, income, etc., based on your product. 

A shortcut to this is using analytics tools to review your social media following. Different online platforms (e.g., Facebook) offer analytics services that allow you to see the characteristics of your followers in multiple categories. You can also use this analysis to discover other social media prospects who match your target audience.

Once you pinpoint all the main characteristics of your target audience, you can use this data to create a profile of your ideal buyer to help focus marketing efforts.

3. Create content that is product-focused and ranks well in search engines

Once you have defined your content marketing goals and target audience, it is time to tackle the content creation process. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating content, like:

4. Become an authority on a niche topic by diving deeper into the content

If you want your content to perform well, you need to establish yourself as an authority in specific topics, i.e., become a topical authority. Your content has a better chance of performing well if you dive deeper into the subject.

So, instead of using multiple unrelated keywords to produce shallow content, opt for a few more specific ones and elaborate on them.

5. Create a lead funnel to move prospects through the sales process

The strategies for creating a SaaS sales funnel vary depending on the stage of the business. Building a marketing funnel before a sales funnel is crucial for creating optimal conditions and setting the sales team up for success.

Creating high-quality content for each stage of the buyer’s journey is vital to ensure a successful inbound sales strategy. Your buyer’s journey has three phases:

To successfully evaluate the effectiveness of the sales funnel, you must track specific metrics like revenue growth, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and acquisition cost.

Conclusion

SaaS content marketing is vital for promoting and growing SaaS businesses. It involves creating and distributing useful and relevant content to attract, retain, and engage a specific target audience. A successful SaaS content marketing strategy includes:

Lastly, joining sales and marketing efforts is crucial for succeeding in the SaaS industry.
New to SaaS content marketing or looking to create a powerful SaaS content marketing strategy? Manaferra offers a free content gap analysis to evaluate your existing content! So, contact us now for a free consultation!

Lead Generation Strategies for Higher Education

High demand for enrollment is a clear reflection of a school’s success. That’s why the primary function of any higher ed. institution’s marketing department is to target potential leads and convert them into students. This function is called lead generation and is a crucial part of any university or college.

In your quest to attract more leads which you will then try to turn into enrollments, you must develop effective strategies that will help you succeed.

Read on and dive deeper into the world of lead generation for higher education. From utilizing unique ads in various social media platforms to using chatbots, learn what tools have the most significant value in lead generation for higher education.

Can Lead Generation Be Profitable for Higher Education Institutions?

The short answer is yes, lead generation is profitable for higher education institutions. Increased lead generation is associated with a higher probability of leads converting to students, which helps boost revenue. Furthermore, the strategies that we will discuss below are cost-effective, thus further helping maximize the profitability of the lead generation campaign you can organize when comparing the profit margins with the expenses.

One can also obtain proof of the profitability through a case study of one of our agency’s clients. After providing our services which include all the best strategies for lead generation, there was a 900% increase in organic leads, a 930% increase in organic traffic, and an over $630k increase in monthly traffic value.

Which Strategies Are Most Effective for Generating Leads in Higher Education?

lead-generation-strategies

To help you make the most out of lead generation for college and compete with others on the stage of higher education, we have compiled a list of the most effective strategies you can use. Each one tackles the factors upon which lead generation relies. Therefore, consider each one carefully, develop your plan and attract potential students to your higher education institution.

Strategy 1: Utilize lead ads for lead generation

Digital marketing, especially through various social media platforms, has increased significantly in recent years. Your university or college can benefit substantially from using social media ads, as surveys show that one in two Gen Zers and Millennials think such platforms are the most relevant channels for presenting advertisements. Therefore, they are more likely to interact with the ads and help you improve your site’s lead generation.

Lead generation ads are a particular type of digital ad that enable you to collect data about potential customers while simultaneously promoting the school’s study programs, courses, and any events the institute is hosting.

All the major social media platforms offer these ads, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Utilizing these lead ads can improve your site’s conversion rates by allowing students to directly submit their information to you through the ad instead of being redirected to another page. This is just one example of what barriers to conversion you can lower to make your site more user-friendly and decrease exit rates.

Lead ads ensure a hassle-free and time-saving experience for the audience, as well as provide you with basic information that you can use to build up a customer database of potential leads for future correspondence. With a customer database, it will be easier to target a specific portion of your audience and further improve your ads with tailored questions and content that help uncover the preferences of potential students and ensure that you are reaching out to them with the correct information. 

In addition, our experts point out that you can effectively use segmentation in Google Analytics 4 for higher education by dividing visitors who have visited your site regarding a specific study program but did not request further information. Then, with the engines’ tools, you can use custom dimensions to understand their behavior compared to the converted leads and notice areas you can improve.

Strategy 2: Utilize virtual events for lead generation

Virtual events are a popular way for institutes to promote their products and services, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic when virtual events became the only feasible alternative to physical gatherings due to government restrictions and lockdowns. Even now, when restrictions have been lifted, there is high demand for virtual events, with the global virtual events market size expected to grow by 21.4% over the next decade.

There are various virtual events to choose from, including virtual open houses, webinars, and live streams, allowing attendees to learn more about your higher education institution, its academic programs, admissions, financial aid, campus life, and more. These events are an excellent tool for lead generation because you can safely assume that the people attending them are interested in the topics discussed and, therefore, in becoming actual students of your institution or partaking in other services. 

Utilizing such events is a great way to interact directly with your leads and show them that your college or university would be a good match for them. So, make sure to plan and host the event accordingly, selecting a suitable platform and promoting the event on various social media sites in order to reach your target audience and beyond.

One of the most significant benefits of virtual events is that such events are not constricted to space; therefore, you can generate leads from thousands of miles away without needing any of the two parties to travel. Likewise, you are not restricted to a certain number of people, as would be the case with an in-person gathering. You can have a much larger audience, thus increasing the probability of generating relevant leads that may be converted to actual students without any additional costs.

However, you might encounter challenges as you plan virtual events, specifically keeping your attendees engaged. To overcome such a challenge, you must carefully plan and manage the event to create an immersive experience for each attendee by including various polls, surveys, live Q&As, etc. Such activities will help you gather data about the audience you can use to send invites and keep them updated about upcoming events, thus, generating more precise leads that become enrolled students.

Strategy 3: Implement advanced chatbots for lead generation in higher education

Keeping up with the fast and continuously evolving world of digital communication requires adaptability to new trends. In the context of higher education institutions, this means putting the students first and utilizing all tools that can help them easily navigate through your page and find relevant information about the school. 

For example, the global chatbot market is valued at $3.78 billion and is projected to increase by 30.29% until 2027. Therefore, a valuable strategy regarding lead generation for higher education would be implementing advanced chatbots that can help you connect with your audience in online environments. These chatbots help ease your workload—they are programmed to help all website visitors be redirected to the area they are interested in and obtain answers to their questions. Thus, they aid in reducing frustration, providing personalized communication, and improving user experience. 

Depending on the exact strategy you want to follow, you can implement various chatbots, such as lead qualification chatbots, booking chatbots, and conversational chatbots. When implementing them for your higher education institution, it is essential to identify the correct use case. Some areas of chatbot use cases that can have a significant impact on lead generation include:

For any chatbot you decide to implement, you must carefully consider the conversation flow and ensure that it best represents your brand and provides all the necessary information about your study programs or courses to build rich engagement with your audience. This way, you can avoid one of the most common challenges that developers face when creating and implementing chatbots—the chatbot’s ability to interpret messages and understand the user’s intention.

Chatbots provide their services 24/7; therefore, your site will be up and running with a unique computer program designed to simulate human conversation, help visitors, and work toward generating leads during and outside of office hours.

Strategy 4: Develop a strong SEO and content marketing strategy

lead-generation-strategies-higher-ed

Using search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing is another strategy that can help your higher education generate leads. Through this strategy, you would improve various data points, including the volume of relevant keywords, increasing visibility, and pushing your site and content through the ranking in organic search results.

An essential step in this strategy is researching keywords and implementing them within your site and content in order to attract the right audience. By analyzing keywords and finding relevant ones that match the content in your site and simultaneously represent the areas people are searching for on Google or some other search engine, you can increase your site’s visibility. Furthermore, a higher ranking site on the search engine results is often associated with credibility and trust, which is essential in the process of turning leads into enrollments.

This strategy is also dependent on the quality of the content you produce. Make the most of the visibility gained through the use of keywords and provide valuable information that will ensure the visitors come back to your site for more. Carefully consider the questions your target audience might have and ensure you answer each one, as well as provide opportunities for them to contact you and clarify anything else they need.

It can be overwhelming to stay on top of everything because multiple algorithm changes per year require you to update your SEO strategy. That is why collaborating with professionals in the field who can help you get the most out of your site, such as our agency, is so important. Our award-winning search marketing agency has successfully implemented SEO and content marketing strategies to increase lead generation and enrollment in various colleges and universities. 

A study case of one of our clients, University of the Potomac, shows that through our SEO management services, link building, and content marketing, there was a 1,423% increase in organic leads, a 447% increase in organic traffic, and an over $125k increase in monthly traffic value.

Strategy 5: Develop an effective PR strategy to generate leads

lead-generation-for-higher-education

Establishing a successful public relations strategy is essential as it helps build your brand’s reputation, thus influencing your lead generation. By creating a positive and trusting image around your higher education institution, combined with all the other strategies listed throughout this blog, you attract leads that have the potential to turn into enrollments.

The primary challenge PR strategists face in the context of higher education institutions is choosing the right message and using their branding to turn qualified leads into students. That is why defining your target audience and presenting a relevant message about your brand when developing your PR strategy is crucial. This way, you ensure that your content is perfectly shaped around your audience and their needs. 

Additionally, you must carefully consider the channels and mediums you utilize to reach out and the type of content you post to present the best version of your brand to the public. Such an approach helps you establish a positive brand image as well as generate leads and conversions.

PR strategies should be developed with a long-term goal in mind and managed carefully. You should always be working on nurturing and maintaining a positive reputation in order to allow visitors to take their time in getting to know your branding, understanding your goals and the opportunities you can provide, and finally—trusting your institution.

 FAQ 

1. What is lead generation, and how does it apply to higher education?

Lead generation refers to the process of initiating a customer’s interest in your product or service. In higher education, lead generation represents identifying and attracting prospective students to your college or university.

2. Why is lead generation important for higher education institutions?

Lead generation ensures that your higher education institution continues to grow and reach more potential enrollments, which in turn helps with revenue generation.

3. What are some common lead-generation strategies and tactics used in higher education? 

4. How can technology and digital marketing be used to support lead generation in higher education?

They can be used to run advertising campaigns that reach the target audience and set up landing pages that help convert website traffic into qualified leads.

5. What are the potential benefits and risks of lead generation for higher education institutions?

The benefits of lead generation include a higher rate of college enrollment, improved visibility, and increased revenue, among other benefits. The risks associated with lead generation are a lack of relevant data and practical strategies, typically caused by one’s lack of understanding of the lead generation process.

6. How can higher education institutions measure the success and ROI of their lead-generation efforts?

To measure the success and return on investment (ROI) of your lead generation efforts, take the monetary growth from your institution, subtract the marketing costs, and divide by the marketing cost. Generally, an annual ROI of over 7% is considered a success.

7. What are some of the best practices for implementing lead-generation campaigns in higher education?

Before implementing lead generation campaigns, ensure you identify your target audience and have a clear long-term goal about what you want to achieve. Gather and analyze data about your audience and, through segmentation and targeting, determine potential students and customize your campaigns to their requirements and needs. 

8. How can higher education institutions ensure that their lead generation efforts are compliant with regulations and laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)?

To ensure that your efforts are compliant with regulations and laws, you must ensure that:

9. How can higher education institutions optimize their lead generation efforts for different stages of the customer journey, such as awareness, consideration, and decision?

They can optimize their lead generation efforts through advertising campaigns encouraging prospective students to engage with their institution. Then, they can use PR campaigns and SEO strategies to boost the consideration stage and push them toward conversion in the decision-making stage with virtual events, content marketing, chatbots, and other tools.

10. How can higher education institutions stay up to date with the latest lead generation trends and best practices in the sector?

Staying up to date is a continuous process; therefore, they should constantly read relevant blog posts and newsletters, attend events in this sector, embrace social media, etc. Alternatively, they can employ capable agencies that are one step ahead in the lead generation game.

Conclusion

A higher education institution needs students to succeed, and lead generation is the best way to reach a broad audience of potential students. Reap the rewards by utilizing strategies that help increase the number of leads and conversions in your college or university.

There are millions of people out there who are looking for all that your institution has to offer. All that is left to do is ensure that you do your best to provide them with opportunities for interaction with your site. 
If you still need help with generating leads, contact us, get a free SEO gap analysis from our experts, and discover the full potential of your site. Seize this opportunity and take your institution to the next level!

How to Grow College Enrollment with SEO

Choosing a higher education institution is a pivotal decision, and a growing number of students in the US are starting to research their options months—sometimes years—before enrolling. Every time prospective students go online to research, higher education marketers have a massive opportunity to show up with relevant digital content and help them make a well-informed decision.

Students now research almost entirely online

Finding the right institution used to involve campus visits and flipping through stacks of brochures, but students today increasingly choose to spend their time researching online, bouncing between devices. In fact, 97% of students in a study done by Google researched their options online. Search was a crucial resource for most of these students, with 65% using a search engine at some point during their path to purchase.

Interestingly, students were more certain about their choice of coursework than about their choice of institution when they started their research—72% of students started with a specific course in mind, while only 36% were sure of their provider of choice. When they’re ready to learn about an institution, students get the bulk of their information from providers’ websites. A site full of helpful information is paramount, but an institution’s search performance is still a top factor: 45% of prospective students reported that they have a better opinion of universities that appear on the first page of search results.

Your higher education institution might offer excellent study programs, with some of the best professors in the field and superb facilities to accommodate students. But, if the school’s site doesn’t appear in the first few rankings of relevant search results, it’s less likely that students will ever see it while searching for suitable programs and, therefore, not be aware of all you have to offer.

Google is by far the dominant search engine, with an impressive 87.72% of all searches in the U.S. happening on it. So, higher education institutions can significantly benefit from the increased visibility of their website in Google searches by employing the proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. 

From targeting the right keywords to optimizing your website’s on-page elements, by using SEO as a marketing channel, you can increase the quantity and quality of leads and applications coming from your website. 

Organic search (SEO) has the second highest lead to application to student conversion rate, beaten only by Direct traffic, and it’s way ahead of other channels like Paid Search, Social, and others. 

So, read on and learn more about how you can grow college enrollment with SEO for higher education, or directly take action and contact our agency.

The importance of SEO for college enrollments growth

There are currently 4,360 higher ed. institutions in the U.S., so this is undoubtedly a fiercely competitive market. Most are familiar with Google Ads and spend hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on it yearly. The education vertical is one of the biggest spenders in Google Ads.

Yet, SEO which allows you to rank organically without the need to pay for every click, has a better ROI, and is more sustainable as a marketing strategy, is left out when the budgets are decided. 

This could be your secret weapon. 

The cost to show your ads for specific keywords has increased year over year, and the competition is brutal, but the same can’t be said about SEO. Over 70% of the clicks that happen on search results go to organic results, and only a few higher ed. institutions are capitalizing on it.

The goal is to rank for relevant keywords. This way, when students search these keywords, they will quickly come across your institution. The organic position of your site will help you expand your reach, resulting in more qualified traffic where students visiting your site are more likely to enroll in your programs.

Another benefit of using SEO as a marketing channel for your higher education institution is that it can help you improve the brand’s credibility. Typically, a higher search ranking is associated with credibility, as people are more likely to trust the first few results listed to provide the correct information. 

In a chain reaction, the improved ranking that offers more credibility is then responsible for more qualified traffic, as reports show that the first organic result in Google Search has an average click-through rate of 43.32%. In addition, the second and third results have a 37.36% and 29.9% click-through rate, respectively. Therefore, SEO will not only help your site rank higher but, as a result, also make it a more trustworthy and reputable source, thus increasing student enrollment.

SEO strategies for college enrollment growth

Throughout the following sections, we will go into more detail about some SEO enrollment strategies where we tackle keywords, on-page SEO elements, mobile performance, website speed, and the content provided.

The role of keywords in SEO college enrollment

Keywords are a group of words people use in the search bar for information and are a fundamental part of SEO. By conducting keyword research, you can find out what terms people are actively searching for and how competitive each keyword is. You can then use the data gathered for marketing plans to increase your site’s organic traffic and ranking.

Before determining your content’s keywords, you must first identify your target audience via market research and your students’ insights. This way, you can pinpoint potential students’ needs, behaviors, and concerns and therefore consider what questions they might have regarding college and study programs so you can direct your keyword research toward the information they need.

Once you identify the keywords related to your services, you have also determined what the searchers want and, therefore, can focus your content on those topics to meet their wishes. The more instances of a keyword used in your content and meta tags, the higher the potential for better search ranking and improved visibility. But if you ignore keywords or use the wrong ones, you will not get the visitors you want because your content does not match what the audience is searching for. 

Typically, keyword research tools identify the keyword’s monthly search volume and difficulty level. When choosing the keywords, you’ll want to find keywords that have a high monthly search volume but are also easy to use and have less competition. 

The most important thing to remember when choosing keywords is understanding the search intent behind that keyword. When that is understood correctly, you know with what type of content (program page, info page, location page, or blog post) you can target that keyword & have a shot at ranking. 

The importance of on-page optimization in SEO

On-page optimization refers to the SEO strategy that helps shape various structural elements of a website with the intention of increasing its search engine visibility and rankings. This strategy covers all internal aspects of a webpage, including the title tag, meta description, header tags, URLs, internal linking, and more, as they attempt to boost the page’s ranking.

Similar to what was previously discussed regarding keyword optimization, through on-page optimization, the implementation’s objective is to attract more qualified traffic through better visibility. 

Your site can achieve such objectives through a series of actions. Firstly, update the title and description of pages/articles with relevant keywords and add necessary, creative, and engaging descriptions about the site and content integrated into it while maintaining a balanced ratio of targeted keywords used throughout them. Furthermore, it is best to structure the content using header tags that, once again, incorporate relevant keywords but also help present a better-organized page. Headers and subheaders offer the ideal areas to strategically include keywords without overstuffing the content. 

Optimizing your site’s on-page content will help Google, and any other search engine gain context about the main topic and subtopics discussed on your page. This way, users can quickly determine that your site matches their search intent, click on it, and hopefully enroll at your college.

The importance of elevating your content strategy

Though keywords and on-site optimization help provide more visibility to your site and therefore help your site reach wider audiences, the actual test of whether you generate qualified conversions depends on the content provided once they click on your site. In short, elevating your content strategy is vital to college enrollment.

In your quest to improve your content, there are a few things you can do. To begin, go back to the target audience we mentioned. Think about your audience, what they want, and what they are searching for online. Then, consider how your programs can benefit them and create content compelling them to take action.

Your site will attract prospective students by providing helpful information, as the right content strategy is your ticket to establishing a positive brand image. Furthermore, having a precise content strategy that is value-based as well as audience-focused and being consistent with it will result in people constantly coming back for more content from you. As a result of all this, your audience will see your site as a trustworthy and informative source, and when the time comes to convert, they’ll remember and come to you.

The importance of optimizing your website for mobile & page speed

We’re seeing mobile become increasingly important to students’ research, particularly early in the process as students narrow their consideration sets. Higher education-related searches on mobile are on the rise, growing by 8% in 2017.2 And when an institution’s website or app wasn’t optimized for mobile, 36% of students said they’d be less likely to revisit it.

With more students choosing to research on mobile, it’s also crucial that marketers ensure that their websites and apps are optimized for a smooth, easy-to-navigate mobile experience and that attribution models are updated to accurately value mobile’s role in the path to enrollment.

Our experts point out that minimizing the use of plugins, leveraging caching, and image compression are some of the best practices that can help optimize your site’s page speed. 

The benefits associated with page speed can be seen in our Bay Atlantic University case study. Before we started working with them, their site had several issues, including page speed. However, once we conducted our research, identified the problems, created the right strategies to deal with each one, and made the changes needed, the results were exceptional. Through similar approaches as the one provided above, we achieved a +550% increase in leads coming from SEO, a +2,500% increase in organic traffic, and an over $80k increase in monthly traffic value.

How to grow enrollment with SEO in higher education (Pacific College case study)

A sure proof of the success that can be achieved through SEO is our work together with Pacific College, which resulted in a 900% increase in organic leads

The challenge:

Pacific College changed its CMS from WordPress to Squarespace in 2018. When this migration happened, many SEO best practices weren’t implemented, and the organic traffic dropped significantly.

They had a lot of deleted pages that used to drive tons of highly qualified organic traffic. These pages were deleted during the migration as the team managing this process wasn’t aware of their traffic contributions to the site.

Also, when the CMS changed, the URL structure changed as well. Program pages were the ones most affected by this. Important pages with a lot of backlinks weren’t migrated to the new Squarespace site, resulting in ‘link equity’ going to 404 pages instead.

They lacked content. A news section existed, and it was updated from time to time, but apart from that, there was no content strategy in place.

Conversion tracking wasn’t set up. Google Analytics was implemented, but it wasn’t tracking any type of conversions. Also, when the new Squarespace website was built, a new GA view with no historical data was created & implemented, resulting in fragmented data sources.

What did we do?

Missing pages:
We recreated and updated all the missing pages deleted during the migration. We did the same thing with broken pages that had backlinks. In just a few weeks, they started to drive a significant amount of qualified search traffic back to the site.

Broken internal links:
We fixed all broken internal links. We used this opportunity to audit all internal links, optimize anchor text on most of them, add new internal links on pages where we had this opportunity, and other optimizations.

Website speed:
We identified the areas slowing down the site and optimized those for better performance.

Conversion tracking:
We implemented best practices, and the data we were able to gather from tracking conversions helped us adjust and improve our overall SEO strategy.

Content strategy + implementation:
After we were done with the SEO audit, we dived deeper into understanding / analyzing the search landscape & our competitors. We found out that there is a lot of search demand around the degrees Pacific College offers, and very few institutions are talking about them.

We realized that there is a lot of potential in creating content around informational topics like “lvn vs rn” or “what does a nurse practitioner do”. These were potential students looking to educate themselves, and the pages that were ranking weren’t doing a great job of offering the best answer.

We had the expertise & it was in our niche, so we did an extensive keyword search, built a content calendar, and started publishing content regularly.

Conclusion

While students’ paths to enrollment have migrated almost entirely online, they still crave the knowledge gained by a real-life campus visit—and SEO is making it easier for schools to bridge that gap. As higher education options become more readily available, institutions can capture prospective students’ attention by showing up in search results with helpful, relevant content and creating a seamless experience for them as they bounce between devices to help inform one of the most important decisions of their lives.

Are you interested in witnessing firsthand all the benefits of a good SEO strategy? Contact us for a free SEO gap analysis to learn more about the potential of your site and all the opportunities we can provide you with. Begin your SEO journey and take the first step toward success!

Manaferra Wins Best Use of Search at US Search Awards

Another big win for the Manaferra team! This time we got to bring home the Best Use of Search – Third Sector/ Not-for-Profit at U.S. Search Awards event. This award comes as a result of the hard work and commitment the team put on for the Pacific College campaign in growing enrollments through search. We couldn’t be more ecstatic about completing our We Are Search Awards Trifecta after previously grabbing wins in European and Global Search Awards events.

While the initial plan was to fly to the U.S. and attend the event in person to ‘literally’ bring the award home, we couldn’t make this possible. So, a change of plans had to occur. We were looking for alternatives to be there with other nominees, at least virtually. Still, this didn’t make it less nerve-racking and exciting. 

Because of the differences in the time zone, we couldn’t watch the ceremony in real-time, but we did get together as a team and celebrated seeing our work being chosen amongst other nominees. We got one award, but it’s worth mentioning we were shortlisted in total four categories: 

Getting recognized all over the world for the strategies and campaigns we come up with is an enormous success. The judges remarked, “This was a well-rounded campaign pulling all the SEO levers to achieve its objectives. We admired how they accomplished their goal of showcasing how a good SEO campaign can yield even greater growth than PPC. It was also very well targeted to its prospective audience. Excellent job!” Receiving this kind of feedback will be our ultimate goal as an SEO agency. I am super proud of the work delivered and the team behind it.

Faton Sopa, Co-Founder & CEO

Manaferra

It is quite an achievement for us to be one of the agencies from Kosovo making a breakthrough in American land and being held in high esteem in the SEO field. We are proud to be recognized as one of the best in the industry and will continue to provide the highest quality services for our clients.

Going back to the event itself, U.S. Search Awards are part of an annual international awards series. The event aims to reward American agencies that significantly contribute to the Search industry. Here is the whole list of this year’s winners

Congratulations to all those who made it, and a big thank you to the U.S. Search Awards. 

Manaferra Wins 2 Awards in European Search Awards

May 26th found the Manaferra team in the heart of Barcelona attending the event held by European Search Awards. It is with great pleasure that we announce that on that night, Manaferra took home not one but two reputable awards, Best Use of Search for the SEO campaign on higher education and Best Small SEO Agency (Silver). 

While this isn’t the first time Manaferra’s work has been awarded and held in high regard by industry experts, it certainly isn’t any less important. The awards Manaferra brought home, in Prishtina, will serve as a token of recognition and appreciation for the constant hard work delivered by all of Manaferra’s team members. The award has confirmed once again what we have been claiming all along that we bring results; we deliver work that speaks for itself. While we aim to be a humble agency, there are moments like this that make us not so humble. Jokes aside, we feel incredibly lucky (even though luck has little to do with it) to have brought home awards like these.

As for the event itself, the European Search Awards is a yearly event, part of the awards series “The Search Awards”. It welcomes entries from all European countries with the intent of celebrating agencies and companies in the field of SEO, PPC, and Content Marketing. Individuals chosen to be part of the judging panel are highly qualified experts from all over Europe. The Search Awards are pretty competitive, and even getting nominated is a big deal, let alone becoming a winner. 

It has definitely been an otherworldly feeling to be part of the event itself in Barcelona and then also have the chance to get on the stage in front of some of the greatest in the industry and accept the award. All I could think at that moment was how appreciated I felt by the judges who chose us and our work to get awarded among other agencies nominated and how we should keep doing what we do best. Evidently, when you love what you do and give your all, you will get rewarded.

Diana Bajraktari, Content Marketing Manager

Manaferra

Not to forget that the other part of the team was back home watching the event online. As proud as I felt about myself there, I felt as proud of the team I work with. 

I can’t find the words to describe the moment we heard our name being called through the screen. What I can remember is the boost of motivation to keep pushing our goals and objectives further and keep delivering work that will win awards like this one and the one we got last year. Our commitment to delivering growth and investing in our team are paid off through results and awards like this. I’m proud of the team we have built at Manaferra.

Granit Doshlaku, Co-Founder, SEO Director

Manaferra

A big congratulations to the agencies that won European Search Awards! You can have a feel of that beautiful evening by going through this photo gallery. Also, have a look at the list of the winners for this year and those that were shortlisted

Thank you to the team, clients, and Search Awards for the euphoric feelings. 

Google Analytics 4 for Higher Education: A Step-by-Step Guide to Get Started and Stay Ahead

If you’re a higher education marketer, you know how important it is to stay on top of the latest trends and tools. As digital transformation continues to reshape the industry, university administrators and marketers must continually analyze user behavior, monitor ROI, and devise effective marketing strategies. One of the most widely-used tools for this type of analysis is Google Analytics.

But did you know that the current version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) will stop collecting new data starting in July 2023? This means that unless you move to another analytics platform, you’ll need to migrate to the latest version of Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 4, as soon as possible to avoid losing any valuable data.

Get started with GA4 for your website

Migrating from Google Universal to Google Analytics 4 is no simple task. Sure, account setup is relatively straightforward, but setting up the proper conversion tracking is much more complicated now. Google Analytics 4 has its advantages and disadvantages, but like all new forced changes, it will take time to get used to. Google Analytics 4 will actually be an improvement on your analytics data as it is based solely on events and parameters.

Let our team of Google Analytics 4 experts do the heavy lifting for you.

Book a call today!

In this blog post, we’ll provide a guide for higher education marketers looking to migrate accurately from Google Analytics UA to Google Analytics 4. We’ll cover the key steps you need to take, the benefits of the latest version, and how to ensure a smooth transition. Don’t miss out on the powerful features of Google Analytics 4 – read on to learn more.

What’s new on Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Since Google Analytics’s inception in 2012, many things have changed with the rise of mobile apps, consumer behavior shifts, privacy regulations, big data, and the way we collect and analyze data. Google needed to consider and reflect on how its current Analytics tools evolved to fit market changes and demand. This must have required a 10.000-foot view of the whole spectrum, starting from how the data are collected and presented, to deliver seamless insights and data-informed decision making.

Saying that Google Analytics 4 is an update or an upgrade from Universal Analytics would be an underestimation of reality. The best way to think about it is as a completely new product, built on a different data model, made for scalability, machine learning, privacy, and customization. 

To understand how those two versions of Google Analytics differ from one another, we will break down some of the main differences, so you can have a clear picture of the new platform before starting to migrate to GA4.

Data Collection

The ability to analyze data depends highly on how those data are collected and organized in the first place. The better they are organized, the easier it will be to make further data manipulation and analysis. 

Data collections represent a fundamental difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. 

Universal Analytics (or GA3) organized all of its data into Sessions and Hits. All information that went to Google Analytics belonged to a Session, which belonged to a User. This data modeling doesn’t give you much space to collect and organize information around your users and their behavior, especially across multiple devices. That’s because you had numerous data layers that were not communicating with each other, and making it work required A TON of custom work.

On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 has an entirely different data model, which is simpler yet powerful.  Any interaction on your Web or Mobile is organized under Events (Event scoped), which belongs to a User (User scoped).  A Session is an event, a Page View is an event,  a File Download is an event, an Ecommerce sale is an event, and so on, you get the idea.

In GA4, when someone views one of your website pages, a page_view event is triggered, and that event will be saved under a specific User in GA4. Here is how previous hits translate to Events in GA4.

This data collection model gives Google Analytics 4 an edge over its predecessor in analyzing user behavior across multiple devices and building custom reports. This is because GA4 can link all interactions to a User, and enables you to organize them the way it fits your needs. That’s why GA4 needs more customization setup than GA3, where you had a ton of pre-defined reports built with a “one size fits all” approach.

Data Retention & Privacy

One of the most significant changes from UA is user data retention, or “how long does Google save user interaction data”. In UA, the default option for data retention was “unlimited”, however, in GA4, the longest you can hold on to Events and User data (including conversions) is 14 months

Having a maximum of 14-month-old data might freak out a lot of higher education marketers as they won’t be able to make YoY comparisons; however, there are workarounds to this, such as integrating GA4 with tools like BigQuery and reporting them via tools like Google Data Studio. BigQuery allows you to export raw data unsampled to conduct a much more granular analysis with confidence in your data, which I highly recommend before your data expires from GA4.

This limitation in data retention does not apply to standard aggregated reports, where you will be served reports based on sample data. 

AI + Machine Learning

Google uses Machine learning (ML) on GA4 to fill in data gaps and make predictions by looking for patterns, feeding those data into AI algorithms, and predicting the future behavior of your users. 

However, In a cookie-less and privacy-conscious world, tracking users’ activities is not something platforms like GA4 can ignore, and that’s where Machine Learning comes in. It fills out the data gaps and provides predictions by putting users into different cohorts and creating a composite overview of how people with certain traits move through your university website.

This is very helpful for universities as it allows them to predict their university’s growth by making predictions on potential students (leads) you could get next semester. If you have conversion rate data from your past activities, you can easily make necessary calculations that would lead you to predict enrollment numbers.

Machine Learning also powers up Automated Insights, which helps you observe trends and keep an eye on changing user behavior. For example you can be alerted to changes in application numbers, which might lead you to understand that the application form isn’t working as expected.

Recommendation:

Do not forget to create anomaly detections when you set up GA4.

Cross Device Tracking

Cross-device tracking is at the heart of GA4. The new data model enables GA4 to consistently store data from multiple sources and report them back into the same Analytics property for further analysis. 

GA4 bases its cross-tracking mechanism on something called “Identity spaces”. It tries to identify a user using multiple data points without revealing its identity. This is done by using three different types of identifiers, which enables it to stitch them together into a single unified cross-device user journey:

GA4 creates a single user journey from all the data associated with the same identified identity. Because this identity is used in all reports, they allow you to de-duplicate users and tell a more unified, holistic view about their relationships with your university.

For example, suppose your university offers a login area for your students. In that case, you can assign User IDs along with the interaction data you send to GA4 when a student enrolls (you might need the help of a developer to implement this) and later map the entire journey of that student in Analytics.

If you don’t have a User ID to assign to events, you can enable “Google signals” and all data sent to Google Analytics will be associated with that user. However, Google will only be able to assign these User ID’s for signed-in users who have consented to share this information.

If you do not enable Google Signals, the only option left for Analytics will be to identify users based on Device ID; however that alone might not be enough to allow cross-device identification.

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Audiences

GA 4 lets you build custom audience segments based on your site visitors’ behavior and interests. They are groups of users created based on dimensions, metrics, or events that you can use during your analysis and show ads to them via Google Ads.

As your Google Analytics keeps receiving data about new users from your university website, audiences are constantly reevaluated to make sure that they meet the criteria you have defined when you have created that audience.

You can use your custom audiences in Google ads only if you have linked GA4 property with a Google Ads account (and you have also enabled Google Signals), 

Integrations

For the time speaking, GA4 lets you integrate your analytics data to more than ten other tools, including some tools of its suite. However, GA4 is still under massive development, and we expect to have more integrations available soon.

These integrations mean that you can synchronize data between GA4 and another tool of your choice to make robust analysis and facilitate your decision-making process. For example, you can link GA4 with Display & Video 360 or Google Ads to see the entire student cycle, from how your future students interact with your ads to how they finally complete the Request More Information form on your site. You can also use your custom audiences for display/search advertising and synchronize conversions between two platforms. 

To deal with the data retention limitations, you can connect GA4 with Big Query, and store all Analytics data in BIgQuery. Once you connect to Big Query, you are the sole owner of that data, which you can use to make further in-depth analysis and YoY comparisons. This is a paid tool, but its cost is super cheap. I have data assets that constantly process more than 1TB of data, and I have never spent more than $10/m. Yes! That’s how cheap it is.

If there is one recommendation I would make about integrations, is to connect your Analytics with BigQuery ASAP, so you do not start to lose important data when you reach the data retention limit (which is 2 or 14 months, depending on how you configure it)

Pros and Cons of switching to GA4

As with every tool out there, GA4 has its pros and cons. It’s a constantly evolving and improving tool that will take some time for you to adapt as a higher education marketer.

On the PROS side, this entirely new Analytics product outperforms its predecessor in many areas. Its extra layers of analytics capabilities are built for a world where data and marketing are increasingly crucial for the success of higher education institutions.

On the CONS side, there are some things you might need to consider before taking the next step of migrating to GA4. Because GA4 is built on a data model made for scalability and Machine Learning, it’s not an out-of-the-box solution that you can meaningfully use right away after you set it up. You need to tweak it based on your needs and build custom reports (most of the reports you are used to seeing in Universal Analytics do not come out of the box in GA4). You might need to be patient as you go through the learning period (it will take some time, trust me) and let the data flow within the tool, so you benefit from AI/Machine Learning capabilities of GA4.

Setting up GA4 for Universities

Now that you have a bigger picture of how GA4 works, let’s dive deeper into how to set it up so your university can take advantage of all the new features that the tool offers.

If you are reading this post by the middle of 2022, the chances are that Google Analytics 4 is still not mature enough to be used as a standalone analytics tool. Hence, you should use both tools (UA and GA4) at the same time, so you feed data into the GA4 ASAP, but at the same time, use the reporting you are currently using in Universal Analytics (so that you can make the transition easy for you)

However, if you are reading this post in late 2022 or even more in the future, it will probably be mature enough for you to switch to Google Analytics 4 completely.

UA will stop collecting new data from July 2023, so every day of not setting up GA4 means a day less with data you could use for analysis and decision making. So make sure you are pushing data to your GA4 account ASAP. Otherwise, you will lose YoY data.

Let’s learn how to set up the GA4 account first.

How to set up a GA4 Account for my University?

There are two ways you can set up a GA4 account. One option is to create a whole new property (it will be a GA4 by default), and the other option is to use GA4 Setup Assistant. This time, I’ll focus on creating a whole new property because the result will still be pretty much the same, and I can walk you through the entire process.

Creating a new GA4 Property

Go to the Admin section of your Google Analytics interface (by clicking the Admin at the bottom-left corner) and then (in the Property section) click Create Property.

Then enter the name of your University, choose your University’s main campus country, reporting time zone, and the main currency your University operates in, and click “Next”, 

Then, fill out your business information. Suppose you are a university of 11-100 employees. In that case, we recommend the following setup, as GA4 will adjust some configurations and enhancements based on the category of the business and the intent of how Analytics will be used.

Once you click “Create”, your GA4 property will be ready. However, there are still some setups you need to make to start using it.

Data streams

The next step to complete is to configure your first Data Stream. This tells Google the data source from where it will get the data before sending it to your Google Analytics 4 property. You can have multiple data sources in a single property. For example, 3 web properties, 1 for Web, 1 Android app, and 1 for an iOS app. However, for most universities and colleges, 1 Data Stream (web) will be enough.

While on the property that you just created, click “Data Streams” and choose “Web”

Once you enter your university Website URL and Stream Name (Example: My University Name – Website), you will be able to enable/disable default events that come as part of “Enhanced Measurement.” These out-of-the-box events that GA4 automatically sends to your data warehouse without requiring you to implement them via GTM or asking a developer.

When enabled (which is the default option), Enhanced Measurement will automatically track the following events for you:

If you prefer, you can enable/disable such events manually by clicking the gear button on the right bottom side of the gray widget

When you are done with the above configuration, click the “Create stream” button, and you will automatically be presented with tagging instructions.

GA4 Tag Installation

Each of your Data Streams has a unique “MEASUREMENT ID” that you will need to use to send data right into your Google Analytics account. You can install the GA4 tag manually on your website or use a platform like Google Tag Manager (our recommended way).

If you are doing this in 2022, MAKE SURE your Universal Analytics code is still running so you are collecting data for both UA and GA4 simultaneously.

Let’s see how we install GA4 via Google Tag Manager

Installing GA4 via Tag Manager

While on the Data Stream details page, copy the “Measurement ID” as you will need this to add to your GTM account.

Go to your Google Tag Manager container, click “Tags” -> New” and on the “Tag Configuration” box, choose the “Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration.” tag.

Enter the ID ID in the Measurement ID field that you just copied in the GA4 interface. If you want GA4 to track pageviews automatically, keep the “Send a page event”  enabled. If your website is built as a Single Page App (ask your developer), you might need to disable the “page_view” event as it will not get consistently fired on the user navigates on your site.

In the Triggering section, select “All Pages” click “Save” and then name the tag according to your naming convention: “GA4 Configuration – G-{your measurement id}”

Testing GA4 Integration via GTM

Let’s test our integration.

While on your GTM, click the “Preview” on the upper right side of the windows, and you will be able to enable GTM Preview mode to test the integration.

Once you type your website URL and click Continue, you should see the new GA4 tag among fired tags.

Once you see your fire being fired in GTM Preview, ensure the event is being sent to GA4. You can test it by going to GA4 -> Configure -> “Debug View” and waiting for events to fire (you might experience some seconds delay until the data starts to appear in Debug View). If everything has been appropriately integrated, you will see something like this:

Once you ensure that the data is coming in and shown correctly in GA4, you should submit your GA4 changes in the GTM container and publish it. 

Publishing GA4 Integration via GTM

To publish changes, go to your Tag manager container, and on the top right side of the page, click “Submit”, type a version name of the deployment (optional) and a description of changes you have done (optional), and click the “Publish” button.

When you publish changes,  you should soon start seeing data coming in your GA4 real-time reports.

Congratulations! You have just set up GA4 with Google Tag Manager. However, GA4 needs a lot of customizations, remember?

Installing GA4 on your University WordPress Site

There are two ways you can add a GA4 tag on your WordPress site. One is by placing a direct “gtag” code directly on the <head> HTML part of your website, and the other by installing it via a plugin. Let’s cover both of them.

Installing GA4 tag code manually on WordPress

Go to your GA4 Property and click “Data Streams”, choose the Website data stream you just created to get stream details. 

On Tagging Instructions, copy the Global Site Tag and place it into the <head> section of your HTML code (you might need the help of a developer to do this)

Get started with GA4 for your website

Migrating from Google Universal to Google Analytics 4 is no simple task. Sure, account setup is relatively straightforward, but setting up the proper conversion tracking is much more complicated now. Google Analytics 4 has its advantages and disadvantages, but like all new forced changes, it will take time to get used to. Google Analytics 4 will actually be an improvement on your analytics data as it is based solely on events and parameters.

Let our team of Google Analytics 4 experts do the heavy lifting for you.

Book a call today!

Installing GA4 tag code using a WordPress Plugin

You can use multiple plugins to install the GA4 tag on your University Website. However, we recommend using the “GA Google Analytics” plugin as the most straightforward WP plugin to integrate Google Analytics into your WordPress website.

Once you install the plugin, go to its Settings page, add your tracking Measurement ID under “GA Tracking ID” select “Global Site Tag” and then click “Save Changes”.

That’s it! You have now installed GA4 on your WordPress site. Make sure you receive real-time statistics by going to your GA4 -> Home and see if your current traffic is being reported.

Installing GA4 on your University WIX Site

If you use WIX on your university website, you need to add your Measurement ID on your Marketing Integrations page. You can do it by following the instructions below:

  1. Copy your Measurement ID under Web stream details.
  2. Go to Marketing Integrations on your site’s dashboard. 
  3. Click Connect under Google Analytics. 
  4. Click the Show More icon in the top right corner of the page
  5. Click Edit
  6. Paste your Google Analytics 4 Measurement ID in the pop-up.
  7. Click Save.

Congratulations! You have just installed GA4 on your WIX site. 

Installing GA4 on your University Squarespace Site

Squarespace has a built-in feature to connect GA4 without too much hassle.

To install GA4 tag on your Squarespace site, follow instructions below

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Advanced
  3. Click  External API Keys
  4. Paste your Measurement ID under the “Google Analytics” input

You can paste both UA and GA4 code on the same field, separated by a comma..

Test your installation by opening your website URL in a new window and opening the GA4 -> Home report to see your real-time statistics.

Filters

Filters in GA4 allow you to limit or modify the data before entering your Analytics account, and they do not work retroactively. Unlike Universal Analytics, where you could create a “raw view” account without filters and another one with certain limitations, filters on your GA4 are applied in the property level. As we are writing this post, there are no Views in GA4. That makes testing your filters in GA4 more critical than in Universal Analytics.

Currently, there are only two types of filters in GA4:

  1. Developer Traffic
  2. Internal Traffic

Filtering Developer Traffic

Develop traffic is the traffic generated by your website administrators/developers while developing or debugging the website.

This is done by adding a specific event called “debug_mode” or “debug_view” (with a value of 1) every time your GA4 code is executed during your developing/debugging sessions. You will still be able to watch that traffic coming through in Configure -> Debug View, but you will not be able to see it across other reports in GA4.

Filtering Internal Traffic

This is the traffic generated by people directly or indirectly connected to your university who are not your targeted audience. Those can include your faculty members, administrative staff, services providers, and vendors. As such, including their traffic on your Analytics can skew your analysis.

Currently, you can only filter your internal traffic by IP addresses (way more limited than it used to be in UA). To do that, you should:

  1. Go to the Data Stream you previously created
  2. On “Additional Settings”, click “More Tagging Settings”
  3. Click “Define internal traffic”
  4. Click “Create” Button
  5. Add your IPs under “IP addresses” section and click “Create”

Events

Because of the way  Universal Analytics was built and its data structure model, there were quite some limitations regarding data you could send via events (eg. only event_cateogry, label, and value). This made it challenging for higher education marketers to collect data across the whole student journey and analyze in-depth data on the scale.

This has changed, and Events are now the core of Google Analytics 4. But, before going further on events, let’s make sure we understand what an event is and how they work.

What is an Event?

An event is an interaction of the user with your Web or Mobile App. All interactions on your website/web such as clicks, visits, downloads, form submissions (leads), student applications [and more] are considered “Events”.

The data model of GA4 offers much more flexibility when it comes to tracking events and sending additional information with it.

In Universal Analytics, you could only send up to 4 event attributes of an event to Google Analytics: 

As discussed earlier, everything in GA4 is considered an Event. Depending on your scenario, you can send up to 25 additional parameters with an event without limiting how you name them. For example, let’s say that a future student is reading a program page and decides to fill out a “Request More Information” form. You could send the following event:

The last four parameters on the list above are custom events you can send along with your event, which you can later use to do performance analysis on your Analytics account.

Apart from custom events, GA4 also comes with a set of default events and recommendations for you to follow. Let’s go through them and see how you can utilize them to structure your GA4 configuration better later on.

Categories of Events in Google Analytics 4

There are four categories of events in GA4:

  1. Automated Events
  2. Enhanced Measurement Events
  3. Recommended Events
  4. Custom Events

Here is how to choose between event categories in GA4:

Automated Events

Automatic Events on GA4 include interactions that Google must collect to perform its fundamental analysis on the tool. Those events are automatically triggered by GA4 itself on some predefined user activities. This includes session_start, first_visit, scroll, or user_engagement and other mobile app interactions such as app_update, ad_click, etc. You can get the full list here.

Enhanced Measurement Events

Those are additional automatic events by GA4, with the only difference being that you can enable/disable them on your property level.

You can enable or disable them (they come enabled by default) when you configure your web Data Stream in GA4.

When this feature is enabled, Enhancement Measurement will automatically track the following events:

You can enable or disable each one by clicking the gear button on the right side of the Enhanced Measurement section.  Moreover, you can also customize some of them to fit your university website needs.

Page views:

This event is sent to GA4 when a new page loads or the URL of the page changes without reloading the page (a.k.a. history change events). Suppose your university website is built on SPA (Single Page Application) where your entire page doesn’t refresh when pages are changed. In that case, you need to ensure that your website is changing pages/URLs and changing the browser’s history events (you might need a developer’s help here).

Scrolls:

GA4 can automatically send events when a visitor scrolls below 90% of the page height. If you need to track scroll on a different scale, you might need to do that via Google Tag Manager manually.

Outbound clicks:

This event is automatically triggered when a user clicks on a link redirecting them to another domain. This is a great feature you can use to see which of the websites you have linked on your website content are helping your students answer their questions.

If your university operates in multiple domains, set up cross-domain tracking (via GA4 property > More Tagging Settings > Configure your domains) so clicks on your own domains are now considered outbound/referral links.

Site search:

This event allows you to track searches performed by your current and potential students on your university website. When enabled, it will automatically send a “view_search_results” event to GA4, if the page loads and the URL of the page contains a query parameter, such as q, s, search, query, and keyword. 

If you are using WordPress for your website, there is nothing you need to change on the “Search Term Query Parameter” input, as the letter “s” will automatically get the job done. Otherwise, make sure you include your search query parameter on the configuration. For example: if your website search looks like https://www.my-university-webste.com/search?term=tuition-fees, you need to enter the word “term” as an option in the above configuration.

Video engagement:

This is built to track the user’s interaction with Youtube videos on your website. However, due to some technical reasons, this feature will not work by default unless your developer changes how those videos are served.

File downloads:

GA4 can automatically detect the download of files on your website and send an event when your link url contains one of the following extensions:  .pdf, .xls, .xlsx, .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .csv, .exe, .key, .pps, .ppt, .pptx, .7z, .pkg, .rar, .gz, .zip, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .wmv, .mid, .midi, .mp3, .wav, .wma.

Once you’re done with all of the above configurations, click Save, and your GA4 will automatically start to track those events once you set up the GA4 tag on your website.

Recommended Events:

Those are events recommended by Google for different business categories but not enabled and configured by default. You will need to follow recommended naming convention and set them manually on your web/app and Analytics to benefit from additional features google may introduce to the platform.

If none of these we have previously listed in Automatic and Enhancement events doesn’t fit your needs, then look at the recommended events Google has published in its documentation. For the time being, Higher Education institutions can use the following recommended events based on their needs:

Google recommends that you implement their recommended events when it makes sense for you because it can use those them to better understand your web/app performance during its Machine Learning analysis. 

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Custom Events

If none of the previously discussed events fit your needs, you can create custom events. They work pretty much as the above events; however, they are some things you need to consider before deciding to use custom events: 

For the time being, GA4 does NOT allow you to edit or delete your custom events. So make sure you have a thoughtful events strategy in place before reaching out to the 500 unique event limit

Let’s see how a higher education institution can use custom events to measure its marketing performance.

Tracking Conversions on GA4

Before going further, let’s set the table about what a Conversion is for a Higher Education Institution. 

A conversion is a significant interaction you want your visitors to complete on your website. That can be a micro-conversion, Conversions that put your visitors one step closer to the main (macro) conversion (such as subscribe, download, chat discussion), or a macro conversion, a final conversion on your website (such as leads, or student applications).

By tracking these conversions (and others), you are in a better position to measure the performance of your marketing activities and make decisions based on data. 

In GA4, you can, for example, create a segment of visitors who have read a page about a certain degree who didn’t request more information and then use custom dimensions to understand their behavior compared to the ones who converted.

Now, In Universal Analytics, you used to track conversions by setting up Goals. You may have had a thank you page for your Request Information Forms, and used that page as a trigger to create a goal. 

In GA4, all conversions are tracked via Events. So, before a Conversion becomes “a Conversion”, it has to be an Event. You can use a pre-defined conversion event (such as “generate_lead”) or create a custom Event and mark it as a conversion by going to Configure > Events and marking a specific event as Conversion. 

Alternatively, you can go to Configure > Conversions, then press the New conversion event button and enter the event’s name, for example, application_submitted.

Once you do that, wait for up to 24 hours, and you will start seeing conversion data in the list of all Conversions.

When it comes to tracking conversions for Universities and Colleges, here is a list of events that we recommend creating and mark as conversions:

GA4 Tracking Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

The ultimate goal of events is to take actions. If you have an event or metric on Google Analytics for which you cannot answer the question, “if I have this information I could do this” then the chances are that you are using a vanity metric, and you won’t be seeing value out of it.

When it comes to deciding what metrics are essential for your university to track, it might be necessary to take a step back, look at it from a broad marketing and business perspective and ask questions like:

Once you answer these questions, it might be time to start thinking about how you can translate them to concrete actions on Google Analytics. Using a framework like QIA to identify the right metrics for your school can be helpful. Start by asking these three questions:

  1. What Question do I want to answer?
  2. What Information will I need to get the answer?
  3. What Action will I take based on the answer I get?

Let’s take an example of a scenario many higher education marketers face: What is the conversion rate of students for each channel? (Q)

You would need to figure out what information (I) you need to answer that question. In this case, you would need:

Is that information already stored? Do I need to track it and keep it in Google Analytics? If you don’t have funnel conversion tracking set up, for now, you might need to add it to your @todo list.

Great! Now that we know what information we need let’s decide about the most critical part of the framework: Action (A):

  1. How will the answer be presented? How will the report look?
    Who is the report built for? What format do they prefer?
  2. “What actions will I take if the answer is ‘X’?”
  3. “What actions will I take if the answer is ‘Y’?”

You will need to plan actions based on answers to these questions. For example: 

“If the conversion rate from Organic Search is 2% or higher, we’re doing well. If it’s lower than 2%, we’ll re-evaluate funnel pages, the effectiveness of the call-to-action and the SEO strategy to see how we can improve it”.

Answers like this will help you build an action plan with specific actions on implementing this tracking strategy, from defining events to conversion, account setting, and reporting.

Reports in Google Analytics 4

Reporting in Google Analytics 3 takes another level due to the flexibility of its data model.

In Universal Analytics, you have had numerous ready-to-use reports that, even though you might have found practical, were very limited in capabilities and pretty much the same for everyone. 

While you now have much less ready-to-use reports in GA4, its flexibility in adapting and creating advanced custom reportings based on your needs is way beyond what we are used to seeing in the previous version of Analytics. 

Reporting in GA4 is divided into 2 sections, that can be found on the main left navigation

  1. Default Reports
  2. Explore

Default Reports

Google offers numerous default reports on GA4 to help you kick off analysis faster. However, to fully utilize the benefits of the tool, you might need to customize such reports based on your use cases and needs. 

For example, if you do not directly monetize your university website, you don’t need to see the monetization charts on your reports. You can go to Reports > Library > Edit Collection and then remove/add the necessary report from the main navigation.

While on Library, you can add two types of new reports: Overview and Detail Report

Overview report: A dashboard (comprising a set of cards) that summarizes a detailed topic report (A topic can have only one overview report.)

Detail report: This can have up to two visualizations and a table with dimensions and metrics.

You can also customize individual reports, to only show what’s important for your university. You can do that by going to a specific report and clicking on the “Customize reports” icon on the top right side of the page. From there you can add/remove cards (widgets) and set dimensions/metrics as per your needs.

As you can see, there are certain limitations on the number of widgets, tables, and customizations you can make on default reports, and that’s where custom reports come in.

Exploration reports (Custom Reports)

Exploration is one of the best features of Google Analytics 4. It’s a collection of advanced techniques of analysis that can help your university create advanced reports and reveal deep insights about your future students and their behavior.

You can access exploration reports by going to main navigation and clicking on Explore. You can create a fully customizable report (if you are short on time or now sure how to start), or you can use built-in templates.

Let’s explore some of built-in templates, so you can have a better understanding of their benefits.

Free form

Use this template to find out more about your website visitors. You can visualize data in a table or graph format, use multiple dimensions, segments, and metrics, and compare.

Funnel Exploration

This template is pretty helpful for visualizing the steps your students took before converting to a lead or application as part of a pre-defined conversion funnel.

Path exploration

Use this template when you want to discover your students’ interaction toward a conversion. You can also do a reverse analysis and find out what your students do before converting.

Segment Overlap

This template allows you to show and compare the relationship between (up to 3) segments.

The learning curve to creating custom reports may be long for many higher education marketers. However, once you go through built-in templates and do some trial and error, you will start discovering new insights that will lead you towards better decision-making.

Final words

Now that you know the main differences between GA3 and GA4, you’re better positioned to migrate your university website from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4.

GA4 is an entirely different beast from its predecessor. It’s more flexible, more powerful, and more capable of making data-driven decisions. However, it’s not a simple migration process; you need to make sure you are making the right strategic decisions before starting the migration and have all the necessary information to set it up for success.

If you are just starting with GA4 in general and you are not sure where to start or how to properly migrate your university website to GA4, feel free to reach us, and we will be happy to help.

Get started with GA4 for your website

Migrating from Google Universal to Google Analytics 4 is no simple task. Sure, account setup is relatively straightforward, but setting up the proper conversion tracking is much more complicated now. Google Analytics 4 has its advantages and disadvantages, but like all new forced changes, it will take time to get used to. Google Analytics 4 will actually be an improvement on your analytics data as it is based solely on events and parameters.

Let our team of Google Analytics 4 experts do the heavy lifting for you.

Book a call today!

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