Aaron Baker, Digital Analytics Lead at Harvard University, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2018 Higher Ed Analytics Conference.
In this 3-question interview, Aaron tells us about what’s coming in 2018, the challenges of embracing analytics in higher ed and the best ways to keep learning about data and measurement for higher ed marketers..
1) What’s coming for higher ed analytics and measurement in 2018?
I think universities will be concerned with content strategy more than ever in 2018. Metrics that measure content engagement such as scroll depth, time on page, and element visibility are the building blocks for assessing user engagement with page content beyond users, sessions, pageviews, and bounces. The first area of focus for me is my measurement plan and ensuring data collection accuracy. The second area of focus is reporting to stakeholders in a format and manner that helps them make decisions about what to do differently now or next time.
2) What’s preventing higher education from embracing data and analytics more widely for digital marketing?
As digital marketers, we have to believe in and be able to demonstrate how analytics can help universities decide what is working and not working with their digital marketing initiatives. This can be an uncomfortable position, unless you have data that tells you what worked/didn’t work, and I think this is what is preventing the necessary trust in analytics. Adopting a culture of testing has been the easiest way for me to combat this and incorporate analytics into the decisions that others in my department make themselves. Through simple A/B testing techniques on things like landing pages, email content, and even social posts I have given content authors the ability to use data to make their own inferences and decisions.
3) What are the best ways to keep learning about analytics, measurement and data?
My favorite source of professional development these days is a “measure” Slack community that I am a part of. People involved with digital analytics from all kinds of industries discuss tips, tricks, problems, and solutions to the technical challenges we face as analysts. To keep learning about analytics I’ve also had to be willing to try new things in the code, which can be scary. Evaluating our code and trying code suggestions from others has helped me learn more about the technical aspects of data collection. After I became really comfortable talking about what individual metrics were, what they were actually measuring and how, I started to think more creatively about what could be measured, and what decisions could be made from metrics. I’ve also joined the Higher Ed Experts faculty team to teach digital analytics for higher ed (I’m teaching a 4-week online course on advanced web analytics for higher ed starting January 16, 2018). Teaching is one of the best ways to keep learning.
A conference focusing on higher ed analytics?
The Higher Ed Analytics Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed marketing professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.
Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Analytics Conference say about the experience.