In my new role as the Manager, Marketing & Web Development at NorQuest College, one of my tasks is to work stakeholders to develop a web strategy document that will set the direction for our redesign project and future development.
I’ve been doing a lot of research and have read many web strategy documents from higher education institutions. They have a lot of similarities and have your traditional elements (which are required) like vision, objectives, guiding principles, audiences, and web governance.
The challenge with higher education, and maybe all large non-profits, is there is strong emphasis on web governance.
That in itself is not necessarily a bad idea. But when governance becomes such an emphasis, institutions often overlook a critical piece: measurement.
As I’ve reviewed a number of web strategies from other higher education institutions and reconfirmed the similar lack of focus on measurement, I became frustrated. And I’m not the only one that’s frustrated with the lack of measurements. My friend Michael Klien, wrote a great piece on why he’s given up on traditional marketing which revolves around the lack of measurements in traditional marketing.
If your web strategy speaks to your vision, objectives, goals, audience, principles, processes, governance, but doesn’t address measurements, then you’re doing your institution a disservice.
More Than Pageviews
Those inexperienced in the world of web analytics may default to using pageviews or visits as an indicator of success. While that very well may be one, it’s not the only one. Other indicators of success could include:
- goal conversions (did they do something you want)
- time on page
- geographic location
- increase/decrease in phone inquiries
- web surveys
- more accurate content
- and the list goes on.
The bottom line is that what you measure should be directly connect to your goal or objective.
For example, if one of your goals was to increase your brand footprint outside of your regular catchment area, then a way to measure would be to review web visits from those identified areas. Obviously you would need tactics to support that goal which the measurement tool would validate success or not.
It’s Not Hard
I think one reason why measurements may be left out of a web strategy document is that people are either afraid to hold themselves accountable or they don’t know where to start.
I’ve even found myself wondering, “where do I start” or “what do I measure?” These are good questions to ask, but dwelling on them too deeply can lead to paralysis.
I heard a quote from a management consultant years ago that I still live by today:
generally correct, not specifically wrong
Pick something to measure that’s connected to your goals, put it in your web strategy, and start measuring. You can always adjust or change your measurements later.