How a Measurement Project Can Help Your School Win at Marketing
Ready to dive into the world of data-driven marketing – but not sure where to start? Our recommendation is usually a measurement project, where we find, gather, and translate accurate marketing data to answer your most pressing questions about the admissions pipeline. Questions like: Why are we losing prospective families? What campaign content is working to attract our desired applicants? How can we drive stronger marketing ROI and convert inquiries into applications?
Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions about a Metric-led measurement project – and why it's the ideal first step toward upping your marketing game.
Why start with a measurement project?
As a private school marketing leader, you understand that data can inform your decision-making. But you probably also recognize that the off-the-shelf Google Analytics tools you use to gather data aren't giving you the useful, actionable insights you need. Google can give you tons of information about web users, behaviors, time spent, search paths, and so on. That raw data is only really useful, however, if you know it's complete and accurate – and if it’s clear what you need to do with it.
At Metric Marketing, we've reviewed Google Analytics (GA) accounts for 350 private schools nationwide. It wasn't always pretty. All but two were being populated with incomplete or inaccurate data. And none of them – not a single one – contained answers to those burning questions that admissions offices and marketing leaders like you need answered. It’s clear that GA is a good place to start – but in the world of data-driven marketing, it’s really only the beginning.
Think of it this way: Trying to draw insights from Google data alone is like using player statistics to figure out who won a football game. Imagine two coaches meeting at the 50-yard line after the clock runs out and comparing their numbers of sacks, average yards per carry, and quarterback passer ratings to decide the winner.
It sounds absurd, but that's essentially what school marketing departments are doing when they use nothing but GA metrics to tell them if they're winning the competition for quality applicants. Like the coaches meeting at midfield, they need something more – like a final score – to tie the data together and give them actionable insights.
A Metric-led measurement project gives you that critical extra information. It reveals the final score of the web marketing game you've been playing – and it can help explain what you can do to win more often, and by wider margins.
What happens in a measurement project?
Our measurement projects consist of three core phases: Measurement Strategy, Measurement Implementation, and Measurement Reporting.
The only way to measure effectively is to figure out first what needs measuring. That's why we start our measurement projects by identifying your school's organizational goals and the key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking success. For example, if your goal is increasing the admissions pool, your relevant KPIs may include the volume of website inquiry form submissions and event registration form submissions.
Next, we audit your existing tech. We dig into your website, analytics tools, enrollment platform, and more to determine what data you're already collecting (or could be collecting). We also identify changes you could make to improve your data's completeness, accuracy, usability, and relevance to your institutional goals and KPIs.
After those initial steps, we work with you to build a strategic plan for measuring your marketing performance. This all comes together in a Measurement Strategy document summarizing your school's goals and KPIs and the steps we recommend to enhance your website data collection.
From start to finish, the Measurement Strategy phase usually takes one to two months. At every step, we make our team available to your key stakeholders, to make sure everyone is on board with the strategy.
Next up: Measurement Implementation. In this phase, we set up Google Tag Manager on your website and configure all the tags and triggers needed to track the KPIs we identified in the Measurement Strategy phase. Proper tracking can tell us exactly who interacts with your website, what channels bring them to it, and what actions they take once they're there. And that can reveal how to acquire and convert more traffic to your website and what site features and content influence your conversion rates.
Measurement implementation usually takes a bit longer than Measurement Strategy. We generally allow one month for Google Tag Manager tracking configuration and testing – then we let data accumulate for three or four months during the actual measurement period.
Of course, the information generated by our Measurement Implementation needs to be useful to you. That's why we build live custom reporting dashboards for your team to access as the project progresses. Those dashboards are constantly updated with actionable data that we present in easy-to-understand graphics.
At the end of the Measurement Implementation phase, we also produce an Insight Report analyzing how your website is performing compared to the goals we outlined in the Measurement Strategy. We dive deep into the data in the Insight report, giving it context for you and your team and explaining the data-driven recommendations we have for improving your KPIs and conversion rates.
How does a completed measurement project help you and your team?
A completed measurement project gives you actionable insights for improving your marketing performance. We might recommend making additional enhancements to your website to refine your analytics, for example, Or we might draw conclusions from it that help you craft effective messaging and advertisements to resonate with your target audience.
We also appreciate that you need answers to the questions your CFO/controller, head of school, and trustees, and others might be asking about the application pipeline. A completed measurement project puts them at your fingertips, supported by custom-designed, audited user data that empowers your team to make efficient decisions and clear recommendations to school leadership. You'll also be able to use the data you have to justify accurate, data-driven ROI forecasts and performance targets – just the sort of metrics today's independent school leadership and boards demand.
If you choose to continue your partnership with Metric (and we hope you do!), we want to continue helping you market your school effectively to your target families. A completed measurement plan gives us a framework for doing just that. Having taken this first step with you and your internal stakeholders, we know what your school's success looks like, how to measure it, and that you have high-quality data to use. Those are the building blocks of improving your marketing and advertising through data-driven insight.
For example, once we have configured and audited your data collection efforts, we can confidently work backward to pinpoint precise moments or interactions in the customer journey where prospective families either decide to apply to your school or lose interest. We can test web content and interactive features to see how well they perform at retaining visitors and converting them into applications. Or we can send targeting messaging through advertising to exactly those places. And we can identify which audiences you should target or retarget with these paid marketing efforts… then measure and produce data to see that this is, in fact, happening.
What makes Metric Marketing the best at conducting measurement projects (even better than your in-house team)?
Simply put, we're specialists. Our core philosophy is that a private school can't market and advertise to families effectively without correct and complete data. We can supply you with that data because our team has a unique blend of technological, digital marketing, and analytics expertise.
Our sole focus is on making sure you have the analytics tools you need to do your creative, market-facing jobs. We have the know-how to tackle complex technical challenges like configuring email marketing system (EMS) forms, attribution modeling, and cross-domain tracking. Few, if any, in-house marketing departments have those capabilities – let alone the necessary bandwidth in their busy days to do what needs to be done to ensure consistent data quality, so let us handle the heavy lifting.
What comes next after a measurement project?
In general, we let the data from the project guide our future work with you. That said, our next steps often involve using data to improve your school's advertising. For example. focusing on your website's customer journey data can give insight into the themes, areas of emphasis, and specific content that inspires prospective families to apply and enroll.
Great data also takes constant monitoring and improvement. Once we've shown you how useful your data can be, you might want to make some upgrades – and we can help with that. We might implement more sophisticated ways of generating and tracking marketing information through, for example, your EMS or communications data analysis. We can also develop ways for you to collect and exploit data at every point along the path a prospective family takes with your school – from their first interaction with your brand to the date of their child's enrollment (and beyond).
We also generally check in on your Google Analytics account monthly to ensure the tracking we put in place is still accurate and meets the goals of the Measurement Strategy. If you've added a new form to your website or revised its content, we'll update the Measurement Strategy to reflect any impact of those changes on your data collection or KPI tracking.
Is there anyone who wouldn't benefit from a measurement project?
A measurement project may not be necessary for those rare schools we identified that had already implemented the sort of sophisticated practices we recommend. We might also advise you to hold off on a measurement project until after you make any big, upcoming technology changes (think: launching a new website or switching your EMS). If you have a project like this planned, we’d still love to talk now! We can work with you to get ahead of some of the tracking set-up steps that will smooth out your data collection processes later on.
What else should private schools know about Metric-led measurement projects?
The Metric team has spent years refining a repeatable marketing system that works for private schools like yours. We've seen how school marketing departments struggle with using web data to its fullest potential, and we believe our approach can make a huge impact on you and your team – because we’ve seen it happen over and over again.
The sophisticated, data-centered insights our measurement projects provide have a proven track record of driving ROI and helping schools achieve their goals. We’d love to talk data with you, and explore the chance to start a measurement project and optimize your private school's marketing and advertising efforts.
At Metric Marketing, we develop measurable and practical strategies to help private and independent schools like yours to make the most of your marketing efforts. We'd love to discuss your private school's marketing requirements with you. Contact us today to speak with our marketing professionals or use the form below to sign up and receive more marketing tips in your inbox.