The Top 5 KPIs you should be Tracking and why

Posted: November 19, 2019

Joshua Dodson Vice President of Marketing & Innovation

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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Sherlock Holmes

Fact: if you are a higher education marketer today, you are likely suffering from data overload. You’re constantly on the hunt for the meaning behind the numbers — and there are so, so many of them: the data from Google Analytics, your CRM, your social media dashboards, and your student information system to name just a few. You use every tool available to analyze data clues that will lead to the always-elusive proof of ROI for your marketing dollars. Maybe you’re stumped, trying to decipher red herring metrics that don’t add up and siloed information that doesn’t tell the whole story. 

As marketing becomes increasingly data-driven, identifying which metrics are the most relevant to track and what the numbers are really saying about your marketing efforts is critical — and it can be overwhelming. Don’t let the data deluge get the better of you. Start by narrowing your focus to these five important KPIs and you’ll be on your way to solving more than a few marketing challenges.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

What it measures: How many people are clicking your ads.

Why it’s important: The value of CTR is two-fold. First, it tells you if your creative is working. People won’t click if they aren’t interested in what your ad copy has to say. Second, it tells you if your targeting is working. Your ads won’t be clicked on if they aren’t reaching your audiences in the first place. Creative and targeting are the lifeblood of an effective campaign, and CTRs help you keep a pulse on the performance of both.

Website Conversion Rate

What it measures: How effectively your website is driving inquiries, applications, and other key actions. 

Why it’s important: Prospective students rank an institution’s website as the most useful tool in their enrollment journey. This KPI will help you see into that journey and figure out what’s working on your website — and, just as importantly, what isn’t.  

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

What it measures: The cost to acquire a new lead.

Why it’s important: Before there was a student, there was a lead. This KPI will tell you how cost-effective your marketing efforts are in generating those leads. 

Cost Per Enrolled Student By Marketing Channel

What it measures: The cost to acquire a new student via a specific marketing channel.

Why it’s important: One of the biggest challenges in higher education marketing is enrollment. Sometimes, higher ed marketers rely too much on CPA to tie marketing efforts to enrollment outcomes. Don’t be deceived. While a CPA may tell you to invest more media dollars in Facebook,  the cost per enrolled student may reveal that leads who actually enroll are coming from direct search. This intel is as close as you can get to proof of marketing ROI. Not only is it an indication of how much you need to spend to yield an enrolled student, but it also illuminates which media channels are likely to maximize results. You can even use this KPI to inform enrollment forecasts, media budget calculations and retention marketing strategies.

Raw Conversions (Goal Completions)

What it measures: The total number of conversions. 

Why it’s important: Unlike the previous four KPIs that measure rates and percentages, raw conversions are numerical sums that simply tell you where you are in relation to your goals. Those goals can be anything you determine is important. For example, if your campaign is focused on lead generation, goal completion may be the number of students who submitted their information over the course of your campaign. Or if you’re aiming for a specific enrollment goal for a new program, the metric may be how many students submitted an application. 

So, with these five KPI’s you’ve begun to identify and capture the right data. Now what? For starters, it’s time to take action. Fine-tune your ad messaging and targeting parameters on a regular basis based on your CTRs. Update your website and landing page forms to collect the right information. Learn your way around your CRM’s data segmentation features. Connect your CRM with your SIS so that both are working in tandem to track each step of the enrollment journey your students are taking. And collaborate with your leaders to refine and set smarter goals based on the story all that data is telling you. 

There is a saying: if you make too many points, you end up making none. When you are making the case for KPIs, measure wisely and the data will give you all the clues you need to make better marketing decisions.

VisionPoint Marketing is a full-service marketing agency with nearly two decades of experience helping higher education institutions achieve their goals. If you have questions or want to start a conversation about how we can help, please visit our website or reach out to our team