All posts by Mikayla Wilson

4 Ways to Improve Your Marketing and Communication with Generation Z

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Over the past several years, marketing conversations have been focused—to a point of obsession—on engaging Millennials. Millennials might be the most scrutinized generation to date, but now there is a new generation in town: Generation Z.

Gen Z is the next wave of prospective students born between the late 1990s and early 2010s—the oldest of whom are just now entering college. While some might lump Gen Z-ers together with Millennials, they are uniquely different from preceding generations. Gen Z-ers are true digital natives. They have never known life before the Internet or smart technologies.

While Millennials forged the way for Facebook, Netflix and mobile-friendly content, it’s a way of life for Generation Z. Generation Z is also uniquely diverse—with the fastest-growing segments of biracial children and LGBTQ communities in history. Gen Z-ers are more socially accepting than any other generation. While Millennials helped elect a black president and legalize gay marriage, Gen Z-ers see these milestones as the norm.

What does this mean for higher education marketers and recruiters? Here are four marketing tactics to consider for Gen Z-ers:

1. Mobile-Friendly and Snackable Content

It’s never been more important for colleges and universities to have mobile-friendly websites. Gen Z-ers expect to consume information quickly, so multiscreen-optimization and snackable experiences are a must. Content should be image-heavy, not wordy. Try vertical video with captions, listicles or GIF blogs.

Best Practice for #highered: The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has been vlogging and is successfully creating captivating mobile-friendly content.

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2. Snapchat and User-Generated Content

Snapchat is a great way to develop user-generated content. Gen Z-ers tend to distrust brands and professional marketing. They prefer to read review boards, listen to influencers and hear from current students. Find influencers like alumni with cool stories and encourage current students to become brand advocates.

Best Practice for #highered: The University of Michigan has been successfully using Snapchat for two years.

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3. Celebrate Diversity

Since Gen Z-ers are more accepting than any other generation, they want to see an appreciation for diversity on your campus. Gen Z-ers attend schools that celebrate racial diversity and embrace a policy of inclusion for LGBTQ students.

Best Practice for #highered: Cornell University has developed a holistic Diversity & Inclusion Initiative that encourages students to celebrate differences.

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4. Emphasize the Value

Gen Z-ers identified ‘career preparation’ as the single most important factor for choosing a college. With tuition and fees rising faster than ever before, it should be clear that continuing their education will lead to success. Align your marketing efforts to showcase success rates and post-graduation stories.

Best Practice for #highered: American University does a fantastic job highlighting student success with their We Know Success microsite.

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Stay in front of what’s new and next.

Members of Generation Z are coming of age to submit college applications and will be seeking out post-graduate opportunities before we know it. How are you preparing for this evolution? Keep an eye on your target audience—monitor their behaviors, search habits and expectations—to stay ahead of the curve.

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Jumpstart Social Marketing on Your Campus

Fall is an important time for admissions offices with recruitment on everyone’s mind. This last fall semester, I had the opportunity to work in the Simpson College Admissions Department as an Undergraduate Assistant for Social Media and Web.

While Simpson’s admissions counselors were off on school visits and communicating with prospective students in person, my role was to effectively engage potential students through Simpson Admissions’ social channels. I developed a social strategy in which I shared images and information about Simpson College’s upcoming events and student life and implemented that strategy through Hootsuite to generate amazing results.

Never log in to multiple channels again. Hootsuite is a social media management system that integrates all your social channels, including Instagram, into one platform to simplify your social marketing. This convenient system allows you to post to multiple channels with the click of a button and schedule hundreds of posts in advance. Hootsuite offers three management plans, which include features such as analytics reports, vanity URLs, and more.

For Simpson, I was able to utilize the free plan to post on three social channels: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Never go weeks without posting again. It’s important to be active on all of your social channels. Like most things, this is easier said than done… or is it?

Develop a social strategy with a content calendar. Plan out your posts for the entire month and schedule them in advance on Hootsuite to ensure activity.

Start your calendar by incorporating campus events and news. Then add fun #hashtag campaigns that broaden your reach and showcase your brand and students.

I find that it’s easier to develop a social strategy by having themed days. For example, at Simpson I used:

#MondayMotivation

#TourTuesday

#Choose Simpson, which was posted every Thursday, featuring a student ambassador. This theme received the most engagement overall. Prospective students love getting a glimpse of student life, and current students enjoy seeing their friends promote their school.

Never miss an opportunity to engage again.  There’s a lot of student-generated content already out there for you to use and augment. Discover your top influencers. Retweet your students and share information about student organization events.

Hootsuite even allows you to set up hashtag and mention streams so you can monitor what people are saying about you. Never miss a chance to talk to potential students who tweet about #SimpsonCollege instead of @SimpsonAdmiss. Check your stream regularly and start engaging.

Jumpstart a social marketing strategy on your campus and start seeing results in your analytics reports.

Interested in learning more about social marketing? Check out this blog about Using Snapchat in Higher Education.

Develop User Personas for Your Institution with These Simple Steps

While Sandra Soliz and Brenda Cooper of University of St. Thomas – Houston don’t actually have imaginary friends, they have developed user personas that help them to deliver the right messages to students. Last month at Converge 2015, Soliz and Cooper led an engaging session about using their “imaginary friends” or personas to target prospective students.

During their session Soliz and Cooper answered the following questions:

What is a persona?

A persona is a fictional sketch of an audience based on customer demographics and behavior, along with an understanding of their motivations and challenges.

Marketing personas contain in-depth, lifelike character traits, including names, to help guide marketing and content decisions. The most effective personas are on-brand and data-driven.

How do you use personas?

You can use personas to develop or restructure existing web content, outline brand messaging, and get consensus on audience segmentation.

Why should you develop personas?

When you put a name and background to the people reading what you write, you can better meet their needs and relate with them. You can also improve the way you solve their problems.

University of St. Thomas – Houston and Converge partnered to create user personas and persona messaging.

St. Thomas – Houston was interested in creating user personas and segmented messaging to improve reader engagement and better recruit prospective students. Converge partnered with the St. Thomas – Houston team to collect information and strategize messaging.

Through campus visits and focus groups, Converge was able to collect qualitative information about various audiences, including gender, race and geographic location. The teams leveraged Experian data to support all messaging points and create several personas.

Since then, the marketing team at St. Thomas – Houston has seen exciting results. The personas and messaging helped build consensus around prospective student demographics and the best ways to communicate with each segment.

Steps for Developing Personas:

  1. Have an anecdotal brainstorming session to consider all applicant types.
  2. Collect data to expand on personas and make clarifications.
  3. Host focus group sessions to correct assumptions.
  4. Meet with experts to improve personas.
  5. Develop messaging to put your new personas to use.
  6. Use persona messaging to test the success of your persona messaging.

Developing and utilizing user personas at St. Thomas – Houston has proven to be a successful strategy. Consider developing user personas for your institution if you haven’t already to better target your marketing efforts.

Sad you missed Converge 2015? Us too.

Don’t miss out on Converge 2017 in Palm Springs, California. Register now and save with our early bird pricing!

Introduce Change at Your Institution Without Getting Kicked Out of the Classroom

posted by on November 18, 2015 in Converge Blog

Rose Cameron Introduces Change Without Getting Kicked Out of the Classroom

Last month at Converge 2015, Rose Cameron of Penn State University led an engaging session about introducing change at your university without getting kicked out of the classroom.

Cameron is the director of innovation at Penn State and describes her position as ‘opening the windows to let fresh air into the university.’ She holds a forward-thinking title and has a refreshing view of higher education.

At the beginning of her session, Cameron asked the audience a simple question: “What words come to mind when I say the word ‘change?’”

The audience began sharing words: painful, expensive, risky, stubborn.

In higher education, the word ‘change’ can hold a negative connotation. However, innovation should never be a scary subject. Innovation is important to your institution because in today’s rapidly changing, technology-driven world, innovation keeps you ahead of the curve.

Cameron explained that innovation is not solely about change and should never be confused with the term ‘invention.’ Her job as an innovator is to discover what others are already doing great, expand on it, and make it scalable.

Bringing innovation to our institutions can be easily done with Cameron’s formula: network, trust, and test.

Network

Innovation cannot depend entirely on you, and it can’t be conducted independently from the university. Find, connect and celebrate your inner and outer innovators.

Cameron finds outer innovators by going to the artists with which she emotionally resonates. Artists bring a new dimension to innovation.

Trust

Cameron explained that you mitigate risk by making connections. You can also build trust by educating your colleagues and superiors about your intentions.

According to Cameron, “Every single one of us has a seed of innovation. Wake it up!” Get the people at your institution comfortable with innovation. This can be done by blending the familiar with the futuristic.

Test

Don’t catch the perfection virus! Let go of perfectionism.

Put your idea out there. Test it. Improve it and move on to the next innovation. This strategy leads to less stress and better advancement.

If an innovation fails, you still have the opportunity to learn from the experience.

Get rid of those negative connotations surrounding ‘change’ and use this formula to bring some innovation to your institution.

Sad you missed Converge 2015? Us too.

Don’t miss out on Converge 2017 in Palm Springs, California. Register now and save with our early bird pricing!

Rose Cameron Answers Key Questions About Innovation

posted by on October 06, 2015 in Converge Blog

Rose Cameron Answers Key Questions About Innovation

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics.

Name: Rose Cameron

Organization: Penn State University

Session: How to Introduce Change Without Getting Kicked Out of the Classroom

Date & Time: Wednesday, October 21 | 10:00-11:00AM

Summary: Committees, risk management departments, fractured and distributed power bases – they’re all central to the power structures of universities. How do you introduce and manage change without getting “kicked out of the classroom?” Rose Cameron will illuminate how she has found traction in her first year as Director of Innovation at Penn State – engendering innovative practices across the organization.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

RC: I’m a quiet, self-contained person…NOT. Let me see:

  • Born in the States, raised in Scotland
  • Airforce brat
  • Got MA Hons 2:1 from University of Glasgow in Scotland (established 1451)
  • On 5thcareer –
    • Started life in the theatre (performer, vocalist, light & sound designer, director)
    • Became cultural anthropologist (specializing in NW Pacific Coast Native Americans)
    • Went into integrated marketing to avoid deportation from Britain, only to then move to Canada and then the USA; worked on top brands as global brand strategist – McDonald’s, Nintendo, IBM, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, etc
    • Moved to Washington state to explore the world of design and innovation
    • Decided my legacy was to be found in education and left the commercial world to explore innovation at Penn State University
  • From a family where mental elasticity and acuity trump all other skills
  • Driven to understand the workings of the human mind and the dynamics of human behavior; daughter’s autism created learning lab of everyday life to tackle this subject
  • Lover of learning, food, travel, reading and music
  • Lifelong scholar; allergic to term “expert”

MW: What is new and next in innovation in higher ed?

RC: I always start from the why vs. the what.

We’re no longer just addressing the expectations of the digital generation – Millennials. We now must grapple with the learning demands of the mobile generation – Centennials. Institutions move at a glacial pace, and expectations and their resultant behaviors are shifting at a rate we’ve never seen before. The issue for all of higher ed is how we can address these groups’ needs swiftly enough to stay relevant when our organizations are not built to do so.

We need to break from the confines of our archaic committees and move to more agile decision making groups composed of not only educators and learning designers, but also our existing and future students. This means engaging students across a wider spectrum of ages like never before; including them in the ideation and builds of our advances, having them test the durability of these solutions and having them as critical authors in our marketing.

I believe we are witnessing one of the greatest shifts in education since the foundation of Florence. And it makes me giddy with the possibilities.

MW: What challenges have you seen in higher ed with innovation?

RC: Innovation can be very intimidating for people who consider themselves experts because it calls into question definitions on which they’ve built their status. One of my top priorities is to wake these people up. Everyone here has some innovation locked inside all the shelters and protections they’ve built up over the years. My job is really to open their windows and let in the fresh air. Reawaken their potential and get them to, once more, explore new lands. It’s a really fulfilling challenge.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

RC: I’m new to this world, so I’m really excited to meet the players in a creative setting like New Orleans. Bring on the jazz!

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Rose and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!  

How to Use Snapchat Geofilters and Why You Should Create Them

posted by on October 01, 2015 in Converge Blog

How to Use Snapchat Geofilters and Why You Should Create Them

Earlier this week, Forbes published an article announcing that Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, is the youngest billionaire in the world at just 25 years old.

This little app for ephemeral communication has forever changed Spiegel’s life and the lives of its millions of daily users! Snapchat is a social platform and potential marketing tool that should not be overlooked.

Snapchat’s continual release of new updates and features keep the app relevant and exciting for users and marketers.

One feature that higher education can easily implement is the use of geofilters on campus.

Geofilters are illustrated overlays that appear on snaps when Snapchat users are in a specific location (i.e. a college campus). Once a photo is taken, a user simply swipes across his or her phone screen to access geofilters. These filters provide a fun way for users to share their location with friends.

Last year, Snapchat allowed users to begin creating their own geofilters for their favorite locations. Since then, thousands of these filters have been created worldwide. The best part is that the process for creating a geofilter is much easier than you’d expect.

Snapchat provides a list of submission guidelines, which can be found here.

Your geofilter must be an original work submitted in a web-optimized, transparent PNG file format. The PNG should have a width of 1080 px and a height of 1920 px. Snapchat provides you with geofilter templates on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Once you have uploaded your image, you will create your ‘geofence’ on the map and submit your new geofilter.

Your geofilter will then undergo an approval process.

Geofilters are reviewed in the order in which they are received, so the approval process time is dependent on the number of submissions. You will be notified once your new filter has been approved. You may also receive an email notification explaining why your filter has not been approved.

Either way, creating a geofilter for your campus is a fun way to stay ahead of what’s new and next. Students will love your new filter, and you will be able to create amazing student-generated content.

Check out the geofilters University of Michigan created:

These geofilters are a great way to promote school spirit and raise awareness for your institution. With so much fun to be had, why wouldn’t you want one on your campus?

As the social media and web undergraduate assistant at Simpson College, I have recently advocated for a geofilter on our campus, and we are currently undergoing the approval process.

Stay tuned for more Snapchat updates.

Isabel DiSciullo Answers Key Questions About Myers Briggs

posted by on September 29, 2015 in Converge Blog

Isabel DiSciullo Answers Key Questions About Myers Briggs

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics.

Name: Isabel ‘Issa’ DiSciullo

Institution: Drexel University Kline School of Law

Session: Myers Briggs Academy

Date & Time: Pre-Conference | Tuesday, October 22 | 4:30-6:00PM

Summary: How well do you know yourself? Fly in a little early and join Isabel DiSciullo of Drexel Law for a very personal pre-conference session, included in your Converge 2015 admission.

Getting to know ourselves better and appreciating the differences in others is a valuable asset in today’s changing landscape. Explore how you can become a more effective advocate in advancing your career. This session will discuss personality type preferences using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Together, we will learn about our own preferences and how to enhance our relationships with others.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

ID: I entered academia and admissions in the most traditional way – working for my alma mater right after graduation. What was meant to be a one-year temporary position turned into an 8-year stint, where I moved through the ranks in admissions.

Eventually, I found myself leading my own admissions team and quickly realized that managing and leading were two different things. As I pursued both a master’s and Ed.D in higher education leadership, I learned that empowering one’s team could only work if I really knew myself and my team members – our strengths and our challenges.

In my role at Drexel, I was given the opportunity to delve deeper into the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and become a certified administrator and evaluator. Five years later, I continue to use to the tool to develop my team members as well as our law students – we now incorporate the MBTI into our 1L curriculum.

Now that I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, it is clear that admissions and helping students achieve their educational dream is always going to be my first passion. But having the ability to grow and empower my team members and students through tools like the MBTI in the process is certainly a close second!

MW: What is new and next in Myers Briggs?

ID: When mother-daughter team, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers, developed the MBTI, their goal was to expand on Carl Jung’s theories in a way that was more understandable and useful in our everyday lives. The Myers Briggs identifies four dichotomies describing how we experience the world and builds on Jung’s theory that in each of the dichotomies, one will always naturally rise as our dominant preference. The combination of each of those dominant preferences is our “type,” and there are 16 possible combinations; thus 16 Types.

Isabel Myers continued her mother’s work and research even after her mother passed away, and concluded that while the initial assessment tool (MBTI Step I) yielded descriptions on how each type differed from the other, it offered little explanation on how people of the same type may also differ. She began adding questions to the original tool to further explore this issue, and that has led to the MBTI Step II, which is an in-depth assessment of each type, as well as the facets associated with that type. Recently, the Myers & Briggs Foundation have expanded the assessments to create a tool specific for one-on-one counseling and guidance: MBTI Step III).

MW: Why are tools like the MBTI so important in higher ed?

ID: Tools such as the MBTI that allow us to gain knowledge and understanding of personality types can help in personal growth, achieving balance, understanding one’s self and creating possibilities in the world around us. When we understand our type, we can approach working and learning in a manner that best suits us and also helps us understand and be more tolerant of those who might have preferences different from ours.

In an academic setting, when teachers and students understand the differences in their teaching and learning styles, they are better able to communicate with each other and affect learning in a positive way. Understanding types in an academic setting helps us eliminate labels such as “disruptive” or “unreasonable,” especially in situations where the student and the teacher disagree. It allows both parties to recognize and validate the other’s approach and create tools to access learning rather than barriers.

MW: What challenges have you seen in higher ed in Myers Briggs?

ID: The biggest challenge I have seen and faced with regards to the MBTI in higher education is technology. In our digital world, assessments such at the MBTI can be found all over the web. Regrettably, these web assessments don’t usually come from the Myers & Briggs Foundation and they are rarely accompanied by accurate assessments and evaluations. As a result, people receive incorrect information about their type and what it actually means. And that can lead to skepticism about the tool, which is unfortunate since when interpreted correctly, the MBTI can really help in all aspects of personal and professional growth.

MW: Are there any resources you would recommend?

ID: The Myers & Briggs Foundation continues the work that Katharine and Isabel started many years ago. They are a great resource for information about the MBTI: http://www.myersbriggs.org/.

The book, Gifts Differing, by Isabel Myers and her son, Peter Myers, expands on Jung’s theories and the MBTI.

Mary and Isabel’s online library provides access to the Isabel Briggs Myers Memorial Library and can offer information about MBTI, psychological types and other related topics: http://www.capt.org/MILO/.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

ID: I am looking forward to hearing from so many great creative minds! I always leave the Converge conferences with so many new and exciting ideas. And, I can’t lie…I’m excited to experience DinnerLab. Oh, and I will sneak away to grab a po’boy from my favorite po’boy restaurant, Killer Po’Boy.

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Issa and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!

Rob Ousbey Answers Key Questions about Search Engine Optimization

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics.

Name: Rob Ousbey

Organization: Distilled

Session: Attracting Visitors Through SEO

Date & Time: Wednesday, October 21 | 11:00-12:00PM

Summary: Rob will share the insights gained from years of experience delivering online marketing strategies, the trends in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the mistakes organizations of all sizes are making. He’ll discuss how to combine a strategic approach that sets brands up for success with the tactics that actually get them there. Leave with practical next steps for you and your team.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

RO: As a kid growing up in England, I’d always wanted to work in radio broadcasting. I put in my time working through the industry and ended up as a producer and presenter on a national UK radio station.

When the bottom fell out of that industry, I found that the things we did well on-air – creating engaging content that built a passionate audience – could translate very well onto the web.

After freelancing for a while, I met Distilled’s founders; they’d built a small, committed team that was doing awesome things to experiment with what was possible on the web. I worked with them in London for a few years, and then moved to the US to establish Distilled’s presence here. I now lead an amazing team of marketers with expertise in technical SEO, analytics, content creation, content promotion and more.

My wife and I have a son who is growing up to be a true Seattleite and asks more questions per day than I ever thought possible.

MW: What is new and next in SEO?

RO: Google has finally been able to incorporate some metrics into their algorithm that will make the search experience significantly better for users. ‘Brand strength’ is a great example; if people are talking about your brand online, explicitly looking for you and recommending you to others, then Google will be more inclined to make you visible in search.

In a similar way, Google is also looking more closely at how people engage with your site and content. If a search visitor takes one look at a page and goes straight back to the search results, it’s a strong signal that the page shouldn’t be ranking for that query. Google has a huge amount of data about people’s activities online, so there are increasingly subtle and powerful signals they can use to create great search results. All this has taken us a long way from just putting the right keywords on a page.

MW: What challenges have you seen in content?

RO: One challenge we’ve been facing with content promotion is the move that many bloggers have made from hobbyist to professional. Looking back to the 2008-2013 period, there were dozens of people blogging about almost any niche imaginable, and they were always excited to see that you’d written or created something relevant they could share with their audience. These days many more people are blogging as a full-time job. They have worked hard to nurture an audience they can monetize, so they are more cautious about sharing below-average content on their blog and more inclined to ask for a fee (often a substantial one) to give any brand coverage on their site.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

RO: I’m looking forward to learning from some of the stellar speakers in this line up. I also love learning from people who are deeply invested in a particular industry, so I’m excited to be spending time with all these experts in the higher education space.

And of course, I can’t wait to experience my first trip to New Orleans; it looks like the Converge team has a fantastic event prepared for us!

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Rob and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!

 

Krista Seiden Answers Key Questions About Google Analytics

posted by on September 16, 2015 in Converge Blog

Krista Seiden Answers Key Questions About Google Analytics

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics.

Name: Krista Seiden

Organization: Google

Session: Driving Action with People, Process & Platform

Date & Time: Thursday, October 22 | 1:30-2:30PM

Summary: Krista will share how to measure inbound marketing and provide higher-education-based examples around people, processes, and the platform. Learn why analytics is important, common problems with enterprise level Google Analytics setups, and how to get the most out of Google Analytics.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

KS: I’ve had an exciting career so far. I started out in the digital analytics space working as an internal practitioner at Adobe. While there, I focused on web analytics for a freemium product offering using the Omniture suite of tools. In addition to web analytics, I also focused on optimization and helped run several A/B tests for their core cloud product offerings.

After Adobe, I spent some time at the Apollo Group (the parent company of the University of Phoenix) as a product analyst responsible for all digital metrics for the classroom social media platform and the classroom mobile apps. This was an interesting role that allowed me to grow my expertise across many toolsets and types of analysis. I also had the opportunity to learn and build a skill set around UX testing, and paired the qualitative data we received from user testing with quantitative data to tell a complete story.

After Apollo, I moved to Google, where I first ran the analytics and optimization program for the Enterprise Group. In that role, I managed the implementation and high level reporting for six core product offerings and ran an A/B testing program, which executed upwards of 50 tests per quarter.

After two great years in that role, I moved into my current role, where I am out in the market advocating for Google Analytics. In addition to my speaking and writing responsibilities, I also run our Google Analytics Premium training program, where I get to interact with thousands of our premium clients daily.

MW: What is new and next in Google Analytics?

KS: We’re moving fast and constantly innovating. We’ve been working hard on our core product and functionality and have some exciting new features in the pipeline. The future is looking bright!

We’re also strongly focused on education – we want to run digital analytics education at scale. To that end, we’ve built out a great set of courses available on our Analytics Academy, including our newest course for Google Tag Manager, which I happen to be the instructor for.

MW: What challenges have you seen in higher ed with web analytics?

KS: When I was at Apollo, our greatest challenge was tying all of our data together to tell a cohesive story about student success. I think showing the impact of various initiatives, whether they be online, offline, mobile, etc. on student success is important for any higher ed institution. We were able to get creative with our analytics data to show a positive impact of using our mobile app on student outcomes. These types of analysis and use cases will be key going forward for higher ed to continue to get the support and buy-in to invest in more digital resources.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

KS: I’m excited to hear how many different higher ed institutions are taking advantage of digital analytics insights to improve their programs, offerings, and student experiences.

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Krista and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!

Shelby Thayer Answers Key Questions About Web Analytics and Measurement

posted by on September 08, 2015 in Converge Blog

Shelby Thayer Answers Key Questions About Web Analytics and Measurement

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics.

Name: Shelby Thayer

Institution: Penn State World Campus

Session: Effective Marketing Measurement

Date & Time: Thursday, October 22 | 2:30-3:30PM

Summary: Measuring the effectiveness of our marketing is essential, but it’s not only about slapping a tracking URL on a banner ad and seeing if someone clicked through. If that’s all we’re measuring, there is a 100 percent chance we’re wasting money. Shelby will talk about measuring beyond the click-through. She’ll touch on campaign tracking, email measurement, lead generation, content measurement, attribution and more.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

ST: I started dabbling in web analytics around 2000 at a former job when someone I worked with pointed me to a computer in our server room and showed me WebTrends. I remember waiting hours for reports to run, but I was so interested in understanding what was happening on our website. At that point, we were looking at the real basics – page views and visits were very exciting.

I am also a proud former Lady Lion basketball player at Penn State – let’s go State!

MW: What is new and next in web analytics and measurement?

ST: For digital analytics, I think the next big thing is tying everything together more easily. There is so much to do first, though, pushing beyond the basics. For example, with almost 20-30 percent of our users now viewing on mobile, how do mobile users behave differently? Do we need to worry about attribution and dive into the different models, getting out of GA and exploring other tools that give us other types of information? There’s so much we can do now.

MW: What challenges have you seen in higher education in web analytics and measurement?

ST: I’m very lucky I work for a department and university that values and understands the power of digital analytics. I talk with many people at conferences who are struggling to get buy-in to get the resources needed to really improve their websites and marketing efforts. As we all know, this cannot be a once-in-a-blue-moon or only-when-I’m-asked-for-a-report thing. To truly get anything out of it, we need to dedicate time and resources. There are many schools that value digital analytics, but it’s still a struggle for many others. The great news is that there are many resources (free and paid) available online – outside and within higher education. This is a great time to be working in the digital analytics space in higher education.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

ST: I’m excited to meet new people and catch up with others. It was a great conference last year, and it looks like it will be even better this year. I’m really excited to meet many of the speakers and talk to people about best practices and common challenges.

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Shelby and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!  

Allison Furkey Shares Why She is Returning to Converge 2015

posted by on September 08, 2015 in Converge Blog

Allison Furkey Shares Why She is Returning to Converge 2015

This October at Converge 2015 our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this post, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks returning attendee, Allison Furkey, what influenced her decision to attend Converge 2015 after attending Converge 2014 last fall. Read on to find out more.

Name: Allison Furkey

Job Title: Communications Manager

Institution: Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst

MW: Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your role at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

AF: I am the Communications Manager in the Marketing & Communications office at the Isenberg School of Management – the business school at UMass Amherst. We are a very small team of 5, so I basically touch almost all school communications in some way – in both the digital and traditional realms. I manage the school’s social media accounts, video productions, email marketing, design projects, and oversee the creation of promotional and advertising materials with our freelance designers and sometimes our external advertising agency FORGE Worldwide. I also have strategic oversight of all our content, how we should be creating it and where the content should live within our owned (and sometimes paid) media. I do all of this under the guidance of our Chief Marketing Officer.

MW: You attended Converge 2014, what inspired you to sign up for Converge 2015?

AF: Converge was the first marketing conference I attended that catered specifically to higher ed marketers. I feel like this made a big difference in my experience. It’s one thing to get some really fantastic ideas and inspiration from big, flashy brands with a ton of resources, and another to come back to a higher ed environment and realistically be able to put those ideas into practice. I found that being among people who have the same goals and challenges was really great and I left with inspiration for ideas that I could actually see us being able to implement. This, along with what looks like another fantastic lineup (and location!) for 2015, is what made me decide to come back for year two.

MW: What was one of your key takeaways from Converge 2014 that you’ve been able to use at UMass Amherst?

AF: A takeaway I received from the Inbound Marketing session (which seems to be the one session I attended that I unfortunately did not write down the name of the presenter) was the idea that content should really be developed keeping in mind the most important questions your prospective audience wants answered. This way it helps your SEO and lets your audience find you organically through Google searches. We’ve been talking more and more about having blogs for certain programs or people at our school and this advice will definitely be part of the content strategy for those.

MW: What are you most looking forward to at Converge 2015?

AF: Honestly, I’m probably most looking forward to networking and meeting more people from other universities. I think sharing our stories and hearing how we’ve dealt with challenges is invaluable. As for conference sessions, I’m really interested in the Content Strategy talks as this is increasingly becoming more a part of my job.

MW: We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans, Allison! 

Caitlin Way Answers Key Questions About Digital Advertising

posted by on September 01, 2015 in Converge Blog

Caitlin Way Answers Key Questions About Digital Advertising

This October at Converge 2015, our focus is to bring the best and brightest together to revolutionize higher education. In this series of blog posts, Content Marketing Intern, Mikayla Wilson, asks our speakers key questions. Read on to find out more about our passionate speakers and the importance of their topics. 

Name: Caitlin Way

Institution: Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri

Session: How Mizzou’s Hybrid execMBA Program Used Digital Advertising to Attract the Right Students

Date & Time: Thursday, October 22 | 11:30-12:15PM

Summary: Caitlin will be joined by Hayley Warack of Converge to highlight how digital advertising can drive qualified leads in higher education. Caitlin and Hayley will share examples from their joint digital marketing projects.

MW: Tell us more about yourself.

CW: I’m a marketing and communications professional with a special passion for working with educational and nonprofit organizations. While I have worked with several organizations, the bulk of my experience has been marketing and recruiting in higher education. Currently, I manage all of the marketing, recruitment, and admissions for the Trulaske execMBA Program at the University of Missouri, a fairly young program gaining traction in the highly competitive executive MBA space.

I specialize in digital marketing and analytics, but I approach marketing goals as holistically as possible. To me, it’s important to understand all the moving parts that must align in order to lead a person to the product or service that’s the best fit for his or her needs. I love numbers, messaging, design, and content generation – and I love piecing them together to form a clear and cohesive plan.

I grew up in West Plains, Missouri and have lived in Columbia since 2007. My husband John and I are foodies, fitness buffs, winery frequenters, and love catching a good movie at Ragtag in downtown Columbia. I have also been teaching piano lessons for eight years and am a regular volunteer with the City of Columbia.

MW: What is new and next in digital advertising?

CW: Industry experts aren’t overemphasizing the importance of data. To me, data is everything in advertising strategy. Marketing has historically been thought of as a more qualitative, creative industry – “Who knows if our billboard is working?”

With digital, that’s no longer the case. There’s really no part of digital advertising that should leave marketers guessing about effectiveness at this point. Sure, we have to test tactics, but we have the ability to know so much about our audience and to do so much with the knowledge. We can find out who clicked, how they got there, how long they looked at the content before clicking, which parts of the page they spent the most time on, where they are geographically, what other topics they’re interested in, and what they bought on Amazon last week.

The availability of this kind of information has some people grabbing torches and exclaiming how “creepy” digital marketing has become, but it really excites me. From my point of view, knowing more about you means that I can serve info to you if my product is relevant and quit bugging you if it isn’t. This mindset, combined with the rising popularity of inbound marketing (aka “permission marketing”), is actually great news for consumers. Marketers don’t want to cold call you during dinner anymore. They want to offer products and services that are important to you, and they want to gain your trust by providing you with extras like valuable content and free trials.

MW: What challenges have you seen in higher ed in digital advertising?

CW: Anyone who works for a public institution knows that budget is always a challenge. Every year, higher ed marketers are expected to accomplish more with fewer resources than the year before. Luckily, new digital tools are becoming more abundant and easier to access, but with so many channels and never enough money to try them all, building a strategy can be challenging.

Another challenge I’ve faced specifically with the execMBA has been audience analysis. Working with a new program since its inception has been almost like working for a start-up, only within the context of a huge established institution. Our program has a fairly uncommon format and could appeal to anyone from any industry in the US or even abroad, so figuring out where to start with market identification and segmentation was tough for our team. We knew what we were offering would fill a gap, but reaching those people in a strategic way is an ongoing process. We’re always tweaking targeting and still occasionally stumble upon an entire segment that we’d never thought of, but for whom our program is a great fit.

MW: What are you most excited about for Converge 2015?

CW: Working in a business school, I’m always pushing to make our processes more business-like and less higher-ed-institution-like. So I’m looking forward to a higher ed conference that won’t be attended by only folks in higher ed. Hearing from experts from companies like Google and HubSpot will be so valuable, and I think it will be a different experience than what I’ve had at other conferences. I’m excited about fresh perspectives and getting real feedback on ideas, and I’m hoping to leave with a list of specific tactics to try in 2016.

Plus, I’ve never been to New Orleans.

MW: Attend Converge 2015 to hear Caitlin and many other great speakers. We hope to see you there!