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As I noted in my previous column on the digital web in higher ed, digital analytics is bound to play an increasing role this year. Whether they call it big data, business intelligence, or analytics, many decision-makers on campus have been converted to the power of the data-driven approach. Make a difference with web analytics at your institution by taking these three steps.

Can you believe it? I’ve been writing this column about digital marketing in higher education for seven years.

So much has happened since February 2006. Together we’ve witnessed the first blips of Web 2.0, the development—and demise—of many social networking platforms, and the rising tide of new media that later turned into the social media tsunami. Over the past seven years, we’ve also seen the end of the desktop browser compatibility war, the start of the battle for the mobile and responsive web, and growing interest for digital analytics in higher education.

After the love-hate relationship higher education had with online advertising for many years, it’s finally time to move on. Have your institution’s leaders noticed yet?  

Can you remember the times when PDF files were placed (dumped?) on your website to make their content available online? As you know, those days are gone. PDF-powered websites just don’t cut it anymore—if they ever did. While the file format battle has been won on the web, the content format war is raging in higher education and elsewhere.

Are there any people at your institution who still see writing for the web or social media as a copy-and-paste job from your brochures, viewbooks, or other catalogs? Hopefully not.

Have you heard about the analytics revolution in higher education? Ready or not, it’s coming to your institution—if it isn’t already there. Whether you work in an academic, business, IT, marketing, or web office, the data-driven movement is slowly but surely making its way in to the hearts and minds of top executives faced with serious strategic and financial challenges.

Think this is just wishful thinking from the higher education online analytics evangelist I’ve become over the past two years?
Educause begs to differ.

What difference can a year make? When it comes to the mobile web in higher education, it seems that it’s all it took to switch gears and respond to the needs of an increasing mobile user population on campuses—and elsewhere.

Unless you have the print issue of University Business in your hands, you might be reading these lines on a wide array of different devices: smartphone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry), laptop, desktop computer, tablet (iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook, Kindle Fire), game console (DS, Wii, Xbox, etc.), or widescreen TV. Maybe soon it’ll even be appearing on your refrigerator door.

Talk about options…

How many 140-character messages were tweeted today? How many posts have been published in the past 24 hours? How many photos have been posted, and liked, on Facebook since yesterday? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

Did you get the memo on website accessibility? With the latest legal and regulatory developments, you’d better make sure you did. The time is now for web accessibility in higher education. 

A year ago, at the presentation I gave at the EduComm conference and within this column (June 2010 issue of UB), I made the argument--and plea--for a web and social media analytics revolution in higher education. I explained why and how institutions should rely on analytics to stop making marketing decisions on opinions, guesses, and hunches and start embracing a more data-driven approach.

So, have these past 12 months made a difference? Has higher education finally warmed up to the possibilities offered by web and social media analytics?

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