Understanding Your K-12 Marketing Success Metrics

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13 Minutes

Techniques, Tools and Sharing Your Results

Measuring success in marketing is a notoriously difficult but equally important part of the job. With so many different tools, techniques and variables to measure, knowing which metrics to focus on and how best to measure them can be dizzying. Getting it right means you can double down on what’s working and dial back on what isn’t. Getting it wrong can leave you chasing the wrong metrics, or using the wrong tools to measure them, leading to poor decisions and guesswork. In this article, we will be taking you through everything a marketer in the K-12 space needs to be able to choose and measure the right metrics and leverage this data to improve your marketing efforts. 

Actionable Vs. Non-Actionable (Vanity) Metrics

Vanity Metrics vs the relationship journey

The first step toward building a better marketing strategy is knowing which metrics are actionable and can inform future strategy and which metrics may look good but don’t offer any useful information on what to do next or how you can do better.

While vanity metrics are still important, the difference is that you can’t use these metrics to better inform your strategy. For instance, you can’t directly increase your page views but by focusing on building awareness and engagement, page views will follow. In other words, increases in vanity metrics are the result of focusing on actionable metrics.

Imagine an Olympic sprinter who is focused solely on measuring their fastest sprints. Faster sprints may ultimately be her goal but what can she do with this data? If she focuses instead on measuring and optimizing her nutrition, time spent training and recovering, the faster sprint times will come.

So when it comes to choosing marketing metrics to focus on, it’s much better to identify your actionable metrics and work to improve those.

Gathering Your Data

Once you’ve decided what your key metrics are, you will need to use both passive and active research techniques to get a better understanding of your data.

Here are some effective techniques and tools you may find helpful.

Active Research

Research techniques available to use

Active research involves proactively collecting data from your respondents. Some examples are:

Empowerment Evaluation

Providing an opportunity and space for the community to showcase their knowledge and expertise instead of positioning yourself as the expert. An example of this would be asking your school district community for feedback in the context of a focus group or asking questions on social content.

Intercept Research

Intercept research is a commonly used mode of marketing data collection that involves “intercepting” respondents as they interact with the thing you wish to collect data about. For instance, if you want feedback about the school district website’s UX, you may wish to include a pop-up survey asking visitors a few simple questions about their experience.

50 People – 1 Question

This approach involves posing the same question to 50 different people and recording their responses, typically through video, though it may be used in a variety of media.

Talking Circles

An alternative to a focus group where people take turns discussing the question at hand. Ensure everyone has the chance to be heard, maybe by using something like a talking stick and a timer. This approach is especially useful for contentious issues.

Multi-Lingual Focus Groups

This involves conducting research in a multi-lingual setting and seeing if there are differences in communicating answers. You might consider researching cultural differences and finding a common ground for getting the same message across in various languages. Ensure that when using this approach you conduct the focus group in the first language of the attendants,

Automatic Data Collection

Rather than actively gathering data, you can also use software designed for automatic data collection that will record metrics related to your audience’s online activity. Some examples are:

Google Analytics (or alternatives)

If you want to measure your website visitors' behavior, Google Analytics will allow you to measure page views, bounce rate, average time spent on-page and a range of other metrics that will help you analyze and adjust your marketing efforts. Your CMS or communications platform will ideally have similar functionality so that you can keep track of important metrics in one platform

Google Search Console

While Google Analytics can tell you what your visitors do once they are on your site, Google Search Console tells you how your site is performing in search engine results, which keywords your visitors searched for or how they landed on your site

Email Opens

While many marketers will focus on subscriber counts, this is a great example of a vanity metric. If your subscribers aren’t engaged, they’re less likely to open their emails. Keeping an eye on your email opens is a much more actionable metric to focus on and can tell you a lot about how engaged your community is, as well as give you feedback on how effective your subject lines are

Email Clicks

If you want to know how engaging your emails are, you’ll need to keep track of your email clicks. If your clicks are low, the reason is likely that your copy is not addressing your community’s needs or you don’t have a strong enough call to action. Clicks are an even stronger measure of engagement as they are looking at direct interaction with your content


Tools to help you with your marketing success

Next, you will need to find the right tools to gather and measure your data.


This platform can assist with crowdsourcing answers from your audience (or groups that are similar to your audience), to answer any question you may have for them in real-time. ThoughtExchange enables you to connect with your audience and participate in live events to exchange thoughts with one another and ultimately learn what is most important to your community.


Qualtrics provides software to facilitate all your research needs, from sourcing respondents, building surveys, analytics and reporting. As simple as designing a survey, selecting a sample then processing and displaying the results, Qualtrics makes it easy to conduct research using a single platform.

Google Forms

If you need a quick, easy and free platform for building a survey and tabulating results, Google Forms is your answer. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of other research and surveying solutions, Google Forms offers a simple solution if you want to conduct some basic research.

Survey Monkey

This online survey software is designed to help you to create and run online surveys that can easily be shared with other people. Results can be viewed as respondents fill the surveys out.

What To Do With All That Data

What to do with all the data

Now that you have that data, what can you do with it? Knowing what the school and district community are concerned about and what they want to know from you is only the first step. Here are some things you can do after you’ve collected your data.

Share your Findings with the Community

It’s important to share the data you have accrued from your research with the school community and address any common feedback, concerns or ideas they may have. This can be done via some of the following:

Improve PR

Look for similarities in feedback from audience members and address them directly. This will help you to build stronger relationships.

Blog About It

Create a blog segment dedicated to the data such as the number of views or downloads, take your findings and expand on them, answer the questions people posed, or share your response to the sentiments expressed. Explain what the data means for the future and its impact on any changes.

Create an Infographic

An infographic is a visual simplification of concepts that would otherwise be too complex to understand in just text, bring all the data you gathered into one easy to understand place. Using minimal text and images can help people of all backgrounds understand the results.

Publish Articles

Writing articles about related subjects. Similar to writing blog posts, but much more in-depth, and potentially published research. This is a much longer-term approach to utilizing your data and will require calculated research and planning.

Give Data Back to Your Audience

Let your audience know what you found and how it can be useful; share in quick social posts answers to common questions. Explain to your audience the impact of the data and how it will bring about changes.

Do a Webinar

Webinars can be used as a dynamic and effective tool to create awareness and insight, they also let you take a deeper dive into the data that you found and your next steps with your results. It can be easier to talk about it as opposed to writing about the data. It provides a deeper connection with your audience by better explaining its relevance.

Make Changes Based on your Findings

Using both your active and passive research results, you can begin to optimize your marketing strategy based on your findings. For instance, if the data shows that your website bounce rate is high, you may want to update your site to make it look more appealing, or easier to navigate. Or if survey results find that your school community wants an easier way to stay informed, you may want to provide them with a mobile app so that they can easily stay connected with the latest updates and announcements from the school board.

Justify your Efforts

Measuring marketing efforts is often difficult, and without feedback on what is working and what isn’t, it can be difficult to justify future projects or plans. If you want to be able to justify a new hire, more resources or time to be allocated for a new project, having the data to give grounds for it will be essential.

Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

Now that you have all the tools and insights that you need to start measuring your success metrics, it’s time to put it all into action. With a better understanding of what your school community wants from you, you will be able to improve your marketing efforts and make the right adjustments so that your strategy is tailored to your community’s needs. Once you have all of this right, the next step is to use an all-in-one communications platform like SchoolBundle to implement your new and improved marketing and communications strategy, so that you can make the changes you need with ease.

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