Talking Metrics With Tomorrow’s Managers (and you get to join the fun)

I had the pleasure of serving as a guest lecturer for Columbia College Chicago’s Marketing Technology students. Providing not only an introduction to Google Analytics, but building the critical connections needed to understand how it functions in a larger digital marketing plan is something you don’t have to me twice to talk about.

Adaptistration People 177Instead of traditional presentation slides, I developed a purpose-built microsite to serve as a dynamic resource for the lecture and you can tap into that goodness free of charge at

Once we secured the general concepts of digital data analysis, we moved into the larger structure of measurement strategy. We learned how to begin applying content analysis to determine where a website might fall into one or more of the five primary business objectives:

  1. Sell: generate earned (direct) and unearned (indirect) revenue.
  2. Lead Generation: develop mailing lists.
  3. Ads: promote programs and give reasons to return
  4. User Experience and Support: help patrons find info when they need it
  5. Branding: awareness, engagement, and loyalty; such as InstaFaceTweet social interaction

From there, we examined how to apply those same content analysis skills to identify both macro and micro conversion actions along with assigning custom goal values.

The activity portion was especially enjoyable. We broke the class into five groups, providing each with access to the real Google Analytics account for Adaptistration Jobs. The students were provided with key site parameters (existing unique user types with related registration requirements, e-commerce elements, and static support content) and were tasked with answering the following questions:

  1. Based on the site’s content, which of the five primary business objectives do you think apply and at what ratios?
  2. With a linear user path, how many platforms and related micro action scenarios can you identify that are capable of producing a successful macro conversion?
  3. Can you identify site elements that qualify for custom event tracking; if so, which ones?
  4. What types of implementation strategies can you identify based on the existing reports inside Google Analytics?

It was fun watching the students dive into the deep end using actual metrics data combined with their recently acquired academic knowledge.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the questions don’t have cut and dry answers and since there wasn’t enough time to perform an exhaustive review (and really, when do professional marketers ever have that luxury?), it was fascinating to watch each student group focus on different elements.

In the end, I hope this exercise brought the students a little closer to seeing the value in developing skill sets capable of allowing them to quickly and confidently review and assess any website they encounter and begin combining data analysis and implementation strategy to produce an effective measurement strategy.

Even though I’m not able to provide readers with access to Adaptistration Jobs’ analytics account, you can still have fun on your own via the first three questions using the concepts from the lecture microsite and all of Adaptistration Jobs’ frontend content.

To that end, feel free to post your insights in a comment below or send along via an email and I’ll be happy to provide some corresponding feedback.

Many thanks to Professor Ryan Smith for reaching out with the invitation and to the @ccc_business students for their attention and participation.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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