Heather Grimsley

About Heather Grimsley

Heather Grimsley is Beacon’s Marketing Manager, overseeing Beacon’s marketing efforts including our websites, email campaigns, and tradeshows. Heather brings over seven years of experience in Higher Education, most recently as the Marketing Communications Manager at Ithaca College.
10 04, 2018

Higher Ed Focus Groups & Surveys: Are You Listening to Your Students?

By | 2018-05-23T07:59:14+00:00 April 10th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education|Tags: , , , , |

Colleges and universities are in a constant state of change. Every year, graduates leaving for the “real world” are replaced on campus by an incoming freshman class.

While the demographic mix of incoming classes at a given school typically changes little year to year, the students themselves — their interests, use of technology, social media interactions — are prone to more frequent change.

So, how do higher education institutions keep up with the changing student profile? How do they ensure that their communication efforts achieve the wanted response? As with any marketing endeavor, understanding your target audience is essential to meeting your goals.

Focus Groups Are an Excellent Source of Qualitative Data

One way to get to know your audience is with an in-depth focus group interview. There are many focus group designs — dueling moderators, respondents-as-moderator, dual group, and more. But, the classic format involves one or two moderators leading the session, and a group of eight to 12 participants answering questions.

Focus groups provide the opportunity to gain deep insight into the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and opinions of your target audience. In a higher education setting, the audience can be students already on campus, incoming students, or even parents of students (since they have a tendency to know their student pretty well).

Of course, you want to be selective in choosing your focus group participants.

You’ll also want to make sure that the group you end up interviewing is demographically representative of your target audience.

Surveys Provide Measurable, Quantitative Data

Another way to gain insight into your target audience is through surveys. In a survey, a small percentage of your target audience provides answers to a predetermined set of questions. The questions can be multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, or open-ended. If the goal of your survey is measurable data, you’ll want to focus on the first three types and avoid open-ended questions.

Surveys can be conducted as an interview (in-person, telephone, or video conference) or as a questionnaire (via email, snail mail, or online session). To get the most out of your survey, the questions should take five minutes or less to complete and be available to participants for at least two weeks. Providing an incentive (cash, school supplies, or coupons) and getting the word out to student influencers (club presidents, student government representatives, etc) can help boost your response rate.

Applying Your Data

So, you’ve collected your answers. Now what?

The next step is to analyze the data and pull out relevant insights. With focus group results, you’ll need to carefully examine each person’s responses, organize the answers into categories, and evaluate how the data applies to your research goals. The following questions can help:

  • What big themes emerge from the responses?
  • Do the responses confirm a known, or lead to a new discovery?
  • Do the responses change your perspective?
  • What insights can be gleaned?

Because survey results are typically numerical, the analysis process is more straightforward. Simply tabulate your results and draw conclusions from the final data.

Need Some Help Getting Started?

Beacon has managed countless focus groups and surveys on behalf of our clients. These tools are important aspects of the research and strategic analysis we perform for any successful website development or redesign projects. For expert advice, reach out to our Digital Marketing Services team today, or call us at (866) 708-1467.

15 08, 2017

eduWeb 2017: Beacon Shares SEO & Accessibility, Compliance Insights

By | 2017-08-21T07:49:32+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , |

Considered by many to be the go-to conference for Higher Ed professionals in enrollment management, marketing and IT, the annual eduWeb Digital Summit was one of the year’s most highly anticipated events. This past August’s conference did not disappoint as over 500 attendees from 15 countries and 42 states converged on Boston for networking, presentations, and workshops designed to provide those in attendance with the tools needed to elevate their digital game to the next level.

SEO for Higher Ed

Beacon was pleased to play a significant role in this year’s program. On day one of the eduWeb conference, Andrea Cole, Beacon’s Director of Digital Marketing and Logan Ray, Beacon’s Lead SEO Strategist, shared their insights into Google Analytics, Google Site Search and the ways in which these tools can be leveraged to boost your school’s online presence and help you reach your marketing goals.

Entitled ‘No Results’ No More! Practical Strategies the Pros Use to Improve Site Search and SEO for Higher Ed, this hands-on workshop provided attendees with insights and expert instruction in:

  • Making their websites more visible through Google and internal site search.
  • Optimizing content for optimal visibility in same.
  • Monitoring results to drive improvement and avoid content theft and dilution.

In the event you missed the workshop or wish to review the content covered within, you can peruse the slideshow associated with the presentation below.

Accessibility for Higher Ed

Beacon was represented on day two of the conference by Keana Lynch, Director of UX Design & Development. Entitled Content and Email Marketing Track: The Administrators Guide to Accessibility: Compliance and Beyond, this presentation focused on the growing importance of accessibility and how one can achieve the required 508 compliance. This presentation touched on the major project phases of analysis, design, content, development, and testing.

If you missed Keana’s session, or wish to review the content covered within, you can view the slideshow below.

Andrea Cole, Logan Ray, Keana Lynch, and the entire Beacon team wish to thank eduWeb and all those who attended this year’s Digital Summit. We look forward to seeing you again next year!