Colleges should closely track their web site's "bounce rate," Joly said.

Digital marketing guru Karine Joly told a group of college technology officials that it’s time for them to stop relying on gut instincts when devising ways to increase web traffic and start relying on data that can attract prospective students online.

Joly spoke during a June 8 session at the annual EduComm conference in Las Vegas, where 800 campus IT officials and staffers attended workshops and keynotes addressing the latest in education technology. The conference ended June 9.

Joly, founder of Higher Ed Experts, an online service offering professional development, released a survey in May showing that three out of four university IT officials said they spent fewer than two hours a week on web site analytics, or studying their school’s web site traffic, including who is visiting the site and which search words guide them to the site.

Ninety-five percent of survey respondents said they track their college web site’s traffic, and 88 percent said they use the popular Google Analytics tool to do so.

But if daily visit numbers aren’t examined, Joly said, colleges and universities could overlook important trends such as the dreaded “bounce rate,” which measures visitors who click away from the college’s web site after viewing one page. Even if web traffic increases, the trend is not nearly as positive as it seems if many of those visitors “bounce” away after a few seconds.

“Analytics is like exercise,” she said. “We know it’s good for our health, but we think it’s hard. … Because we think it’s hard, we prefer to sit on the couch.”

Read the full story on eCampus News.