Valuable User Experience (UX) Web Insights for Education #2: Filtering

Estimated read time – 3 minutes

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User Experience Map

Prequel – Using UTM Codes
Part 1 – Setting Up for Success
Part 2 – Filtering
Part 3 – User Event Tracking
Part 4 – Using the Data to Inform Improvements

This is the second in the UX insights for education series. You will want to read the first post about setting yourself up for success before coming back to this. 

Once you have Google Analytics (or your preferred analytics platform) installed you will also want to make sure you have clean and insightful data coming in. There are two main ways to do this: filters and event tracking. One example would be using a filter to make sure sources and mediums are standardized. If you’re using custom UTM on links you might see the same source or medium show up twice, once capitalized and once not. You can add a filter to change these to a standardized casing. 

To set up a filter you will need to open the Admin tab and in the View section you will select Filters. When you first start using filters it’s recommended to create a new view to test filters before adding them to your primary view. It’s also good to maintain an unfiltered view of all of your traffic, just in case.

The Filters menu can be found in the right hand View column in the Admin panel.

Here are a few suggestions for filters you can try out in your test view.

Filter: Force case

The first filter to try is also the easiest. You can force the source, medium, or campaign to be upper or lower case using a custom filter. Select Lowercase or Uppercase in the custom filter type and choose the field to act upon. This will ensure that Niche and niche will be treated as one source rather than two.

Filter: Show the full URL

Who enjoys looking at traffic from “/” or “/apply” when going through your analytics? You will constantly be fielding questions from others on campus about what pages they are. You can display the full URL in Google Analytics using a little more complicated filter.

This will require the Advanced filter to pull in the hostname to preface the request-URI that is displayed in Google Analytics. This filter overwrites the request-URI, so it’s extremely important to use this only in a test view first. This will make your reports and dashboards easier to read and provide more value when shared with those who don’t live in the Analytics.

Filter: Aggregate social media

Several of the big social media sites use multiple domains, which winds up dividing their traffic across several lines in your reports. If you have ever spent time adding together m.facebook, l.facebook, lm.facebook (and the 40 others that have been seen) you will know the headache this causes. There’s a good reason they do this, it’s a process called link shimming that checks links to make sure they are not malicious before sending users over.

This filter uses the Search and Replace filter and regex code to combine several subdomains into one. Over time there may need to be edits as different subdomains crop up. Here are three that may be of use for you:

Use the Search and Replace filter with the Source filter and the search string ^.*facebook\.com$ and the replace string of facebook.
Use the Search and Replace filter with the Source filter and the search string ^.*instagram\.com$ and the replace string of instagram.
Use the Search and Replace filter with the Source filter and the search string ^.*pinterest\..*|^pinterest\..* and the replace string of pinterest.

There are a lot of other filters you can use, such as removing internal traffic (which I prefer to do with segments, more on that in the next part) and doing a search and replace on terms. If you would like to connect and talk more, you can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter


Will Patch

Prior to coming to Niche in 2019 Will served 9 years at Manchester University in roles as an Admissions Counselor, Associate Director for Admissions Operations, Social Media Coordinator, and ultimately as Digital Strategist. Will surfaces tactical insights from user behavior and surveys to help higher ed build recruitment strategies. In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, AMA Higher Ed, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.

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