Case Study: Graduate School


Our client is a high-growth online education venture that partners with prestigious graduate degree programs. It created and managed marketing websites for each online degree program and was responsible for optimizing acquisition tactics for each. It deployed Google Analytics to measure website behavior and to track leads, but had no way of knowing which traffic sources, content and other factors influenced prospective students who requested information and later applied and were admitted.


First, Empirical Path audited the Google Analytics implementation on the online degree site that our client managed in partnership with a top-20 Business School. We found some examples of visitor behaviors that were not tracked, including visits to application forms, form abandonment, social sharing, and rich media engagement. We also identified opportunities to clarify existing reporting, such as by segmenting content by categories, segmenting audience by landing page version, and tracking sessions that cross subdomains. We recommended ways to capture additional visitor data, such as past submission and application activity and more refined traffic source and campaign histories.

The most pressing need for our client was to link marketing channels, landing pages, and even technology used by prospects to their conversions. But conversions often occurred months after a website visit and lead form completion, and the key conversions – application and admission – occurred offline entirely. Only the CRM system tracked an applicant through the entire process. What’s more, since spending a few years (and a few years’ salary) on a graduate degree is a high consideration purchase, many applicants made multiple visits to a program’s site before contacting the admissions office, so both “first-click” and “last-click” campaigns deserved credit for any successes.

Empirical Path customized Google Analytics, the lead capture form, and to add key web analytics data points to each prospect’s CRM record. We ensured that Google Analytics captured the landing and downstream pages that inspired form completion, plus detailed campaign parameters on marketing that drove the first visit and converting visit for applicants. We wrote custom JavaScript to append those dimensions to the other fields submitted with each request-for-information form. Finally, we customized to receive these analytics data points in dedicated fields for easier reporting.


Now our client can attribute conversions at every stage of a candidate’s consideration – visiting the site, requesting information, applying, and even attending – to the ways that candidate learned about the program. Marketing now emphasizes the channels, tactics, and messages that drive the prospects most likely to apply to the program. These analytics customizations can also be deployed across other university partners’ sites.

See examples of other Web Analytics or Not-for-Profit projects.

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