Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… December 2017

December greetings. A rapid month indeed as the holiday season approaches and a new year beckons. To fine-tune recruitment efforts in 2018, this newsletter includes links to 3 marketing and recruitment research reports and 11 books to review for reading next year.

The 2017 edition of my Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial from the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, Creating Conversion Experiences to Gain Competitive Advantage, is online at SlideShare.

Join the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. Visit and request membership with 564 other higher education professionals.

Updating your website in 2018? First find out what potential students like and dislike about it. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points is yours with Gerry McGovern’s unique survey. Start at

Join 7,525+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your December marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Marketing to Millennials

Does it make any sense for marketers to think of “Millennials” as a single coherent group?

Tom Fishburne skewers that idea in notes that follow his cartoon.
2016 Admissions Data: Check on Your Competitors

A new edition of “Higher Ed Data Stories” from Jon Boeckenstedt lets you search public and private sector schools by 8 regions of the U.S. to see admit rates for men and women, SAT and ACT scores and much more gleaned from 2016 IPEDS data.

If you think admission to a private sector school is difficult, start at the bottom and scan upwards for those with admits rates from 100 percent to 75 percent. Jon’s latest report is here.
E-Expectations: The 2017 Survey Report

Whether or not you have heard a conference presentation on the 2017 E-Expectation survey from Ruffalo Noel Levitz, you will want to read the highlights and download a complete copy. Data is included for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

One of my favorite bits this year: About half of college-bound teens say they have opened an online ad when they “were aware of the school but had not yet visited the website.” Your best advertising will be in areas where you know you already have name recognition.

Note this caveat: If students “had never heard of the school,” the open rate falls to about 10 percent. If you plan to prospect in unknown areas for new students, control your expectations.

Find highlights and download a complete copy here.
Content Marketing: 11 Best Books in 2017

Start your professional reading in 2018 with books selected from 11 recommendations from the Content Marketing Institute.

You will find a detailed synopsis of each book that lets you easily select those that best match your personal interests and professional plans. My favorite was “Writing Without Bullshit” by Josh Bernoff.

Start your list after you scan the list.
Virtual Reality Marketing: Ready for Prime Time?

Virtual reality may not yet be a mainstream online activity but the marketing world is exploring the advertising and story-telling possibilities.

VirtualSky and OmniVert are agencies that provide VR marketing services. Be one of the first on your campus to visit each one. While your recruitment results do not yet require VR, be prepared for the first time someone asks about investing resources here.

OmniVert includes 36 case studies you can view on a regular computer. Some are ads, some are longer promotional videos. Most are name brands you’ll recognize.

VirtualSky is at and OmniVert is at
Email Marketing: 4 Success Metrics

Every year the E-Expectations surveys of college bound high school students tell us that email communications are important. But how to best measure success?

A short summary of success metrics from ClickZ repeats the basics: open rate, reply rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. The article correctly cites click-through, not open rates, as the most important indicator of a successful email.

To help boost success, I’ll add my usual plea here: Put a space between paragraphs in the email for easier reading. Check the basics metrics and the success steps for each metric. 
Digital Marketing Survey: 2017 Higher Education Report from Terminal Four

The latest in an annual survey series differs from others in having a more international participation rate. You will find, for instance, responses to a question on the impact of tighter visa requirements on international student recruitment.

Download your copy.
Mythbusting Enrollment Marketing: A December Webinar

After attending a session at the AMA higher education marketing symposium reporting the results of this 2017 survey, I have no hesitation recommending that anyone recruiting high school students leave their assumptions at the door and register for the December 12 webinar.

Not to give away the results, but the gap between what is important to potential students and what folks in enrollment marketing think is important is real. Find out how many gaps you have and plan to close them. Register for the webinar here.
Web Design: Impact of a Bad Icon

Icons are popular features on many higher education websites. But when icons are difficult to understand, they add complexity to the navigation experience.

The icon goal: instant understanding as soon as the eye falls on it.

The Nielsen Norman Group identifies 4 costs of bad icons and 4 benefits of good ones in “Bad Icons: How to Identify and Improve Them.”
Writing Right for the Web: Are Long Headlines Best?

Yes, long headlines draw more attention and lead to more clicks according to a 6-month 2017 study.

The lowest click through rate (.12% for headlines with 10 to 19 characters) increased steadily as length increased, reaching .43 percent with 90-99 characters.

Find an easy-to-read chart with results for 9 character clusters and link to the full research report.
Most Popular Topic in November Newsletter: The Future of Advertising

Laugh, cringe, maybe even cry a bit when you visit the Tom Fishburne cartoon.
Be a marketing champion on your campus

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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