Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… October 2018

October. NACAC 2018 is over. Fall season recruitment for high school students now hits overdrive. Travel well. But, if you can, skip those high school lunch visits. Not many people at NACAC, it seems, think they are worth the effort.

In early summer, Gerry McGovern asked at a higher education conference in Spain: “Where are the authentic student reviews on university websites?” At Concordia University, Nebraska academic program content opens with real reviews from alumni and students. Seth Meranda, director of marketing and communication, tells the Concordia story re adding this rare content in a 2-part interview, “Rating academic programs for potential students.”

Updating your website? Set priorities after you find out what potential students like and dislike about your current site. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach. Visit “How it works” at

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And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: New buzzword, “360-degree customer experience”

Tom Fishburne casts a skeptical eye on a new buzzword in favor at many agencies… the need for a “360-degree customer experience” for marketing success. Laugh at what some call the new “holy grail” and 3 earlier related cartoons.
Pressure on Admission Directors: Inside Higher Ed/Gallup Survey Results

How do admission directors plan to cope with continued pressure to meet enrollment goals?

Link to full survey results and review highlights for merit awards, international recruitment, public and private sector interest in “full pay” students, low value for the “liberal arts” from both parents and students, and more at “Admission Directors 2018.”
Creating a Stronger Inquiry Pool: The role of “gated content”

Relatively few schools at either the undergrad or professional level employ “gated content” that requires a potential student to provide basic content information to access.

The argument here is that presenting possible students with calls-to-action other than the usual “ask for information” and “apply now” offers people something of value from the start of their “best school for me” research that sets your school apart from most others. In other words, the right gated content might bring people out of the shadows earlier and allow enrollment cultivation to start earlier.

The trick is using the right content. This article from eCity Interactive gives examples from the Haas School of Management at Berkeley, Northeastern University’s Graduate Studies division, the University of Wyoming, and Siena Heights University.

See “What is Gated Content and How Can Higher Education Leverage It for Lead Generation.”
Enrollment in Online Programs: Forbes tells the 2U story.

At a time when competition for students on online programs is intense, many schools are turning to third parties for recruiting success and program management.

The cost may seem high: for the Kenan-Flagler School at University of North Carolina, that’s 60 percent of revenue from the $124,000 MBA tuition cost. To earn that, 2U invested several million dollars to create an international program that now stands enrolls 938 students. Profits still are in the future.

Other clients include Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, and UC Berkeley. A list of 48 partner programs is here.

If you’re offering online Master’s programs and not using a third part to help your growth, see what you’re up against at “Inside U2, The $4.7 Billion Startup That Brings Top Schools to Your Laptop.”
Student Debt for 2017 Graduates: State by state, college by college

How does your college or university compare with your competitors for average student debt of 2017 graduating seniors?

Search the data from the Institute for College Access and Success to see average debt levels in public and private sectors. Start by selecting a state and you’ll see the data for most, but not quite all, schools in that state. Visit The Project on Student Debt.
Mobile Marketing: Google vs. Bing for Advertising

If you advertise online, chances are you spend more money on Google than on Bing. Maybe you don’t spend any $$ on Bing at all. Bing has, after all, a much smaller presence than Google. But might there be ROI opportunity if you take time to learn different Bing success elements?

Jens Larson, director of student communications at Eastern Washington University, believes that everyone should dip into the less used Bing ad system for a variety of reasons that he details in “Bing versus Google: Comparing Higher Ed Search Results and Ads.

If online advertising is important to you, read his in-depth analysis. “Especially if you recruit for graduate, continuing education or parent campaigns.”
Gen Z and Mobile: Desktops & laptops are still important

Yes, mobile is important. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Gen Z has abandoned desktop and laptop computers. eMarketer reports on a Gen Z survey that 60 percent prefer to make online purchases on a large screen device while 37 percent favor a mobile app or mobile browser.

That mirrors two CCI surveys in 2017 and 2018 of potential high school students for a private university and a regional public university. When asked “What device do you most often use to visit our website,” just over 60 percent in both cases reported using a large screen device, not a smartphone.

More on the eMarketer survey here.
Communicating with Parents: An 8-point guide

Parents play an important role in the college selection process of their children, especially in the opening stages. We all know that. Yet few colleges and universities have a parent communication plan as part of their recruitment effort. That was a mistake in 1998. And 2008. And still in 2018.

How to start? Mongoose Research presents an excellent 8-point guide for how to best communicate with parents of college bound high school students. Points covered include how to get contact info, when to communicate, and what to talk to them about.

Phone calls, social media, and print publications are less important than websites, email, and test. To help create your parents program, visit “Communicating with parents of prospective students.”
Facebook Advertising: Weaker for 18 to 29-year olds

If you’re thinking of advertising on Facebook for potential graduate or professional school students, Pew Research Center has some news to consider: 44 percent of “younger users” (18 to 19) have deleted the Facebook app from their mobile device.

More on Facebook changes at “Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook.”
Living Cost Estimates: Impact on Recruitment and Retention

How accurate are the living cost estimates given to students on your website? Among many schools located within the same county, costs estimates can vary widely. Costs that are too high promote deter people from applying. Costs that are too low put many students in financial difficulty after enrollment, creating lower retention levels.

Robert Kelchen has prepared a guide to “How to Improve Living Cost Estimates for Students” that reviews methods in use now with advice on how to conduct more accurate student surveys if that’s how you collect data.

How different are living allowance estimates? In the Chicago area, that number is $16,300 at Roosevelt University and $21,240 at National Louis University. In the Philadelphia area, the number is $18,365 at Drexel University and $14,720 at University of Pennsylvania.

Download a 15-slide presentation: “How to Improve Living Cost Estimates…”
Most Popular Topic in September Newsletter: Washington Monthly College Guide

If you haven’t visited yet, check the guide that bills itself as using alternative criteria to US News” “crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige.” Travel to 2018 College Guide and Rankings.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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