Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… December 2018

December. The holiday season is upon us. Early admissions deadlines are past us. And the closing months of the 2019 recruitment cycle for high school students are not far ahead. Intense times for applying tuition discounts, generating final campus visits, and counting enrollment deposits. Good luck to everyone.

The Call for Papers for the eduWeb Digital Summit (Philadelphia, 29-31 July) is open. Plan to share your experience and expertise. Check the presentation details.

Gerry McGovern’s new book: Top Tasks – a How-to Guide published in November. Read the first chapter here.

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

Forward this newsletter to a friend. Only email required here to subscribe.

Join 670+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership and scroll for stories of universities with a Top Task approach, starting with University of Dundee.

7,340+ people get my daily marketing updates on Twitter. Follow along at

And now here are your December marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Marketing Dashboard Perils & Pleasures

Data in marketing dashboards can be valuable. And it can be misleading. Tom Fishburne reminds us that “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts” in December’s Cartoon of the Month.
Online Enrollment Competition: Southern New Hampshire University Builds a Death Star

If your school is planning to increase or even maintain online enrollment over the next few years, distribute and discuss the Chronicle of Higher Education article that explores in great depth and detail the online enrollment and retention plans at SNHU.

Southern New Hampshire now enrolls 122,000 online students. Plans are to “nearly triple” that number over the next 5 years. Growth won’t come just from the U.S. Plans call for innovative new programs overseas as well.

The article by Goldie Blumenstyk reviews technology, facilities, operations, and evaluation methods fueling anticipated increases. SNHU is modeling itself as a “consumer focused” university, with techniques alien to how most of higher education operates. It makes no apologies for that.

Will online higher education soon be dominated by a few mega-size providers? Think Arizona State University and Western Governors University as primary SNHU competitors. Can smaller scale operations also prosper? Read “Meet the New Mega-University.”
State of College Admissions: 2018 NACAC Report

Here’s the annual report that everyone reads to mine results on their favorite topics, from early admissions to recruitment activity importance, to selectivity trends. And more.

How accurate are the results? Only NACAC members are surveyed. This year that resulted in responses from 493 colleges and universities for the Admission Trends Survey part of the report. And I was skeptical that only 20 percent of respondents said ability to pay was a factor in admitting international students. (That compares to just 1 percent who said it was a factor for high school students.)

The 40-page report is here.
Online Advertising Landing Page: Fresno State Features Stories. And more stories.

An ad with an email from University Business from Fresno State relied on a “Where bold begins” prompt to move people to a landing page featuring a selection of 8 easy-to-scan university stories. And an opportunity to opt-in to “Subscribe to stories” that only requires an email address.

How well do the stories relate to the “bold” theme? Would you sign up for notice of new ones? Decide for yourself when you visit the Fresno State landing page.
YouTube Videos: Key Steps for Better SEO Results

Most (all?) colleges and universities have videos posted to YouTube. How likely are potential students searching for particular topics on Google or YouTube itself likely to see your videos in the results?

Let’s skip past “Content quality comes first” and assume that your content is sterling. That means, among other things, that your videos are not just video version of self-congratulatory press releases.

At the end of this article by Ann Smarty is this key advice: Be sure to include a detailed text description of the video of up to 500 words, with special attention to the first 150 words that are visible before the “more” link. Both Google and real human beings are going to see this.

More at “How to Search Optimize Your YouTube Video.”
Christmas Book Gift: Demographic Analysis for Higher Education

Unless you work at an “elite institution” this book isn’t going to make you happy. But if you truly believe in future planning and want to hone your survival skills for the 2020s and beyond, ask your favorite person for a copy of “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education” by Nathan Grawe.

Find out if your president has a copy. If not, add that person to your Christmas list.

An intro to the book is at Johns Hopkins University Press.
Student Recruitment: Abandon the “Funnel” for 10 “Full Circle Marketing” Steps

Ancient ideas sometimes linger long after their value has vanished. That’s true of the “admissions funnel” concept based on a notion that the more inquiries you get at the start of a recruitment effort, the more students will enroll.

Sean Carton shares insights into why this is not only no longer true but might indeed hinder successful recruitment efforts by placing too much attention to first phase of recruitment and thus not devoting enough resources to marketing efforts from first step to final enrollment and beyond.

To better use your marketing resources, visit “Forget the Funnel” and the 10 “Full Circle Marketing” steps.
Privacy Policies: MBA Recruitment Example

MBA programs (and other professional schools) use the services of 2U for student recruitment and program delivery. You can see 53 2U partners here.

Using University of Denver as an example, note that potential students responding to an online ad from that school who want to review the privacy policy before submitting information will end up at a 2U privacy policy page.

Content is quite detailed about how information is collected, not only from the inquiry form itself but also from tracking visits to the University of Denver and online activity that includes Facebook and “other third parties.” Information may also be used to send recruitment information about similar programs that 2U thinks might interest you.

In this time of GDPR and new California privacy stipulations, compare your privacy policy with the details outlined by 2U on the University of Denver privacy policy page.
International Enrollment in the U.S.: Impact of Brand Strength

Enrollment of new international students in the U.S. fell 6.6 percent in 2017-18. But the decline was not spread equally among institutions. Decreases were reported by 49 percent responding, while 44 percent reported increases. Overall, schools with higher Carnegie Classification standing did better than lower ranked schools.

Enrollment changes by individual countries and academic programs are included in the Inside Higher Ed article.
Most Popular Topic in November Newsletter: Elon University Recruitment Ad Landing Page

Elon University in North Carolina advertised in online editions of the Boston Globe to bring traditional age students to apply for admission. The ad opens with a prompt to “Experience a place like no other” and a CTA to “Explore Elon.”

What did potential students who took action find on the landing page? Did Elon meet that “place like no other” claim? See for yourself when you visit the “Applying to Elon” landing page.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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