Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2019

January. And a Happy (and successful) New Year to everyone.

The Call for Papers for the eduWeb Digital Summit (Philadelphia, 29-31 July) is open until February 1. Share your experience and expertise. Check the presentation details.

2019 reading list: Gerry McGovern’s new book: Top Tasks – a How-to Guide published in November. Read the first chapter here.

Updating your website in 2019? Set priority improvements 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 690+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at and start with Gerry McGovern’s report on “Universities: Still living in the bubble.”

7,350+ people get my daily marketing updates on Twitter at

And now here are your January marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: “The Power of Laughing at Ourselves at Work”

Not a single cartoon, but an 8-minute TED talk video from Tom Fishburne, replete with cartoon examples from his Harvard Business School days through various marketing positions, to his own company.

Laughing at ourselves will make us better marketers in 2019. Share the video with your marketing team.
2017 IPEDS Admissions Data: Compare up to 10 Schools

IPEDS admissions data for 2017 was released last fall and Jon Boeckenstedt at De Paul University has made it easy to compare your data with that of up to 10 real competitors or those you aspire to compete with.

Start collecting and comparing data at “2017 Admissions Data: First Look.”
Recruiting for Online Programs: Follow the “WASPS”

If you are recruiting for online programs, you have by default 4 competitors that are spending large marketing budgets to run ads for online, TV, and radio efforts. Jens Larson at Eastern Michigan University has collectively branded these as the “WASPS” and reports that “WASP marketing is everywhere.”

Monitor your competition. Start by becoming an inquiry (and compare the inquiry forms and website auto responses) at Western Governors UniversityArizona State UniversitySouthern New Hampshire University, and Purdue University.
Affordability Content: Podcast with Calvin College

Calvin College in 2014 created an excellent website page aptly termed “Cutting the Price Tag” with data on costs and outcomes of an education at the college. I’ve used that as a Link of the Week selection. Few colleges have anything as marketing strong as this.

Learn about the planning and results of this innovative content in a podcast interview by Stephen App with Calvin’s Nate Hibma. If how to best approach the “affordability question” is a marketing concern at your school, listen to “Getting Transparent about the Cost of College.”
The “Post Millennial Generation”: A Pew Research Center Demographic Report

Defined as “today’s 6- to 21-year olds,” Pew reports that these students are on track to be “the most diverse, best educated generation yet” based on detailed comparisons with Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers at the same age.

You’ll find details that include regional differences, high school graduation rates, plans to attend college, and more when you visit the Pew Research Center report.
Web Content: Killing FAQ Sections

FAQ content still is common on college and university websites. That’s a pity. If a question is indeed frequently asked (and often, as in “What is your mission?” it is not) it should be added as regular content easily found by potential students (and anyone else) as they make a website visit.

If people on your campus resist eliminating FAQs, check the easy-to-scan headings and content summaries introducing 18 anti-FAQ positions at “Evidence against FAQs.”

One of my favorites, from New Zealand: “We don’t use FAQs. If you keep asking us the same questions, we need to rewrite the content.”
Presidential Compensation: The Chronicle Report

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on total compensation for 559 private sector presidents and 252 public sector counterparts in “Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges.”

You’ll see “base pay,” “bonus pay,” and “other pay” where applicable. Each president is “Compared with Similar Institutions” and “Compared with Others at this Campus/System.”
Hiring New Employees: Colleges Not Keeping Up with Changing Criteria?

A research report from Ithaka S+R finds that employers are moving away from traditional criteria used to evaluate potential employees, including new college graduates. The reason? Traditional criteria don’t give sufficient insight into a candidate’s qualification for an open position.

This isn’t good news re how colleges are working with students on a key college choice element. One quote: “Key players in the ecosystem, including higher education administrators… often seem to ignore many of the specific competencies today’s employers are measuring as well as the advanced methods by which their new assessments are capturing skills.”

More on how to show students and potential students that your college can prepare them for career success in “Mapping the Wild West of Pre-Hire Assessment.”
Landing Page Conversion: A Guide for Beginners

What landing page elements are most important in creating desired conversions? Even for experienced people there is value in stepping back and reviewing detailed recommendations on page elements to consider for maximum success.

That’s what you’ll find in “What is a Landing Page? A Beginner’s Guide to Generate Conversions.”

Compare the advice here, for instance, with this landing page from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School used in a recent online ad asking potential accounting students: “You’re ready for career growth? Why hold back?”
New Logo Plan: Another One Bites the Dust

When and why is a new logo needed? Unless you have evidence-based reasons to show that a current logo is damaging effective marketing, why venture into the dangers (and costs) lurking in the swamp of logo replacement?

That swamp claimed recent efforts at Mount Holyoke College. The Vice President, Communications and Marketing, responds with a detailed review of what went wrong. New efforts will include creating a “formal student design advisory board.” The agency creatives will love that.

In essence, we “listened but did not hear” student comments during the development phase in “Logo Proposal Community Response.”
Most Popular Topic in December Newsletter: “Forget the Funnel” in Admissions Marketing

The “funnel” concept always was misleading. Some people actually believed that the more inquiries added during a recruitment season, the more students might enroll. That leads to excessive expenditures on list purchases and contact costs.

For a new perspective on replacing the “funnel” strategy, see Sean Carton’s “10 Full Circle Marketing Steps” in “Forget the Funnel.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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