Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… September 2019

September. At most colleges, first year students from high school are moved in and starting classes. A shrinking number of the total students in U.S. colleges and universities but always an important one as the competition for mostly older, online students at every level continues to grow.

Improving the marketing power of your website? Find out what potential students like and dislike about your current site before making changes. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach.

Join 740+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at and scroll for success stories of universities with a Top Task approach. University of Sheffield reduced website bloat by shrinking an academic program’s content from 120 to 50 pages. ­­­Learn how you might do that.

7,300+ people get my daily marketing updates on Twitter at

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And now, your marketing news and notes for September.
Cartoon of the Month: Chief Marketing Officer… about to be obsolete?

“I think the loss of the CMO… also reflects a crisis of confidence in marketing in general.” Possible alternatives with increased responsibilities? Chief Growth Officer. Chief Experience Officer. Chief Brand Officer.

More from Tom Fishburne at “a CMO by any other name.”
College Rankings: Washington Monthly ratings for 2019

The annual Washington Monthly ratings came out in August with a plethora of categories offering many opportunities for schools to claim credit on social media and elsewhere. And they are.

See what schools are ranked highest among “America’s Affordable Elite Colleges” and “Best Bang for the Buck Colleges” and “Best Colleges for Adult Learners.” Not to mention, best colleges for student voting.

Start checking yourself and your competitors at Washington Monthly 2019 College Rankings.
Admissions, NACAC & the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has exploded the “good practices” in college admissions adopted and maintained by the members of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC). If you are a NACAC member you’re received a letter stating why association leaders don’t plan to fight the DOJ on this.

In the proverbial nutshell, the DOJ maintains that NACAC student recruitment guidelines limit competition among colleges with the result that students are often forced to pay higher prices for a college education. And this is wrong. And must stop.

There isn’t room here to run through various opinions re the DOJ ruling. For an estimate of the consequences, see Jon Boeckenstedt’s 9 points about what to expect from this in his “A Future with a Different CEPP/SPGP.”

If you are not a NACAC member, the letter to members is here.

The NACAC convention starts September 28. It should be great good fun. I’ll buy one of Jon’s predictions made on Twitter… in 10 years people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Website Design: The “Layer-Cake” Pattern of Scanning Content

Creating website content that people want to read is important. Presenting that content is a style that lets people can quickly scan highlights might be even more important.

Sub-heads are the critical element. This Nielsen-Normal article tells us “How to Create Subheadings that Promote Effective Scanning” including using a different color from primary text and a different font size.

More at “The Layer-Cake Pattern of Scanning Content on the Web.”
Texting: 8 Examples for the Student Life Cycle

Here are 8 examples of how you might use texting to maintain contacts with students that started earlier in the recruitment process. The premise: students who are used to receiving recruitment-focused email will expect that communication style to continue after they enroll.

Start with a text from admissions announcing the impending arrival of an acceptance letter with a “congratulations” note from the student’s admissions counselor. Other examples you’ll find here include financial aid, career services, athletics, and fund raising.

Expand your texting efforts after you visit “Which departments should be texting?”
College Rankings: Are Test Scores All You Really Need?

You don’t really need to rank colleges by the long list of US News Report criteria. Just listing them by the test scores of entering students achieves very similar results. High SAT scores for new students are all you need.

That’s the finding reported in research by Jonathan Wei, assistant professor of education policy and psychology at the University of Arkansas. Reading the data another way might lead to the conclusion that the “best” schools are the ones with lower average test scores but high graduation rates.

“A college’s success may be less about the quality of its instruction and more about the talent it can recruit.”

For the details see “College rankings might as well be student rankings.” At least for US News.
Admissions Podcasts: Advice for Aspiring Leaders

If you’re building a career in admissions and aspire to a leadership position plan to listen regularly to Ken Anselment’s podcast series.

“The ALP is a series of one-on-one conversations with people who have been climbing the leadership mountain in the world of college admissions. Some are nearing the summit. Some are already there. But how did they get there? And what can other climbers learn from their mindsets, habits, and experiences?”

Two August podcasts are available now at “ALP: The Admissions Leadership Podcast.”
30 Presentations: The eduWeb 2019 Digital Summit

The folks at eduWeb have listed links to 30 presentations at the 2019 conference in Philadelphia. Marketers will find several to review from email marketing to social media communications to the new E-Expectations research results and more.

One of my favorites: “Leveraging Geo-fencing in Higher Ed Marketing” shows that direct marketing principles are alive and well in the digital age.

Visit the easy-to-scan array on Twitter.
Realistic Photos: A US News Example of What to Avoid

How often have we read that people of every age today have a special disdain for marketing efforts that don’t seem real? In that vein, check this “happy times” example of the joy on a young student’s face while reading the details of her financial award letter.

Review and change any similar silly examples on your website after you visit “Here are 10 things to know when reading your financial aid letter.”
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid: University of Rochester

“The dean will cultivate the talents of staff members in admissions and financial aid; enhance systems and structures to facilitate enrollment planning; and harness data and emerging technologies to hit enrollment targets and meet net-revenue goals.”

More details re the ideal candidate are at the “Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid” listing.
Most Popular Topic in August Newsletter 100 “Most Affordable Universities”

Top topic was a list of 100 “mid-size to large size” colleges and universities offering “exceptional value for students looking for a great education.” Needless to say, most were public sector schools. But not all.

Scan for net price and student size (and your competitors) at the list from Education Corner.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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