Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… October 2019

October. And the fall recruitment season for those shrinking high school graduate numbers goes into full swing. After the new September changes in the NACAC “good practices” recruitment guidelines we’ll be watching for competitive innovations starting anytime now.

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.

Right now, I’m reviewing 200+ extra comments added by 400+ CCI survey respondents answering the question: “If you could change one thing about our website, what would you change and why?”

Join 760+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at See how University of Missouri sorts 215 student tasks to 12 Top Tasks and 36 “Most Popular” and then 167 others. On a single web page.

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

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And now, your October marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Speed Counts in “The Reality of Page Load Times”

If the folks who create and maintain your website don’t pay attention to how fast your site downloads, have a talk about the marketing impact of slow sites after everyone reads this Tom Fishburne cartoon.

Share “This is ridiculous. I’m Outta Here.”
College Comparison Tool: College Insight for Marketing Advantage

The opening page speaks to “research analysts” and “policy advisors” without mentioning potential students but this also is a fine place for college-bound students to compare stats on colleges in their possibilities group.

It was easy to find, for instance, comparative data on two Michigan liberal arts colleges on the College Spotlight page for affordability points including loan debt of graduates, percent of financial need met, percent of students with financial need… and much more. Enter the name of your college and expand the result to add your competitors.

For marketing info on your competitors and more, explore “Find the Data You Need.”
College Rankings: Impact of New Carnegie Classifications

When the Carnegie Classification minders at Indiana University changed the classification criteria earlier this year many universities were elevated to a “national” status. And that changed the results in rating formats like US News and Washington Monthly.

How do schools compare in the two rankings? Robert Kelchen lists the differences for 7 universities (including Santa Clara, Elon, and Gonzaga) in a short blog post that includes a link to many more comparisons. For some schools, it makes a difference who rates you. For others, not so much.

Start with the blog article, “How the New Carnegie Classifications Scrambled College Rankings.”
College Rankings: The Wall Street Journal

Need another ranking of colleges and universities to add badges to your website? The WSJ rankings are out with an emphasis on “success of students after graduation.” Harvard is ranked #1. And three other Ivies are in the Top 5.

Find your new badge at “The Top U,S. Colleges.”
Advertising to Gen Z: 7 Steps from Target Marketing

Gen 7 people born after 1997 live in a different world than Millennials. Compare your marketing plans with Target Marketing recommendations that start with “Authenticity” and end with “Brands.”

Visit “7 Steps to Advertising to the Emerging Gen Z Consumer.”
Expensive Online Programs: A New Deferred Payment Plan

Do many students you are recruiting to online programs fail to enroll because of the price?

Simmons University is trying a new approach for people interested in a $67,000 online nursing program. Pay “up to” 50 percent of the cost after graduation, with an annual cap (10 percent of gross income). No interest or other fees.

That payment plan might, of course, apply to any online program where initial cost is an enrollment barrier. More about the details at “A Graduate Program’s Twist on Alternative Financing.”
Price as a Marketing Tool: “How Central Stacks Up” with 5 Competitors

Colleges and universities seldom use the “price” part of marketing in public view on websites. Central College became an exception when it announced a $20,000 tuition cut.

Along with the usual information on a “Your Financial Aid Guide” page now appears a “How Central Stacks Up” section with tuition + room + board prices for Central and University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, Simpson College, and Wartburg College.

A quick scan shows that the price at Central is now much closer to the public universities than to the private sector schools. Check for yourself on Central’s financial aid guide page.
Video Marketing: The “Craft Brewing” Certificate at Regis University

What skills will you learn? What type of job might you find after earning the certificate?

Listen to what an array of successful graduates report at the 3 minute video opening the page at “Certificate in Applied Craft Brewing.” Short, believable stories from real people at their place of work. A format suitable for a great variety of programs.

Marketing lessons? Don’t bury your program video in a side column or low on the page. Put it front and center for immediate viewing. Don’t over produce. Keep things real.
ASU Online: Replacing One Experiment with Another

People pay attention to what’s happening at Arizona State Online.

Thus, this news: An open admissions program started in 2015 (Global Freshman Academy) aimed at new ­undergraduates has been reduced to four remaining courses. Why? Results. Since starting, 373,000 people enrolled, 8,090 completed a course with at least a “C” grade, 1,750 paid to earn credits and less than 150 entered an ASU degree program. The program isn’t working as planned.

ASU is replacing this with a new “Earned Admission” program. Admission is still “No application. No transcripts.”  Cost is a low $400 per course, payable after completion. Completing courses with at least a 2.75 GPA can earn admissions to an ASU degree program. The goal is fewer students starting and more enrolling for a full degree.

Nice review from Inside Higher Ed is here. Details of the new program are at “Earned Admission.”
Mobile Marketing: Large Devices Preferred for Difficult Tasks

No doubt that people prefer to use smart phones for many tasks performed online. But the Nielsen Normal usability folk have also found in recent research that many people prefer to use a larger screen device for complex tasks. In the higher education student recruitment world, think FAFSA completion.

Keep these findings in mind as a potential student moves through the recruitment cycle. More on the Nielsen Norman results at “Large Devices Preferred for Complex Tasks.”
Employment Opportunities

Chief Enrollment Officer at Bluefield State College

Director of Graduate Admissions at Mercy College
Most Popular Topic in September Newsletter: Are Chief Marketing Officers Obsolete?

Reflecting “a crisis of confidence in marketing in general” cartoonist Tom Fishburne reviews alternatives with increased responsibilities: Chief Growth Officer. Chief Experience Officer. Chief Brand Officer. See “a CMO by any other name.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

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