Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… November 2019

November. With high school student recruitment continuing in full swing we suspect more than a few schools still are planning how to adopt new recruitment steps following the change in NACAC guidelines on what new enticements are acceptable and what primary competitors are introducing.

The Call for Papers for the 2020 eduWeb Digital Summit opened last week and runs until January 15. The 2020 event is August 3-5 at Utah’s Snowbird Resort. See the proposal details.

Improving the marketing power of your website? Believe in the proverbial “continuous quality improvement”? Find out what potential students like/dislike about your site. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach.

Join 765+ 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. Really.

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

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

And now, your November marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Always Be Testing… with Caution

Yes, A/B testing is good. And yes, too much testing can lead to paralysis. Cartoonist Tom Fishburne explores the outer limits. Especially for the data mavens on your marketing team: “Always be Testing.”
Digital Admissions 2019: Research from mStoner and TargetX

Evaluate how you have devoted resources in your high school student recruitment plans after you read the results reported in this 32-page slide deck.

You’ll find, for instance, that 92 percent of the students responding said a college website was more important in their college search than college social media sites. You’ll see a reaffirmation that academic program content is the most important element on your site… followed closely by cost of attendance and financial aid content.

More (video, email, texting) to guide your recruiting efforts at “Digital Admissions 2019.”
Recruiting Online Students: Lessons from Southern New Hampshire University

If recruiting students to online programs is an important part of your enrollment plan, you’ll want to compare your efforts against those in place at online giant SNHU.

One element stands out as a measure of resource commitment: SNHU calls 98 percent of new potential students within 3 minutes of the time they identify themselves at the website. In other words, before they leave the site. That effort is part of a $139 million marketing budget.

More details are at “Marketing for a Massive Online University.”
Key Marketing Element: 7 Steps to Get Potential Students to Complete an Inquiry Form

A potential student does a Google search and ends up on your website. Another potential student responds to your online advertising and goes to your landing page. The next step is key to marketing success. Will they identify themselves and complete your inquiry form?

From Terminal Four we have a 7-step check list to make sure your inquiry form is as marketing-friendly as possible. The first step is widely violated in higher education, especially for high school students: “Minimize the number of fields.” The longer your form, the fewer people will complete it.

In that minimalist effort, also attend to #5: “Distinguish optional and required fields.” Best of all, try not to use any optional fields to keep forms as brief as possible.

Check your inquiry forms against the full list at “Optimizing forms – insights for designers, admissions and marketing teams.”
College Admissions: Reduce Stress, Promote How Easy It Can Be

Might there be a marketing advantage for colleges and universities to promote right on the home page what percent of applicants are admitted? At most colleges it is over 50 percent.

A US News article reviewed how potential students (primarily high school students) are admitted to college. Quotes are used from Creighton University and Roanoke College that each admits just over 70 percent of applicants. And that’s what you’ll see if the Google each school and check the data in the right- hand column.

Neither Creighton nor Roanoke promotes that acceptance figure on the home page. Or the admissions page. How about putting the admit rate together with a link to a freshman class profile where everyone can see it right away. “We accept 71 percent of our applicants. If you match this profile, you’ll likely be admitted.”

Will relieving admissions anxiety and stress produce more qualified applicants?

See “How Colleges Choose Which Students to Admit.”
Branding vs. Propaganda: What Really Builds Brand Appreciation

“Every time a customer can find something quickly and easily, that’s branding… Transparent pricing is branding.”

Wise words from Gerry McGovern in an article that in essence says that the best way to improve your brand reputation is to deliver what people want you to deliver as they evaluate you. In higher education, transparency in net price, for instance, is unicorn-rare. (If you skipped it, see mStoner/TargetX link above.)

Explore further at “Branding doesn’t have to be propaganda.”
Best Global Universities: Search by Region, Country, City

If you’re addicted to ranking reports, you’ll want to visit the global universities report from US News.

After you check the overall rankings, you can search by 5 world regions, the countries within them, and individual cities within them.

Start at “Best Global University Rankings.”
Social Media Evolution: 2002 – 2018

Take just a few minutes to watch social media sites rise and fall in membership in a dynamic presentation (with a loud sound track) from Friendster to the present. Stop at any year of special interest.

Facebook takes the lead in 2010 and holds it through 2018, with YouTube not far behind.

Watch the action at “Evolution of Social Media 2002 – 2018.”
Website Links: 4 S’s to Encourage Clicks

The Nielsen Norman folks have a quick 3-minute video to help make it more likely that potential students will move easily through your website.

See the alternative suggestion to this link from one university website: “Restoring Vision and Hope.”

Make your links more Specific, Sincere, Substantial, and Succinct after you visit “Better Labels for Website Links.”
Most Popular Topic in October Newsletter: The Need for Website Speed

Google stats are clear: the longer you make people wait for your website to download, the more people will leave before it does. Bounce probability increases 32 percent between 1-3 seconds. 90 percent between 1 and 5 seconds.

The “need for speed” in successful online marketing is real. Share “This is ridiculous. I’m Outta Here.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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