Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2020

January. And the proverbial “Happy New Year” to everyone as 2020 begins.

Planning your 2020 conference events? The Call for Papers for the 2020 eduWeb Digital Summit is open 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 “continuous quality improvement”? Find out what potential students like/dislike about your site before you change anything. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach.

Join 780+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at See Guy Stratermans new service from the Customer Carewords partnership that “can help Higher Education websites & intranets with identifying and measuring the user experience.”

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 January marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Reflect on “Brand Purpose” to Start the New Year

Branding is essential. But what’s the purpose behind a branding campaign? Join Tom Fishburne and explore the possibilities as 2020 begins. After the primary cartoon be sure to scroll down for past work on “Brand Laddering” and “Mission Statement” that is relevant today.

Focus your branding efforts with Tom’s help at “Peak Brand Purpose.”
Marketing Survey: Value of a College Education

Not really sure if this should lead a New Year list but Gallup has reported a major change since 2013 in the number of people who believe a college education is “very important,” from 70 percent to 51 percent.

More worrying for potential enrollment levels is that the change is “steepest among young adults,” 18 to 29. Among that group, the change went from 74 percent in 2013 to 41 percent in 2019.

More details by age, gender, ethnicity, party affiliation at “Half in U.S. Now Consider College Education Very Important.”
TuitionFit: Sharing Financial Aid Award Letters

Price competition in higher education? That’s not something that most colleges and universities want to encourage. But not everyone agrees. Three people with higher education experience have started a new website that allows potential students to compare real financial aid award letters shared by students at various types of schools.

The Twitter intro: “TuitionFit is a free online platform that allows college-bound students to share financial aid offers and create a single ‘Kelly Blue Book’ for college prices.”

Success will depend in no small part on how many students share their letters. Test how it works when you visit “Find the Best College Fit for the Best Possible Price.”
Year in Review: Higher Education Top 10 & Not So Top 10 Lists

Robert Kelchen at Seton Hall University has published his 7th annual top 10 lists for 2019 higher education events. To balance things out, he soon after published a list of “not top 10” events.

Some events apply to marketing, including #6, info on earnings and debt levels by academic departments and #1, on college closures and mergers. Most items include links to more detailed information..

Start with “The 2019 Higher Education Top Ten List” and move along to “The 2019 ‘Not Top Ten’ List in Higher Education.” Or do the reverse. Your choice.
Admission Yield Rates: Still Falling

Jon Boeckenstedt has updated a 2015 article on how and why admission yield rates continue to fall.

That particular news is not what’s most important here. What counts for enrollment and marketing professionals is the ability to sort the data in meaningful ways. You can, for instance, quickly compare public universities in your region or easily compare a group of your marketing competitors. Or, if someone insists, your “wish we were like these” schools.

Set reasonable expectations for your admissions yield. Review the data and create the comparisons most important to you at “Yes, your yield rate is still falling.”
Website Personalization: Prediction of Abandonment by 2025

If website personalization is on your discussion agenda for 2020 be sure to read the report from Gartner, Inc predicting that lack of ROI and ability to manage the required data will result in widespread abandonment by mid-decade.

Gerry McGovern has called personalization efforts “Ego, vanity and the latest toy.” Increasing the ease of top task completion will make people much happier about your website than personalization.

The Gartner view is at “Gartner Predicts 80% of Marketers Will Abandon Personalization Efforts by 2025.”

For more, see Gerry on “The great personalization con.”
Early Admission Benefits: Competitive Enticement Moves

Now that NACAC has agreed to change its “best practice” admission standards to allow schools to offer special benefits to potential students, what’s been happening?

An early December prediction in an InsideHigherEd article indicates that so far there’s not much to report. As nice as “guaranteed parking” might be we have to doubt that it is a benefit that will sway many final enrollment decisions.

More competitive efforts will no doubt surface. For now, start with “Ethical College Admissions: De-Fense!, or Defense Mechanisms.”
Test Optional Admissions: Indiana University Takes the Step

The test-optional trend re ACT and SAT exam results now seems a slow but inexorable movement.

Trustees at Indiana University have approved a policy change to allow each university campus to decide if it wants to adopt a test optional admissions policy. The rationale is explained at “Indiana University one step closer to test-optional admissions policy.”
Higher Education Perspective: Follow “Associate Deans” on Twitter

Sometimes it helps to maintain perspective on higher education, including marketing, by following those who poke fun at things we hold dear.

For instance, this report from the “Associate Deans” on Twitter: “Our $225,000 market branding consultant has narrowed the college’s new campaign to either ‘Learning, for a Lifetime’ or ‘A Lifetime of Learning.’ There will be a nonbinding faculty endorsement vote via Qualtrics.”

Join 56.2K followers for updates from the Associate Deans on Twitter.
Football Bowl Earnings: 2019 Individual Conference Earnings

Few colleges and universities make money from their football programs… but some do.

Forbes magazine presents major conference totals and how that’s distributed among conference participants at “College Football Playoff Payouts for 2019 Season.”
Most Popular Topic in December Newsletter: 10 Steps to Boost Direct Marketing Success

TargetMarketing reviews 10 direct marketing principles to help increase the percent of your inquiry pool the moves through to enrollment. My favorites include #1 (“Write in a Direct Response Style”) and #3 (“Don’t Allow Branding Guidelines to Interfere With Performance.”)

Boost enrollment conversions during a recruitment cycle when you follow “Why the 10 Principles of the Direct Marketing Mindset Still Matter.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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