Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… July 2020

July. And the fall future for colleges and universities isn’t any clearer now than it was when June began.

Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, wrote this on July 1: “Unfortunately, I’m convinced that this month will be one of the worst months that American higher education has experienced in a long time.” He’s been described as “almost eerily measured, calm, evidence-based and sober-minded.” More from Kelchen in a detailed Twitter thread.

Special attention to Kelchen’s closing comment: “July is going to be a brutal and exhausting month for an already beaten up higher ed community. But by acknowledging reality now at least we have time to prepare for the best fall possible.”

Join myself and special colleagues in a July 23 webinar sponsored by idfive: “Say what? Higher Ed Communications in the Coronavirus Age.” See the people who’ll try to answer 5 key questions (with time to ask your own) and reserve your spot here.

See the results below of a survey of 2021 high school seniors re the increased importance the year of college websites in student recruitment. 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 survey. Complex name. Easy survey. See “How it Works.”

Join 844+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Visit to see higher education’s best task-oriented alumni relations site. Request membership at

Follow along with 7,200+ people who 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 July marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: TikTok Brand Expectations

Yes, TikTok is hot right now in the social media world. But do marketers have realistic expectations of what they might achieve from a TikTok investment?

Share the insights of Tom Fishbourne after you visit “Brands on TikTok.”
National High School Seniors Survey: Create a Profile for Your School

The folks at SimpsonScarborough have been busy surveying high school seniors about their plans for attending college in the fall. National surveys are nice but the results don’t always have meaning for individual schools.

SimpsonScarborough gives you a dashboard to filter results to fit various student profiles. You can sort results by region, public or private sector interest, in-state vs. out-of-state, and more. Create a profile to best fit your school at COVID-19 National Survey.
Student Recruitment for 2021: Website Importance is Increasing

Carnegie Dartlet has released a survey hon how “rising” high school seniors will change recruitment habits before during the 2021 recruitment season. Marketers will want to pay special attention to the section on “College Choices and Communication Tactics.”

While websites have always been of primary importance, they will become even more important in the year ahead. About 75 percent rank websites as their first information choice, up from 66 percent a year ago. Nearly as many will be using “Google search.” Receptiveness to digital advertising was also strong.

See the relative rankings of 12 information sources and more survey results at “Rising Seniors: A Study of COVID-19’s Impact on the Class of 2021.”
Purdue University: Pricing the Cost & Raising Money for COVID-19 Protection

Purdue University was an early school to announce that it would open in the fall with in-class instruction. The cost of the needed protective equipment will be high.

Purdue has started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for protection costs. Examples of what’s being asked of donors: $3,000 for 20 virus tests; $1,250 for 50 anti-virus tests, and $532 for “individual student lab masks” for one semester.

The ongoing campaign had raised $351,286 from 933 donors as of July 6. More on the campaign and equipment pricing, including a video from president Mitch Daniels, at “Protect Purdue Initiative.”.
Email Marketing: Emojis in Subject Line Get Mixed Results

Nielsen Norman Group reports on a study attempting to find out if using emojis in email subject lines was beneficial or not. Results were mixed. People were more apt to select an email with an emoji from a long run of emails without them. But they were also less likely to take them seriously.

An NNG comment: “It’s possible that the blatant use of meaningless imagery for the sole purpose of making the email stand out above others is perceived by users as a gimmick or a cheap attempt to manipulate their behavior and get attention.”

For more to share with your marketing team, share “Emojis in Email Subject Lines: Advantage or Impediment?
COVID-19 and Legal Liability: Reviewing a Difficult Question

Should colleges and universities have legal protection against COVID-19 impacting their students (and faculty and staff) in a fall reopening? Whatever your opinion, the legal complexities are challenging.

Review the challenges to answering the question “What determines if a college is acting reasonably” presented by Inside Higher Ed in “Should Colleges Have Liability Protection?”
US News Rankings: Test Optional Schools Now Included

The “test optional” movement, accelerated by COVOD-19, is receiving a new boost as US News announces it will now rank schools that are not using SAT and ACT scores in making admissions decisions. US News had listed those as “unranked” since 2008.

Colleges covet the ability to boast about one type of ranking result or another from US News and other sources as an important marketing element. This will give additional cover to many non-elite schools to more in the test optional direction.

More on the policy change at “U.S. News to Start Ranking Test-Blind Schools.”
Laugh or Cry, Your Choice: The Vice President for Magical Thinking

Juliana Gray has created a not-so-mythical message re fall COVID-19 plans, writing as a Vice President for Magical Thinking.

She covers Classroom safety, Campus housing, Dining, Mental health, and Academic calendar.

For your mental health, try “A Message from Your University’s Vice President for Magical Thinking.”
Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter: Generic Ads in “these uncertain times”

The monthly cartoon returned to top popularity in June with Tom’s selection of common words and phrases to avoid, however tempted you might be. See the 19 possibilities everyone loves at “Generic advertising ‘in these uncertain times.’”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *