Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… November 2020

November…  Last day to vote tomorrow here in the U.S. Meanwhile, a most unusual recruitment season unfolds as admissions folk work on alternatives to traditional techniques that are not possible in a COVID-19 world. Some of those were past their shelf life anyway. Look below for a recommendation on 3 firms to check for help in the new world.

Above all, as the virus spreads again, Be Safe.

To track the movement of colleges and universities into and out of an online learning mode follow Robert Kelchen, associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, on Twitter. Kelchen, who writes regularly on the economics of higher education, is on Twitter here.

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And now, your November marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: “Being agile” in marketing

Marketing plans adopted before COVID-19 may not seem as relevant today as when they were created. And that might force some into “agile marketing” to rapidly create changes for a new reality.

Tom Fishburne cautions against an “agile” approach that isn’t guided by a strategic marketing framework. More on why “Agility is useless without strategic thinking” at “being agile.”
Public Universities: The Politics of Board Appointments

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes an easy-to-scan map of which public universities have board members appointed predominantly Democratic or Republican governors and legislators. In just 4 rare cases (Michigan included) boards are elected.

You can also scan to see the political affiliation of Board members in each state. Visit “Pubic-College Boards and State Politics.”
Federal Court Decision: Tuition refunds not required

Two students sued Northeastern University last March for tuition refunds when the school moved to online classes. A Federal court judge ruled in October that refunds were not required as online courses were an “adequate alternative remedy.”

The judge also rules that a portion of the suit seeking return of a “student activity fee, student center fee or undergraduate student fee” could continue.

More at “Northeastern University doesn’t owe students tuition refunds…”
Email Marketing: 8 Tips to Reduce Cost and Increase Conversion of List Buys

Bart Caylor offers 8 “facts to consider” to purchase lists of potential students that will save money and convert at a higher rate. In essence: smaller, smarter list buys will result in higher conversion of students who are more likely to enroll.

Direct marketers know that the first (and some would say, most important) rule for email marketing success is the quality of the list receiving your offer. Send an offer from a public university in New York to a student in Oklahoma who plans to attend a Christian university is not likely to produce a response. Yes, it happens. Every year.

Review “8 Facts to Consider Before You Buy Email Lists for Admissions Marketing.”
College Financial Health: A new estimate for potential students

Edmit provides financial planning assistance for students and their parents. Edmit calculates a personal net cost estimate for individual colleges based on data from several sources.

Edmit has expanded the service to include a financial health estimate for 937 schools over three levels of financial security: low financial health (345 schools), medium financial health (207), and high financial health (385). Admissions offices can expect questions about financial stability to occur more often as COVID-19 financial restrictions receive increase media visibility.

“Low financial health” is defined as “at risk of depleting their net assets in the near future.”

Review the methodology used at “Edmit’s College Financial Health Analysis.
New Admissions Technology: 3 Firms to Review

Eric Stoller is a higher education professional who is always looking for new ways to do things, with special attention to traditional student recruitment activities disrupted by COVID-19.

Eric recently recommended, and I agree, these 3 firms who have developed new technology to reach students in new ways: PlatformQ Education, and The Access Platform, and ZeeMee.
Ithaca College: Lower enrollment = financial pressure = major faculty reduction

Ithaca College plans major reductions in faculty positions (547 to 415) after COVID-19 created a severe enrollment decline this year (5,852 undergrad students in 2029 to 4,957 in 2020). The decline includes 391 leaves of absence and 143 deferred enrollments.

The decline may be the most severe reported yet from the private sector. A continuing enrollment decrease is expected. From a marketing perspective, Ithaca plans a “strengthening” of academic programs combined with changing the “pricing and financial aid strategy.”

You can find a report of the faculty meeting where the situation was reported and discussed at “IC to cut 130 faculty positions due to low enrollment.”
Enrollment Increases Reported: 9 public and private universities

Some colleges and universities are experiencing enrollment increases from modest to substantial despite COVID-19. University Business reports on schools in states around the country (but none in New York or New England).

Check the 9 that have defied trends this year at “… more stories of COVID-19 enrollment wins.”
Drexel University: Searching for “Assistant Director, Marketing and Social Media”

The Drexel position announcement includes 23 “Essential Functions” and 8 “Preferred Qualifications.”
Whether or not you’re interested in the position itself, this is a good information to compare with similar positions on your campus,

More on the opening, but alas not a salary range, at Careers at Drexel.
Bantshire University: A UK “Prospectus 2021” parody

You may laugh. You might weep. Have a look at the marketing language used and the claims made in the 2021 prospectus for Bantshire University (31,900 Twitter followers) where “We throb knowledge” and “We pulse excellence.”

Likely you will say “ouch” more than once.

Warning. You’ll find sprinkling of the “f” word here and there. Visit “University of Bantshire Prospectus 2021.” And of course the parody university has a home page as well.
New Book: “How to Market a University: Building Value in a Competitive Environment”

Terry Flannery, once the chief marketing person at American University and recently appointed as the chief marketing person at Stony Brook University, is sharing her higher education marketing wisdom in a new book available in January.

Plan ahead. Read a summary of the contents and pre-order your copy on Amazon now.
New Book: “Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposeful Social Media in a Connected World”

Available now is Josie Ahlquist’s guide to how higher education leaders can best succeed in a world that will only get more “digital” than it is today. Great gift for anyone on a president’s cabinet if minds are open.

Intro to the 3 sections of the book and topics covered in the 12 chapters are at “Digital Leadership in Higher Education.”
Most Popular in October Newsletter: Content Inventories & Audits: A Nielsen Norman Guide

Keeping potential students happy when they visit your website is essential to successful recruiting. Nielsen Norman Group conducted a qualitative study with 16 participants to prepare a guide to inventory and audit completion to increase visitor happiness.

Starting with an inventory makes the most sense to get a complete picture of everything on a website. Reducing content makes it easier to navigate and search. Potential students complete top tasks faster. Faster makes them happier.

A content audit focuses on the value of the content and whether or not it is presented in a web-friendly style that makes it easy for visitors to scan and read it. Long unbroken text blocks without subheads, for instance, does not bring website happiness.

The report includes a “Content Inventory and Auditing Template” you can download at no cost.

Review guideline details at “Content Inventory and Auditing 101.”

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