Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… December 2020

December…  We continue to cope with negative COVID-19 impact as higher education prepares for a Spring semester that faces the same challenges as in the Fall. But at last, with the gradual availability of vaccines, we can see the proverbial tunnel light that will brighten prospects for Fall 2021.

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 marketing news and notes for December.
Cartoon of the Month: “How to do strategic planning”

How seriously do you take your strategic planning? And the plan that results?

Tom Fishburne helps us keep things in perspective as he notes 7 likely pitfalls between “this year” and “next year” in “How to do strategic planning.”
Admissions Blogs: 6 Examples to Explore

Burt Caylor gives a short intro to admissions blogs at 6 universities (Yale, Florida State, Providence, Bucknell, Case Western, Miami) with links to explore each one in depth. You’ll also find links to 7 independent blogs to learn more about what’s being broadcast to potential students.

If you have an admissions blog or are planning one compare your present or intended efforts with the blogs you’ll find at “Launching an Admissions Podcast? 14 Great Examples… to Get You Started.”
Content Marketing: 67 Books to Review for 2021 Reading

Ann Gynn at the Content Marketing Institute has assembled an easy-to-scan list of 67 books that cover a wide range of content marketing techniques and issues. Few of us will likely read them all but there’s a short synopsis of each one along with the name(s) of those who recommended them.

Start planning your 2021 marketing reading with a visit to “67 Book Picks for the Ultimate Content Marketing Library.”
Google Analytics: Major Changes in 2021

Collecting data about what people do on your website is becoming harder to gather. Expect, as Google does, that new GDPR-like privacy enhancements will erode the usefulness of the current Google Analytics system.

And so, Google is introducing a new system: “Google Analytics 4” that will work like this, as reported in a Social Media Examiner article: “take what can be measured, feed that data it its algorithms, and then build reports that model on your actual users to forecast what the data might be if all user data could be collected.”

This will not happen overnight but expect major changes by the end of 2021. Meantime, plan to enable GA 4 as soon as you can. The more it begins to learn about how people use your website the better marketing intelligence you will have.

Ready yourself for the new analytics world. Start at “Google Analytics 4: What Marketers Need to Know.”
Writing Right for the Web: Creating “Information Scent” that Potential Students Will Follow

If you don’t use words that potential students visiting your website will understand in the links you create many of those visitors will fail to do what you’d like them to do on your site.

Nielsen Norman Group have created a 5-minute video to highlight 4 key steps in writing successful links. A major point: don’t use jargon or other words that your audience does not understand. In the student recruitment world that means asking your admissions representatives to keep a log of the words potential students use in asking questions about your school. Few, for instance, are likely to ask about “articulation agreements.”

More on creating an “information scent” that visitors can follow at the “Components of Information Scent” video.
Rating COVID-19 Dashboards: 4 of 323 are A+… And Another is A++

Most colleges and universities have COVID-19 dashboards to help keep people informed about their campus conditions. As you might expect, usefulness and quality vary.

A higher education team has created a rating system based on 13 criteria that start with “Easy to read” and continue through various data points. There is one A++ rating (Amherst College) and 4 A+ ratings (Wagner, Tulane, Ohio State, George Mason). And 21 “F” ratings.

See the rankings and sort by state, athletic conference, HBCU schools, or scan an alpha list when you visit “We Rate COVID Dashboards.”
Transfer Student Recruitment: Creating a Transfer Friendly Website

If you seek to increase transfer student enrollment and don’t have a transfer-friendly website your chances of success greatly diminish.

Measure your current effectiveness against recommendations of National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. The NISTS recently completed a survey with the mStoner agency to puzzle out the most important transfer content elements. You can access the recommendations in 3 ways: (1) download a guide or (2) watch a webinar or (3) get the slides.

A second webinar is scheduled for December 2 at 1 PM Eastern. If you still have time when you read this, you can register and then check the recommendations from the first webinar at “How to Create a Transfer-Centered Website.”
Social Mobility Ran­­­kings: Public Universities Far in the Lead

Education Reform Now ranks colleges and universities for “social mobility” based on the number of Pell Grant students enrolled and the percent who graduate.

Public universities lead the list and 7 of the Top 10 are in California. Cal State-Long Beach is #1 and University of Central Florida is #2. A group of 20 schools that admit less than 10 percent of applicants does well on graduation rates but admits few Pell Grant students and thus do not score well.

Check the rankings and the methodology at “Social Mobility Elevators.”
Enrollment Trends: Monthly Reports from National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

The November report tell us that with 76 percent of colleges reporting undergraduate enrollment declined 4.4 percent from 2019 while graduate enrollment increased 2.9 percent. The previously reported freshmen enrollment decline of 16.1 percent improved to a still severe 13.0 percent drop.

For more details visit “Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information.”
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 November Newsletter: “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.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

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