Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2021

January… A Happy New Year to everyone.

COVID-19 will continue to plague higher education for the next two or three months but things will improve as spring advances and summer arrives. That said, marketing as we knew it pre-2020 will not return. The marketing imperative of increasing inquiries to fill a funnel is dead. Focus instead on maximum conversion from a smaller, better inquiry pool. Especially in primary market areas.

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

Join 864+ higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at

Gerry McGovern did a webinar review of Top Tasks in December. The 50-minute session is a good introduction to Top Task methodology and benefits and is posted to YouTube.

Gerry will also be offering a new online Top Tasks master class, limited to 12 participants and divided into four 2-hour sessions. Starting date is 8 February. Content details are at “An Introduction to Top Tasks.”

Follow along with 7,200+ people for my daily marketing updates on Twitter.

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: “Creating Personas”

Tom Fishburne offers insights into personas “at their best” and “at their worst” with comments from an article on “Marketing Malpractices.” Read and ponder before investing scarce resources in persona creation as part of a new marketing plan.

Too often, Tom notes, personas “say more about the team that created them than about the customers or users they’re supposed to represent.” More at “Creating Personas.” 
Marketing Research Report: January 12 from TerminalFour

The 2020 edition of TerminalFour’s “Higher Education Web and Digital Marketing Survey Report” is ready for a January 12 release. Put this on your required reading list to start the year. The announcement is here.

Wondering how results have changed since the annual survey started? You can visit each report since 2014.
Demographic Projections: The 2020 WICHE Report

When Eric Hoover reported on the 2020 Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education on the demographic future for the Chronicle of Higher Education this was his lead: “The so-called demographic cliff up ahead might not be quite as imposing as previously thought, but it’s still very much a cliff.”

Draw your own marketing conclusions when you visit the 10th edition of the report at “Knocking at the College Door.” Start with “View Dashboards.”

You can read Eric’s report at “The Demographic Cliff: 5 Findings from New Projections of High School Graduates.”

Jon Boeckenstedt at Oregon State University has used his unusual data skills to make it especially easy to search for projections at individual states and ethnicity within states. See his “Fresh WICHE data: Projections of High School Graduates.”
COVID Dashboard Rankings: A New A++ Rating

Wagner College joins Amherst College has one of only 2 of 349 colleges and universities with an A++ rating for the quality of their COVID-19 dashboards. Still in the “F” category are 21 schools.

See the rankings criteria and the January rankings at “We Rate COVID Dashboards
Neuromarketing: 8 Books Recommended by Seth Odell

Neuromarketing can tell us a great deal about why people, including potential students of every age, make their buying decisions.

Make a 2021 resolution to become the neuromarketing expert on your marketing team. Start with a selection from the 8 books recommended by Seth Odell at “The Neuromarketer’s Reading List.”
Pro Tip for January: Inquiry Forms

Put an inquiry form for potential students on every academic program page. Keep track of responses for marketing research on interest levels in various programs. And of course, be sure to mention the academic program early if not first in your early response communications.

Keep the form short and simple for maximum response. Require name and email. Nothing more. See this example from Lasell University.
Purdue University Global: Financial Loss Improves to Just $21 Million

For anyone on your campus who believes online education is the key to financial success be sure to share results Purdue University Global results after a 2nd full year of operation. Purdue made an acquisition of Kaplan University the key move to compete with Arizona State, Southern New Hampshire, Western Governors and similar players.

First year losses were $43 million. At that time Purdue announced “every expectation that Purdue Global will generate an operating surplus” in the 2nd year. The size of the 1st hear loss was attributed to marketing investments. And so, amidst the challenges of 2020, finances did improve.

Purdue Global enrollment in January 2020 was about 30,000. For comparison, SNHU enrollment was about 130,000. More, including a link to the 93 page “Purdue University Financial Report 2020,” at “Purdue University Global Loses $21 Million in Second Full Year.”
Search Engine Marketing: 21 “Tip, Tactics, and Trends” for 2021

Mike Murray at the Content Marketing Institute gives us 21 elements to check for optimum search engine results as 2021 opens. Some of these (#11, page titles and #16, page speed) have been with us for years. Others reflect Google changes in 2020 that you might have missed.

Overall, this is a good way to search out areas where fine tuning might improve your search marketing results. The list is easy to scan at “21 SEO Tips, Tactics, and Trends for Website Content in 2021.”
Drexel University Job Opening: Assistant Director, Marketing and Social Media

See if this position might fit your professional plans after you scan the 23 “Essential Functions” for the position. My favorite of the 23: “Have fun engaging with the University’s many constituencies.”

Details, including Job Summary and Required and Preferred Qualifications, are here
Most Popular in December Newsletter: Strategic Planning… 7 Pitfalls

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

A Tom Fishburne cartoon and commentary helps us keep things in perspective as he notes 7 likely pitfalls between “this year” and “next year” in “How to do strategic planning.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

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