Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… April 2021

April… and while May 1 is no longer as precise a deposit date as in previous years, this month no doubt starts a special focus on expected enrollment from high school seniors for the fall. To paraphrase an earlier Jon Boeckenstedt article… “None of us know what to expect.”

Gerry McGovern will review tips and techniques for improving your website with Top Task research in an April 27 60-minute session at 11 AM Eastern. Gerry promises time so you can “ask any questions you have in relation to the Top Tasks method.” Sign up at “Top Tasks Questions and Answers.”

Join 869+ higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at

If you haven’t surveyed potential students in your database to find out what they think about your website, do that at no cost with our Customer Centric Index survey. What’s that? Start with “How it works.” Everyone’s favorite question: “If you could change one thing about our website, what would you change and why?” In a CCI survey last month, about 70 percent of the 100+ respondents answered that question.

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

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And now, your news and notes for April..
Cartoon of the Month: “Reinventing the marketing 4Ps”

Maybe you thought the proverbial “4Ps” were dead?

Think again when you visit this Tom Fishburne cartoon with special attention to the “Four P Regenerator” tool that lets you explore a near-infinite variety of new “Ps” if you don’t like the old ones.

A great conversation tool for your marketing team at the start of your next meeting. Have each person pick their “Favorite 4.” Visit” Reinventing the marketing 4Ps” to start the fun.
Student Recruitment: What do students really think about contact frequency?

What do high school students think about recruiting contacts that start with the purchase of ACT and SAT names? Scan 87 comments (“I just wish someone loved me as much as random colleges in the middle of nowhere that I have no interest in attending” & “Hofstra is stalking me”) on Reddit.

Agencies that provide or recommend never ending, multi-contact communication plans have no incentive to do otherwise. Check the reaction from students who feel stalked and harassed.

Thanks to Steve App at Campus Sonar for the lead.
Test Optional Admissions: Changes from 2020 to 2021

Students using the Common Application are submitting far fewer ACT and SAT test scores this year (44 percent) than last (percent). That’s not surprising. But how have submissions changed measured by 8 “category of college groupings and ethnicity?

Test score submissions have declined more at non-selective public and private colleges that at selective schools.

Compare the change at your school with the overall change when you visit “Not Submitting Scores.”
Higher Education Future: A Barnes & Noble Report

How might we expect higher education to change as a result of the COVID experience? Barnes & Noble compares the expectations of students with those of faculty and administrators in a new report.

Among other points, students are looking for more flexibility in how education is presented, more mental health services (with less stigma attached), and more career focus.

Learn more about current thoughts and future predictions when you download the 18-page “Transforming the Student Experience” report.
Email Marketing: 10 Points to Review for 2021

Kevin George at the Content Marketing Institute offers us a varied review list to update email marketing efforts this year. Some are more relevant for higher education marketers than others but overall, this a good read to see what’s being considered in this still important marketing area.

First on the list: personalized content. “This is the year that marketers finally embrace smart, sophisticated customization and personalization.” That will be true for higher education when colleges start referring in early recruitment email to a person’s academic interest area that they routinely collect on inquiry forms… and almost always ignore in early email contacts.

More at “10 Things to Think About When Using Email Marketing.”
Success after Graduation: The Universal 90%+ Rate

Have you ever been to a college website that did not report that well over 90 percent of the most recent graduates were either employed or enrolled in professional or graduate school? That, for sure, is not a brand differentiation point.

What does distinguish a small number of schools from most others is providing “success after graduation” data according to individual academic programs. Even better, don’t bury that info in a PDF format. Make it regular web content.

Potential students often search out web content for academic programs that interest them before going anywhere else on a website. Imagine the marketing advantage if, from an academic program page, they can also link to recent employment data for that program.

The only university I’ve found that provides employment data for individual academic programs without resorting to PDFs: University of George for both undergraduate and graduate programs. See “Class of 2020 Career Outcomes Data for UGA Majors.”
College Presidents: COVID = New Financial Confidence

Yes, in responding to “2021 Survey of College and University Presidents” by Inside Higher Ed, 82 percent reported confidence in the financial future of their institution over the next 5 years. And 79 percent felt the same about the next 10 years, although the “strongly agree” folks fell from 38 to 28 percent.

That’s a large COVID bounce from the previous year’s 57 percent confidence rate. Perhaps presidents have learned new plague-induced financial skills?

Read more about the survey and link to a download of the full report at “Pandemic-Fueled Confidence for College Presidents.
Presidential Pay: The Latest from Chronicle of Higher Education

We know people who love to scroll through this data to see how presidential pay at their school compares to others at public and private sector schools. Note that in the private sector list Harvard is only 4th at $3.5 million and Savannah College of Art and design is 10th at $2.4 million. Georgia is top in the public sector at $2.8 million.

Check your president and your competitors at “Executive Compensation at Public and Private Colleges.”
Content Management Systems: 12 Systems have 90% of the Installs

Nearly everyone has a content management system, sometimes more than one depending on the size of the university. Diligent marketers know how valuable a CMS can be to help deliver complex marketing communications to potential students.

Which are the 12 most popular? Visit “US University Content Management Systems 2021.”
Most Popular in March Newsletter: 5 “Dirty Little Secrets in Higher Education”

Steven Mintz at UT Austin writes about 5 “dirty little secrets” that higher education doesn’t admit to itself.

One that struck me as relevant to marketing endeavors: “Many institutions’ appeal lies not in education but elsewhere.” Think DIV III athletes looking to continue playing their favorite high school sport?

Mintz also includes 9 other secrets, some known to academics but not recognized by media and some that are “secrets only to journalists and affluent parents.”

See how many secrets you’d agree to share with the world after reading “Higher Ed’s Dirty Little Secrets.”

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