Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter…. November 2021

November… With the application season well underway, early results at many schools are giving an indication of what’s to come between now and Christmas.

Halloween scariness will continue for some and dissipate for others. With lower early FAFSA filings (see the entry below) there’s not yet a sign that traditional undergrad enrollments are set to rebound. And that means greater attention to conversion from the first web visit and every continuing step in the recruitment cycle.

Great Twitter note in October from Joey Sammut at Sacramento State University: “If your student tour guide doesn’t mention the squirrels on campus, your institution loses its accreditation.”

Join 883 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Check my post reviewing top tasks in graduate recruitment from a RNL survey results. Request membership at

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And now, your marketing news and notes for November.
Cartoon of the Month: 6 Scary Creative Brief Possibilities

Creative briefs marketers send to agencies can impact the quality of the work returned. For better. Or for worse. Check yours against the 6 types that Tom Fishburne highlights here. A common challenge:

  • “My briefs get re-written by committee – and those people are very senior but with no clue about marketing. My briefs get filled with jargon, nonsense and irrelevance, plus audiences, targets and topics are added in order to keep everyone feeling like their area of work is valid. I’m ashamed to send them over.”

Visit Tom’s “Types of Creative Briefs.”
Student Recruitment: Best Use of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is powerful if done correctly. If you use “student ambassadors” in a recruitment communications program the most important point to remember is simple but sometimes difficult to achieve: Students are “looking for messages from legitimate students that come across as totally trustworthy and reliable.” Anything that smells of traditional public relations chases people away.

The folks at Higher Education Marketing Solutions have put together a detailed guide to creating a strong student influencer program, with examples from NYU, UCLA, Oxford, and others on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

The guide includes details for an “absolutely essential” contract with your influencers. Start at “Influencer Marketing for Higher Ed: Current Students and Alumni as Key Recruiters.”
Freshman Discount Rates: The Impact on Net Revenue

Here’s another useful “Higher Ed Data Stories” entry that doesn’t focus on discount rates alone but also provides net revenue per student for people starting at private sector colleges in 2019.

Sort by 9 regions to quickly learn which schools are doing well and which are not doing nearly as well. Among “Great Lakes” schools, for instance, one Michigan liberal arts college with a discount rate of 81.8 percent received $8.7K net revenue per student. Another with a discount rate of 44.9 percent had net revenue per freshman of $19.2K. Similar “official” prices but a much different financial situation.

You can also compare by selectivity and net revenue and Pell Grants and endowment levels. See how the marketing strength of your school fared vs. similar institutions at “The last normal year: Freshmen Discounts at Private Colleges, 2019.
Website Conversion: 10 Tools to Increase Conversion Rates

Getting potential students to a landing page on your website is important. Getting them to take the needful steps after they arrive is even more important.

TerminalFour reviews 10 tools to help increase conversion rates, starting with the still useful Google Analytics and continuing through others that include Hotjar, Crazy Egg, and Wave. Especially important is #10, Google PageSpeed Insights. Speed counts. Be sure to compare your page speeds with those of your chief competitors.

Review your conversion rate tactics at “Top 10 website conversion rate optimization tools.”
Dream Schools: 662 Student Comments on Reddit

Yes, this is “just” qualitative research but do spend a few minutes reading how high school students talk about the schools they would most like to attend.

You’ll find frequent concerns re fear for acceptance and ability to pay the cost. Specific program comments are frequent. The oldest post is 8 days old as I write this so this is an active discussion.

Most posts are brief, but one student listed several points in favor of Rice University, from climate to programs.

Scan the opinions and language used at “Class of ’22: What’s your dream school?”
Recruiting on Reddit: A Guide to What Works and What Does Not

Potential students are using Reddit. How might admissions professionals join the discussions to achieve positive recruitment results?

Stephen App (Campus Sonar) and Dayana Kibilds (Western University; Pickle Jar Communications soon) gave a conference presentation via Reddit itself to introduce recruitment professionals to the benefits and caveats of this platform. The question-and-answer format is easy to scan. Nicely different from the usual conference PowerPoint approach.

See how you might add Reddit to a recruitment communication plan at “Recruiting on Reddit.”
TV Ads: Capella University Leads with Price

Capella is now running TV ads that give viewers unusual-for-higher education price information right in the lead-gen effort: $18K for a master’s program to complete in 18 months. Nothing in the ad on “scholarships” or “financial aid.” Why is that smart marketing?

  • Learning “price” is a #1 or #2 top task for potential graduate students.
  • People who can’t get past the price never clutter your inquiry pool.
  • Fewer inquiries from this point likely leads to higher conversions. Time is spent on conversion rather than “qualifying” a huge number of unreal leads.

For more on Capella adverting over the past 30 days (and you can check on Southern New Hampshire and others as well) visit “Capella University TV Commercials.”
Student Recruitment: Tracking FAFSA Completion Rates

Do FAFSA completion rates by high school students forecast 2022 college attendance? So far this year completion rates are lower than in 2020.

You can track completion rates by state and individual high schools that are most important to your recruitment results when you visit “FAFSA Tracker” at Form Your Future.
Hamilton College: Unionization for Admissions Student Workers

Students who work in the Hamilton College admissions office, primarily as tour guides, recently voted 25-20 for unionization.

Work issues began last fall as COVID disrupted normal admissions office operations. Unionization efforts began last summer after a request for a raise in the hourly rate was denied.

The interesting review of events, including quotes from both admissions leaders and students, is at “Hamilton’s Admissions Workers from a Union: how it all happened.”

Will unionization efforts like this spread elsewhere in higher education? Likely not. But note that students workers at Kenyon College (not just admissions workers) have been working for college recognition of a union since 2020.
Job Opening: Regional Director of Marketing and Communications at Miami University

Jamie Hunt, the CMP at Miami, describes this as an opportunity to “work with a dynamic team of talented design, web, and communication staff” for “the regional system of Miami University” in Ohio.

The job description, duties, qualifications and such are at “Jobs and Careers at Miami.”
Most Popular in October Newsletter: “Marketing in the Metaverse” Cartoon

Tom Fishburne, Marketing Cartoonist quoted: “’I believe the shift we’re seeing to the metaverse, is going to be one of the largest shifts we’ve seen in a long time … we are where we were in social media 17, 18 years ago…’ says one marketing professional.”

If you like early looks into what’s possible in future marketing communications, visit “Marketing in the Metaverse.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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