Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2023

January… As the new year begins, this newsletter highlights steps to help schedule marketing improvements that you can adopt and implement at a reasonable pace over the next 12 months. Key points: match goals with resources and celebrate success as it happens.

Pro tip: Check to see if your competitors are using the same “creative” agency as you are. If so, the creativity of your efforts might not be as obvious to your potential students as you might like. Always ask a potential agency you might hire to see their current client list.

Notable Twitter Quote: “We tell financial aid staff it takes a year to feel comfortable in their jobs. And that’s talking FA 40 hours a week the entire year. How would we expect families to be comfortable and confident in this when they only do it once a year?” Ryan Dulude, director of financial aid, Community College of Vermont.

Tagline Reports: Taglines for some universities mentioned in the newsletter are included. Found those on either a Google search or on a home page. Don’t see a tagline after a name? That school does not use one.
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Plan Now for Higher Education Connect 2023: Janus Boye’s first higher education conference last year in the U.K was a success. And he’s started planning the 2023 event. Janus offers the best organized meetings I’ve had the pleasure of attending. See the first 3 headline speakers and sign up for updates as the agenda develops at “Higher Education Connect 2023.”

End of Year Podcast: The folks at Mongoose did a final 2022 podcast with several people that did individual podcasts with them earlier in the year. In my quick summary I focused on 3 schools with much-better-than-average financial aid/cost/affordability web content. See highlights from everyone at “Ask Us Anything on For Your Institution Live.”

Join 906 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Join us at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8478858.

Follow along with 7,100+ 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 marketing news and notes for January and the year to come.
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Cartoon of the Month: “Safe is Risky” in 2023

Tom Fishburne’s last cartoon of 2022 focused on the need for organizational change, the reluctance of most organizations to start change, and the dilemma that among CEOs, “85 percent say they don’t know where to start to make changes.”

Higher education is not immune… See more on “Safe is Risky.”
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Higher Education Future: “Hard Truths” Too Often Ignored

Many in higher education rightly are concerned about reports that the public image of colleges and universities is not what it should be. There’s been talk about the need for a “Got Milk” campaign to boost positive sentiment.

In that context, perhaps best to start the new year with a review of 9 “hard truths” about higher education from Steven Mintz, professor of history at University of Texas at Austin.

Mintz offers reasons for the problems he cites as well as solutions. Check for individual points you might agree with and resolve to join with anyone on your campus working to correct them.

Start at “Hard Truths that Higher Education Has Evaded for Too Long.”
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Higher Education Enrollment Trends: The “Crisis” is Variable

How has higher education enrollment changed from 2011 through 2021? Is there indeed a “crisis”?

The answer will vary depending on type of institution, section of the country, and more. Overall enrollment in 2011 was 19,875,00. In 2021 the total was 19,331,000.

Jon Boeckenstedt has again mined the most recent IPEDS data to give us an easy-to-use report that lets everyone focus on higher education sectors most important to them. You can check individual schools. Or check by student level, ethnicity, gender, and more. You can even check by football conference.

Get “crisis” data most important to you at “Enrollment trends, 2011 to 2021.”
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Improving Your Website: 22 Experts Share Tips

As 2023 gets underway, this is a fine time to scan the suggestions you’ll find from 22 people that can help you tune your website without engaging in massive renovation. Read to find items to add to your “do” list over the next few months.

A favorite from Andrea Zoellner, vice president of marketing at Kinsta: “Despite my background in copywriting, my best advice for website conversion starts way before you’ve typed your first catchy headline: make sure your website is as fast as possible.” Andrea lists the many ways “as fast as possible” is an important website goal.

Scan the 22 experts and download the 13-page PDF with just your first name and email when you visit “Expert advice on how to improve your website conversion.”
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Social Media Marketing: 6 Strategies to Explore

What trends emerge and/or continue for 2023? What’s expected by the folks at Higher Education Marketing Solutions include an increase in short videos (including greater use of YouTube), and a move away from Google search by younger people to more use of social media searches.

Check included Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook examples from The University of Edinburgh, Boston University (“A University in Motion Stays in Motion”), Toronto Metropolitan University, and University of Brighton.

Note an even greater emphasis on “authenticity.” Let your students speak in their language. Anything resembling public relations content will fail.

More at “Social Media Trends for School in 2023: 6 Strategies to Explore.”
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Mobile User Experience: The State of Things as 2023 Begins

The Nielsen Norman Group has just published an updated review of the current state of marketing via mobile websites. Overall, the reports cites many areas of improvement over their last comprehensive report a few years back. “The mobile UX is better than it has ever been.”

One area for improvement: “We still see pages needlessly lengthened by images and graphics that are decorative and unnecessary, sometimes under the assumption that ‘mobile users know to scroll’.”

Check your mobile effort when you review “The State of Mobile User Experience.”
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SEO in 2023: 8 Steps to Review for Best Results

Improving search results in a Google world where many elements abound but specific weightings are difficult (impossible?) to discern is always a challenge.

Mike Murray at the Content Marketing Institute helps us meet the challenges with 8 insights into
standards that continue and changes that we might expect in the new year. Two of my favorites: #4, “Monitor page load speed” and #5, “Don’t give up on page titles.”

More, including links to expand on points especially important to your efforts, at “SEO for Digital Content Marketing: How to Optimize for Search in 2023.”
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Inquiry Form Completion Rates: Shorter is Better

What keeps people from completing your online inquiry form?

Abandonment rates of 75 percent or more are normal for most industries. Primary reasons include length (27 percent) and “unnecessary questions” (10 percent.). “Unnecessary” means in the eyes of the person completing the from, not the admissions office creating it.

For consumer forms, conversion rates decrease as form fields increase: a 25 percent conversion rate for forms with 3 field falls to 15 percent for forms with 5 fields. Brevity counts.

More on how to improve inquiry form completion rates at “Forms completion rates – statistics, insights, and takeaways.”
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Most Popular in December Newsletter: 6 Tips for Better Email Marketing Results

Email marketing to potential students is an important part of nearly recruitment communications plan.

Compare your email marketing with the 6 recommendations from Higher Education Marketing Solutions. My favorite was #4: “Clarity above all else.” You’ll find examples from several schools, including McMaster University (“Committed to Creating a Brighter World”), Arizona State University, McGill University, and University of Pennsylvania.

Boost your email marketing at “6 Tips for Writing Email Marketing Content for Prospective Students.”

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