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Articles: Marketing

Karine Joly says digital content is now the currency for search, social networking and even advertising.

What will 2014 bring to the digital field in higher ed? That’s the million dollar question at the start of this new year. Unfortunately, charting a precise course for success over the next 12 months isn’t possible.

When everything changes so quickly, we can only try to identify what looks like the best route to our destination. To help you with the exercise, let’s see what developments are leading the way.

Recruitment practices at private colleges and universities just got a little more complicated under the 2013 updates to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Rhe concept of leveraging MOOCs as a data-rich marketing vehicle is new but gaining a foothold

The exploding popularity of MOOCs is beginning to open up a mother lode of data about prospective students that colleges and universities can use for marketing and recruitment purposes.

MOOCs are still in their infancy stages, and the concept of leveraging their reach as a data-rich marketing vehicle for the institution is even newer. But it’s beginning to gain a foothold.

Students at Savannah College of Art and Design have a variety of dining styles and locations to choose from across campus.

Only one-third of 3,400 U.S. college students say they’re satisfied with their meal plans, found a survey by food industry research firm Technomic. But schools are finding that to address the problem, they need to go beyond simply improving what winds up on diners’ plates.

Supporting the emotional health of students should be a priority on all campuses, and the nonprofit Jed Foundation is helping to make that happen. Colleges and universities can evaluate the care they provide with JedCampus, a program launched in May.

“Efforts should be made to promote connectedness and reduced isolation,” says John MacPhee, executive director of the program. “Mental health improves the more a student feels like a member of a community.”

In higher education, we love, hate, and thrive on college rankings. The annual U.S. News and World Report top colleges list—as well as rankings by other news organizations—is anticipated with excitement and trepidation. When it comes to the numbers game of college admissions, it’s important to secure a spot near the top of these lists. Improving your institution’s rank means an automatic increase in general visibility. It also often results in a better chance to convert more college-bound high school students into serious prospects and highly motivated applicants.

Our fascination with numbers stems from our faith that numbers are more precise than words. But journalists and public officials too often use numbers that are so simplified as to be misleading. The quick numbers on low salaries and high unemployment rates for liberal arts graduates, for example, suggest the opposite picture from what the details reveal. That is, new liberal arts graduates may earn less at first than classmates who majored in professional fields, but over time this gap closes. These glib statistics reveal more informative patterns just below the surface.

When you think about what makes a university distinctive, what kind of qualities comes to mind? Is it their beautiful campus, or maybe their dedicated faculty? So many institutions share these fine qualities that they’re hardly difference-makers that will prompt prospective students to the decision point.

College marketers, therefore, face the challenge of identifying and effectively communicating their exceptional assets – and culling input from across the board is the best way to do this, but it’s not always easy to facilitate.

For sure, you’ve heard it before. The term “integrated marketing” isn’t new anymore. But what does it really mean for those of us in the higher education marketing world? And why is it so important anyway? Isn’t it enough that we’re already communicating with prospective students via direct mail, email, websites, and other channels?

The idea was simple: Let online donors make multiple gifts with a single checkout. Not long after Randy Brown joined the Michigan State University advancement team as webmaster in 1999, he got assigned this task, which was anything but simple to execute.

“That was sort of his night job,” says Bob Thomas, assistant vice president for advancement marketing and communications. “It was kind of a running joke. We’d talk about it at annual planning meetings.” One year, someone even presented a mini shopping cart at the meeting to Brown as a tangible reminder.

Not many colleges have a four-star general at the helm, but students at Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) are such big fans of their president, former Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak, that the campus bookstore wanted to come up with a t-shirt reflecting how they feel. When the store received a copy of a USMC poster featuring Krulak (known on campus as "the General") with his arm around a young recruit, they decided to use the image and make it their own.

Marketing and branding expert Tom Dougherty says that colleges and universities can and should adopt the promotional strategies of the top consumer brands. An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by The New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines. In his 25-year career, Dougherty has helped companies like Lexus, Tide, and IKEA capture market share from competitors by changing their focus from product to people.

Joshua Dodson works as a SEO and web analyst at Eastern Kentucky University. With a couple of consulting years under his belt, he also has been teaching a four-week online course on web analytics for higher education since September 2011. But, the “Higher Ed Analytics Prof” could also be called the Analytics Profiler. At his university, Dodson is mining web analytics data to go beyond the usual insights on click stream, conversions, or referring web properties.

As I noted in my previous column on the digital web in higher ed, digital analytics is bound to play an increasing role this year. Whether they call it big data, business intelligence, or analytics, many decision-makers on campus have been converted to the power of the data-driven approach. Make a difference with web analytics at your institution by taking these three steps.

In December, Tulane University (La.) announced it had misreported some admissions data for its Freeman School of Business to be used in US News & World Report’s college rankings.

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