EDgage Magazine Vol 1 No 1 Q4 2019

Page 1


FALL 2019





Every individual student is just that—individual. Their likes and dislikes. Their interests and priorities. Their reasons for wanting to attend. But as unique as they are, there are students currently in class with similar stories. Goals and dreams that are meaningful and relevant to the prospects you’re trying to recruit. Imagine harnessing their stories and sending them in a powerful and emotional way to those still deciding which school to attend. Imagine if they could literally see themselves already there.

Mythos can help you create and share these individually relevant stories. Simply, efficiently and with maximum impact. Visit mythosbelief.com to see how we can help you increase applications and yield through the power of human voice marketing.


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Failure to Launch

12 Connect the Dots Marrying the customer journey to enrollment POP QUIZ

16 Tom Edwards, Founder, Blackfin360 INFOGRAPHIC

17 A Different Road Survey shows university alternatives for Gen Z






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ngagement is a commitment. When a couple is engaged to be married, they have decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Yet, an engagement is not a written agreement. It does not come with binding paperwork and legal ramifications if the deal is breached. Engagement involves a leap of faith and a great deal of trust. Consider when a parent tells a child to get engaged at school. The child must make a conscious decision and a bit of discomfort occurs. But once he or she engages, they go through self discovery, much like a couple grows to know each other within their initial engagement. An engaging personality is generally believed to be inviting and pulls people in. Being fully engaged with your work means that someone is dedicated and focused. Overall, the idea of engagement is pretty fabulous. It does not carry the pressure of a legal responsibility. On the contrary, engagement enables people to immerse in an endeavor and become a part of something grander than themselves. Welcome to EDgage, a content platform that aims to engage with the marketing minds within higher education. Our quarterly magazine, monthly digital content and regional events are built to inspire new ideas, inform about the latest marketing services and support your marketing efforts in an ever-changing landscape. We believe that great engagement


EDgage is published quarterly by Association for PRINT Technologies, copyright 2019. All rights reserved. For more information contact info@edgagemag.com edgagemag.com

comes from the creation of great content—the combination of connecting with leading experts in marketing and uncovering the stories that matter most to you. In our first edition, we delve into a couple of the most pressing issues of the day. Our cover article, “Failure to Launch,” examines why admissions offices struggle, and what major

managing editor Julie Shaffer


Michael Pallerino Ray Glier Jennifer Morrell

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ENGAGEMENT ENABLES PEOPLE TO IMMERSE THEMSELVES IN AN ENDEAVOR AND BECOME A PART OF SOMETHING GRANDER THAN THEMSELVES. challenges you face in recruiting students and expanding your enrollment bases. In our second feature,”Connect the Dots,” we discover how to marry the customer journey to the enrollment process. The piece focuses on lead nurturing and what happens at different spots in the discovery cycle. All in all, we hope you find the content, well, engaging. Warmest regards,

Thayer Long Publisher


EDgage Connect Connecting Marketers in Higher Ed

EDgage Connect is for marketing minds and idea generators that work in or support higher education. To participate in this virtual peer group, register at: community.printtechnologies.org Setting up your profile and getting involved is easy! Participating in the discussions is just like sending and receiving email. Join this community of communications, development, and marketing professionals in higher education today!

Collaborate. Learn. Engage.

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EDgage Connect is free for professionals in higher education marketing and development.

EDgage • FALL 2019


FAILURE TO LAUNCH For eight straight years, enrollments have declined in U.S. colleges and universities, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The college admissions office is captive to demographics it cannot do anything about. The economy has been adding jobs, which has diminished the urgency for more schooling. Older Americans have gainful employment and have turned away from getting re-educated in a new field or beefing up their job skills in community college. And National Public Radio (NPR) reported that the enrollment of people over 24 years old has fallen by more than 1.5 million since 2011. Admissions counselors are also powerless to do anything about declining birthrates in the United States, which means high school graduation classes are going to be smaller. Of course, Ivy League schools and prestigious private schools are boasting single-digit acceptance rates. But what about the rest of the higher ed world and the hunt for students? What is the game plan when your school is being scrutinized by 18-year-olds and you need an edge?

There is still room for old-school strategy in helping admissions officers: improving graduation and retention rates.


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A survey by “LinkedIn Global Talent Trends (2019)” hints at one strategy. The study found that hard skills are important, but 92 percent of human resources professionals also declared soft skills matter as much, or more. Market your school as one that can focus on soft skills. Sell your place as an institution that can teach students the ability to problem solve, communicate, and collaborate. In addition to soft skills, you may be hearing a lot about how a “holistic” approach can help increase enrollment. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is made up of approximately 130 of the nation’s top colleges and universities, and the “holistic” approach includes giving students a digital “locker” where they can enclose writing samples and multimedia samples that convey their uniqueness and talents. That leads us to another avenue admissions departments are using—a


test-optional approach by more than 1,000 colleges and universities. The SAT and ACT are no longer required components of admissions for these schools and that can attract a wider range of students. The list of test-optional schools is impressive: Wesleyan, Bowdoin, Bates, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, as well as many universities, like Wake Forest, American, George Washington, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Some schools have gone to “test-flexible” policies where IB/AP test scores can take the place of the SAT/ACT requirement. Colleges and universities are also trying to sharpen their prospecting through “demonstrated interest.” The students will tell admissions offices, through their social media, if they like you, or not, and what your chances are. When a student demonstrates interest, the data can start to be developed and the pitch sharpened. Schools can also gauge “demonstrat-

ed interest” through the usual: campus visits, e-mail, contact follow-ups, and regional events. The whole idea for admissions officers is upping the base yield rate, or the percentage of students who show interest and follow through and show up in the fall. A survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) found that 14 percent of colleges and universities consider demonstrated interest as having “considerable importance” in the admissions process. Twenty-six percent of schools reported demonstrated interest as of “moderate importance.” So, when you look at it, 40 percent of schools feel demonstrated interest is a tool in recruitment. There are traditional recruiting tools that won’t go away. Four are timetested methods to connect with prospects: hosting campus visits, outreach to parents and high school counselors, high school visits and college fairs.

And then there is SnapChat.

Socially speaking, and the lot Millennials are using SnapChat as their news source, or a way to follow their favorite brands. According to online student loan marketplace Lendedu, 58 percent of students are checking SnapChat first, Instagram second and Facebook last. Schools can give students a chance to look at the “real life” of a school through SnapChat. It has become essential to the admissions officer’s game plan. Written pamphlets and blogs describing your campus and curriculum are still useful, but live videos are increasing in popularity as ways to interact with millennials.

Here are some other strategies: DePauw University offers an interactive video game for campus tours for prospective students

“Going Green” is gaining as a strategy, and so is environmental technology Tufts University is accepting YouTube videos—your own sales pitch—as a supplement to the formal application Of course, the old standby “word of mouth” should never be discounted. College admissions officers and other school officials should stay in contact with former students and encourage their participation in talking up the old U. There is nothing like a stamp of approval from a graduate in the marketplace. What has become troublesome for some admissions counselors is dealing with politics and the politics of race. It is becoming a challenge in this day and age of polarization. It can limit how schools can recruit some students.

For example, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said state funding should be limited for liberal arts degrees and provided instead for STEM degrees. In essence, the state is telling prospective students what majors are valuable and what they should study because their loans depend on it. That can make the job of admissions recruiters more challenging because it means casting aside needy prospects with designs on a liberal arts degree. Andrew Belasco, author of “The Enlightened College Applicant: A New Approach to the Search and Admissions Process,” and a leading expert on college admissions, said one of the Top 5 trends to watch in admissions is race-based court decisions. There was a lawsuit against Harvard brought by Asian students on the school capping admissions of Asians. Fisher vs. University of

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Texas at Austin turned into a Supreme Court case where a white plaintiff claimed she was discriminated against by affirmative action policies. The U.S. Department of Justice under the current administration has called for an investigation into the legality of race-based college admissions. Belasco said college admissions officers have to keep with court news—and politics—to do their jobs. If the politics of race are not challenging enough for schools, some admissions counselors have to adhere to the bottom line and hunt for tuition revenue. That means money can trump diversity, academ-

ic excellence, and fit. The competing missions—finding the right students vs. paying the bills—are stressful. But the work can be exhilarating and rewarding. Colleges and universities are looking at first-generation students to pick up the slack in enrollment and they are finding ambitious candidates. Minorities are becoming more empowered in some states and able to find money for school where their predecessors could not. Jason DeWitt, a research manager at the Clearinghouse, told National Public Radio that “Hispanics and first-generation college students” are going to make up a greater share of new college enrollment” similar

to how enrollments got a lift with women in the 1970s and 1980s. There is still room for old-school strategy in helping admissions officers: improving graduation and retention rates. Schools should not forget about their current students in their zeal to recruit new ones because there is nothing like success to keep your numbers up. Prospective students track the failure rates at schools and never assume it is the students’ fault for flunking out. Something must be wrong at the school. Schools might not be able to do anything about the economy or birth rates, but they can do something about retention and graduation.





ccording to the “National Landscape Analysis” report by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Association for Institutional Research and EDUCAUSE, “most institutions are investing in data and analytics projects, but few are measuring the resulting costs.”

The report shows that while more schools are using data in more ways as they modernize and manage programs to show returns on student and state investments, nearly one fourth of institutions are not collecting usable business and systems-level data and few institutions are systematically collecting, integrating, and using their data.

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HELP WANTED MORE INFO NEEDED ON BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE When it comes to choosing the best college fit, many students opt for the community college route. And while the numbers are declining (data from Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) shows an


STUDY SHOWS LEADING RECRUITING METHODS FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS Your incoming freshmen are there. According to the “2018 State of College Admission” by the National Association for College Admission, the number of applications from first-time freshmen increased 4%, with requests from prospective transfer students up 3%. So, how do you reach them? The study examines the leading strategies colleges and universities are using today. Here’s a look at the Top 10:

2017 2012

Email 87.5 79.4 Website 85.0 82.8 Hosted Campus Visit 81.3 56.8 Parents 64.4 25.7 High School Counselor 63.8 15.2 High School Visit (in the US) 58.8 12.8 College Fairs 49.7 24.0 Direct Mail 48.1 24.4 Social Media 44.4 30.6 Text Messaging 37.8 31.8

11% decline from 2012-2017), high school (HS) counselors say the key could be in the information available. According to the “Community Colleges and Transfer” study by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), only 55% of HS counselors had received professional development on ad-


vising students on the community college process over the past three years. Encouragingly, 82% of HS counselors say community colleges offer relatively easy application and enrollment processes, while 72% agree the institutions offer strong vocational and technical programs. As for cost savings for a bachelor’s degree, 80% say community colleges are a viable investment.

Despite an overall decrease in college enrollment from fall 2012 to fall 2017, the number of Hispanic students attending colleges and universities is on the rise, especially in Florida and Texas. According to the “National Center for Education Statistics” survey by Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), more than 204,000 students (a 22% increase) flocked to schools in the Southeast. Increases were also seen in the West (21%), Midwest (19%) and Northeast (21%). Here’s a look at overall enrollment by race/ethnicity: SOUTHEAST White Black Hispanic Other

2012 2017 57% 53% 22% 20% 14% 18% 5% 5%

WEST White Black Hispanic Other

2012 2017 49% 43% 7% 6% 23% 32% 13% 13%

MIDWEST White Black Hispanic Other

2012 2017 75% 72% 12% 10% 6% 9% 4% 5%

NORTHEAST 2012 2017 White 65% 60% Black 13% 13% Hispanic 12% 15% Other 8% 9%



MARRYING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY TO ENROLLMENT his year, Roberts Wesleyan College celebrated its highest overall enrollment since 2011. When Mary Sasso, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, conducted a deep dive into how the enrollment numbers for the Rochester, New York, college surged upward, she was pleased to find the data pointed to its integrated marketing campaign. Multiple touchpoints, including texts, digital advertising, direct mail, personalized letters, social media engagement, billboards, etc., jumped off the page. The well-structured strategy hit the mark. Among the myriad tactics that worked for the Roberts Wesleyan marketing team, one stood out—the sharing of relatable content via videos. The school’s YouTube views were up 201% over the previous year. “With video, a college can share student stories that engage pros-


pects,” Sasso says. Take the launch of “Music Therapy at Roberts,” a student orientation video featuring interviews with freshmen talking about why they are excited about college. “Students want to feel cared for, they want to trust their admissions team and get their questions answered by faculty and staff at a prospective college,” Sasso says. “It’s also important to connect prospects through current students. We feel that genuine connections start when a prospect first visits campus.” Sasso says that a student’s experience across all parts of their enrollment journey matters. For example, when Roberts Wesleyan was enrolling its 2019-20 class, it wanted to “dial up” its “Four Year Promise” messaging and make it more engaging and memorable to each prospect. Because statistics show that Roberts Wesleyans’ four-year graduation rate is nearly 10% percent higher than the average state university of New York rate, the video stands as a visual testimony to its achievement. “We knew that providing information to them about Roberts guaranteeing graduation within four years to qualified students entering the traditional undergraduate program would be important information, so we decided to have fun and create an engaging video to show at our visit days (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o3cx-

RDzBbA&t=14s). “From a customer visit perspective, students expect to be welcomed, cared for and to leave feeling more informed about the college.” At Roberts, this starts with even the simplest of steps in the journey—putting the student’s name on a LED screen above the reception desk with a “Welcome to Roberts” message. From there, the strategy includes meeting with faculty members to discuss their major. “We find that going above and beyond, and caring and understanding the person on the whole matters,” Sasso says. “We [try to] meet their expectations with a personalized visit that answers all their questions in a meaningful and memorable way.”

NEW DAY DAWNING As the rapidly shifting headwinds of technology continue to blow through today’s colleges and universities, keeping in step with how to engage with prospective students is paramount. It is one of the reasons Stony Brook University in New York brought Nicholas Scibetta on board in 2015. A seasoned marketing and communications specialist who spent time as global director and partner at Ketchum Public Relations, Scibetta oversaw the agency’s national and international communications programs,


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“We find that going above and beyond, and caring and understanding the person on the whole matters.” — Mary Sasso, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Roberts Wesleyan College


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“To be successful moving forward, there must be a concentrated focus on building the marketing function and all that this brings to the table.” — Nicholas Scibetta, VP for Marketing and Communications, Stony Brook University

providing senior strategic and global media planning counsel and placement for Fortune 500 clients. At Stony Brook, with the newly created position of VP for Marketing and Communications, he was tasked to create overarching communications, a brand strategy and visual identity. Part of that role included building a team to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic marketing and communications program—one that would advance the university’s image at the local,

state, national and global level. As Scibetta knew from his days on the global marketing front with Fortune 500 brands, understanding your customer’s journey along the buying (in this case, enrollment) cycle is critical. He also knew that it was a new day on the higher ed landscape. “There is a greater strategic focus on growing the marketing function within the team,” says Scibetta, who is active on a number of marketing-related boards, including the American Marketing Asso-

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ciation (AMA). “To be successful moving forward, there must be a concentrated focus on building the marketing function and all that this brings to the table. This will only be successful if both sides of the house are integrated and working together on all levels.” “As advancing technology impacts every marketing and communications function, it is forcing MarCom teams in the higher ed space to redefine their roles and responsibilities, and even their value proposition,” Scibetta says. “By combining big data with

mobile technology, higher ed institutions are offering novel ways to contextualize and understand what they are learning. Predictive analytics enables university teams to do a better job understanding today’s students.” On the enrollment front, higher ed marketers are able to identify the myriad sources that can provide information on who (and where) their prospects are. For example, integrated marketing technologies like email marketing automation are enabling schools

to see all of their prospects’ touchpoints and their engagements, providing keen insight into potential students’ journeys. As in any space, there is work to do. For example, the “Salesforce State of Marketing” report showed that only 30% of marketers use customer data to create more relevant experiences, something that higher ed marketers can process and file. Embracing the benefits that technology provides, when fully realized, will be a university marketing team’s biggest ally. “Technology is increasingly used by prospective students to search for colleges, through online channels, mobile apps, social media and resources like virtual tours,” says Stefan Hyman, Interim Associate Provost for Enrollment and Retention Management in Stony Brook’s Office of Enrollment and Retention Management. “We need to be closely monitoring and testing new opportunities to leverage technologies, while also doing market research and speaking with our target audiences about not only which technologies they’re using, but also how they’re using them and how comfortable they are to receive marketing in those spaces.” The line where technology and real life connections intersect is another plane higher ed marketers must learn to straddle. Sasso recounts the story of a colleague who was touring a college with her daughter. Unfamiliar to the area, they ended up being late for a campus visit. When they called the school, the admissions receptionist was rude, extolling the fact that their tardiness would throw everyone’s schedule off. Arriving a little late, they apologized to the other parents, who were not bothered in the least. During the lunch gathering, they discovered they intentionally were not given meal vouchers. “Needless to say, they did not select that college,” Sasso says. “Two years later and they still have negative feelings about that school.” The point is that every step in a prospective student’s journey matters—every single one. Creating a holistic view into each student’s journey and interactions will help create campaigns that drive conversions. “Customer [student] experience does matter,” Sasso says. “Knowing who they are and their expectations will help answer all their questions in a meaningful and memorable way.”


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TECHNOLOGY TRAILBLAZER ON WHAT SHOULD TOP EVERY HIGHER ED MARKETER’S TO-DO LIST Apple. Nintendo. Southwest Airlines. These are just a few of the many leading brands that turn to Tom Edwards when they need strategic planning and insights. The founder of technology consulting firm BlackFin360 is a conduit for the kind of forward thinking needed to thrive in today’s ever-evolving futuristic landscape. When it comes to staying ahead of the competition, Edwards helps brands understand how consumer behavior is shaping emerging technology and vice versa. A formal advisor and board member for multiple technology start-ups, he also has spent 15 years as an adjunct faculty member at various universities, most recently with SMU in Dallas. EDgage sat down with Edwards to get his thoughts on the role technology plays in today’s higher ed landscape. Give us a snapshot of the technology landscape today (as it relates to marketing). We live in an amazing time. Technology is culture and culture is technology. So much of the focus the past few years has been about real-time, contextual and personalization at scale. Data’s role in driving decisioning, especially leveraging machine learning to derive themes, perceptions and occasions, is revolutionizing how we derive affinity and intent signals from consumers. We can now return in time and process millions of conversations to understand unbiased consumer behavior and have the ability to align that with evolving consumer experiences. The other major shift is we are quickly moving from desktop and mobile-centric experiences toward multi-modal at scale. This includes voice, vision and touch. The rise and adoption of virtual assistants, advancements in computer vision and democratization of augmented reality experiences, and the rise of gesture-based experiences make it a great time to be a consumer



moving forward—from organizational efficiency, enhancing student experiences and redefining coursework, to shift toward critical thinking in support of intelligence augmentation. Universities can leverage AI to streamline the admissions process, quickly access the sentiment and areas of interest of their student and faculty population, use AI to drive fundraising and create personalized experiences for alumni.

Technology and experience will continue to evolve. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education.

and marketer. How will technology continue to impact the higher ed space? Technology and experience will continue to evolve. I used to talk about how disruption was the new normal, and how a single technology could have a transformational impact. Now, it’s less about disruption and more about exponential acceleration through intelligent systems. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education. With the rollout of 5G connectivity across campuses, we will see responsive and immersive augmented reality, high quality streaming for on-demand and live casting of classes, 5G-enabled edge computing/analytics to optimize the on-campus experience, and making IOT more accessible to close the gap between context and awareness.


What role will technologies like AI continue to have on today’s campuses and universities? AI will have a significant impact


AI will also enhance students’ capabilities to learn—from leveraging visual search and computer vision-enabled experiences, to shifting coursework to focus more on critical and strategic thinking, and using data and analytics to fuel experiences. What are things higher ed marketers should think about when it comes to technology? I’ve been involved with higher education at varying levels for the past 15 years. I have instructed thousands of students, and most recently lectured at SMU in Dallas. I am also a part of its Big Data advisory council. For me, it is an evolution of the traditional 4P’s of marketing. Since the ’60s, it has been about product, price, place and promotion. With the rise of intelli-


gent systems, it is less about the traditional 4P’s and more about the new 4P’s: Plan, Predictive, Proxy and Pervasive. Plan is having a plan for the use and data: how it is captured, structured, cleansed, analyzed and fed into intelligent systems, as data is oil for AI. Predictive is leveraging data and machine learning to drive predictive decisioning. Proxy is all about virtual assistants becoming personal proxies for individuals. The data plus predictive decisioning capability combined with virtual proxies will give rise to the proxy web where our virtual assistants represent our preferences and interface with other proxies. Finally, pervasive is about designing for multi-modal interfaces at a time when the mobile device will no longer be our primary device but our environment adapts to us. What should every higher ed professional know about technology? Understand that behaviors and expectations of students is evolving. Students are empowered to control experiences. Accessibility has led to ubiquity and Gen Z and Generation Alpha are quickly shifting traditional behaviors. From expectations of ondemand content, gaming and eSports to expectations tied to immersive and low-lag experiences. Universities have to evolve their infrastructure toward a 5G future and higher ed professionals will need to rethink curriculum toward data, analytics and multi-modal experiences.


For our entire interview with Nicholas Scibetta, visit us online at www.kelmscott.edu


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A different road



46% Taking online classes

ith college tuition on the rise and college degrees not guaranteeing jobs, more young people are delaying higher education. According to TD Ameritrade’s “2019 Young Americans & College Survey,” nearly one in five young millennials haven’t gone to college or trade school and aren’t sure they ever will. So, what are they doing? Here’s a look at some of their alternative strategies to the standard college experience:

36% Attending community college before a 4-year college





Attending a community college instead of a 4-year college

Completing a 2-year degree instead of a 4-year degree

Delaying college due to the expense of paying for it

Taking a gap year between high school and college

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In a time when everyone is getting hit from all sides on the digital front, you have an opportunity to step outside the lines. That means to think print. When it comes to getting your message in front of prospective students, print offers a host of intriguing opportunities. Complements of the book “The D.I.Y. Newsroom,” here are five reasons print still can be a higher ed marketer’s best friend:


Digital grabs your attention, but print gets your respect. Take Gen X and millennials (yes, them) who say they trust print more than other sources. In Two Sides America’s “Print and Paper in a Digital World” report, 63 percent say they gain a deeper understanding of something they read in print over a digital source.


The tangibility of print ignites senses in a different way from what you see on a screen. Print offers a comforting laid-back experience, something that’s engineered to remember.


While the smartphone is the ultimate utilitarian device, you can do a lot with paper, too. The best print messaging curates what you want to say and enlightens prospective

students about everything and anything related to your school.

reaction and a desire for a product or service.



You process, retain and recall information better via print. For example, a Temple University study found that paper beat digital in a host of areas, including for creating an emotional

Print offers fresh currency in a digital world where everyone lives out their personal and business existences ostentatiously on social media.

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