College Marketing Budget Trends

Posted by Ed Sirianno on 11.7.2013

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), in partnership with research firm Lipman Hearne, have been researching marketing and communications trends at colleges and universities for more than 10 years.These findings were released from an annual survey of marketing spending at colleges and universities. The report shows that colleges that have increased their marketing budgets and their use of new media have seen a commensurate rise in both enrollment and the quality of their applicants.

CASE has been conducting surveys on marketing in academia for a decade, and they've found that this perspective is becomingly increasingly common among American colleges and universities. The strongest trend that has emerged in the past ten years is a steady increase in marketing spending across institution types. Since 2001, the median marketing spending at small, medium and large colleges and universities has increased between 60 and 100 percent (adjusted for inflation). As the report points out, marketing has become a 'mission critical process in higher education, worthy of significant investment.'

Effective Partnerships

According to the CASE research, getting help pays off. The report showed that institutions that partnered with outside firms for digital advertising had better results. Partnered schools saw an increase in applicants (96%) than those who went solo (82%), as well as greater enrollment yield (88% vs. 67%) and total giving (76% vs. 49%). Applicant quality also improved more for partnered schools than solo schools, as did visibility.

The point is clear: If you want a greater return on your marketing investments, get help from marketing experts..

The Findings Key Insights

CASE presented five 'key insights' from their latest research order to guide schools in benchmarking spending in support of effective marketing goals. Marketers seeking the most targeted information to their school can also view the results broken down by institutional size and type. In this blog, I'll present the 1st of 5 key insights from the research.

1. Deep Marketing- A 6% investment pays dividends.

'Deep marketing' refers to the use of research and planning to guide marketing efforts. The researchers found that this investment pays off - 71% of institutions that devoted 6% or more of their marketing budgets to these activities reported a positive impact on the quality of their applicants.

The report suggests this effect may be due to a greater likelihood to use admissions viewbooks, employ social media and assemble institution-wide marketing committees. Other positive impacts from these efforts appeared in brand management and positioning.

Of those institutions that devoted less than 6% of their marketing funds to strategy and research, only 52% reported a positive impact in student quality or branding. These findings suggest that investing in strategic planning not only results in better identity control for the school, but pays off in a higher quality potential student pool.


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