Insights — The Higher Ed CMO Survey FAQ

The Higher Ed CMO Survey FAQ

Announcements , Higher Ed CMO Study / July 11, 2021
Malachi Koop
Malachi Koop

The Higher Education CMO Survey is officially open for data collection!

If you've already signed up for our study or had previously participated, you should receive an invitation with your unique code to fill out our survey. 

Didn't get an invite but still want to participate? Just sign up and we'll send you an invitation with your unique link. 

What is it? 

The SimpsonScarborough Higher Ed CMO Study is an industry-wide comprehensive study to capture comparative data on budgets and resourcing, organizational structure and staffing, marketing performance, strategic priorities, software tools, and much more. 

Who's eligible to participate? 

We invite the senior-most professional overseeing marketing at any U.S. 4-year, nonprofit college or university to participate, regardless of your exact title. At most institutions, that's the CMO or VP/AVP of Marketing & Communications. 

Why aren't 2-year institutions included? 

This is exclusively due to the constraints of sample size. We want to ensure our data allows us to benchmark the industry and give institutions meaningful comparison data to know how they stack up against their peer institutions, and so we need to ensure 4-year institutions can compare to other 4-year institutions and 2-year institutions to other 2-year institutions.

While we want to include 2-year institutions in our study, we would need to essentially double the total sample size we collect, ensuring proper quotas from each. However, we recognize the critical role 2-year institutions play in our nation's higher education ecosystem and we hope our study grows large enough to include them in the future — possibly as early as next year. 

Will anyone be able to identify me or my specific institution? 

Absolutely not. Your responses are both anonymous and confidential and data is only ever presented in aggregate form, even when filtered. No one will ever be able to trace back your responses to yourself or your institution.

As a company that built its foundation in market research, this is something we take very seriously. Please see our privacy policy for additional information.

What's new for this year?

Every year we review our instrument to ensure we're answering the most important questions while preserving our ability for replication to identify meaningful changes, emerging trends, and to track progress within the industry. That was even more critical this year given how covid has permanently transformed nearly everything in our world. 

This year, we've added more questions about your MarTech stack, tools, and software, as well as digital strategy and advertising. We're also consulting additional primary and secondary data sources, including a soon-to-be-announced study, to make the CMO Survey even more comprehensive, valuable, and actionable for higher ed marketers. 

But by far, what we're most excited about is how the data will be presented early next Spring. We're designing an interactive, digital experience, to further empower higher ed marketers to get the most pertinent data they need, however they need it, whenever they need it. 

Why do you do this study? 

First, we want to advance the role of Marketing Communications within Higher Education. We believe your work is critical to the success of the entire industry and that marketing strategy should be viewed as institutional strategy, full stop.

Second, we want to empower Senior-level Marketers with the most valuable benchmarking data to understand how your institution compares to its peer set when it comes to resourcing, performance, strategic priorities, and more. These are critical data to securing budget and staffing increases as well as assessing effectiveness to peer institutions.

When will the study be published?

The study will be published in Q1 of 2022 in a new, interactive format designed to create even more value for survey participants and the industry as a whole. 

Publishing in Q1 of 2022 also ensures the data will be available to help inform critical budgeting discussions for FY 22-23. 

How many years have you done this? 

The first CMO Study was published in 2014 and subsequent versions were completed in 2016 & 2019. 

Can I see the most recent study? 

Yes, you can download the 2019 Higher Ed CMO Study here.

Additionally, you can view all four of our studies about the impact of covid on higher education here

How long will it take? Is there any prep work?

The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. We will ask about your Institution’s Total Operating Budget as well as several questions regarding your Central Marketing & Communications Budget, so it may be helpful to gather that information ahead of time.

  • Institutional Operating Budget for FY 21-22
  • Central Marketing & Communications Budget (including salaries and operating expenses) for FY 21-22

How can I help promote the study? 

This is our favorite question! The value and efficacy of the study are reliant on significant levels of participation — aka, the more the merrier. The more data we get, the more opportunities we have to dig into it and run secondary analyses that often uncover the richest insights or hidden patterns. In 2019, there were a couple of really interesting patterns we found in the data but once we got down to these smaller segments we didn't have a large enough sample size to feel confident that we could draw a meaningful conclusion. We really don't want that to happen again. 

We need your help to ensure this is our largest and most effective CMO Study yet. Here's what you can do:

Ensure Your Institution Participates
Whether that's you, your boss, or your colleague — make sure they know about it and sign up to take the survey asap! 

Share With Your Network
Make sure all your industry colleagues know about it, too. Share the 2019 Study with them if they've never seen it and tell them how you've used the study to inform your own marketing strategies, priorities, and initiatives.  

Tell Us Your Experience
How have you used the study? Did it help inform a new initiative you launched? Help you secure more budget or staff? Change your CMS or CRM? Whatever it is, drop us a line and tell us how it's been valuable in your work and we'll post about it on social media using the CMO Study hashtag— #SimpScarCMOStudy

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