Retention marketing: Higher education’s new frontier

Andrew McDaniel, Associate Director, and Jenn Vaughn, Senior Brand Manager, Student Affairs Marketing and Communications, UC Davis

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Abstract: The higher education landscape is changing: 75 per cent of Generation Z say that college is not the only way to get a good education. The 2008 birth dearth has shrunk our pool of 18-year-olds by 15 per cent. National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC’s) ethic code changes mean colleges can poach our students like never before — and that was all before COVID-19. In this new frontier, retention marketing is paramount. This paper provides insights and approaches to retention marketing that will fit a wide range of audience needs, including case studies from our work at UC Davis Student Affairs Marketing and Communications as it relates to retention and our research into Gen Z.


Keywords: retention; marketing; Generation Z; communications


Andrew Mcdaniel is an award-winning marketing and communications professional with a penchant for storytelling across multiple channels and platforms. He currently serves as Associate Director for Student Affairs Marketing and Communications at UC Davis. He has worked in journalism, marketing, public relations and communications. He has written more than 600 published articles, produced 23 nationally syndicated radio documentaries and has written advertising copy for international companies, including Chiquita and Ocean Spray. Andrew has worked in higher education for several years, where he co-led the launch of UC Davis’ first Sexual Violence Education and Awareness campaign in 2016 and the UC Davis NOW mobile app in 2018.


Jenn Vaughn worked for boutique design agencies, tech startups and Fortune 500 companies before pursuing her dream job in higher education. As Senior Brand Manager for Student Affairs Marketing and Communications at UC Davis, she leads brand strategy across all divisional departments, channels and segments. As a first-generation college student, she earned a BA in public communication from American University. For 20 years, she has art-directed integrated marketing campaigns across print, digital and social and led rebranding efforts for large-scale, corporate identity systems. With over 100 logos to her credit, her work also includes designing the logo, identity system and branding standards for Howard University and Washington and Lee University, designing the UI/UX for a cloud storage app for Western Digital and redesigning the website for Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco. She has won numerous marketing and higher education awards, including CASE District VII Circle of Excellence’s highest honour, Grand Gold.


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