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WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY AT PARKERSBURG

MARKET RESEARCH SURVEY

Prepared for Katie Wootton


Director of Marketing & Communications
West Virginia University at Parkersburg

October 12, 2015


Darron Cummins
Lauren T. Krupica
Tim Kuehne
Lisa Sekula

Executive Summary
In 1961, the Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University was opened in an abandoned school
building with an enrollment of 104 students. The school grew and expanded, both in enrollment
and infrastructure and, in 1971, became Parkersburg Community College under state law. In 1989,
the legislature changed the schools status to that of a regional campus of West Virginia University
and renamed it West Virginia University at Parkersburg (WVUP).
In 2008, the West Virginia Legislature set out to revitalize West Virginias community and
technical colleges and named WVUP an independently accredited State Institution of Higher
Education. WVUP was one of a number of institutions founded to fulfill the Legislatures purpose
of creating a network of community and technical colleges that focus on technical education,
work force training, and lifelong learning for the Twenty-first Century. (W. Va. Code 18B-3C8(a)(2).
By 2010, WVUP continued a streak of record-enrollment and was ranked as the fourth
largest institution of higher education in the State of West Virginia, enrolling more than West
Virginia Universitys divisional campuses combined. WVUPs two-location campus serves over
3,000 students in Parkersburg and Ripley and provides a wide range of educational opportunities
from a robust offering of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses to
education and criminal justice to fine arts.
Though WVUP is by all accounts a highly successful educational institution, it continues
to look for ways to succeed in achieving the goals of its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. In its effort to
become the regional college of choice, WVUP must reach the broadest range of its potential
student population in the most effective manner available.

In an effort to assist WVUP in achieving its admissions goals, our group administered a
survey to local high school students. The results of the survey indicate that outreach to students
matriculating directly from high schools should be heavily web-focused, with an emphasis on
using social media sites, ensuring that WVUP is placed at the top of Google search results, and
contacting students via e-mail.

The Client

In an effort to assist WVUP in reaching the broadest group of potential students in the most
effective manner, our group approached Katie Wootton, Director of Marketing &
Communications at WVUP and offered our assistance. Ms. Wootton can be contacted at
304.424.8203 or by e-mail at Katie.Wooton@wvup.edu.

Methods

Our group developed a Qualtrics survey, attached as Appendix 1, designed to identify the
types of media most commonly and most frequently consumed by high school students in the MidOhio Valley in hopes of finding the most effective way of communicating with potential students.
The survey targeted high school students, as these traditional-aged students currently make up 60%
of matriculants at WVUP. The survey focused on six major areas: electronic communications, web
activity, social media engagement, radio and newspaper usage, television viewing, and written
media. Participants were offered a chance to enter into a drawing for a $20 gift card for completing
the survey.
A group representative contacted principals of local high schools to preview the survey and
ask whether we could solicit participation from students. The principals agreed, and during the
month of September, a group representative visited high schools during lunch and requested survey
completion via iPads provided by WVUP. The survey was also shared via link to Qualtrics on
Facebook. In addition, a mass e-mail was sent to high school teachers in the Mid-Ohio Valley
requesting promotion of the survey.

Results

The results indicate that the market for potential matriculants directly out of high school
are a sophisticated, technologically connected group. The respondents access the internet primarily
with their mobile devices, and most frequently spend time on the social media sites Snapchat,
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The respondents report spending most of their time on the web
researching colleges, most commonly using Googles search engine. The most effective way to
communicate with these potential students will be to create an advertising campaign that combines
an active social media presence with a reliable, informative website that tracks web analytics and
results in targeted web display advertising.

Demographics

We determined that of the 240 completed responses received, 54% were females, 44%
were males, and 2% preferred not to answer. 53% of respondents were juniors in high school, and
50% of respondents were from Parkersburg South High School.
#
1
2

Answer
Male
Female
Prefer not to
answer
Total

Response
106
129

%
44%
54%

2%

240

100%

#
1
2
3
4

Answer
Freshman
Sophomore
Junior
Senior
Total

Response
16
29
126
69
240

%
7%
12%
53%
29%
100%

Answer
Parkersburg High
School
Parkersburg
South High
School
Williamstown
High School
St. Marys High
School
Wirt Co. High
School
Other (please
specify)
Total

Response

50

21%

121

50%

1%

32

13%

21

9%

13

5%

240

100%

1
2
3
4
5
6

Television Consumption

The next series of questions focused on television viewing habits. Seventy-eight percent of
respondents report watching television. Forty-one percent of respondents report watching only
between one and five hours a week, while the next largest group of respondents, 28%, report
watching only five to ten hours a week. A whopping 81% of respondents report subscribing to a
television streaming service, with Netflix being by far the most popular with 96% of respondents
subscribing. While streaming subscriptions are extremely popular, 84% of respondents still
subscribe to cable.
The cable channels that are the most popular among the respondents are ESPN, ABC
Family, FX, Comedy Central, TruTV, and MTV. The least popular cable channels are TV Land,
Showtime, and E!
Do you regularly watch television (including streaming services i.e. Netflix)?
#
Answer
1
Yes
2
No
Total

Response
186
54
240

%
78%
23%
100%

How many hours per week do you watch television?


#
Answer
1
Less then 1
2
1-5
3
5-10
4
10-20
5
over 20
Total

Response
13
76
52
26
18
185

%
7%
41%
28%
14%
10%
100%

Do you use a television streaming service?


#
Answer
1
Yes
2
No
Total

Response
150
35
185

%
81%
19%
100%

Which services do you use? (Check all that apply)


#
Answer
1
Netflix
2
Hulu
3
Amazon
Other (Please
4
list)
Do you have cable?
#
Answer
1
Yes
2
No
Total

Response
143
23
11

%
96%
15%
7%

13

9%

Response
155
29
184

%
84%
16%
100%

How often do you watch these channels?

E-mail Use

E-mail use is a typical form of communication. Seventy-two percent of respondents report


that they have an e-mail account that they check regularly, 45% of respondents check their e-mail
at least daily, but only 17% check their e-mail more than one time a day.
Do you have an email account you check regularly?
#
Answer
1
Yes
2
No
Total
How often do you check your e-mail?
#
Answer
Multiple times
1
a day
2
Daily
3
Weekly
4
Monthly
Total

Response
171
65
236

%
72%
28%
100%

Response

28

17%

73
48
13
162

45%
30%
8%
100%

10

Web Activity

Google is the most commonly used search engine, with 94% of respondents reporting that
it is their most often-used search engine. When seeking information about a particular
organization, 57% of respondents would look to the organizations website. An organizations
social media page would be of interest to 23% percent of respondents for organizational
information. The respondents are active online for a variety of reasons. Respondents reported
spending the least amount of their online activity completing homework and the most amount of
time researching colleges. Respondents most frequently access the internet using their mobile
devices and, second most frequently, their tablets.

What search engine do you most often use?


#
Answer
1
Google
2
Bing
3
Yahoo!
Other (please
4
specify)
Total

Response
223
2
7

%
94%
1%
3%

2%

236

100%

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If you want more information about an organization, which of the following would you be most likely to do?
#
Answer
Response
%
Visit their social
media page
1
52
23%
(Facebook,
Twitter, etc)
Visit their
2
128
57%
website
Visit review
3
websites such as
6
3%
Yelp
Call and request
4
8
4%
information
E-mail them
with questions
5
7
3%
or requests for
information
6
Ask around
25
11%
Total
226
100%

In terms of time spent online, please rank the following activities from 1 (least often) to 8 (most often)
Total
#
Answer
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Responses
Doing
1
69
36
31
18
16
21
17
18
226
homework
Checking e2
9
36
40
34
37
35
22
13
226
mail
Chatting
3
25
43
38
36
28
17
23
16
226
with friends
Reading
4
websites for
14
19
27
36
22
38
37
33
226
fun
Watching
5
videos on
22
22
31
33
48
26
24
20
226
Youtube
Playing
6
22
21
19
30
30
46
26
32
226
games
Using
7
social
47
36
29
16
14
11
43
30
226
media
Researching
8
18
13
11
23
31
32
34
64
226
colleges
Total
226
226
226
226
226
226
226
226
-

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Statistic
Min
Value
Max
Value
Mean
Variance
Standard
Deviation
Total
Responses

Doing
homework

Checking
e-mail

Chatting
with
friends

Reading
websites
for fun

Watching
videos on
Youtube

Playing
games

Using
social
media

Researching
colleges

3.43
5.61

4.38
3.62

3.98
4.42

5.04
4.54

4.49
4.22

4.89
4.81

4.19
6.72

5.60
5.04

2.37

1.90

2.10

2.13

2.06

2.19

2.59

2.25

226

226

226

226

226

226

226

226

How often do you use the following items to access the internet:

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Social Media Use


Social Media usage is common among the respondents, with four particular social media
sites being most commonly used. In descending order of popularity: Snapchat, Instagram,
Facebook, and Twitter are the sites respondents report accessing daily.

Question

Never

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Snapchat
Google+
Tumblr
Pinterest

81
46
59
52
127
181
145

Less
than
Once a
Month
8
7
2
5
8
2
16

Once a
Month
6
10
2
3
6
6
4

2-3
Times
a
Month
6
9
5
4
5
6
12

Once a
Week
14
12
7
9
16
2
14

2-3
Times
a
Week
14
27
23
17
19
8
20

Daily

Total
Responses

Mean

97
115
128
136
45
21
15

226
226
226
226
226
226
226

4.30
5.10
5.12
5.25
3.05
1.91
2.35

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Newspaper and Radio Consumption


Respondents report highly infrequent reading of The News and Sentinel, with 35% of
respondents reporting that they never read either publication, and 21% reading it less than once a
month. Listening to the radio is not an activity in which respondents frequently participate; though,
when respondents do listen to the radio, station 102.1 for thirty minutes to one hour a week is most
common.
How often do you read The News and Sentinel:

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Do you listen to any of the following radio stations weekly? If so, how much?

Suggestions for Contacting Potential Students



Respondents were provided an opportunity to suggest the best way for a college to contact
them. The most commonly requested manner of contact was e-mail, followed by social media.

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Discussion

A. Social Media, E-mail, & Web Activity



The survey results revealed that the market for potential students is highly connected via
mobile devices to four particular social media sites: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
It is key for WVUP to follow the lead of these students and ensure it has operative, active accounts
on each of the four of these platforms.
Potential students rely heavily on an organizations web site for reliable information about
an organizations products and services. WVUP should continue to keep its website updated with
the latest information and consider auditing its current website for optimum navigability. WVUP
also may want to consider a web analytics package that will measure traffic, clicks, page views,
and perhaps consider the use of cookies for targeted display web advertising. Information that
students want and need to know to entice them to attend WVUP should be front and center. Of
critical importance is that the website must be mobile-device compatible as this is the technology
most often employed for web activity. This is also crucial given that the majority of students
responded that most of their time spent online is for the purpose of researching colleges. A welldesigned, mobile device-compatible website is likely to draw students to frequently view and
explore the WVUP website, which is an important factor when competing with other colleges for
a potential students limited time.
Another important part of reaching students via the web is to ensure WVUP has a strong
presence when searched via internet search engine. Google is by far the most popular search engine
used by respondents. Therefore, it should ensure that its website is defined so that Googles

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webcrawlers can sufficiently read and index the site so that it will pop up at the top of search results
for any number of search terms. The same goes for all of WVUPs social media pages.
While a sophisticated and useful website and active social media accounts are critical to
ensure that potential students can easily learn about and contact WVUP, e-mail is the most
effective way to contact potential students. WVUP should focus its efforts on collecting potential
students e-mail addresses. Some ways in which this might be accomplished is providing an option
on the website for students to input their e-mail addresses if they would like more information;
collecting e-mail addresses directly from interested students during recruitment visits; and
contacting schools and asking for lists of student e-mail addresses, though whether this information
may be released as Directory Information pursuant to the Family Educational Privacy Rights Act
will be based on the unique policies of each school. Ultimately, it is essential that the
communication plan include the use of e-mail.
B. Television

While television-streaming services are extremely popular among potential students, a
sizeable portion still subscribes to cable, and there are clear frontrunners for the most popular
channels. Some of WVUPs advertising budget should be directed towards producing commercials
to air on ESPN, ABC Family, FX, Comedy Central, TruTV, and MTV.
C. Radio and Newspaper

The least amount of advertising efforts and dollars should go towards newspaper
advertisements or radio spots for attracting the average, directly out of high school student.
Potential students in the high school age range are far more likely to get their information from

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web resources. With that said, if radio spots are desired, station 102.1 is most likely to reach the
respondents to this survey.
It should be noted that potential students in the adult learner category may be more likely
to read the local paper or spend more time listening to the radio if they commute to work. With
this in mind, if WVUPs budget allows, it may be prudent to direct some targeted advertising
efforts towards newspaper readers and radio listeners who fit into the potential adult learner
category.

Recommendations Summary

WVUP should focus on creating active Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and
Twitter accounts.
WVUP should ensure that its website is properly indexed on Google for
optimum placement in search results.
WVUP should invest in a web analytics package and employ cookies for
targeted web advertising.
WVUP should collect potential students e-mail addresses when possible and
use those as a means to provide information about WVUP.
Television spots should be placed on the channels that students watch most:
ESPN, ABC Family, FX, Comedy Central, TruTV, and MTV.
Targeted advertising of adult learner-specific programs may be effective on the
radio or in the newspaper; less emphasis should be placed on employing this
type of media to attract students who will be matriculating directly from high
school.

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