Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

MyIntuition: Quick & Easy Cost Estimate at a Public University

In February 2014 I picked a "MyIntuition" cost calculator at Wellesley College as a quick and easy alternative to Net Price Calculators that most often were needlessly FAFSA-like in the number of questions asked and time required to get a price estimate. 

The Wellesley College MyIntuition alternative asked just 7 questions and could be completed in not many more minutes. Today's Link of the Week features a rare example of a public university that has adopted the same name and a similar format borrowed from Wellesley.

Gain a Marketing Advantage

Even with early FAFSA filing, it is reasonable to think that many families will value a quick and easy estimate of their likely expenses early in the college selection process. Colleges that provide quick and easy estimates will gain a marketing advantage over their rivals. Very few do that.

The UVA form asked just a few basic financial questions: family income, home value, savings, investments other than those in retirement plans, and the number of children in college. UVA also wants to know whether or not the person completing the form is a Virginia resident.

At the end UVA gives a range of 3 "Your Estimated Cost" possibilities: 
  • Low Estimate at $12,000
  • Best Estimate at $17,600
  • High Estimate at $24,000 
Each of those was far lower than the "sticker price" for an out-of-state student.

Mobile Ratings: Speed Slow, Experience High

On mobile, Google PageSpeed Insights gives the UVA version a relatively slow 67/100 and a high 96/100 for User Experience when the page opens. That last number seems odd to me as the page on my iPhone requires sideways scrolling to view. Not all of the MyIntuition heading is visible. (At Wellesley, the Speed rating is a very low 44 but once downloaded the entire page is visible.)

Follow the Link of the Week

To see how a public university has adopted the MyIntuition approach to countering tuition price sticker shock, visit the University of Virginia "Affording UVA" page and scroll down until you arrive at "How much will UVA cost me?"

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.




Prompting Students to File an Early FAFSA: 5 Seconds or Less

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Reaction from colleges and universities to the Federal Government's creation of an early FAFSA filing date has been, to be kind, mixed. 

Relatively few colleges and universities have made changes on their "financial aid and scholarship" web pages to seriously promote use of the early (October 1) filing opportunity.

And so San Diego State University deserves special credit for featuring the new filing date in a prominent spot on the "Financial Aid & Scholarships" page that you can't miss when the page opens. It easily passes the 5-second rule for immediate engagement.

Just under the calendar date is a link to a NACAC video that also promotes early FAFSA filing. That video needs help with links from from other colleges and universities, Since it was added to YouTube on August 16 only 3,952 people had visited it as I typed this.

Mobile Experience: Unusually Low Score

On mobile, the SDSU site is not yet responsive. The result is an unusually low User Experience score from Google PageSpeed Insights of 66/100. The Speed rating also is low at 59/100 but that's in the range of most higher education sites, responsively designed or not. 

Follow the Link of the Week

For an example of how more colleges and universities might create higher awareness of the October 1 early FAFSA opportunity, visit the San Diego State University "Financial Aid & Scholarships" site.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.


September greetings to everyone. This Friday I am headed for Rome and our annual Carewords partners meeting with Gerry McGovern and old and new friends. We will focus on Top Task research results from the past year and plans for 2017.

And thus this reminder: If you work at a college or university, reply to this email and ask me for an invitation to the "Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content" group on LinkedIn. Or, if you are already on LinkedIn, request a membership invitation at bit.ly/2cyyLs5.

To date, 200 people have joined from the U.S. and at least 8 other countries.

My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is online now at bit.ly/2aDS5BV .



AMA Conference Event in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at bit.ly/2buWkQM. Early registration discount is open until November.

Join 7,290+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for your daily marketing updates.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for September.


Cartoon of the Month: On the Pokemon Go Phenomenon

View the cartoon and read Tom Fishburne on why we are still in "an awkward adolescent stage of digital marketing." Start your visit at bit.ly/2cqjfyj.



Campus Tours: Questioning the Value

If there is one element of a student recruitment campaign that remains as important today as it did 15 and 20 years ago, it is the campus visit.

Like everything else, campus visits can be done well and not-so-well. To help tune your campus visit program, read the words of one parent about unreal and ineffective elements in "Do you really have to go on college tours?" from the Washington Post at wapo.st/2cyDo5K.


Student Migration: Moving to and from Out-of-State Public Universities

Which states are gaining and losing public university students as people enroll outside their home state?

The NY Times has an easy-to-read graphic display of movement within the United State that will also let you check the stats for individual states. California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas are among the loss leaders.

See if your state was a winner or loser, including where students came from and where they went, at nyti.ms/2caUMz2.


Marketers Must Read: Gerry McGovern on the Value of Website Speed

Are you still fighting the website speed battle on your campus? If so, make sure everyone reads "Speed is the best measure of customer experience."

Circulate the stats you will find here on the impact of 2 seconds slower download time on conversions, bounce rates, time on page, and just about everything else. If websites for schools that you compete with work faster than yours, you have a marketing challenge.

Build a stronger case for improving the speed of your website using information in the article at bit.ly/2bR4Iu4.



Super Fast Mobile Home Page Features Academic Program Choices

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What makes a university home page earn a "super fast" designation for display time on a smartphone? A score of 92/100 on Google PageSpeed Insights. That is the only home page I've ever tested that scored 80 or higher. 

On mobile, and everywhere else, every second counts with impatient web visitors. 

Of course, speed without content that speaks to the top tasks of potential students is not an effective marketing combination. The Full Sail home page passes that test as well:
  • A horizontal array of 8 major academic program areas is immediately visible on a large screen in less than 5 seconds when the home page opens. On a smartphone, you'll see the first two areas and easily scroll to the others.
  • Clicking on your area of interest brings a list of the specific programs in each area. 
  • You can move on in seconds to an individual program of special interest.
Mobile "Experience" Also High

On mobile, the User Experience rating is high as well: 99/100. Unlike the speed rating, most college and university website win a 90+ User Experience rating.

For more on the Speed result, put the Full Sail home page URL into Google PageSpeed Insights and check the "8 Passed Rules." No site is perfect so also note the 2 "Consider Fixing" points. And then, of course, compare the results with your home page.

Follow the Link of the Week

To visit a university home page that is as rare as a unicorn, visit the Full Sail University home page

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.



Parents Site Gives Dominant Position to 5 "Popular Parents Resources"

Today we feature one of the rare websites for parents that gives dominant position to a small selection of links representing priority content for parents. 

As this page opens, you will not see any of the usual long text introductions that dominate most higher education websites for parents. You will not even see a photo of smiling parents and their children. Instead, you will in just 1 or 2 seconds see these 5 links:
  • Campus Safety
  • Pay My Bill
  • Parent and Family Programs
  • Inclusive Illinois
  • Undergraduate Admissions
How many sites for parents have you seen that start with information about "Campus Safety"?

The design used here is perfect for top task use. Are all of these 5 links top tasks? Perhaps not. I'd wager that the content behind "Inclusive Illinois" is not a top task for most people. First step: check the analytics to see which of the links is most often used by visitors to the page. A second step would be a formal task research project among parents. And I'd bet that "Campus Safety" and "Pay My Bill" wold both be high on the list.

Google PageSpeed Insights Results

On mobile, we have the usual Google PageSpeed Insights result for Speed (a weak 66/100) and a higher-than-usual 100/100 for User Experience.

Follow the Link of the Week

To see a unique approach to website design for parents, visit the University of Illinois website for Popular Parents Resources.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.








Bob Johnson
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