Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter... October 2008

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Mid-fall greetings to everyone and a special welcome to the new subscribers from last week's conferences in Jackson Hole and Boston. Personally, that was a new record for distance travel to two meetings in the same week.

Storm clouds are gathering at colleges and universities as the current economic downturn threatens plans and budgets at public and private universities just about everywhere. Good luck and good decision-making to everyone as budgets are pared and prepared over the next few months. We'll see if Forbes is accurate when it describes "The Coming College Bubble?" at www.forbes.com/home/2008/10/22/college-debt-loans-biz-beltway-cx_md_1023schools.html

You don't have to spend any money to take advantage of Gerry McGovern's next web seminar on improving your website navigation to increase task completion. Go along now to www2.gotomeeting.com/register/287386288 and register for the 17 November event.

You will have to invest dollars in your web expertise to attend the CASE District V conference in Chicago on 14-16 December and attend the 9 sessions in the Web track. Plan to start Tuesday morning at my "Writing Right for the Web" session. Details at www.casefive.org/conference/2008/web.cfm

And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
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Forbes Magazine Ranks Colleges with RateMyProfessor.com

Forbes entered the college rankings business with a new twist back in August. For the 569 ranked schools, evaluation of faculty at RateMyProfessors.com counts for 25 percent of the total standing. Another 25 percent is based on alumni listed in Who's Who in America.

Debt level at graduation and 4-year retention are other factors considered. The full methodology is at www.forbes.com/home/2008/08/13/best-colleges-methodology-oped-college08-cx_rv_0813ccap.html

You likely won't be surprised by the very top of the list (Princeton is best in the nation) but the standing of others (Duke, Georgetown, Washington University in St. Louis) might surprise you.

See if your school is included at www.forbes.com/lists/2008/94/opinions_college08_Americas-Best-Colleges_Rank.html
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Increased Price Pressure for Private and Public Sectors

You can smell it in the air. A wicked storm is coming. As loan programs and family incomes shrink, higher education can expect new price pressure in 2009 and beyond and increased competition as a result. That's at the same time that endowment income will fall and not long before traditional age college cohorts will decline in most states. At many colleges committed to maintaining enrollment, tuition discount levels will rise.

Consider the message Muhlenberg College President Randy Helm sent on October 13 to "Members of the Muhlenberg College Family." Helm notes that there is "much more anxiety" this fall among parents about their ability to afford a private college. As a result, Muhlenberg anticipates that "We will probably need to offer more financial aid to enroll this first-year class, and we are planning for that as we enter budget deliberations for the upcoming year."

Read the report at www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/MUL/news/alumni_news_6.html

You'll find a similar Williams College story at www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_10774019

Public universities will also feel pressure. Here in Michigan, Wayne State University reports a 4.7 percent enrollment drop resulting in a $7 to $9 million budget gap. Does anyone benefit? "Cheaper and convenient" community colleges will gain, according to one WSU prospect. The story is at www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008810280323
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2009 Email Marketing Guide Ready Now

If you are a serious email marketer consider buying MarketingSherpa's new 2009 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide. A $100 discount to $299 is available until October 31.

If you have any interest in email marketing at all, download the free 14-page executive summary at www.sherpastore.com/me_embmg09.html?9943 to review 5 highlight charts and the detailed table of contents.
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Social Media and Email Marketing: Teen, Adult Groups, and More

The Center for Media Design at Ball State University has combined with Exact Target to research and release a new White Paper on how receptive teens and other age groups are to marketing efforts on social network sites, email, smartphones and more.

The bottom line result: the right marketing strategy varies not only by age but also by different personas within age groups. There's no "one size fits all" approach. This report will help you find the right paths to reach your important target groups.

One finding: if you market to people over the age of 25, email is still a strong choice. More often than not, your best time choice for the email is in the morning, when people spend more time reading each email message. For many in the survey, direct mail remains strong as well.

The report covers six different audiences, including Established Professionals and Young Homemakers. Read a detailed summary and download a copy of "Messaging Behaviors, Preferences, and Personas" in PDF format at www.bsu.edu/webapps2/cmdreports/product_select.asp?product_id=28
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Creating Stronger Title Tags for Search Visibility

The title tag in that little blue line at the top of your website pages is the first thing a search engine will see if it visits a web page on your site. So take a few minutes to read "All About Title Tags" at www.highrankings.com/allabouttitles

Two points of note here. First, don't create a title tag until you write the copy for the page, including the primary heading. Second, you can easily use up to 12 words in the title tag. You don't always need 12, but many title tags I see don't include enough major words and phrases that are used in the web page content.
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Apollo Group Will Increase Marketing Funds

Apollo Group is reporting an August end-of-fiscal year enrollment growth of 15.4 percent to 362,100 students, most of that at University of Phoenix. "Sales and promotional expenses" were 26.8 percent of net revenue at $223 million and that's expected to increase in the coming year.

More details at phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=79624&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1218642&highlight=
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5 Tools to Make Twitter Better for You

The article in the September newsletter on writing better for Twitter was much more popular than expected. If that means many of you are thinking seriously about adding Twitter to your marketing mix, you'll also want to read Lee Odden on "Five New Twitter Tools You Should Know."

Review the tools at www.toprankblog.com/2008/05/five-new-twitter-tools-you-should-know/
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Are Blogs Obsolete?

It had to happen sometime.

Just as people often declare email a thing of the ancient online past, a Wired magazine article tells us that "Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004." While the overall premise is silly given the ongoing popularity of so many blogs, this is still worth reading to make sure that your blog(s) remain relevant as the social media world expands.

Key to relevance is the focus of the blog. As Carewords research often demonstrates, people don't rate "read a blog" high as the reason they visit a website. But when a particular topic that interests them is attached to the blog, people select it as important.

A good point here for those who blog: write better. The same points that apply to "Writing Right for the Web" apply to writing for blogs. That goes along with the usual marketing caveat: know your audience and write about what interests them.

Read the Wired article at www.wired.com/entertainment/theweb/magazine/16-11/st_essay but don't plan to drop blogs from your website just yet.
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Integrate Blogs with Internal Social Media Sites

If you aren't already thinking about creating a social networking site at your college or university, start now.

To see what's possible, visit the social networking site for Edmonds Community College at edmondscc.ning.com/ and University of Maryland's social work program at mysocialnetwork.umaryland.edu/

Check the integration that's happening on these pages: videos, blogs, forums, special topic discussion groups, and much more. College websites are coming alive.
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Online PR Opportunity at Google

Online communication opportunities continued to expand this summer when Google went public with a new "Knol" site where people can contribute articles about their areas of expertise. Google defines a Knol as a "unit of knowledge." A search for "higher education" returned 2,290 results, including specific articles about individual colleges and universities.

Like anything else, there is a good and bad way to present articles from your president, deans, faculty and other campus experts who can write about topics of interest. MarketingSherpa has done a fine job with "Google Knol Primer: Strategies for Writing Content, Getting Started, Designing Layout" at www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=30893&pop=no

One key element is true of any web writing: subheads and bullet points attract attention and increase the number of people who will read your Knol article.

If you want to skip the MarketingSherpa advice, go straight to Google at knol.google.com/k
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Search Marketing Benchmark Review

After two presentations of "Web Analytics: A Guide for Higher Education Marketers" last week, I was ready to read Julie Batten's summary of MarketingSherpa's new "Search Marketing Benchmark Guide" at www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3631163

She covers 8 specific areas, including Keyword Selection, Audience Targeting, and Metrics. Not surprisingly, she highlights the continued rise of Google Analytics, up 12 percent this year. The primary reasons are accuracy and ease of implementation. That's consistent with the widespread use of Google Analytics at colleges and universities that people reported at each of my sessions.
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Newspaper Circulation Continues to Slip

If you include newspaper advertising in your advertising campaigns, you'll want to take note of the continued 4.64 percent decline in daily paid circulation reported for the six months ending September 30. Only the two top daily papers (USA Today and the Wall Street Journal) reported gains among the top 25 papers.

More details are at adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=132041
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That's All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com)
President and Senior Consultant
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
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Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your online marketing success with these 6 services.

• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web On-Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Reviews
• Competitive Website Reviews
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Start now at www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com/whatwedo.html

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