Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Intranets and online marketing at colleges and universities

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Starting a new Customer Carewords program for the University of Hertfordshire that will focus on improving the Intranet site for faculty and staff today made me think about how relatively few colleges and universities make a clear distinction between an intranet and a site designed for the external world.

That failure really does restrict online marketing progress. Often as I review websites in the guise of a new student exploring a site for the first time, for instance, I find myself stumbling into financial aid and student housing and activities pages that were obviously planned for people already at the school.

The same is true for many (most!) academic program sites with content that clearly was not designed for potential students, particularly potential undergraduate students not versed in the language used by those who hold a Ph.D. in a particular discipline. Too many of those folk are beloved of mission statements that only the initiated could possibly appreciate.

Establishing an Intranet designated for the use of faculty and staff and another for currrent students might bring much greater clarity to planning web content. Marketers would be free, indeed compelled, to pay attention to presentation of content designed for potential students. And the risk that those students would get lost in information of no value to them early in the college selection process would decrease greatly.

The result would be the ability to implement the results of marketing oriented Customer Carewords research free of the restraints imposed by having to be all things to all audiences. The marketing strength of college and university websites would soar. 

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