Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

April 2009 Archives

Simmons College steps on the mobile marketing path

At long last, some people really do feel that 2009 is the year of mobile marketing. Of course, this isn't the first year that people have said that. But with the continuing spread of smartphones, this year the prediction just might be coming true.

Julie Batten has a good review of the latest use of mobile devices to access websites in her recent ClickZ column. Right now about 35 percent of people with mobile phones access the web each day. That number will only grow.

And so that makes the effort by Simmons College noteworthy. Chad Mazzola is asking "members of the Simmons community" to "Help us design the Simmons mobile site" by completing an online survey. Questions are few... Simmons is asking whether people access the web from their phones at all, about iPhone vs. Blackberry for access (or any similar device), the frequency of access, and a few other elements.

Details are online now.

If you have an iPhone, a Blackberry or anything like them, access your website now. What's the experience like?

Are you getting ready for a mobile version of your website?

If you're interested in mobile marketing in general, visit Dave Marshall's blog on that topic. Dave's recently started a new company to provide mobile marketing software to higher education. Once you have a site prepared for mobile access, you'll want to consider expanding recruitment communications to take advantage of mobile possibilities.

That's all for now.

Tuition and Costs... More on Middlebury College

Not long after sending today's email to newsletter subscribers with Link of the Week selection of Middlebury College for the clear and forthright presentation of information about how the college was reacting to the financial crisis, came two emails adding new information that's worth repeating here.

The first email was from Roland King, vice president for public affairs at NAICU, that expanded the Middlebury tale further:

  • "I salute your selection of Middlebury as your link of the week.  Across our nearly 1,000 members at NAICU, it's at or near the top of those that "get it" in providing clear, candid, and believable communications to its constituents on difficult issues.
"In a couple of speeches I've given on communications over the past month, I've highlighted Middlebury Magazine's winter issue which adopts the same approach to communicating with alumni and donors.  The special report in that issue on how the current economic climate is affecting the college is a candid and revealing account, that lays out simply and clearly where things stand with Middlebury's endowment, where the college's money comes from and how it's spent, and a wonderfully honest and open interview with Middlebury's chief financial officer."

Miami University Weighs in from the Public Sector

Not long after came a second email from Claire Wagner, director of news and public information at Miami University. Claire wrote with a link to a special page created at Miami to update the University community on what's happening there. 

Visit "Financial Factors Affecting Miami" and you'll find 11 updates from the president and deans of each major administrative area since October 2008 including financial FAQs and a PowerPoint from a campus financial forum.

Thanks to Roland and Claire for adding more to the original Link of the Week information. And thanks to Middlebury president Ron Liebowitz and Miami president David Hodge for clear talk on the extraordinary challenge facing higher education today.

That's all for now.


Check Title Tags to Improve Search Marketing Results

Just a few minutes ago a visit to the Traffic Resources website reminded me that there is low hanging fruit in the online higher education marketing world that isn't being harvested.

On that page is a "daily poll" that's been running since January: "What's The Most Important SEO Element For Google Ranking For A Given Keyword?" Visitors select from 9 choices:

  • Title tag
  • Quality of inbound links
  • Quantity of inbound links
  • Link texts
  • Outbound links
  • Site structure
  • Overall keyword density
  • Unique content
  • Other

This isn't the most popular poll on the planet. So far there have been 33 responses... 36.4% for quality of inbound links, 24.2% for title tag and not much for anything else. Despite the low poll number, the results are accurate: title tags on web pages are important.

Incomplete, Brief Title Tags Reduce Search Marketing Results

The poll flashed me back to a phone conversation this morning re online marketing capabilities and what one college might do to make them stronger. Some steps require time and money... but some don't require nearly as much effort. One of those is improving the title tags, those key words that appear in the thin blue line at the top of my ME7 browser page.

In this case, the intro page for graduate programs clearly listed three degree programs in the main text area: business, engineering, health care. In the title tag space appeared only the words "Graduate Programs." How easy it would be to just add the names of the three degree programs themselves: MBA - Engineering - Health Care.

We also did a quick test while we talked to see the results if we added the name of the college's geographic area to a Google search... "MBA - Sahara Desert" to keep things anonymous. That turned up 8 paid "sponsored links" ads from schools interested in MBA leads from that region and the name of a competitor about 8 spots down on the organic list.

Based on that, the new title tag might read:

  • Graduate programs - MBA - Engineering - Health Care - Sahara Desert

And yes, there's still room to add the name of the school although it isn't likely as important a search element for new leads.

Quality of inbound links is important but that requires more time and energy to improve. Review the pages on your website and you're likely to find more than a few title tag examples to enhance. Reach up and harvest that fruit.

Quick, Detailed, Inexpensive Search Marketing Page Reviews

No time to review your pages? Let me use my WebPostion license to review pages you pick on your website for title tag recommendations and edits to primary page content. Minimum of 5 pages at $75 per page. Contact me at  

That's all for now.



Web Content and Alumni Magazines

Everyone has fantasies... one of mine is to play the role of a firefighter in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and discover and burn out 4-color print publications (alumni magazines, annual reports, admissions viewbooks) put online as a PDF.

That "find and delete" goal has been a constant in each of my 25 Writing Right for the Web presentations over the last few years.

Schools making the change deserve recognition that will perhaps serve as inspiration to others to move in the same direction. In the last two weeks I've found two new entries for your viewing and reading pleasure:

  • Check the Winter issue of Amherst College Magazine and note the "online only" features added in the left column.
  • Visit Flagler Magazine where you can connect from an individual article to 7 social media sites to spread the word about something you enjoyed.

And for those who want to explore, here are three others I've been using in various versions of "Writing Right for the Web" over the years:

These five will serve as a good introduction to different ways to change print content to web content. Each style is a significant improvement over the PDF experience.

If you have an online alumni magazine, put the link in a Comment or send me an email at

To schedule a presentation of Writing Right for the Web on your campus, contact me by email or call at 248.766.6425 

That's all for now.


"Writing Right for the Web"

"Writing Right for the Web" has been my most frequent presentation topic over the last three years... 9 conference sessions, 5 webinars, and 11 on-campus workshops.

In the next few weeks I plan to start writing at least a "White Paper" and perhaps something longer on the key elements that will help people turn web pages that are impossible to read into web pages that engage visitors within 5 seconds of their arrival on the page. Take longer than that and you are in serious risk of a quick departure or "bounce" from the page.

To prepare, I've revisted the Question and Answer reports that were done for people attending the webinars... there's never time to answer all the questions that are asked during a webinar. We do that in writing after the event and send them along to those who registered. In fact, the Q&A for my last March 30 webinar is on the blog now.

For the next few weeks I'll resurrect some of the questions with the most staying power and post and discuss them here.

When is a web paragraph too long?

The first question one dates back to the first webinar in February 2006... on a point that's been included in every presentation since then:

Q: What do you mean when you say that improving a website "starts with a cursor?"


A: Just the ability of a web writer or editor to put their cursor in the middle of a long block of text, hit "Enter" and create a new and shorter paragraph.

Dense text increases quick page bounces


The question is from an early slide that says the best way to start improving the readability of website content is to break long paragraphs into small ones. Do that and readers are not presented with long blocks of dense text when they first arrive on a page. Long blocks of dense text are guaranteed to increase the number of people who flee your page.


What size is best? Aim for not more than 5 lines in a paragraph that runs across about one-half to two-thirds the width of a normal web page. Yes, some paragraphs can be a bit longer and there's no harm in a single line paragraph. Remember to leave white space in between the paragraphs.


You'll find a great example of short paragraphs that allow easy scanning in the BBC obituary for Gene Pitney that has been in every presentation since the second one.


New "Writing Right for the Web" Sessions in 2009


Three new conference presentations are scheduled for this summer. To plan an on-campus session, call me at 248.766.6425 or email to


That's all for now.

Muhlenberg College and the "Real Deal" on Financial Aid

In yesterday's blog post on a parent's reaction to the cost difference between Northeastern University and University of Connecticut, I mentioned the practice of "preferential packaging" that is widespread in the private sector and not unknown among public institutions.

Preferential packaging isn't new in 2009. Financial magazines like Kiplingers and Money have been writing about it since the mid-1990s. But you won't find much straight talk about it on college and university websites.

Muhlenberg College has been an outstanding exception to that practice for over 10 years. Visit "The Real Deal on Financial Aid" and you'll find an explantion of how financial aid is awarded that is quite rare.

Preferential Packaging Defined

Muhlenberg provides this definition: "Preferential packaging means, simply, that the students a college would most like to enroll will receive the most advantageous financial aid packages" created from a mix of grants, loans, and work opportunities.

  • People who are most desired may even receive awards higher than their actual "need."
  • People who are in the "bottom half" of the class will see loans and more work to meet their costs.

That's it. The language is clear. The page is easy to find from the first admissions page.

Reality Marketing Builds Credibility

Those familar with Muhlenberg's enrollment history since the mid-1990s know that that this page did not hinder steady progress toward increased applications, a higher academic profile, and a lower tuition discount rate.

Parents and students who visit the site just might think that a college that speaks honestly about how it awards financial aid will also speak honestly about other elements critical to the college selection process.

Credibility like that builds brand strength. 

In this age where transparency in financial matters is increasingly desired, more institutions might follow the Muhlenberg example.

That's all for now.



Twitter and other parts of the social media world are alive lately discussing the contents of a letter send by a parent to the admissions office at Northeastern University explaining why a son in this family was enrolling this fall at University of Connecticut.

The letter and several comments to it are online at the USphere website. One person is beside himself at this latest flagrant example of a helicopter parent intruding into the life of the son, but most are sympathetic to the financial choice facing a family that apparently received little if any financial assistance from Northeastern to lower the sticker price of a bachelor's degree from that school.

Let's look at just a few of the lessons at play here:

  • Private sector colleges and universities are urged to emphasize the "value" of their educational product over that of lower cost (usually public) institutions. To some extent that's reasonable, but when the dollar difference becomes near $27,000 per year as in this case, the marketing weight of relative value shrivels. In this troubled financial year, the "value proposition" is under extreme stress.
  • The parent implies that he might be able to afford the $47,000 annual cost at Northeastern but that he sees no reason to draw down family resources when an acceptable alternative is available for $20,000 per year. This is a strong lesson in brand strength. For the past few years, Northeastern has been waging with success a campaign to achieve higher status in academe, in part by increasing the academic profile and geographic distribution of undergraduate students. Now that goal is in jeopardy. In this climate, only the strongest brands in the private sector (and there are few of those) will not see incredible pressure to reduce net costs to students to maintain previous enrollment yields. For Northeastern, this enrollment cycle will test just how much brand strength has increased as measured by how much of the sticker price people are willing to pay.
  • The parent's situation may be compounded by geography. Northeastern aspires to a national enrollment. This family lives in Massachusetts. And so despite the "stellar" academic record that the parent reports, there just might have been a more enticing financial offer if the family lived in Illinois or Texas or Oregon. (I've no inside info about how Northeastern does this, but differential packaging of merit aid based on overall enrollment goals is common practice.)

The good news here is the quality of the student's immediate educational experience is not at jeopardy. Both Northeastern and Connecticut will provide what is needed to earn a fine education. Nor are the son's future prospects likely to suffer for having earned his degree at Connecticut instead of Northeastern, based on relative brand strength now and in the future.

Connecticut is, after all, "The Top Ranked Public University in New England." Must be true or they couldn't say it on the home page of the website, right? 

For about 3 years now I've been doing "Writing Right for the Web" web conferences with Academic Impressions in Denver. This time we're sharing answers to 11 questions sent in during the March 30 event with readers of this blog. 

The next conference presentation of "Writing Right for the Web" is June 4-5 in Chicago at Carol Aslanian's next event. (If you register, enter "Bob100" in the discount box and save $100.) 

For an on-campus Writing Right for the Web workshop, contact me at or call at 248.766.6425.

11 Writing Right for the Web Q&A

Winona State University: Please address the use of white space on a web site - also reflect on spacing between lines (leading).

  • White space is a good thing. Hard to say in writing just how much is how good, but the best policy is "when in doubt, lean toward too much." Several of the examples in the presentation are good: the Kenan-Flagler executive MBA page, the Penn State Online page, and the Regis MBA page are all good examples of adequate white space... and good spacing between lines.
  • A primary goal: making sure that a person is not confronted by a dense block of text when first opening a web page. That increases quick bounces off the page.

Harper College: Please send the Library link you referred to re: connecting to academic programs

Winona State University: Are PDFs acceptable as a vehicle to provide in-depth background material?

  • Not quite sure what's meant by "in-depth background material" but if that means long documents that people are expected to reference for normal business activities, I'd be very careful. This question brings up images of large academic catalogs and student handbooks. It isn't likely, especially with academic catalogs, that any single person will ever be interested in everything that's in one of these documents (each academic program at a university, for instance). It is a far better thing to do to break out this information into HTML content that is easily accessible from a related area of the website.
  • If a PDF is used, at least use an up-to-date version that people can search and that can link to other places on the website as needed. The worst problems happen when people just "save as PDF" from a file created for print use, load that to the website, and expect people to use it as they would the printed document.

College of the Holy Cross: How do you give the end user the capability of changing the font size?

  • Sorry, but the technical step to that end isn't for me to say. Steve LaBadie at East Stroudsburg University should be able to tell you as he's the fellow who created the page used in the presentation. I'll let Steve know I'm passing out his email...

Pacific Lutheran University: Who do you find is writing website copy at most universities?  Offices for their own pages?  Or PR offices?

  • Not sure about "most universities" but the trend along with the spread of CMS software is for individual offices on various campuses to take on that responsibility. Jump starting that process is often why I get to a campus and do "Writing Right for the Web" in person.
  • How rapidly that's happening is hard to say, but it is happening. Keeping web content up-to-date simply won't happen unless the responsibility for updating spreads around campus. And that is taking place.
  • Often that process is helped by someone in a "web content editor" or similar position who is available to provide guidance/help as people take on this new responsibility. Job descriptions for several positions like this at various colleges and universities are on my blog at

Keystone College:  Can a web page have too many images or ''calls to action''?

  • Images: Certainly can. Or in some cases, a single large image might occupy too much space on a page. The key question is whether or not the images are integral to the purpose of the page or are getting in the way of prime content. Thus the Smith College and Penn State examples in the presentation... small images that bring relief to a "text only" page but don't block quick scan access to the most important elements on the page. Note that neither of these pages uses an image at the top. Neither did the Kenan-Flagler example. Imagine Wikipedia, one of the most popular websites in the world. Not many images on those pages except photographs used to illustrate history or another element of an article. And of course, those "shield" or "crest" images.
  • Calls to action: Haven't seen any objective research on this, but I'd say not more than three in the right hand column space. Depends a bit on how related they are. The calls to action on the Regis MBA pages, for instance, all recognize that people visiting these pages may be at different points in a recruitment cycle and therefore give them different options. The three are easy to scan. They don't fight with one another. Ditto for the two calls to action on the Carleton alumni magazine page.

University of Georgia: Google has a free keyword search tool

  • Yes. The Google tool is a worthy alternate to Wordtracker. Wordtracker claims to pull the information from about every search engine on the planet as an argument for using it. On the other hand, if Google indeed only works with Google searches (have to double check that), that itself might be a strong reason for using the Google tool since Google is by far the most popular search engine.
  • Haven't done this yet, but one obvious way to compare is to enter terms in the two keyword tools at the same time and see what comes back. Try the Google tool and then try the Wordtracker tool.

Shelly:  How many links are too many?

  • Depends a bit on how much content we are talking about, but as a "starting place" rule of thumb, let's say not more than one per paragraph or bullet point or FAQ.
  • There's an element of the "common sense" or "normal human being" rule here as well... if you look at a page and the links seem to be fighting with one another for attention, then you probably have too many. Of course, in the case of a list of bullet points, you'd want to also make sure that you had decent white space between the lines.

University of Pittsburgh: What's a good use of Facebook for student recruitment?

  • We're dipping a bit outside the webinar, but here are some thoughts in an area where people are still learning what works and what does not re increasing enrollment conversion.
  • Have recently seen an article suggesting that Facebook (and other social media) are for some people replacing Google as the first "search" source. To the extent that's true and grows, Facebook will become more important as a "first impression" location for people just beginning to explore for colleges and universities. In that event, I'd make sure that it links to basic information sought by early searchers was obvious, either on the Facebook page or by a link: academic programs available, profile of enrolled students, location.
  • A more common goal is the use of Facebook to build "community" among potential students who are interested enough to want to join the community. That means the "first dinner date" test is over and people are open to continuing a relationship and learning more about you. That's Facebook as a cultivation tool.
  • A third social media phase for some, on Facebook or elsewhere, is to build a community space for students after their admission to strengthen final enrollment yield. This might best be done by creating an "internal" social media location, using software or something similar.

Ithaca College: Are links better presented on a separate line vs. in running copy, or does it depend on the circumstance?

  • You'll get different opinions on this. Yes, the easiest answer is indeed to say "it depends." Notice that in this article on writing links at there's nothing at all about where they should appear. One key point is to make them obvious and they can be obvious either way you describe. (By the way, as a direct marketer, I don't agree with the point in this article about never using "Click here" as a link. Direct marketers know that when you directly tell people to do something they might be inclined to do, more people will do it. That's not to recommend using it everywhere, but don't dismiss it out of hand.)

Rochester Institute of Technology: Do you see custom content per user?

  • Not 100 percent sure that I'm understand this one, so feel free to do an email follow-up. Custom-content per individual user is a worthy goal but not something that most websites I review should be spending priority time on. Many visitors to your site (I'm always first thinking potential students here, then alumni) have very common goals and the first priority should be to make sure people can easily find the most desired content, and that the content is presented as clearly as possible.
  • For instance, everyone is interested in at least one academic program area. Best to devote time to improving the quality of basic academic program pages and creating navigation that links for the academic program pages to related content such as professional school and employment outcomes and student stories about their experience in the program. And that in effect, is a form of "custom content" in that each person will find what meets their interests.
  • Similarly, net cost estimators will serve the same purpose. The estimator itself is the same for everyone, but the information returned is "custom" for each person using it.

That's all for now.

Getting online this morning through Comcast, I couldn't help but notice a prominent right hand column ad offering "Online degrees in as Few as 2 Years." The temptation to add another example to my expanding collection of "post-click marketing" efforts was too much to resist. And so off I went to arrive at the first landing page of a long series of pages designed to "Help us match you with schools..."

10 Pages to Your 5 Recommended Online Schools

NextTag is an online comparision shopping location and I landed in the "degrees" category. Here are my notes for the journey that followed for the first page to page 10 (including a skip to review the privacy policy pages). You can take the same trip by following the link above.

  • Page 1: Pick from 11 academic program areas that cover just about all things possible including "vocational." I went for "Health/Human Services." Easy page to understand
  • Page 2: Tell them my age. Never sure why age is asked and this one was espcially curious: one selection for "25 and over" and 4 categories for age slices lower than that. This is an example of something asked for the benefit of the advertiser and not the visitor.
  • Page 3: Pretty standard question about education already achieved, starting with GED. I told them I had a bachelor's degree.
  • Page 4: Now they want to know when I graduated from high school or finished my GED. What's the point of this? Already asked about my age and previous education achieved, so this isn't going to help anyone re time away from education if I went past high school.
  • Page 5: Asking if I'm a U.S. citizen is OK. Does it really require a page of its own?
  • Page 6: A page for military service. This is a pretty standard question on ads like this, but the execution here was new: 26 choices, including "none." Is this level of detail necessary to determine if a person will qualify for service-related financial assistance?
  • Page 7: Sombody realized the page count was getting high and decided to ask 3 things on one page: zip code; possible interest in a "nearby campus-based" program; email address. I left the campus program response in the "maybe" default answer.
  • Page 8: Asking for address information, daytime and evening phone numbers, and an estimate of time to enrolling. Phone numbers were required before moving to the next page, a serious effort to pre-qualify anyone responding to the ad. The "start" date began with "less than 1 month" and ended with "more than 6 months." That's a good step to sort people for immediate phone contact. I checked one of the two middle options.
  • Page 9: The schools for me arrive on this page: Ashford University, University of the Rockies, American Intercontinental University, Kaplan University, Argosy University. For each, I'm asked to pick a specific degree program from a drop-down menu. Most included only master's level programs that were in some way health or human services related. The exception was for Kaplan University, where my choices included 12 bachelor's level programs. In case I was interested in a second bachelor's degree?
  • Privacy Policy Diversion: at this point, before hitting the final "submit" button, visitors can elect to read throught the long and legal privacy policy statement. Suffice it to say that if you continue, expect to receive a variety of future contacts. You've just agreed to a host of offers based on the information provided.
  • Page 10: A final "Thank You" page that relists the 5 schools that will "shortly" contact me. And in case I'm interested, invitations to explore "other popular services" appear here: mortgage rates and credit score services.

That's it! Done. It didn't take as long to complete the 10 pages as it did to write about them.

Phoenix and Capella Didn't Rate

Inexplicable result: University of Phoenix and Capella University are listed on the first page as one of 12 "leading schools" participating in the ad. Wonder why neither was among the 5 schools that were returned to a person interested in an online master's degree in health/human services? How did NexTag decide what was most likely right for me? 

Particular puzzlements:

  • The intense interest in age slices for people less than 24 years old.
  • The extraordinarily detailed military service page.

Overall impression: This could be fine-tuned for easier completion and therefore likely higher completion rate. I'd certainly be tracking the path of those who start the journey to see how many people stopped at various pages. On the other hand, maybe the completion rate is high enough and the "puzzlement" information valuable enough not to do this.

Next stage activity: The first two emails arrived almost instantly after completing the process, from Kaplan and American Intercontinental. At least 2 others have come along since. Differences between the two are obvious. This story of "post-click marketing" will continue next week.

That's all for now.



April 1 greetings to everyone and best wishes for success in separating the foolish from the factual today. In a year when all seems a bit crazy, a little foolishness is welcome.

One thing is true for everyone: budget dollars are tight. If you recruit adult students and want to know more about stretching marketing dollars for greater impact, attend the Carol Aslanian June conference on "Web Marketing to Reach Adult and Graduate Students." Save $100 when you enter "Bob100" in the "discount code" box on the registration form. Program details are at

Thanks to everyone who has become a Twitter follower since the New Year. For daily, brief marketing updates join me at

For reviews on how 26 dedicated admission sites are using Twitter visit my social media marketing blog post at

And now for our marketing news and notes for April.
New College and University Review Site

"Student Views of College Life" has joined the competition for future college students who want information about colleges and universities from the perspective of the people enrolled now.

When I visited yesterday, NYU was the featured school with 5 videos and 107 reviews available.

Check to see what people are showing and saying about your school at
Print to Electronic Publications

As budgets get tighter, so too does the pressure to move as many publications as possible from print to online formats. One major example of that has appeared at the University of Florida as a "Think Before You Ink" web page that encourages everyone across campus to review what is done in print and switch as much as possible to an online version.

The site offers seminars on effective email communications, email analytics, and much more.

See the future arriving now at
100 Twitter Tools

Whether you have been on Twitter for a while now or are just thinking about getting started, you will benefit from scanning the links to 100 Twitter tools available on the Sociable Blog, with a brief description of what each one is designed to do. The 100 are broken into 10 categories that start with Twitter Analysis and close with Blogging.

See the full list at
New YouTube EDU Offers Marketing Opportunity

With the ever-expanding popularity of online video, don't delay a visit to YouTube's new section for higher education partners. The directory of current participants starts with Amherst College and ends with Yale University. Scan the alpha list to see if your competitors are already here and plan to add your application soon.

Current participants are as diverse as Grand Rapids Community College with 749 videos and MIT with 893 selections. Most schools have fewer than 100 videos.

Measure marketing impact not only from the number of times your videos are watched but also from the number of people who become your subscribers. UC Berkeley has 23,638 subscribers and Yale has 930.

Expand your video horizons at
Twitter from the Trenches at Washington State

A comment often heard at conference presentations: "What is it going to take to add social media to our communications? How do we find the time?"

That answer will differ from place to place, but Barb Chamberlain offers you insights from her real world experiences in setting up and operating a Twitter site for Washington State University Spokane.

Learn more, including her favorite Twitter tools to evaluate success, at
Will Facebook Replace Google for Web Advertising?

Gary Stein asks that question in a ClickZ article at

Stein is speculating that with the continued growth of social media, it may well pass Google as a source of new people visiting our websites. That might be as true for higher education as for anyone else. Stein recently wrote an article extolling the direct marketing advantages of Facebook.

Today, there is no sign that Google will not remain important. It owns the search category. But, whether you do paid advertising or not, pay extra attention this year to the source of new visitors to your website. Take a count now. Count again in 6 and 9 months. That might tell you much about the value of your social media sites as sources of new leads.
Marketing in a Time of Scarce Resources has just published the second of 2 articles by Jonathan Kranz, "10 High-Impact, Low-Budget Ideas for Marketing in a Down Economy."

This is a must-read article if you want affirmation to stay with what works and avoid chasing new fads while still paying attention to changes that impact your marketing success. The key point: inventory the strength of the resources you have now and make sure your marketing plan takes best advantage of them.

Track back from part 2 of the article at
Analytics Interview: What to Measure

Avinash Kaushik is the author of a fine book, "Web Analytics, An Hour a Day" and writer of a blog at

Kaushik recently completed an AdAge interview on what you should measure at your website, with an emphasis on using your analytics program to track what people do as it relates to your marketing goals. In a nutshell, the goal is tracking behavior rather than collecting stats.

A major reason that keeps many people from the best use of web analytics is simply the overwhelming amount of possible data. To help sort out the necessary from the nice and the irrelevant, read the Kaushik interview at
Near 400,000 Enrollment at University of Phoenix

Fiscal 2009 results from the second quarter are out from the Apollo Group and show net revenue of $876 million based primarily on Phoenix "degreed enrollment" that reached 397,700.

On the marketing side, "selling and promotional" expenses were $225.7 million or 25.8 percent of net revenue.

More financial details at
Facebook Creates New Marketing Challenges

The recent changes to Facebook mean that colleges and universities using Facebook in their marketing plans have to change old practices.

Heather Mansfield at DIOSA communications has just started a new series of "best practice" tips for the new Facebook. The first 3 are at

After you review these, sign at the bottom of the page to receive ongoing recommendations.
FAFSA Forms and Service Marketing

The FAFSA form is not easy to complete. That is the gist of a Chronicle of Higher Education article reviewing the challenges to revising the form for easier completion. Read that article at

In my website reviews, I often come upon financial aid pages that link people directly to the FAFSA site. How much smarter a marketing move to at least first provide some help to the "normal human beings" who will struggle with the form.

The Chronicle article, for instance, notes that terms like "emancipated minor" and "unaccompanied youth" are obstacles to completion. How about a glossary at college and university websites that defines terms like these in everyday language rather than words understood only by the bureaucrats who created them? Make that glossary prominent just before dumping people into FAFSA site.

Nice example of service marketing.
Amherst College Online Alumni Magazine

If you have attended one of my "Writing Right for the Web" presentations, you know what I think about putting major 4-color print publications online as PDFs with the expectation that many people will read them.

Today I am celebrating another example of an alumni magazine done right for the web, complete with extra features found only online. Visit

If you have not yet made a similar change, get that in your alumni communications plan soon.
Mobile Marketing: Maybe 2009 is Not the Year

Chronicle of Higher Education reports results of two campus surveys about college students and expectations for mobile communications. The bottom line: less than 25 percent of college students have smart phones (needed for serious mobile marketing) and most of them are not looking for upgrades that indicate an interest in mobile marketing messages.

Most popular thing to do on smart phones: make phone calls.

Marketing message: keep watching but do not invest time or money just yet.

Read the details at
My Upcoming Presentations in 2009

Share questions and answers with people like yourself who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me for one or more of these events!

June 4-5, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group, Web Marketing to Adult Students: "Writing Right for the Web" and "Using Adult Friendly Social Media in Marketing." Enter "Bob100" as a discount code to save $100 from the registration fee. Review the sessions at

June 15, Orlando, FL: Career College Association: "Anatomy of a Student Community," Google hosted panel discussion. Conference details at

June 21-25, San Antonio, TX: College Sports Information Directors of America, Annual Conference: "Writing Right for the Web." Conference program at

July 15-17, Chicago, IL: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference: "Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Recruitment Communications Plan in a World without Paper: 2009 Update" (Pre-conference workshop) and "Rating Higher Education Websites: The Student Experience." Review the program and register at

July 20-22, Chicago, IL: eduWeb 2009: "Student Recruitment in the Online World: Communicating from First Web Search to Final Enrollment" (Pre-conference workshop). Sessions and registration at

October 26-27, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin System, Adult Student Recruitment & Retention Conference: "Key Website Features for Adult Student Recruitment." Conference information is at

Increase ROI from your online marketing. Expand the writing, editing, and search marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a campus workshop on online marketing.

Contact me at
That's All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (
President and Senior Consultant
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your online marketing success with these services.
• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web On-Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Review
• Competitive Website Reviews

Start now at


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