Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

October 2009 Archives

Web Content Coordinator Postion

Time for another addition to the list of position descriptions for web content editors and similar spots. Today's comes from a 2-year SUNY college. Applications are being taken now. If you're interested, visit the original listing at SUNY Orange.

More than 12 other descriptions are here on the blog.

From "Duties in Brief":

    • "Managing a strategic web editorial program" from the Advancement area.
    • A "primary focus" on "information content, site currency, and visual design."
    • "Oversight" of social networking communication strategy.
    • "The ideal candidate will possess superior writing and editing skills and a keen eye for compelling visual design."

Among the "Qualifications":

    • "A proficient knowledge of HTML, social networking platforms, and web accessibility standards, as well as demonstrated proficiency in MS Office Suite and PhotoShop."
    • "A working knowledge of Dreamweaver and Flash software programs."
    • "An ability to analyze web traffic data and an understanding of CSS and Fireworks software programs."
    • At least a bachelor's degree; master's preferred.

Salary: Minimum of $39,000.

If you don't yet have a position like this on your campus, keep pleading, praying, and proposing. Despite scarce resources, or perhaps because of them, web content is getting more attention than ever before as print publications are moved online. 

New Writing Right for the Web Webinar 

Writing for the web isn't quite the same as writing for print publications. Learn about the "5-second rule." The value of short paragraphs. Links that motivate. And more.

Register for my next "Writing Right for the Web" webinar at

That's all for now.


Recruiting Adults: Email is More Important than Social Media

Sitting at Carol Aslanian's conference on adult student recruitment listing to Jennifer Copeland at Demand Engine report on initial results of a survey of 50,000 adults (drawn from files of 10 universities that volunteered to participate with about 10% response so far) on their preferences for finding or receiving information at three points in the recruitment cycle:

    • Researching schools before making an inquiry ("stealth" mode is increasing)
    • After making an inquiry
    • After sending an application

90% Start with Search, 90% Prefer Iniitial Email and Mail Follow-up

Key findings so far:

    • Before making an inquiry, 90 percent report using a search engine (Google, for the most part) to start their search. At this stage, phone use ranks quite low.
    • After making an inquiry, 90 percent prefer email and direct mail for ongoing contact. Social media (including FaceBook and Twitter) rank low. Phone is now acceptable is just under 50 percent.
    • Preferences don't change much after a person sends an application:  Email and regular mail remain clear preferences, while phone rises to just over 50 percent and social media remain relatively low.

The research is winding down soon. Detailed results will be available in one or two months.

The preliminary results are strong: email is alive and well as a tool for enrollment conversion, the telephone is important (as immediate follow-up for people after an inquiry and later throughout the cycle on a selective basis).

Social Media Impact Grows Near End of Recruitment Cycle

When does social media become important? Pretty deep into the recruitment cycle when people are close to a final decision and want to connect with other people who are also close to enrollment.

The clear lesson: if you don't have recruitment time for everything online, invest resources in your website (critical for first visits) and email follow-up. When you're sure that's well covered, branch out into what Jennifer is calling "bleeding edge" social media like FaceBook and Twitter.

That's all for now.

Web Writing... Direct Action Calls Increase Results

Web writing that includes a clear call to action brings more results than words that do not. Direct marketers have known for decades that when you tell people to do what you want them to do, more people will do it if they are at all inclined to take the step. Works online and everywhere else.

Gerry McGovern, Customer Carewords founder and partner, sent along another example of that this morning.

4 Steps to Increase Conversions from 4.7% to 12.81%

Dustin Curtis wrote on his blog about his success in gathering more Twitter followers with relatively slight but clear changes in the wording. Here are the various efforts and the improved conversion from various renditions:

    • "I'm on Twitter"... 4.7%
    • "Follow me on Twitter"... 7.31%
    • "You should follow me on Twitter"... 10.09%
    • "You should follow me on Twitter here"... 12.81%

Pretty clear results that will work for much more than Twitter followers. Note the boost from adding "here" to the list. While "here" isn't needed in every text link, more marketers should use it when making specific calls to action like this. Create a right column web design that makes the call to action prominent on the page.

Carleton University Alumni Magazine Gets It Right

The Carleton University alumni magazine gets it right with a strong call to "Interact!" that's highly visible in the right hand column of the online magazine. I've been including this in my "Writing Right for the Web" presentations for years. The Curtis results suggest that Carleton might benefit from a change to "Interact here!"

"Writing Right for the Web" in December 

I'll be adding the Curtis example and more new content to my next "Writing Right for the Web" webinar with Academic Impressions on December 8. Review the content now and register right here.

That's all for now.


E-readers and Student Recruitment: Rapid Viewbook Delivery Right from the Web

Soon I'll be updating a popular presentation for my Sunday afternoon tutorial at this year's AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November. 

The first version of "Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Marketing Communications Plan in a World without Paper" seemed like a crazy idea when created for ACT's Enrollment Planners Conference in 2008. Until more than 40 people signed for the pre-conference session.

We updated and repeated it at the ACT meeting in 2009 and again at eduWeb2009 as pre-conference workshops this summer. The eduWeb session is online now at SlideShare and so far 1,396 people have viewed it and 13 have said it was a "favorite."

A key element right at the start is a review and discussion of e-readers. For most people, that means Amazon's Kindle or Sony's competitors.

Way back in 2008 we agreed on one thing: since e-readers were only available to read "black & white" text, they were not yet a viable alternative for things like viewbooks (or alumni magazines or annual reports). And in 2008, we could only speculate about when color e-readers would be available.

E-readers Soon in Color

Since then, the pace of change has been rapid. If you haven't yet started to think about how many people will want to download your viewbook from your website to an e-reader in the next 12 to 24 months, you'd best starting thinking now.

    • In the 2009 summer events, we were able to talk about the first commercial e-reader in color from Fujitsu. It was (and is) available only in Japan and it cost about $1,000. Far from a mass-market device but remarkable progress in less than a year.
    • Now Barnes & Noble has announced that in spring 2010 it will market a color e-reader. The potential manufacturer has denied this, but you can watch a Barnes & Noble rep announce it on YouTube.

No price was mentioned in the YouTube interview but I'd look for something substantially under $1,000. At first, it will be for early adopters rather than the general public. But you can sure feel which way the wind is blowing. And it is blowing much harder than it was in 2008.

Sony Invests Major $$$ in TV Ad Campaign

  • Sony debuted a new TV ad campaign for an e-reader priced at $199 during this year's Emmy Awards TV show. People who missed that might have caught it last Sunday during an NFL game or perhaps on an episode of "Good Wife." Big $$$ behind this. 
  • Amazon has cut the price of the least expensive Kindle to $259 (second time this year) and introduced a new "international version" at $279. Perfect for international student recruitment?
  • Barnes & Noble has e-reader software you can download for your PC or Mac or smartphone. Ideal for the fast growing netbook sector. I'm reading my free copy of Dracula on my netbook right now each time my plane leaves the ground.

Viewbooks and Alumni Magazine for E-readers in 2011?

So what about your viewbook and your alumni magazine?

Isn't it time now to get ready for 2011, if not 2010? If you want people to know your college or university really is a tech-savvy place, will you have full-color publications ready for people to download to an e-reader direct from your website or Facebook page? 

Pressures will only grow to reduce print publication costs. Every download to an e-reader is one less copy you'll have to print and mail. Not to mention the rapid delivery advantage. Time to get started now. Out there in higher education land, somebody already has. Maybe your chief competitor.

Join me at the AMA marketing symposium for a new version of "Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Marketing Communications Plan in a World without Paper." Register for Tutorial D after you review the session outline

That's all for now.



October greetings to everyone, with special wishes for fine fall colors if you're on the right part of the globe for that over the next few weeks. Leaves are just starting to turn here in southern Michigan and the Sandhill Cranes are gathering near my office in Marshall.

Conference as well as client travel beckons over the next few weeks. There is still time to use a "Bob$100" discount code when you register for next Carol Aslanian adult student recruitment conference at

If work at a university, you are eligible for a 40 percent discounted registration fee at the J.Boye2009 conference in Aarhus, Denmark. Check the new higher education program track at

My next "Writing Right for the Web" webinar is set for December 8. Register at
Follow me on Twitter at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
Optimizing YouTube for Search

YouTube is the second most-used search engine so it pays to spend some time making it as easy as possible for people to find what you post there.

Julie Batten reviews the similarities and differences between optimizing for YouTube and for other search engines. She reminds us that popular videos, all other search elements equal, will rise to the top. When you add something new, let everyone who might be interested know about it right away. Use email and social media sites to spread the word with a link to your newest production.

Read more from Julie at
University of Nevada Dropping Email for Students

Can you force students to use an official university email system, especially if the free plans available offer more features than the in-house version?

University of Nevada will drop the current email system for students, effective fall of 2010. Reasons include limited student use (about 20 percent) combined with cost-saving. Sounds like a strong combination at a time when everyone is looking for ways to save money.

US News reports the details at
Admissions Dominates University of Maine Home Page

Something unusual happened with a September Link of the Week selection. Most often about 50 percent of the people who open the Monday morning email will click through to my website. That figure is almost as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.

But in this case, just over 90 percent followed the email link. None of the other 121 Link of the Week selections at has come close to that.

What created the stampede?

A Home Page that gives Admissions top priority by eliminating the usual navigation points at the top of the page and down the left-hand column. That navigation is gone. Admissions and administration and academics and 10 more offices are not equal.

See a smart marketing move from a flagship public university at
The Real World at Dickinson College

Dickinson College has for many years been one of the more marketing-oriented institutions in the land, starting right at the top with the president, William Durden.

So it was not really a surprise to find a presidential letter online that clearly outlines the steps that Dickinson has taken so far to weather the financial storm and notes the problems that will continue in the future. At a college where 80 percent of revenue comes from tuition, that area receives special attention.

Dickinson benefitted this past year from an unusually high freshmen retention rate of 92.3 percent that contributed to an FYO9 surplus of $3.2 million. But that was then and this is now. The freshmen class decreased from a 5-year average of 621 to 582. And the tuition discount rate for that class increased from an "average" 33 percent in "recent years" to 38.6 percent this year.

The Dickinson community can only benefit from the frank reality of letters like this. Especially noteworthy is the public disclosure of the discount rate. Do you know where your discount rate is today?

See a presidential update done right at
Skeptical About Twitter?

Yes, you can be skeptical about Twitter. It is not a marketing silver bullet. But it can be useful. A ClickZ article from Gary Stein recommends marketers to follow and ways to benefit even if you do not plan to add content yourself. Lightening will not strike those who only join to listen and learn rather than to tweet.

Give special attention to his notes on using the "search" function, including the ability to filter by geography and by topics of special interest.

The article on "How to Use Twitter to Become a Marketing Genius" is at
Tips on Top Website Tasks, Search, and Usability

Customer Carewords partners met in Belfast last month to review what we have learned over the past year from working with a variety of corporations, government agencies, and colleges and universities.

A top usability item: make the sitemap on your website as visible as possible. Websites that do that have much better usability ratings than websites that do not.

Check my blog post at for more tips from our meeting.
Student Blogs at M.I.T. Boost Admissions Marketing

Sometimes it is far too easy to get swept up in new social media fads and forget that old style formats still have marketing power.

That message comes through in the NY Times review of student blogs for the admissions office at M.I.T. Nice that this high tech university places great importance (and gets great results) from a relatively ancient tool that no longer interests many people captivated by Twitter-style micro-blogging.

Learn how M.I.T. selects those who blog, how much they are paid, and more in the article at
Branding in the Digital Era

Is "branding" dead in the digital era?

Augustine Fou asks that question in his "A New Definition of 'Digital'" column. Fou is not saying that the concept of "brand" is dead but that traditional branding campaigns will have less impact with the increasing growth of digital communications.

Traditional branding campaigns are expensive. Many colleges and universities have invested in research and creative without the resources or the patience for sustained implementation. In the digital era, there just might be a better way to invest those resources.

Review how marketing is changing in a digital world at
WordPress for Your Alumni Magazine

WordPress, the popular and free blog software, is not just for traditional blogs.

Is someone on your campus recommending moving a print magazine online using PDFs or some form of "flip" technology (the clever software that creates a miniature of the print version online so people can click and "flip" the pages)? Suggest they visit the online magazine from The Johns Hopkins University, created with software from Word Press.

Scroll to the bottom of the front page and compare the WordPress version with the "Digital Replica Edition" that is also available.

See a magazine that makes it easier for people to read online at
101 Landing Page Tips to Increase Website Conversions

Where do people go on your website after your advertising campaign convinces them to visit?

Most of the ads I see still do not take people to special landing pages designed to increase conversion by repeating and reinforcing the ad message that motivated them to act. Most ads drop people on a regular website page and leave them to fend for themselves after that. The result is lower conversion and wasted advertising dollars.

Take a few minutes to download "101 Landing Page Optimization Tips" at and plan to get more value from your next round of advertising dollars.
Consumer Profile Tool from Groundswell

The Consumer Profile Tool from Groundswell lets you pick gender, age, and individual countries to find out how people are using social media. In most cases, for instance, more people are spectators rather than active participants at social media sites.

The folks at Forrester Research who provide the Profile tool recently updated it with 2009 data. See how things have changed since 2008 and check on your groups at
Contest for Best Higher Education Advertising

New this year at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education (November 15-18, Boston) is a contest to select top college and university television ads. Submission deadline is October 9. Details of the contest are at

If you are going to the Symposium this year, join me for a 3.5 hour Sunday afternoon tutorial on "Marketing in a World without Paper." Early registration price is available until October 15. Symposium program is at
SUNY CUAD Call for Papers

Advancement people take note. The call for papers for the 2010 SUNYCUAD conference is online now at

Paper proposals are due by November 6. SUNYCUAD will waive your registration fee and pay your travel expenses and one night at the conference hotel if your proposal is selected.

The 2010 meeting is in Buffalo, June 9 to 11.
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.

October 21-22, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group Seminars: Competing for Adults Students, "Branding and the Web: The Value of Your Official Website in the Social Media Era." Download conference brochure at Save $100 when you enter "Bob$100" in the discount code box as you register.

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

November 3-5, Aarhus, Denmark: J. Boye Conference: Aarhus09, "Improving Higher Education Websites: Lessons from the Student Experience." Conference program and registration at

November 15-17, Boston, MA: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, "Marketing in a World without Paper: Creating a Recruitment Communications Plan in a World without Paper" (3.5 hour Sunday afternoon tutorial). Details at

December 8, Webinar: "Writing Right for the Web." Program outline and registration 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

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• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
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