Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

April 2010 Archives

Higher Education Tag Lines: Does your brand really need one?

A friend forwarded to me an RFP recently posted in a CASE listserv. Among a variety of marketing communication and research items included was development of a new "marketing tagline."

The RFP nicely set out the tagline dilemma: "We have not identified a marketing tagline that both resonates with our intended audience(s) and enjoys support from campus constituents."

Mission impossible? You'll easily find more than one marketing communications firm happy to take your money and guide you on your quest.

My personal opinion is that the time, energy, and resources spent developing tag lines far exceeds the marketing rewards reaped from them. Most higher education taglines don't say anything meaningful to potential students about the schools that use them. Exceptions exist, but not many.

After scanning the RFP, I filed the email away. Reading the April 18 Education Life quarterly supplement from The New York Times brought the RFP back to life. What, I wondered, were the taglines used in the print ads from various schools?

Play This Tagline Game

And so here is an invitation to play a game in two parts: 

    • Read the list below. Imagine what college or university (or even type of college or university) might fit behind the taglines. Then click on your favorites and see where you end up.
    • When you arrive at each home page, do an exercise in integrated marketing: see how long it takes you to find the tag line. Hint: sometime is it quite obvious, sometimes you won't find it at all.

Here are 8 taglines from the Sunday supplement.

 That's all for now 


iPhone Dominates Mobile Access: for a small group of website visitors

Two mobile marketing workshops are set for this summer, both in July in Chicago. I'm busy with that research now, including new online inquiries at schools venturing into mobile marketing.

The first workshop, at the ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, is especially for people who need to weave mobile marketing into their mix of student recruitment marketing activities. The second, at eduWeb 2010, is for anyone interested in higher education online communications.

A key question, of course, is whether or not people are using mobile devices in sufficient quantity to make the expenditure of scarce time, energy, and dollars in this area at all.

Mobile Access on Google Analytics

If you have Google Analytics on your website, that's easy to find out. When you get to your dashboard, open "Visitors" in the left hand column, scroll down to "Mobile" and open that to "Mobile Devices." You'll immediately see how many visitors you are getting at all from mobile devices, as well as which ones people are using. Here's a screen shot from my website today. Mobile devices on GA.ppt

The first thing to note (I'll bet real money this is true at your site as well) is that most of your web visitors do not yet arrive from a mobile device. The second thing is that for those who do, the iPhone has a huge lead over anything else.

iPad: Track the Growth

Will the iPad be important? Easy enough to track that week by week if you want, or at least month by month. Today, for instance, I noted the first 3 people using iPads to visit my website.

Mobile Apps or Mobile Websites?

What's going to be most important to your marketing success, mobile apps or mobile websites?

Count on both, of course. Who said life would be so simple that you'd only have to work on one or the other? But don't get carried away with app development without also preparing your site for direct access from mobile devices. Check this article at ReadWriteWeb for a presentation of the need to ensure that your official website works well for visitors using a variety of mobile devices. 

While the iPhone dominates now, expect to see Android-based smartphones increase their market share between now and the end of the year. If that happens, you'll see it in your analytics tracking. At some point, you may need to move past iPhone/iPad apps.

Check iPhone Apps on the iPad 

Don't assume that all iPhone apps will work well on an iPad. Early reports note that some do not play well on the larger iPad screen. If you already have iPhone apps, check them now on the iPad. Some are being described as "ugly" and even Steve Jobs banned some popular Apple apps from the iPad.

The good news is that web analytics can help you make informed decisions about all of this based on the trends you see emerging for new and returning visitors as you track this in the months ahead.

Web Analytics for Recruitment: Conference Presentation in June 

I'll be covering more about web analytics tracking in my session at Carol Aslanian's conference on recruiting adult students in June in Chicago

That's all for now 





Spring greetings to everyone north of the equator. May your marketing activities flower as well as early warm temperatures are boosting the blossoms here in Michigan.

The spring and summer conference season is busy this year and I hope to see many of you between May and July. ACT pre-conference workshops for the Enrollment Planners meeting just went online at at a price of only $50, including my new one on mobile marketing and student recruitment.

If you have a special interest in web content, organization, and management come along to the J.Boye Conference in Philadelphia in May. People from colleges and universities receive a 40 percent registration discount at

There is still time to organize a team for my April 20 "Writing Right for the Web" webinar. Register at

And there is more. Check the links below for Carol Aslanian's "Marketing to Adult Students" in June and eduWeb 2010 in July, both in Chicago.

And now here are your marketing news and notes in April.
Admit Rates Fall at Top Colleges

The only real question this year was how far would admission rates fall at top schools deluged with applications.

The Washington Post reports on decreases at 20 schools that vary between Harvard at 6.9 percent and George Washington at 31.5 percent.

Scan the full list at
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Not True Any More?

Remember the classic 1994 book by Al Ries and Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing? Augustine Fou has written a 3-part review on the changes that digital technology and social media have created since then in a world where consumers rather than marketers are dominant.

Add to your marketing erudition when you check how and why immutable laws lose their power at
Tuition Discounting Soars in 2008

Not many schools talk in public about their tuition discount rate but new financial realities have indeed forced many private sector institutions to increase tuition discounting to maintain enrollment goals and market position.

The average discount rate reported to the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) increased 3 percent from 2007 to 2008 to a high of 41.5 percent.

Expectations are for another but smaller increase when 2009 results are reported.

InsideHigherEd reports more tuition discounting details at
New Online Magazine Done Right

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has just converted the college's online magazine from a PDF format to a style that is "right for the web."

Is your magazine online as a PDF? Do you use a form of "flip technology" that makes it difficult for people to quickly scan the content and connect in 5 seconds or less? This Penn State example will give you more ammunition to help you move in the right direction.

Read the new Winter/Spring 2010 issue at
Recruiting International Students: Instant Response Required

Potential students around the world are no different in one respect than potential students right here in the United States. About 50 percent expect an answer to questions asked online to arrive that same day.

That information and more was reported at a recent UK conference on international student recruitment that focused on recruitment at the graduate level. Note the differences and similarities among students around the world reported at
Social Media Addicts Defined

Are you addicted to social media?

Do you check Facebook or Twitter whenever you wake up at night or first thing in the morning or before you turn on a TV show? Hint: iPhone uses get addicted more often than anyone else.

Check interesting charts and graphs to see if you are addicted or not at
Invest in Mobile Apps or Mobile Website?

Is this a marketing issue right now on your campus? If not, it likely will be soon.

AdAge asked this question in a recent poll: Are marketers wasting online budgets by focusing so much on apps rather than the mobile web?

More interesting than the results (62 percent said yes) are the varied comments you'll find at
Scrolling on Your Website Is Not Evil

The question of whether or not scrolling is OK is still often asked at my presentations and client visits. Now Jakob Nielsen is out with a new Alertbox that tells us that scrolling is indeed OK but also warns us that it can be overdone.

Nielsen reaffirms what many of us have been saying for years. If you engage people initially "above the fold" of the web page, those people are willing to scroll down the page for more of the same interesting content.

But that does not mean that people will scroll forever. Ruthless editing is still more important on a website than just about any other place. People are impatient. Brevity counts.

Find more on an important topic in the March 22 Alertbox at
Quiz: How Millennial are You?

The Pew Internet folk who do continuing generational research are giving everyone, Millennial or not, a chance to see how Millennial-like we are.

Answer 14 quick questions from TV watching to text messaging to tattoos to interracial marriage and more at

When you finish the quiz, download a February 2010 in-depth 149 page report on Millennials who are "Confident, Connected, and Open to Change."
5 Reasons to Deep Link at Your Website

Online marketing at your website is all about the experience people have when they visit. When that experience is bad, your brand suffers.

With that in mind, I was pleased to see that increased usability was the first of 5 reasons for creating links direct to content within your website in this Search Engine Land article.

This maxim is still violated too often in higher education print ads that include a URL. Instead of taking people direct to the content highlighted in the ad, links often go to the general home page or at best to the entry page for an academic area. From that point, visitors are abandoned to puzzle out the way forward. All too often they will not bother to do that.

Links from social media sites sometimes make the same mistake.

Review the other 4 reasons to link direct to valued content at
Analytics and Mobile Marketing

Are you tracking access to your website from mobile devices?

In one client report done last month, access by new visitors from iPhones, iPods, Androids and the like was just under 2 percent for the month of February. That is not high right now, but how fast will it grow? At this university, there was a definite change from the last quarter of 2009 to the early part of this year.

Google Analytics makes it easy for you to see if there is indeed a growth trend in the months ahead. You don't need to watch every day or every week, but do it at least monthly for the next 6 months.

More about watching for a mobile trend in my blog post at
Shrinking Scope of Higher Education

Pennsylvania is not the only state to plan a centralized review of the majors offered by 14 public universities within the state, but the process underway there understandably is not popular with faculty in smaller departments.

A review is mandated if a major has graduated less than 30 students in the last 5 years for undergrad programs and less than 20 for graduate programs. Some programs likely will disappear.

In a time of greatly diminished resources (that will not soon return to levels of the last 20 years) too many institutions are offering too many courses in too many majors with few students. Tuition cannot increase to the level needed to sustain all programs offered in 2007. The dilemma is sad but real. Higher education degree programs will shrink.

Details of the Pennsylvania process are reported at
My Upcoming Presentations in 2010

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

April 7, Magna Publications Webinar: "Web Analytics for Enrollment Success." Program details and registration at

April 20, Academic Impressions Webinar: "Writing Right for the Web." Check the program outline and register at

May 4-6, J.Boye Philadelphia2010, Philadelphia, PA. "Perils, Pitfalls, and Pleasures: Moving Print Publications to Life Online" and Bates College case study by Jay Collier. If you work at a college or university, you receive a 40% registration discount. Register at

June 3-4, Education Dynamics Aslanian Group Seminar, Marketing to Adult Students, Chicago, IL "Adult-friendly Websites: A 'Best of the Best' Review" and "Web Analytics: A Guide to Improving Recruitment Success." Review the program and register online.

July 21-23, ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, Chicago, IL Pre-conference workshop, "'Mobile in the Marketing Mix': Myth and Reality for 2010 and Beyond" and conference session: "International Student Recruitment: Best Practice Website Features." Program details and registration at

July 26-28, eduWeb2010, Chicago, IL Follow the conference program as it grows at

July 29, Education Dynamics Aslanian Group Seminar, Marketing to Graduate Students, New York, NY. Details coming soon.

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 6 services.
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