Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

November 2010 Archives

11 University Magazines Using Twitter to Update Followers

December's upcoming "Writing Right for the Web" webinar with Academic Impressions will focus on the social media and mobile worlds. That's brought my attention back to higher education magazines to review how active they are in these communication channels.

Today's update focuses on magazines with accounts on Twitter. We'll follow along with notes on Facebook and mobile later.

On my Twitter account I'm keeping a list of higher education magazines to follow. So far I've got 11 examples. Most are alumni magazines or general university publications. One is a student magazine for University of Glasgow and another at Suffolk University is from the College of Arts and Science.

Here's the list with link to their Twitter accounts so you can follow along with me:

For sure I've not got a complete list here. If anyone reading this has an addition, tell us in a comment and/or send to me at

Chicago, Harvard lead in tweets and followers

Without doing an exact check of tweet frequency yet, Twitter activity varies quite a bit. The total tweet leader is the University of Chicago, with 4,339 tweets to 1,742 followers as I'm typing this today.

Harvard Magazine has a strong 5,976 lead in followers.

Join me on December 9: Writing Right for the Social Media and Mobile Worlds

Review what's planned for "Writing Right for the Web" as we explore content, style, and presentation that will boost the effectiveness of your social media and mobile activities.

Visit the session description and registration pages.

That's all for now 

·  Join me on Twitter at

· Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" at 


November greetings to everyone.

My presentations at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education next week were finished today. Now I am looking forward to meeting many of you in San Diego for this premier event while we enjoy the strong array of keynote speakers and other sessions.

Higher education marketing is still in flux as people continue to grapple with the challenges of a changed economy that is shrinking available financial resources. Tuition levels and tuition discount rates continue to climb. Items on both of those appear below. I was especially fascinated by a new presentation in a Chronicle of Higher Education article that average tuition costs are lower now than in 2000.

Cost concerns can heighten opposition to even relatively modest investments in brand position research and programs. That is one lesson from the current flap over the "Makers All" venture at Purdue University. Expect higher concern over anything that diverts resources from tuition reduction and student aid to come under increasing scrutiny.

But we must continue with everyday efforts to improve the marketing experience. I am about to revise and expand my "Writing Right for the Web" webinars to include not only traditional websites but also writing and presentation for the mobile and social media worlds. Get the session details and register for these November and December events at

And now here are your marketing news and notes for November.
Marketing Online Programs

Just put 10 "top of mind" points from last week's boot camp on marketing for online degree programs in a new blog post. Items range from a continued reluctance to engage in the social media world to a starting level Google Ad Words budget (about $20K) to the strong preference for 8 week over 16 week courses.

See the full list with links to even more stats, information, and recommendations from participants at
Need-blind Admissions: Disappearing?

The InsideHigherEd summary of a standing room only session from last week's College Board Forum is that few schools will continue making admission decisions without regard to ability to pay because most cannot afford to provide the needed financial assistance.

A Colorado College participant noted that CC did away with "need blind" several years ago for financial reasons. Other notes include Vanderbilt, Embry-Riddle, and Case Western universities.

Reality marketing intrudes via the comment from one parent who just wants to know up front what the policy is. The article and other comments are at
Controlling Tuition Discount Rates: Augustana College

In the private sector, controlling a creeping tuition rate is high priority at many colleges and universities. Most of the time, people do not want to talk about it in public.

Congratulations to Augustana for agreeing to an interview that shows the difficult adjustments needed to achieve an ambitious goal: more applications from people willing to pay more tuition.

Augustana is at a 42 percent tuition discount rate now. That's high but not unusual. Read about what's being done to reduce that at
5 Secrets for YouTube Search Engine Optimization

YouTube is the second most popular social networking site, although it is long way behind Facebook. Given that, it makes sense to make sure search engines are as likely to find your videos as possible.

I liked Secret 3: Use the full number of spaces allowed for page titles (100), descriptions (5,000) and tags (120).

Check the other secrets from Sage Lewis at
Value of Truth in Brand Claims

If you work in the branding side of marketing, be sure to read the AdAge article on "The Competitive Advantage of Truth" in branding campaigns.

This is not an article about why you should not lie. It is an article about using brand campaigns to give people real information about yourself rather than just making claims about how wonderful your institution is. In higher education, after all, every is committed to academic excellence.

Prompted by a recent brand campaign by Chevron, the article is at
Purdue University and "Makers All"

I have never been a special fan of tag lines, have not formed any strong opinion about the "Makers All" phrase and have no idea of how well it describes what happens at Purdue. Some people at Purdue are not happy with it, but keeping everyone happy is not easy or necessarily desirable.

That said, if you have followed the discourse so far, have a look at how "Makers All" is used in the university's video at

We live in a social media world so do not skip the 10 comments from the 2,407 people who have watched the video on YouTube these past two weeks.
Focus Groups and Web Design

Do you use focus groups as part of your web design process?

If you care about the marketing strength of your site, read Gerry McGovern on the perils of relying on focus group results at
Marketing a Grant Proposal: 9 Insights

If you work with the increasingly competitive competition for grant money, be sure to see if you might benefit from any of the 9 tips offered by Fund Raising Success Magazine.

Suggests range from making sure your math is right to not asking for more than 30 percent of a project from a single foundation. See the other seven at
Mobile Marketing: 2 Key Elements

Every website has pages upon pages of content that serves no useful purpose to regular visitors to the site. Indeed, many pages are rarely if ever visited.

Creating a mobile-friendly website is a great opportunity to leave behind content of little interest.

That winnowing is even more important when you consider the most important feature of a mobile site: easy task completion. Excessive content makes navigation more complicated and hinders easy task completion.

For more on creating mobile websites visit
Online Magazines: Another Done Right for the Web

If you are searching for another example of a web-friendly magazine done without "flip" technology or PDFs, look no further than Notre Dame Magazine.

Key stories heads and columns by faculty and alumni are easy to scan in 5 seconds.

For another example of a magazine written "right for the web" visit
College Costs: Lower in 2010 than in 2000?

For an interesting approach to change in the net cost for a college degree, consider "The Real Price of College: Looking Beyond the Sticker" by Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson.

After you read it, ask yourself this question: would this argument that average net costs are lower in inflation-corrected dollars in 2010 than in 2000 sell to families dealing with the cost of higher education today? Note that the authors correctly note the growing fear of loan debt as an obstacle. Loans defer but do not reduce the cost of higher education.

Check a proposition with little marketing strength at
Lip dub fan?

If you believe there is marketing value with potential students in lip dubs, don't miss the new offering from the University of Victoria at

About 1,000 students participated and nearly 120,000 people have watched as I'm typing this.
eduWeb Conference Call for Papers

Start thinking now about a proposal you might make when the Call for Papers opens on January 5.

The conference welcomes papers with a marketing perspective. Check the tracks and more information on eduWeb (San Antonio in July this year) at
My Upcoming Conferences and Webinars in 2010

Attend an upcoming conference to share questions and answers with people like you who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me at these events.

November 7-10, American Marketing Association, Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education: Pre-conference tutorial, "Mobile in the Marketing Mix: Crafting a New Recruitment Communication Strategy." Follow the program at

November 18, December 9 webinars: Academic Impressions, "Writing Right for the Web: Social Media, Mobile and Traditional Sites." Dec 9 is an advanced session for creating and editing content for social media and mobile sites. Details 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 6 services.
• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web On-Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Review
• Competitive Website Reviews
• Content Copywriting Services
• Usability Analysis

Start now at

Marketing Online Programs: Top of Mind notes from Washington, D.C.

What stands out most from last week's Education Dynamics first "boot camp" conference with Carol Aslanian and friends in D.C.? Here are 10 points still floating on the top of my brain, in no special order:

  • Mixed acceptance of social media was not surprising. Still people/institutions reluctant to expose themselves to possible public criticism of their educational programs. Ball State University, on the other hand, has a Facebook site just for online and distance learning. University of Phoenix has an active Facebook site where they allow critical discussions that extend to faculty quality, financial aid service, and value of a UPhoenix degree.
  • Great tweeting of the sessions extended the impact of the program. Thanks to @spicymeatball and @cwech and @ann_tschirhrt. Review their tweets and more at #aslanian for lots of data on the growing popularity of online degree programs.
  • Panel participant from Bethel College reported turning around a FAFSA in 24 to 48 hours after completion. Rather fine customer service. Hodges University is also rapid.
  • Northeastern University's website for online learning is especially impressive. Unusual elements include pages on faculty quality control and competitive tution prices. And don't miss the quite short online inquiry form. Remember, the longer the form, the fewer the people who will complete it.
  • Overall, the online program site with highest marketing impact is at Walden University. Almost every page passes the 5-second scan rule for quick engagement and easier task completion.
  • Google Ad Words: good recommendation from Canisius College to allow about 8 months to evaluation results. Same applies to other online adversising well. Nobody at this meeting had used Facebook or LinkedIn ads but both are worth a try. A budget of $20K might be a good starting investment. If you're new to this, check the Beginner's Guide.
  • 62 percent of leads prefer email follow-up, 34 percent prefer phone.
  • Graduate students will pay more to graduate faster. Cost is not always the primary factor in picking a program. Regis University includes time to degree in online MBA Tuition Cost Comparision tables.
  • In the not-for-profit sector, 75 percent of students are part-time and prefer 8 week courses. Deadly marketing element: 16 week courses.
  • Most popular online graduate degrees: business (33 percent), health professions (22 percent) and education (20 percent.) Some report stagnation in business enrollment; some attibute this to increased programs available.

My Boot Camp Presentations are Online

Visit SlideShare to review my first presentation on best website marketing features for online degree programs and my second, an overview of social media and mobile marketing.

That's all for now 

·  Join me on Twitter at

· Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" at 

Bob Johnson
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