Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

March 2012 Archives

Digital marketing... deciding what's "necessary" to know and what's only "nice"

"Digital marketing" is on my mind this week as I continue my search to select the best content for a series of workshops this year on digital marketing strategy. The first edition, so to speak, is set as a half-day tutorial at the J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference in Philadelphia in May.

I still have work to do in separating what's "nice" from what's "necessary" to get the best value for the two to three hour sessions coming up. Finding stuff to review certainly is not a problem. Today I'm going to share a few unconnected quotes and facts that stand out so far.

Is it digital marketing or not?
  • "We don't believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world and there's a huge difference." Clive Sirken, CMO, Kimberly-Clarke, March 2012
Is SXSW conference a "media zoo"?
  • "It's a place where the question is always "what's next" and one has the impression of meandering hordes traipsing the streets of Austin searching for answers to a confusing and ever-evolving media landscape." Jake Coyle, AP reporter
Why do numbers count in social media?
  • Most people "follow" and "like" brands to listen, not to engage in conversation. The folks at Groundswell have known this for years. Too many social media "experts" don't.
  • Numbers are not everything but numbers do count. The more people listening, the better.
Is Facebook a place for sales?
  • Not really. That's why JCPenny, Nordstrom, the Gap and others are abandoning Facebook pages created to sell product.
  • Facebook can be a place for cultivation. Burberry has done fine using a Facebook page to move people along to a regular website.
Are there too many "content strategists"?
  • Most online content campaigns are "terrible." That's the opinion of Kyle Monson, content strategy director at JWT. 
  • He blames that in part on too many self-proclaimed "content strategists" who don't understand marketing.
Those are just 5 of the items that are included in the workshop now. And I rather suspect that answers to the questions will differ more than a bit. But that's what makes these sessions valuable and fun, is it not?

New "Writing Right for the Web" Conference in May

The second 2-day "Writing Right for the Web" conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We'll explore in depth not only "writing right" on traditional websites, but for social media and mobile sites as well.

Check the conference details and register to join us in May.

That's all for now. 

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" and "Link of the Week" emails at

Higher Education... Cost Pressure Continues to Drive Change

"Higher education" will always exist. How long it will exist in the present format is another question. The higher education "brand" is still valued as a credential to success. But increasingly, colleges and universities are losing control over how education is delivered and priced and how long it takes to earn the credential. 

Without elaborating overly much, here are 5 items taken today from a single "Academe Today" newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education that illustrate the transformation underway. If the Chronicle carries it, it must be noteworthy, right?

Consider these seemingly unrelated items:
How fast will the transformation continue? How soon will it reach to universities perched high on the hilltops watching the angry waters below them? We'll see.

New "Writing Right for the Web" Conference in May

The second 2-day "Writing Right for the Web" conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We'll explore in depth not only "writing right" on traditional websites, but for social media and mobile sites as well.

Check the conference details and register to join us in May.

That's all for now.

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" and "Link of the Week" emails at

Hello to everyone and best wishes for marketing success as spring arrives on the horizon. I am just back from Michigan Technological University where more snow fell during my visit day than we have had all winter here in the Marshall area. Join me in wishing for the rapid arrival of the first crocus.

Work continues this week on a new "digital marketing strategy" tutorial for the J.Boye Web and Intranet conference in Philadelphia in May. Check the higher education track and more at

"Writing Right for the Web" updates will start this month for a 2-day conference in Atlanta in May. We cover traditional websites as well as social media and mobile sites. Join people from Hawaii to Long Island who are already registered after you check the outline and sign on at

An early bird registration discount is open for eduWeb2012. And the Call for Papers runs until March 30. Plan to share your expertise, ideas, and experiences at

And now here are your marketing news and notes for March.
Pinterest Interest Explodes in Higher Ed and Elsewhere

As if we do not have enough social media sites to integrate into our communication plans, we are now blessed with the rapidly growing popularity of Pinterest. For the week of February 18, Hitwise lists Pinterest as the 5th most popular social media site but still a bit shy of one percent total traffic. Join me in wondering how soon it might pass Twitter at 1.55 percent.

To help fuel your discussion of whether or not to play with pins, Brandon Uttley gives you four reasons why "It's Time to Pin Your Brand to Pinterest," including increasing traffic to your website and improving SEO results.

Read more about those two and two others at
Marquette University Pinterest Page

Marquette is an early Pinterest adopter, with a site that includes 19 boards with 289 pins and, as of last Friday, 9 likes. Board subjects include campus buildings, weddings, alumni, the university magazine, and 100 things to do before graduating.

This was a Link of the Week selection last week. If you missed that, visit the Marquette Pinterest site at
Mobile Apps and Mobile Websites: Where and When to Invest

Jakob Nielsen updated his recommendations about where to best invest your mobile time and money in a new Alertbox last month. His recommendations likely will not thrill anyone.

For now, Nielsen sees apps as the best way to communicate with people in the mobile world for the simple reason that they work better than mobile versions of regular websites. In the future, particularly as the operating speed of mobile devices increases, he sees mobile websites as the important investment to make. When will this transition take place? Nielsen admits that he does not know.

Stay up-to-date with the possibilities. Visit the Alertbox at
Open and Free Courses at Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon is firmly in the ranks of universities offering no cost educational opportunities or "academic courses" at fees less than $100. Certifications and credits are not awarded, but "tips" are provided on how to work with a professor at other institutions to earn credit for these Carnegie Mellon courses.

You'll see logos from about 20 institutions (including Miami University, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of British Columbia) already taking part in the "future of higher education" when you visit
Once Again: Email is Not Dead

Email is still very much alive and well as a key marketing element, but only if adapted to 2012 realities. Or, as Simms Jenkins asks in "4 Email Marketing Trends That Matter In 2012," is your email still being delivered as if iPhones did not exist? Reading email is the number one thing people do from smartphones but they will only read yours if you prepare it for the iPhone era and not the fading Blackberry world.

Read more on email creativity and other tips for success at
Marketing Strategy in the World Today

"Ease of use and simplicity" are the core elements for marketing strategy today, particularly on home pages that first greet visitors to a website. That is the key message in a New Thinking column from Gerry McGovern.

Success in marketing strategy is hindered if a campaign is based on a traditional marketing approach "oriented towards getting attention." Home page visitors already want to be there and have a task in mind when they arrive. Anything that blocks completion of the task hinders marketing success.

Read more from Gerry on how to achieve online marketing success at
Mobile Marketing: Update on Smartphone Ownership in U.S.

The research folks at Pew Internet are out this month with an update on the growth of smartphone ownership, including great demographic data. The bottom line: ownership in the U.S. is now up to 46 percent of people 18 years and older. That is an increase from 39 percent in May of last year.

Ownership is growing in every income, education, and ethnic category but only passes 50 percent among people with at least some college and/or household income higher than $75,000. Among the $75,000+ group, ownership is at 68 percent.

For more data, visit the Pew Internet site at
Web Content Editor Position Details

Do you have a web content editor on your campus yet? Are you thinking of applying for a position like that?

Details of a new opening for a "Web Content Editor and New Media Specialist" at Radford University in Virginia were just added to the collection of position descriptions on my blog. Check the skills, qualifications, and experiences to compare with your position or plan for a new one at
Net Price Calculators: Links to 250 Examples

U.S. News notes that while online net price calculators are now mandated by the Federal Government, it is not always easy to find them on college and university websites.

To simplify that task, U.S. News has created a page with links to the price calculators for more than 250 National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, with plans to add more.

To see if your school is listed and to compare how your calculator compares for ease of use with those of your competitors who are already listed visit
Marketing on Facebook: Big Brand Failures and a Success Story

J.C. Penney, Gap, and Nordstrom have closed Facebook stores after a lack of success with efforts started over the past year. Lessons are here for higher education re reasonable expectations from social media marketing efforts.

As a direct sales tool, Facebook is not the right place. Burberry, on the other hand, has had great success crafting a marketing effort designed to move visitors along from Facebook to a traditional website. In September 2010, Facebook produced 1.9 percent of website visitors. A year later, 29.1 percent of website visitors arrived from Facebook. One result: less need for paid online advertising.

Read more on what works and what does not for effective Facebook marketing at
Most Popular in the February Newsletter

"The Essential Word List for Lazy PR Writers" was the runaway popularity winner. If you missed the 32-item list last month, visit
Marketing Position at Northeastern University

The position of director of enrollment marketing and communications is open at Northeastern University.

For a description of the position, qualifications needed, and application details send an email to Margot Lansing at the search firm of Lansing & Whitfield at
Conferences and Webinars in 2012

Attend a conference in 2012 to share questions and answers with people who are building a competitive advantage in higher education marketing.

May 8-10, Philadelphia: J.BoyePhiladelphia12 Web and Intranet Conference. Tutorial presentation: "Digital Marketing Strategy: 2015 and Beyond" and a regular session: "Top Task Website Design: Lessons from University Research." Check the program and register at

May 24-25, Atlanta: Academic Impressions Conference: "Writing Right for the Web: Improving Your Content." Program details and registration at

July 11-13, Chicago: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference. Visit the conference website at

July 30-August 1, Boston: eduWeb2012. Conference website is at

Expand the marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a campus workshop on any of the conference topics listed here.

Contact me at or call me at 248.766.6425.
That's All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your online marketing success with these 5 services.
• Top Task Website Design Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web: Webinars, Conferences, Campus Workshops
• Expert Marketing Communications Website Reviews
• Competitive Website Reviews
• Search Engine Optimization Reviews 
Web Content Editor... do you have a position like this on your campus?

Web content editor positions continue to spread throughout higher education, but many schools have not yet been able to add one. At others, the position is not yet higher in the employment hierarchy. Online higher education marketing will benefit as these positions develop in responsibility and seniority. 

This latest posting from Radford University in Virginia illustrates the wide range of talent that is often included in searches like this. In reality, the final choice of an applicant will give priority to some of these skills more than others. But in the initial posting, it isn't unusual to dream.

If you'd like to apply for the position (full title: Web Content Editor and New Media Specialist) start at the "jobs.radford" website and click on the red link for administrative and professional positions.

Alas, the position listing does not include a salary range but only the vague and unsatisfactory "commensurate with experience" phrase. From what you'll read here, you'll likely agree that this is not an entry level position.

Job Experience

"Work closely with content creators, functional area representatives, and other clients to identify web communications opportunities and develop appropriate strategies to reach targeted audiences. Develop and produce web content, including editorial content and graphic design elements that may be used on the website or on social media outlets. Work with clients to ensure online communication channels are engaging, current, interactive and consistent. Write, proofread, and edit text for websites. Provide training and guidance for web content authors. Ensure that all documents and images meet established content standards; work with developers to assess and meet any technical challenges in displaying content. Design and maintain site information architecture, navigational structure, user interface, visual design and graphics."

Required Qualifications

"The successful candidate must possess experience writing/editing web content or equivalent; experience with graphic or web design, proficiency with web development tools and technology; experience/skill in handling large-scale projects; understanding of the broad skill areas that support Web site development such as editorial, art, technical, QA, and integration; strong organizational skills and attention to detail; excellent verbal and written communication skills; ability to work well in a high-performance team environment under deadline pressure; and experience with the Adobe Creative Suite, particularly Adobe Photoshop."

Preferred Qualifications

Experience developing and maintaining web content for complex websites in a higher education environment is preferred.

Experience working in or designing for a content management system is preferred.

Experience working in social media is preferred.

Basic HTML tagging experience is preferred.

Proficiency with Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator preferred.

Knowledge of search engine optimization principles preferred.


"A master's degree in Journalism, English, Communications, marketing or related field or Bachelor's degree with strong editorial skills with some combination of equivalent relevant experience is required."

New "Writing Right for the Web" Conference in May

The second 2-day "Writing Right for the Web" conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We'll explore in depth not only "writing right" on traditional websites, but for social media and mobile sites as well.

People are registered from Hawaii to Long Island. Join us from wherever you are in the world.

That's all for now. 

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to "Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter" and "Link of the Week" emails at

Bob Johnson
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