Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter... March 2012

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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 

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