Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter... November 2012

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Hello in November... and congratulations to everyone who had to struggle back to normal operations after Hurricane Sandy.

Gerry McGovern is giving a free webinar on November 7 on how Top Task Management can improve your website. Put more marketing power in your website. Register at If you cannot make the webinar, see slides from my August presentation on Top Task Design for higher education at

Website Management Principles: Gerry also has a survey in progress to learn your thoughts about the most important principles for successful website management at Take the survey and you will get a copy of the results.

Email for student recruitment: My secret shopper saga continues in a new blog post detailing 13 emails received from 5 colleges and universities since my last September update at

Less than a week from now many of us will be in New Orleans for the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. You still have time to register at for my Sunday afternoon Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial.

And now, here are your marketing news and notes for November.
World University Rankings: 2012-2013

New world university rankings are out from Times Higher Education, using "13 carefully calibrated performance indicators."

California Institute of Technology wins first place. Specific ranking order is given for the first 200 institutions, followed by 200 more in alpha order. The alpha group ends with University of Wyoming.

See if your university is listed among the 400 when you scroll the list at
Surprising? Many Senior Administrators Say Higher Education Is Not Worth the Cost

Just over 40 percent of high ranking college and university administrators in the U.S. believe that students are not receiving an education worth the price of what they are paying, according to poll results released by Time Magazine.

The poll also shows that public opinion by a wide margin (73 percent) supports tuition price caps from the Federal Government because there is little faith in the ability of higher education to control cost increases.

That is an interesting combination that may also reflect why majorities of both senior administrators and the public believe there is either a "crisis" or a "severe crisis" in higher education today.

Read more details at
Online Inquiry Forms: 6 Short & Simple Honor Role Examples

The shorter you make an online inquiry form the more people will complete it. The best approach: let people see the entire form when the inquiry page opens so they know right away that it will not take long to complete.

Honor Role examples from 6 colleges and universities that get it right for both graduate and undergraduate recruitment are at
Retrenchment in the For-Profit Sector

Nothing lasts forever, including enrollment growth in the for-profit sector. By now you have likely heard that University of Phoenix is closing nearly half of on-site campuses across the country. Phoenix enrollment has dropped from a high of 476,500 in May of 2010 to 328,400 in August of 2012.

The reasons are varied, from not-so-good publicity about degree completion and student debt to skepticism about the value of the investment, to increased competition from the not-for-profit sector for online students. And enrollment increases are happening at some for-profit schools.

The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of what's happening in the churn at
UCLA TV Campaign for Online Students

One reason the for-profit sector has enrollment challenges is a more aggressive effort from schools like UCLA to enroll online students. Here in Michigan, for instance, we have seen television ads for the past few weeks from the venerable UCLA Extension program, with a special focus on certificate programs in specific career areas.

Start your review of the UCLA effort by watching a TV ad on YouTube at
Facebook and Mobile Advertising

If you are thinking about advertising on Facebook (and you should at least be thinking about it) then you will want to read the AdAge update on the progress FB is making in the mobile sector. The nutshell: advertising on smartphones is more restricted than on regular computers but the ROI for FB has been higher from mobile since the effort began in March.

Mobile advertising remains a challenge. But expect strong investment over the next 12 months by FB and others to explore how to make it work. For now, update yourself in the AdAge article at and plan to pay close attention to what happens as 2013 opens.
Website Conversion Rates by Industry: Education Average is 8 Percent

Marketing Sherpa is out with a chart on website conversion rates divided among 10 industry clusters. Education here is mixed with Healthcare.

Note the caveat that appears with the chart: conversion is measured in different ways in different industries (and even within a single industry.) Spend a minute or two to scan conversion rates that start with 10 percent for Financial and Professional Services at
Email Newsletters: Responsive Design Brings Benefits

Not long ago Jakob Nielsen was chastised by responsive design advocates for suggesting that responsive design might not be the right approach for every website in the mobile environment.

Nielsen is back in October with a new review of email newsletter effectiveness for smartphones. And in this case, he recommends a responsive design approach for the relatively small number of people who read newsletters on their phones rather than on desktop or laptop computers.

Email newsletters still have a role in marketing communications. For more on how to make yours more effective, visit the Nielsen Alertbox report at
QR Codes: 5 Successful Marketing Examples

Back in the beginning too many people jumped on QR codes because it was the cool thing to do and often were disappointed when results did not meet expectations.

Failure often was the result of using QR codes in the wrong place, using them to send people to regular website pages that didn't work on a smartphone, or just bad landing pages. Now, you can easily find people who have dismissed QR codes as lacking any usefulness at all. That is as silly as chasing after the latest shiny object when it first bounces in front of you.

Read about successful QR campaigns at
Pinterest: Why a Marketing VP is Bored

Speaking of chasing shiny objects, Pinterest just might fall into that category.

Rachel Weiss is the VP for Digital Marketing and Strategy at L'Oreal and she has been watching and learning about Pinterest since what she calls the "Pinterest craze" started early in the year. Right now she does not think it is a very good platform for brand building.

Learn about why Rachel is bored with Pinterest (and what she thinks of Facebook, Google, Google+, and Foursquare) at
University of Antarctica: Laugh or Cry?

Decide whether to laugh or cry for higher education marketing after you visit the University of Antarctica website at and explore "Big Opportunities" on the "Big Continent."

Yes, this is not a real university. But it will make you wonder about what is possible and what is not when the marketing impulse takes website content creation a bit over the top.

Some of what you find will make you laugh. And sometimes you might think you are looking at your school in a mirror.
Most Popular Topic in the October Newsletter: Email Student Recruitment Responses

The most visited item in the October newsletter was my blog post updating the ongoing review of how 6 colleges and universities are using email in response to an online inquiry. Check notes on 17 responses received in August and September at
My Last Conference in 2012

November 11-14, New Orleans: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The Symposium website is at Register for my "Digital Marketing Strategy" tutorial on Sunday.

Expand the marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a campus workshop on any of my conference presentation topics or "Writing Right for The Web." Scan the presentation topics at

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

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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