Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

December 2012 Archives

December greetings to subscribers old and new, with a special hello to people who signed on at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education last month. Welcome.

The latest installment of my secret shopping email marketing review is online at with notes on 13 emails from mid-October to early November. As we have seen since inquiries were made at 6 schools in New York and New England in June, quality varies. My favorite subject line in this group: a reference to Hurricane Sandy as an "inclement weather" event.

The Honor Roll of blessedly brief online inquiry forms expanded in November with additions from Wisconsin Lutheran College and Drexel University. Links to both examples together with the original list of six are at

Mark your calendar now. The J.Boye Web and Intranet conference returns to Philadelphia May 7-9. This is a great place to share ideas with people from inside and outside higher education. Follow the program as it develops at

As the holiday season approaches, best wishes to everyone for a happy time of celebration with family and friends.

And now, here are your marketing news and notes for December.
NSSE Survey Results for 2012

Results of the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement were released in November. About 285,000 freshmen and seniors at 546 colleges and universities in the U.S. participated.

Marketers will want to pay special attention to the importance of jobs and career advancement to the selection of academic majors. STEM majors placed a higher priority on career success than most other students. Ethnic differences were high as well.

The report includes a roster of the participating institutions. If your school is listed, be sure to ask for a copy of your results. Then compare what your students say about their experience with how that experience is presented on your website and in your view book. The closer the match, the better your chance for success in reality marketing.

Download your copy of the 50-page PDF report at
The War is Over: ACE Starts Study to Award Credit for MOOCs

Once upon a very short time ago there was still great debate in academe over the legitimacy of online learning. How that has changed in just a year or so is evident in an announcement from American Council on Education that it will undertake a study to determine the "academic potential" of online courses.

Can you read between the lines? With Harvard, MIT, Stanford and more committed to online learning, the outcome of the ACE study is predictable. Soon we will have a finding that will ratify what is already obvious. Online courses will become an increasing part of the curriculum at nearly every college and university.

If there is not already a discussion at your school about how to award credit to students of every age who complete a MOOC, it is time to get that started. More details of the ACE plan at
Higher Education and Public Trust

Higher education often takes a "trust us" response to questions about the validity of costs, programs, and outcomes. In that context, we do not need revelations that well-known universities are cooking the data reported to US News and World Report for the annual ratings issue.

The latest admission comes from George Washington University. For about 10 years, GWU has inflated the percent of new students who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Most recently, the number reported was 78 percent instead of 58 percent. That's a nasty addition to recent examples reported from Emory University and Claremont McKenna College.

US News is optimistic that schools now are paying more attention to data integrity. For the sake of preserving as much public trust as possible, let us hope that is true.

More on the GWU example at
Digital Advertising Glossary

Whether you are already advertising online or thinking about starting a program, take a few minutes to review the 40 items in the Digital Advertising Master Glossary from Website Magazine.

My question: will CPC pricing become common for banner advertising in the future, replacing the now standard CPM?

See how many you already know when you visit
Responsive Design for Email Marketing

Chris Studabaker compares 9 email examples in desktop and mobile responsive versions in a column worth visiting at

Check your emails soon. As Chris notes, there are few best practice examples. But what is likely certain is that an email that looks fine and is easy to read on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer is not likely to look as well on a smartphone. The 5-second rule applies: if people cannot connect with your email message in 5 seconds or less, your email marketing effectiveness will suffer.
NY Times Highlights College Alternatives

"The Old College Try? No Way" in yesterday's Sunday Styles section of the NY times highlights the usual handful of college drop-out who are now millionaires and beyond and others who have dropped out to seek similar success. Chances of many people doing that seem similar to winning an equivalent jackpot lottery but hope springs eternal. The article is online at

In the second half of the article lurks perhaps a more important section on the movement to acquire a substantial dose of college-level learning from a variety of sources, whether you get a degree or not. Dale Stephens, for instance, dropped out of Hendrix College, won a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship and started UnCollege to extend the exploration of college alternatives.

Call me crazy, but I suspect that UnCollege represents another step in the continued weakening of traditional higher education. Most of today's 5 and 8 year olds may still want a degree in 10 years. But they will not expect to earn it in anything resembling the usual semester by semester four year quest to assemble 120 or so credits. Once upon a time, after all, having a college degree was not a prerequisite to attending law school.

Visit the UnCollege website at
Facebook Ignores Ad Industry Privacy Guideline

To forestall government intervention in sensitive areas, the ad industry creates voluntary guidelines that it hopes advertisers will follow. And so the Digital Advertising Alliance has a guideline that it suggests will help consumers understand the type of data that is being collected online about them to use in behavioral targeting and allow them to opt out of tracking. Privacy, after all, is a growing concern for many.

Facebook has an alternative system that requires more steps to use than the DAA model.

Learn more about why the DAA is not happy with Facebook at
How is Your Twitter Influence?

I stopped paying attention to Klout when it reported I was influential about Steve Jobs after a single tweet after his death. On the other hand it can be fun to compare results from one source with those from another. If you agree, try yourself or your school on TweetLevel at

TweetLevel will rank you as a Viewer, Commentator, Curator, Idea Starter or Amplifier. I placed on the borderline between Idea Starter and Amplifier. Follow my higher education marketing tweets at
20 Most Shared Video Ads of 2012

Advance note: none of these are for higher education. Nonetheless, take a moment to scan the 20 and enjoy your favorites, from the bizarre and unexpected to Coke Zero. Numbers 6 and 19 were my favorites. Yours will likely differ.

Getting someone to share something on social media is the holy grail of desired results. To help your efforts, see what worked best in video in 2012 at
Most Popular Topic in the November Newsletter: World University Rankings

The most visited item in the November newsletter was a new Times Higher Education ranking of 400 universities from around the world. Search for your university at
Conferences and Webinars in 2013

Look for the first of these in the January newsletter in the New Year.

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

Bob Johnson
Blog Contents
Recent Entries Categories Monthly Archives