Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter... March 2013

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As I finish this newsletter we are having a rare sunny day in Michigan. Bright enough to make me realize spring is indeed almost upon us. May you all be having equally fine weather as you read this.

The latest update to my secret shopping reports on email response to an online inquiry takes a close look at the 31 Fast-Forward Application emails sent from one college between September and February. Read the subject lines and count the deadline changes at

The Call for Papers for eduWeb2013 is open until March 8. Details at

My first conference presentations this year are at the J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference in Philadelphia in May: a tutorial on building web management consensus and sessions on responsive design and top task website design. More on the tutorial and the entire conference at

My 2-day conference on Writing Write for the Web moves to Boston, May 30-31. Details for 2013 and video from the 2012 event are online now at

And now here are your higher education marketing news and notes for March.
Start with a Laugh: Visit Monsters University Website

What do you get when you assemble every cliché about a higher education website in a single parody?

Monsters University website at

Do not miss the intro to Academics with an opening video "Message from the Dean for Prospective Students" but also be sure to include the entry pages for About and Admissions on your visit.
Where Have the Full Pay Students Gone since 2005?

For insight into the changes since 2008 in the percent of new freshmen who pay full tuition and the average size of institutional scholarships and grants awarded to freshmen, visit

Group schools by public or private not-for-profit and by state or region. Or you can create a custom group of your competitors. Comparison years, from IPEDS, are 2005 and 2010.
Email for Mobile Marketing in 2013

Mike Hotz offers insight into key changes you need to make for effective email marketing in 2013.

My favorite was the need to apply responsive design to your email and not just your website. Make sure you read, or try to read, your email on your smartphone. If you cannot do that without finger flicking to enlarge the text, your email marketing will suffer in 2013.

More on email marketing and mobile apps from Mike at
Selective Colleges and Universities: An Ongoing Lack of Socioeconomic Diversity

Is socioeconomic diversity a more important goal in the future than ethnic diversity?

That is the question Richard Kahlenberg asks in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education column after being "dumbstruck" by an open discussion of that topic at a talk he was giving at Middlebury College sponsored by a new student group called Money at Midd.

The result is a fine overview of economic vs. ethnic diversity in admission goals that prompted at least 60 comments in response at
Strategy for Creating Responsive Design Websites

Are you planning to jump on the responsive design bandwagon this year? Be sure to read Jared Spool on strategy points to consider as you start the process. Two of my favorite points: you will need to reduce content and pay special attention to images.

A website that is not marketing strong before responsive design will not be marketing strong after it. Check more good advice in "Devising a Strategy for Responsive Design" at
The High Cost of Brand Position: 60+ Percent Tuition Discounting

Imagine you worked at Top 25 National Liberal Arts College with an endowment of about $1.4 billion and had to discount more than 60 cents of every tuition dollar to enroll a freshmen class. Would that be a sustainable financial model at your school?

More about the high cost of maintaining brand position and how one board of trustees hopes to change the financial model in my blog post at
Social Media Demographics

Social media marketing is important, but depending on your goals not all social media sites are equally important. If you want to reach men, for instance, Pinterest will not have a large role to play. Only 5 percent of men online use Pinterest compare to 25 percent of women.

The folks at the Pew Internet project bring us that information and more on 5 popular social media sites in their February research report at
Graduate Student Enrollment: Advertising on LinkedIn

If ambitious young professionals looking for career advancement are a recruitment target for your master's degree programs, LinkedIn is expanding online advertising opportunities with special attention to smartphones.

Read more about what is planned for 2013 at
The Marketing Power of "You" in Writing

In my Writing Right for the Web sessions I always try to include an example of a page that uses "you" to speak to the people who are reading the page. Pages like that are not easy to find.

Perhaps more people will start making their websites visitor-friendly by adopting a "you" approach after reading Tim Riesterer on "Nine Common Phrases Made Great by Using 'You' Instead of 'We'" at

Reducing the amount of organization-centric writing is one way you can start improving the marketing strength of your website tomorrow.
Blessedly Brief Online Inquiry Forms: 3 New Honor Roll Members in February

The Honor Roll started in October with an original 6 members and more have surfaced since then.

Three more were added in February: a music school, a continuing studies program, and an undergraduate admissions site. See the new and the earlier winners at

If you have one similar to these, send me the link.
Most Popular Topic Last Month: City University of New York Landing Page

CUNY creates great landing pages that repeat and reinforce advertising messages. See the landing page and the original ad for "At CUNY, the Legacy Continues" at
Conferences and Webinars in 2013

Look for presentation details in the February newsletter.

May 7-9, Philadelphia: "5 Top Web Management Principles: Achieving Consensus within Your Organization" and "Winning Friends at Your Website: Use Top Task Design for a Great Experience," J.Boye Web and Intranet conference. Program and registration starts at

May 30-31, Boston: "Writing Right for the Web: Improving Your Institution's Web Content," Academic Impressions Conference. Details are online at

June 25, Webinar: "Improving Your Website to Increase Adult Student Enrollment," Academic Impressions. Description and registration are online now at

Also plan to attend one or more of my favorites... ACT Enrollment Planners Conference in July, and/or eduWeb Conference also in July.

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.
That's All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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