Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter... April 2014

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April has arrived at long last and I can already see the tips of tulips here in Michigan even if the snow is not yet gone. May similar good fortune bless everyone reading this newsletter.

The call for papers for the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November in Austin is open now at bit.ly/1mIBYqb 

Now that my Writing Right for the Web conference is over, I will be working next on an Academic Impressions conference set for June 25-27 in Orange County, CA: "Building a Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan." Agenda info and registration are at bit.ly/1rjGVq6 

Also review the programs for the ACT Enrollment Planners conference in July and eduWeb2014 in August. Links to both are at the end of the newsletter.

Special good wishes to everyone who will be counting enrollment deposits from now until May 1.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for April.
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The 2014 Higher Education ROI Report: Check Your Standing

For a second year PayScale is out with the "College ROI Report." Harvey Mudd College again leads with a 20-year net ROI of $980,900. You can sort schools by states, public and private sectors, majors and more.

Compare the ROI stats of your school with your competitors when you visit bit.ly/1rETlsZ 
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5 Reasons People Leave Your Website

Two points stood out for me in this article from Website Magazine. First was the difference in conversion rates between pages that take 1 second to download and those that take 5 seconds to load. Have you tested your most important pages yet for speed?

Second was yet another reference to the "Uninteresting Content" that still plagues so many sites despite the emphasis on content marketing. The first rule of a good content strategy: attention to the top tasks people using your site want to do. That is not reading press releases, mission statements, or welcome messages from presidents and deans.

See more on speed and content and the other 3 reasons people leave your website at you visit atbit.ly/1jcq7jM
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Digital Marketing Value: A New Infographic

What can we expect to change about digital marketing in 2014? That is the focus of this new overview of the state of digital marketing today. In a nutshell: increased attention to higher conversion, more effective re-targeting ads, more personalized websites based on big data use, and more attention to analytics.

Email marketing is still listed as the most effective acquisition tool, well ahead of SEO and content marketing. See more for your strategy discussions at bitly.com/QyDfDb 
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Major Brand Abandons Facebook: Start of a Trend or Just an Aberration? 

A food brand has decided to abandon Facebook based on recent changes that diminish unpaid brand reach so that more advertising is required to maintain strong brand awareness.

Chuckle a bit as you read "A Breakup Letter to Facebook from Eat24" at bit.ly/QDhhiy 
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Mobile Marketing: Facebook at 1 Billion Active Mobile Users

The mobile juggernaut continues with Facebook reporting it has just reached one billion active users on mobile devices around the world, an increase from 945 million in December. The FB goal: a presence on 4 billion mobile phones.

More on Facebook, mobile, and the growing advertising presence on Instagram and elsewhere, atbitly.com/O9yL3O 
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Online Conversion Rates: Achieving Unicorn Status

Here is an article by Larry Kim that challenges everyone to think past the conventional wisdom that a conversion rate of 2 to 4 percent is especially good. When you get to 3 to 5 percent above your sector average you can claim unicorn status. For Kim, "Everything You Know about Conversion Rate Optimization is Wrong."

Two important points: make offers that differ from those of your competitors and pay special attention to when and how you ask people to give you their personal information. In higher education, we really do have to offer more than "information" to get people to complete online inquiry forms. At the same time, everyone cannot be offering 10 Tips to Writing a Successful Admissions Application.

Get creative about how to achieve unicorn status after you read bitly.com/1hGo5Tx 
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Price in the Marketplace: Shifting College Costs from Higher Income to Poor Families?

The Huffington Post headline makes a point that is not what PR pros in higher education wish for: "Colleges Are Quietly Shifting the Burden of Tuition Increases to Poor Families." 

Main feature of the article notes shifts in net price at Bates, Trinity in Hartford, Notre Dame, Skidmore, Hofstra and others to show overall pattern of decreased net tuition cost for higher income families where parents are skilled at obtaining merit scholarships. Public sector universities are included. At least one school, Hofstra, admits the shift is taking place as part of a strategy to increase academic profile.

Check the Huffington Post story and comments in response at bitly.com/1ialYrj 
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MBA Employment is Increasing

US News has reported that based on data from 126 ranked MBA programs, employment 3 months after graduation as increased from 73 percent in 2010 to 81 percent in 2013.

Employment rankings are not the same as quality rankings. See the top 10 MBA programs in the employment sweepstakes starting with SUNY-Albany and closing with Rice University when you visit bitly.com/1fgB7bW 
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Content Marketing: The Scary Part

The content marketing infographic from Marketing Profs has some good information, but one phrase seems especially scary: the linking of "solid content strategies" with "regularly pumping out great content."

The "pumping out" part is what scares me. Websites, in the smart words of my partner Gerry McGovern, "always eat and never poop." Will the people responsible for "regularly pumping out great content" also be responsible for removing content just as regularly? If not, content marketing threatens to add even more bloat to already constipated websites.

See more in the "What Will Content Marketing Look Like in 2014?" infographic at bit.ly/1i3AZeH 
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Early April Humor: Bird Flight Media

Are you looking to broaden the scope of your marketing mix?

Add the services available from Bird Flight Media to your list of possibilities. Why pay someone in a plane to pull your banner far up in the sky when bird banners can get so much closer to people? Be sure to watch the video when you visit The Official Supplier of Advertising Birds atbirdflightmedia.com/ 
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Most Popular Topic in March Newsletter: Best and Worst Email Subject Lines

A report by Jens Larson on how colleges and universities used email subject lines in the 2013-2014 recruitment cycle was the favorite link in March. Compare his four best schools with others that did not quite measure up at bit.ly/NuwH6n
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Conference Presentations in June, July, August

June 25-27, Orange County, CA: Academic Impressions Conference, "Building a Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan." Agenda and registration at bit.ly/1rjGVq6 

July 23-25, Chicago, IL: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, "Affordability and Financial Aid: Crafting a New Student Communication Message," and a pre-conference workshop, "Essential Keys to Successful Recruiting Online: Speed, Simplicity, and Top Task Completion." Details atbit.ly/1lyqfdF 

August 4-6, Baltimore, MD: eduWeb2014 Conference. Program details coming soon in April atbit.ly/1pGmaBr 

Plan a custom presentation on your campus. Host a workshop on any of my conference topics. Review the 2013 and 2014 topics at bit.ly/NVQR8c and contact me at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com or 248.766.6425.
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Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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