Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

July 2014 Archives

Summer is upon us above the equator and the visit season is in full swing at residential campuses. May everyone reach their goals and perhaps just a few more.

So too is the conference season still before us. If you have not quite decided where to go review these events. 

On July 23-25 the excellent ACT Enrollment Planners Conference opens in Chicago. Check the program for sessions of interest, including my pre-conference workshop on "Essential Keys to Successful Online Recruiting," at 

The eduWeb Conference for 2014 runs from August 4-6 in Baltimore. Start your exploration with the strong selection of pre-conference workshops, including my own "Advertising Online: Strategy and Tactics for Recruitment Success," at

If you are attending the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November, plan to include my Monday afternoon Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial. See the events 

And now here are your marketing news and notes for July.
Digital Challenges Survey 2014: Just One Question

Answer Gerry McGovern's Digital Challenges Survey at that only asks for your open-ended response to this question: "In becoming more customer-centric and embracing Digital / Internet/ Web what are the key challenges an organization faces?"

We have well over 100 responses so far. Answer the question to receive a copy of all the responses.
US News Rankings: The Cost of Moving Up

Do people on your campus, maybe even your president and board members, talk about moving higher in the U.S. News and World Report rankings?

If so, purchase a copy of a new research report demonstrating that it is expensive indeed, with no guarantee of success, to move appreciably higher. Annual variations of up to four places are considered "noise" you can ignore, whatever the trustees might think. 

Start with an Inside Higher Ed article at and link from there to download the full report.
Email Marketing: 5 Schools that Excel

Jens Larsen at Eastern Washington University just might do more secret shopping that I do. See his recommendations for five colleges and universities that excel at email marketing programs for student recruitment at

The schools vary from as large as Arizona State University to as small as Stephens College. Follow the links to each inquiry page and start secret shopping to compare your own results against the Fabulous Five.
A New FAFSA: Just 2 Questions?

Exactly why the FAFSA form to evaluate income for financial aid has to contain more than 100 questions has always been a mystery to me. Two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, are moving to the other extreme in introducing new legislation so that schools can calculate need with answers to just two questions.

Are they insane? Decide for yourself. Start at and link along to the press release from Lamar Alexander's office. The two questions proposed: What is your family size? What was your household income two years ago? 
Online Enrollment: NCES States by State, Region for Fall 2012

How popular is "distance" education around the U.S.? If knowing the details is important for your planning and strategy efforts download the NCES PDF at for any state that interests you, divided by 2-year and 4-year school types and size of institution.

By region, the percent of students taking some but not entirely online courses varies from a low of 8.1 percent in New England to a high of 16.5 percent in the Southeast. The Plains states lead with the highest percent of students taking only online courses at 23 percent.
If You Like Advertising, You Need to Know AdFreak

Be sure to follow "The Best and Worst of Advertising, Branding and Design" from AdFreak 

If you think that highly paid agency talent guarantees great advertising, some examples here will have you shaking your head.
Tuition Discount Rate: Still Ugly for the Private Sector

NACUBO is out with the latest survey of tuition discounting practices. The average continues to rise to a new high of 46.4 percent for full-time freshmen in 2013.

For schools that are increasing in enrollment, Chief Financial Officers cite 7 responsible elements, with 57 percent for "better recruitment and marketing" to 23 percent for "new athletic programs."

See the other five elements and more on the continuing debate over tuition discounting as a viable strategy at 
Beware the Social Media Bubble: Are You Ready for Change?

Doug Miller is new media manager at DePaul University and an astute observer of all things in the social media world.

In a recent interview Doug stressed the importance of not fixating on a single social media tool in the future but planning for flexibility. Social media is not about to disappear but chasing new shiny objects each time one appears can destroy any chance of a coherent social media strategy.

For more on surviving and thriving after the bubble bursts start at 
Best University System in the World: Not in the U.S.?

If you rank the math skills of bachelor's level university graduates around the world, the U.S. ranks 16th, just behind Korea and above Australia. The top three countries: Austria, Belgium, and Finland.

The U.S. does have more "great" universities than any other single country. See more on a new way of evaluating and comparing higher education around the world at 
SEO: 5 Critical Rules for Success in 2014

Despite the despair of some black-hat SEO specialists, you can still do things that increase your chance of ranking higher in search results than competitors that do not do them. 

Take a check on your practices with a review of 5 key points from Website Magazine. My favorites are two that are still lacking in higher education: "Write for your audience" and "Speak their language." 

How to measure progress? One way is to note the diminishing use of "Prospective Students." That in-house term seems to be less common today. Perhaps someday we will banish it.

You can find more on my favorites and three others at 
Blog Promotion Tactics: 9 Tips from Experts

Looking for a variety of tips from blog experts on how you might gain more exposure for blogs written by your students and faculty? 

Copy and distribute the infographic on "The 9 Most Powerful Blog Promotion Tactics from Top Marketing Experts" at

Actually, you will find far more than 9 tactics as each of the nine includes several individual steps. Not all will work for every blog but chances are good that everyone will find something to use to gain a wider audience and more impact for your school.
Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter: The Future of Higher Education Marketing

Monsters University, St. Michael's College, CRM software and more were included in my May 23 blog post at 
Conference Presentations in July, August, and November

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 

August 4-6, Baltimore, MD: eduWeb2014 Conference. Program details, including my pre-conference workshop, are at 

November 10-13, Austin, TX: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, Monday workshop on "Digital Marketing Strategy." See the program at 

Plan a custom presentation on your campus. Host a workshop on any of my conference topics. Review the 2013 and 2014 topics at and contact me at or 248.766.6425.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Bob Johnson
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