Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

December 2014 Archives

December and the holiday season are upon us. Early season greetings to everyone reading this. Thanks for your support throughout the year. Merry Christmas. 

Just over 50 people attended my AMA tutorial at the Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. I will be taking the session on the road next week to Costa Rica and the Universidad Hispanoamericana. Slides from the original presentation are at 

More than 1100 people attended the AMA marketing symposium this year, a record number. Six lessons I took from sessions and keynotes are at 

And now here are your marketing news and notes for December.
The Common Application: Too Common for Elite Schools?

Was it inevitable that as use of the Common Application became more common, some elite schools would look for an alternative?

A group of highly selective private colleges and universities and a handful of similar public universities is considering a 2016 alternative. Criteria for membership would include a high academic quality enrollment profile and the ability to meet full financial need of potential students. Initial schools in the discussion include Harvard, Yale, Carlton, Williams, Vanderbilt, William and Mary, Illinois, and North Carolina.

More on the possible changes, including other schools in the initial "Coalition" studying the move, in a Chronicle report at 
Marketers Must Read: Northeastern University Teen Survey

Do you still not have clear information on affordability and success after graduation on your website?

Northeastern University has released the latest in a series of higher education reports, in this case based on a survey of 1,000+ teens, over half of whom (54 percent) say they plan to attend a four-year college or university while 11 percent say they plan to attend a two-year school. 

One section of the survey asked teens to identify the factors that were most important to them in selecting a college to attend. Heading the list at 77 percent was "affordability" followed by "job placement rate and/or average graduate salary" at 70 percent.

Download the complete report in PDF format at 
Gerry McGovern: On the Decline in Marketing Value of the (Traditional) Home Page

Marketers spend so much time agonizing over the design and content of a home page as it really was the most important real estate on a website. But it is not.

Very few people, if any, visit a website home page to gaze at the splendor of it all. Most will start a visit someplace else if they can find the desired content through a search. And if they must start at a traditional home page, they do not want revolving carousel images, rotating news releases or anything else slowing down their journey from the home page to what really interests them.

Join Gerry as he expands on why "Every page you have is a home page for someone" 
Tuition Discounting Increases: No Relief in Sight in 2015

Declining enrollment prospects for less selective private sector colleges and universities and regional public universities will force continued reliance on discounting to maintain enrollment. That will in turn restrict revenue growth in nearly 50 percent of higher education schools. That's the prediction in the latest update from the bond raters at Moody's.

Read a brief summary of the report at 
Communicating Online: Keys to Video Usability

Video content continues to increase in popularity and YouTube remains the second most popular social media network. That said, the key to success as always is in the execution.

The Nielsen-Norman usability folk have a new "Video Usability" report on creating successful videos that starts by making a clear distinction between entertainment and informational videos. Blur that distinction in your creative process and you are likely to fail. 

Key points include telling people what to expect in the video and starting strong from the first second. A Penn State video that gets it right is included for review at 
National Survey of Student Engagement: 2014 Report Available

Student engagement with faculty is not related to the selectivity of a college or university: that is the finding for 2014 that the NSSE authors are highlighting on their website. This year 622 schools participated in the survey.

Check to see if your school has participated. Ask to see the results if it has.

You can download the full report at 
Content Marketing: 3 Examples from History

From some presentations, you might almost think content marketing was a recent discovery related only to achieving success in the online world. But is anything in marketing completely new? 

Brian Honigman gives us "3 Lessons in Content Marketing from the Past" (Jello-O, Westinghouse, General Mills) to keep things in perspective and challenge your creativity to match them today at 
Writing Right for the Web: Is Calibri a Better Font than Ariel?

Which Test Won asks readers to pick which of two examples was more effective.

A recent email contest noted that the example using Calibri received 70 percent more clicks than the example using Ariel. People commenting also noted that the Calibri example had more white space between the text lines. 

Presentation makes a difference. See the contest, the results, and the comments 
A Landing Page Challenge: Find the Master's in Nursing Program

If you are investing in online advertising, extend the investment to create a special landing page that repeats and reinforces the message in the ad. Do not, ever, just drop people into an existing page on your website. That is a quick way to kill any chance of a decent ROI on your ad.

Take this challenge: find information on the Master's degree in nursing that Oakland University was advertising online when you visit the landing page for Graduate Admissions 
Bates College: Reviewing a New Home Page

For an entertaining and informative review of Bates College home pages in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014, see the review by the always insightful Jens Larson at
Most Popular Topic in November Newsletter: 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing

By a wide margin, the most visited item was a cartoon on sinful ways of social media marketing, starting with lust and ending with wrath. Sloth, gluttony, pride, greed, and envy complete the set at 

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