Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

September 2015 Archives

September greetings. A bright new 2015-16 academic year is underway almost everywhere. Let us all enjoy the feelings that come with welcoming new students, opening new classes, and awaiting fine fall weather. 

In the digital marketing era the website is the most important element for successful student recruitment. See why that is true at "4 Top Marketing Lessons for Student Recruitment" 

My partner Gerry McGovern is interested in what you think about how organizations adapt themselves to the Digital Transformation underway. Take his 60-second survey at 
Conference Event Upcoming

The program for the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November is online now. Add my Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial Sunday afternoon when you register at 

Invite a friend or colleague to subscribe to this newsletter. Just 30 seconds at 

And now here are your marketing news and notes for September.
Cartoon of the Month: Marketing to Younger Generations

Check this cartoon for a reminder of why it is not always best for an organization to adopt the language and look of a particular generation in an effort to gain acceptance. See 
Content Marketing: Sorting the Definitions

How much of content marketing is "really just convoluted advertising"? And is producing more content a strategy for effective marketing?

Those questions are posed by David Germano as he reviews the variety of definitions and practices used by people with different marketing backgrounds. Do not miss his link to 40 "anecdotal perspectives."

If you are serious about content marketing have your team read and discuss the article you will find at 
10 Innovative College Presidents: How Does Yours Compare?

Washington Monthly has compiled a list of 10 college and university presidents it believes may well shape the future of higher education. The list begins with Mark Becker at Georgia State University and ends with Cheryl Hyman at City Colleges of Chicago.

The complete list and reasons for selecting each president is at 
Bold and Brassy Landing Page: Best Campus Visit Ever at Best University in the State

Take a moment to visit a landing page for an online ad that "guaranteed" the campus visit to this school was the "best ever." The landing page itself makes the claim that this is the "best university" in the state.

The faculty is "outstanding," the campus is "gorgeous," and the facilities are "first-class." Visit a landing page for potential students that knows no restraints at 
Tuition Discount Rate: Still Climbing at 48 percent for 2014 Private-Sector Freshman Class

How high is too high? NACUBO reports that 89 percent of full-time freshmen in 2014 received a discount of some sort, based on either need or merit. Price sensitivity is cited as a continuing factor. Many if not most private colleges cannot maintain the number or blend of students they seek without substantial price discounting. In 2008 the average discount rate was 39.9 percent.

More details are in the Inside Higher Education report at 

Money Magazine notes that the size of the average discount increases with higher acceptance rates and adds mentions of Freddy Krueger and retail store discounts at 
Writing Effective Headlines: 5 Tips from Nielsen Norman Group

Headlines, whether for email, web pages, or search results, play a key role in marketing conversions.

An August Alertbox tells us that "Headlines are Pick-up Lines" and offers "5 Tips for Writing Headlines that Convert." My two favorites: "Do not succumb to cute or faddish vocabulary" and "Omit nonessential words."

See 3 more tips to help improve your web writing at 
Digital Ads in Higher Education: Not Working Well in the U.K.

Decide for yourself if this translates to online advertising in the U.S. and elsewhere, but do read the results of a recent survey reported in the Journal of Marketing for Higher Education.

Only 26 percent of university-bound students said they trusted higher education ads. Social media did even worse at 14.4 percent trust level. University websites did better at 46.6 percent. Printed publications were trusted by 42.8 percent.

Read more on the survey results at 
College Tag Lines: 88 that Create Poetry

Would college tag lines disappear if someone could figure out how to calculate the ROI from the time and money spent creating them?

Whatever you think of their marketing value, check this enterprising effort to combine 88 higher education tag lines into a single poem. Poetry starts with "Change Your Life. Start Here" and ends with "You're One of a Kind. So are We."

See if your school in included among the 88 when you visit 
Defining Affordability: The Lumina Foundation Makes a New Effort

Policy proposals to make higher education more "affordable" are sprouting from presidential candidates but the definition of how much cost is affordable to how many people is elusive.

The Lumina Foundation is proposing a new formula that asks families to save a percent of disposable income over 10 years along with a student work load while in college of 10 hours per week.

One Lumina goal was a definition that was "easily understandable." See how close you think they came when you start at 
World Without FAFSA: Is That Possible?

An "Economic View" column by Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan, in the NY Times argues that more low income students with the ability to complete college would actually attend college if the FAFSA were not required for financial aid consideration. 

Dynarski highlights a bi-partisan proposal in the U.S. Senate that would reduce the present FAFSA to just two questions. Indeed, she questions whether any version is needed at all noting information already available from income tax returns.

The highest anticipated benefit would be an increase in low-income students attending college.

Decide if you agree or disagree after reading the article at 
Comparing Graduation Rates: Pell Grant Students vs. All Students

How do 6-year graduation rates compare at the schools enrolling the highest numbers of Pell Grant students? 

In many cases, the rates are remarkable close. Harvard leads the way with 97 percent completion for Pell students matching the overall rate. At Cornell, there is only a .5 percent difference. Other highly selective schools have rates over 90 percent for both groups. Yale, we must note, was not on the list. 

Perhaps more of note: the 69 percent Pell rate at DePaul University nearly matches the overall 70 percent rate. At a few schools, Indiana Wesleyan is one, the Pell rate is higher than the overall rate.

Review the full list at 
Most Popular Topic in August Newsletter: Prominent "Search" Feature on Xavier Homepage

Xavier University makes a bold departure from the usual home page design by placing a large "Find Activities, Programs, and More..." search box on top of the opening image. See 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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