Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

March 2016 Archives

March greetings. Today's newsletter arrives while I am at an Academic Impressions conference with old colleagues and new friends as we explore the best steps forward in a website redesign. Follow along today and tomorrow morning on Twitter at #aiWebRedesign. 

My presentations from the website redesign conference are online now. "Best Practices for Top Task Web Design: 22 Higher Ed Examples" is at and "Key Web Writing Principles for Higher Education" is at 

Either session is available in a version customized for presentation on your campus. Contact me at 

Last week I finished the second of a two-part interview with Rob Liesland at Xavier University on how Xavier came to create the most unusual website home page in higher education. Start with the Part 1 at and continue to Part 2 at 
Conference Events in June, July

"Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan" is the topic of an Academic Impressions conference June 6-8 in Atlanta. Review the session and register at 

July 20-21 I will be in Louisville at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House. Check the details at 

Join 7,135+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your March marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Personas, Helpful or Silly?

They can be either one, of course. If not done with restraint, they can reflect what marketers think they should reflect rather than reality. 

Wise words from marketing cartoonist Tom Fishburne after his "Buyer Personas" cartoon are 
Increasing Online Inquiries: 7 Landing Page Flaws to Avoid

If you are not getting as many online enrollment inquiries as you wish, check "Landing Page Flaws that Kill Your Conversions" from Kissmetrics. 

The first flaw is especially important and often found in higher education: Too much information required. Two others included here: too much text and, especially for mobile, too slow to download.

For the complete list to check to start increasing your landing page conversions, 
Breakpoint: Reviewing the Changing Higher Education Marketplace

Here is a new book from Jon McGee, vice president for planning and public affairs at the College of St. Benedict and Saint John's University, on change faced by public and private sector schools. 

Books on change in higher education certainly are not scarce. I have not yet read this one but am including it here after reading an interview with the author that included questions on pricing (complex and not seldom understood by people outside admissions and financial aid) and probable closings (not many likely but expect severe strain on quality of life elements). 

Decide if you want to read "Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education" after checking the interview at 
Financial Aid Awards: 3 TV Shows Include Family Reactions to Awards

Laugh or cry as you read the script from 3 TV shows with episodes about the family reaction to opening a financial aid award package in a newsletter prepared for clients by a college counselor.

Note that the counselor, in responding to a comment, advises that "There is no rhyme or reason to how financial aid departments disperse aid" that lets people compare awards from different schools.

Decide how real the TV scenarios are when you visit 
Admissions Applications: Before Sending Get a Review from Admission Counselors

People who want extra advice about the strength of an admissions application can get it from an "Admissions Checkup" service.

For $399 for a first application and $179 for additional apps, 3 former admissions counselors will read an application and provide advice on how to make it stronger. People in a hurry can add $175 for expedited service in 24 to 36 hours.

Admissions officers doing the review have worked at the 49 public and private sector schools you can see on the site, starting with Assumption College and ending with Yale University.

Start your visit at 
Muhlenberg College: Mandatory Mentor Program for New Students

Retention rates have assumed new importance in higher education marketing. A new program at Muhlenberg College offers an interesting option other schools might consider to have a positive impact on retention early in the college experience.

The Muhlenberg plan requires every new student to have a parent or alumni mentor who matches their career interests. The program is mandatory for a single course but students can continue on after that if they wish.

While this seems a challenge to organize and execute, the potential is high. The plan was introduced by the college's new president. More details are at 
Writing Right for the Web: New Typography Trends

Stay up-to-date with what you might expect to see from your creative design friends and agencies by reviewing "Typography Trends Every Marketer Should Have on Their Radar."

Remember 3 basic points: accept only fonts that people can scan quickly when a page opens, do not use a font size so small that you make people squint to read them, and make sure you have high contrast between text and background. And you might want to avoid the "swirly and curly serifs" included here.

More on what to expect in 2016 at 
Website Design: Nielsen Norman Group on Thriving in the Mobile World

With the initial rush to convert large screen sites to responsive design sites for mobile viewing behind us, the Nielsen Normal group is here with a review of the present-day options for website design. You'll find mobile apps, mobile-only sites, responsive design, and large-screen only sites covered here.

For insight into the usability pros and cons of the various approaches, including 8 comparison points between "mobile-dedicated" and responsive sites, visit 
Most Popular Topic in February Newsletter: For the First Time, a Tie

An equal number of people clicked to visit the Cartoon of the Month on the challenge of matching creative efforts with brand reality (at and my LinkedIn article on "6 Great Website Examples for Engagement and Top Task Completion" (at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at 

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