Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

May 2016 Archives

Hello in May. Now that the traditional May 1 enrollment deposit date has passed, many of you are entering the "summer season" devoted to controlling the number who might melt away and adding new people to the total. Best wishes for success to everyone.

If you work at a college or university, ask me for an invitation to join the "Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content" group on LinkedIn. We have 116 members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago. Discussions are an eclectic mix: raising money, academic program pages, strategic plans, library tasks, and more. 

Reply to this email and ask me to send you an invitation to join the top tasks web content group. 

Preparing an RFP soon? Visit my "6 Quick Steps to Better RFPs" at 
Conference Events in June, July, August

"Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan" is an Academic Impressions conference June 6-8 in Atlanta. Review the agenda and register at to improve your enrollment conversions. My two sessions: website evaluation and affordability content.

July 20-21 I will be in Louisville at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House for a presentation on "Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students." Check the program and register to join us at 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is set for August 1-4 in Denver. Early discounted registration is open until May 9. Most sessions are online now at 

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your May marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Customer Journey Mapping vs. the Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel concept was created in 1898. More than 115 years ago. Might it be time to move away from the funnel concept in admissions?

See the Cartoon of the Month at 
Emoji Marketing: Innovation at the New School

Can emoji carefully created to represent what is best about your school help your student recruitment communications? Objective evidence is not in yet, but if you like to stay abreast of new ideas you will want to learn more about the new emoji venture at the New School.

Read the details of how it was done using Snapchat and download the "NEWmoji" board for iPhone or Android when you start at 
10 University Website Design Guidelines: Update from the Nielsen Norman Group

The people who have spent as much or more time as anyone on the planet studying what makes websites work and what does not have just updated an earlier report on "University Websites: Top 10 Design Guidelines." Must reading for your marketing team.

Some things have changed, some have not. My new favorite, but not new to the guidelines: the perils of being "cool." You will also find advice on "about" content, academic programs, photos and more at
Content Strategy: Take Note of the "Most Career-Minded Generation"

The Atlantic reviews the results of research from the venerable UCLA survey of new freshmen: today's generation of college students is more interested than in the past in the monetary results they can expect from their college degree. That means more than restating the higher life-time earning potential of a college graduate vs. a high school graduate. 

If you need more evidence to convince people on your campus to create more easily accessible content about the jobs and earnings of your students in the years after graduation, start with The Atlantic article at 
Perils of Testing a New Logo: The Emerson College Video

Emerson College had an itch to create a new logo. And as usual, not everyone was pleased at the result. Two enterprising Emerson students took to the streets of Boston to ask other Emerson students what they thought of the new image. The comments will make the creative folk cringe. 

Watch the "Emerson Reacts to New School Logo" video and decide for yourself if the investment was worth the result at 
Blessedly Brief Inquiry Forms: A Professional School Example

The longer you make an inquiry form on your website, the fewer people will complete it. Forms that require only basic information to respond to a potential student will do best. Undergrad forms, for example, often ask for far too much personal information. Graduate and professional schools set a better example.

A recent online ad from the Medill School at Northwestern University took people to a very simple form: First and last name, phone and email, and planned date of entry. That was it. See a blessedly brief inquiry form example at 
Website Speed: A Financial Times Test

The Financial Times is planning for a new website. As part of that plan, research was conducted on the impact of various reductions in site speed on visitor engagement, measured in part by the number of articles read. Results for smartphone, tablet, and desktop visitors were gathered.

Overall, slower speed indeed reduced visitor engagement. Results differed somewhat by device. Mobile users, for instance, were somewhat more patient than desktop users. For details of the study to share with your web team visit 
Marketing Campaigns: No Longer Relevant?

Victoria Grieshammer wants us to abandon traditional marketing campaigns and adopt the idea of continuous conversation with the people we hope will enroll with us. And she makes a convincing case for why the idea of a "marketing campaign" locks us into thinking in a way that does not work well in this digital era.

See her 7 points about "Starting Conversations with Your Audience" at
Usability Testing: 8 Variations Defined

If you are thinking about website upgrades or just want to review your options for a continuing review of your site, the Optimal Workshop web usability guide is a great place to start. 

You will find a 5-point definition of "usability" followed by brief and clear definitions of 8 types of usability tests, including recommendations on how to best combine various approaches.

Author Alan O'Neil makes this important point: No matter the resources you have, "there is always something you can do." Check the possibilities at 
Transfer Students: 10 Schools that Enroll the Highest Numbers

US News is issuing a serious of short reports culled from the data collected from their annual ratings survey. And thus, this report.

The University of Central Florida leads the way with 6,299 students after a 65 percent acceptance rate. In 10th place is the University of North Texas with 3,756 students and a 76.4 percent admit rate. Most selective is Cal State - Long Beach, enrolling 3,833 transfers after a 33.3 percent acceptance rate.

Check the full list at 
A "Dangerous Obsession" with Elite Universities: Only 4 Percent Attend Them

Jeff Selingo draws attention in the Washington Post to the "dangerous" results for higher education policy of an excessive fascination with the practices, including admissions rates, of a very small number of schools that enroll a very small percent of the people going to college. Elite schools, in his definition, admit 25 percent or less of their applicants.

Actual admit rates are rising at more schools. Regional public universities enroll 40 percent of the people attending college. All public universities enroll 80 percent of the U.S. college population. Find more data to bring us down to earth and closer to reality at 
Most Popular Topic in April Newsletter: "Ultimate Web Writing Cheat Sheet"

Good to see that last month people were in the mood to improve the quality of their web writing. Tips start with the value of page title tags for SEO results and move on from there 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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