Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

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3 Personal Motivational Topics at Entry Page for Online Students

Most higher education websites don't do an especially good job of connecting on a personal level with potential students searching the site. Today's Link of the Week differs from most others in two important ways:

  • Generous use of the "you" word in an informal writing style that starts in a heading as the page opens and speaks directly to a concern of many "adult" students: "Continuing your education without putting your life on hold."
  • Motivational options that let potential students move along to content focused on their primary reason for returning to school:.
The 3 motivational options you'll seen in large blocks appear under the heading "Everyone has a reason for going back to school. What's driving you?"

  • To Fulfill My Passions
  • To Advance My Career Path
  • To Earn a Bigger Paycheck
This truly is one of the rare times that a college or university admits that simply earning more money is a motivation worth recognizing.

On Mobile

Google PageSpeed Insights reports that smartphone visitors will experience a slow download Speed (41/100) followed by a high User Experience (99/100).

Follow the Link of the Week

See the content that appears after each motivational topic when you visit the Regis University entry page for Degrees and Programs for Working Adults

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.
Brief Inquiry Forms Boost Student Recruitment

Direct marketers have always know a simple fact about inquiry forms: people are more likely to complete an inquiry form if it is brief. The briefer, the better.

An inquiry form has one purpose: to gather the information you need to make a first communication back to a potential student. If the entire form can be seen as soon as the website page opens, that's even better as it says immediately that it won't take long to complete.

Just 7 Lines to Complete

Today's Link of the Week is a superb example of how to increase an online inquiry pool. On desktop or laptop computer, you can scan the form in less than 3 seconds. In less than a minute most people will complete the 7 line form:
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Select Program
  • Mobile Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Select Student Type
  • Select Entry Term
A separate box gives the option to sign for text messages. This spot also tells the benefit from doing this: "receive updates and reminders."

That's it. No birth date. No gender. No ethnicity. No high school code. No extracurricular interests. No "how did you hear about us?" That can all come later as a relationship develops.

On mobile, the form is not as immediately visible. And the Google PageSpeed Insights Speed rating is slow at 69/100. The User Experience, on the other hand, scores a high 99/100.

To complete a genuinely "blessedly brief" inquiry form, visit the St. Mary's University Request Information form.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.

12 Courses in 12 Months: Easy to Scan Program Requirements

Students planning to enroll in online programs want to know what courses they will take to earn a degree or certificate. Today's Link of the Week makes that especially easy to do.

At Full Sail University you can earn in Master's degree by completing one course a month for 12 months. Our Link of the Week page lets visitors scan the titles of each course in less than 5 seconds as a laptop or desktop screen opens. You can then click immediately on a course that interests you to see a description of the course. 

Mobile visitors will see the first two courses with just a short scroll required to scan the remaining ones. 

On mobile, the 57/100 Speed rating on Google PageSpeed Insights is slow despite the simplicity of the page. Google puts the blame on slow server response time. User Experience rating is a robust 99/100.

To review a strong example of how potential students can easily review the courses required for a degree, visit this Full Sail University Course Schedule page.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. My website editing software is not editing at the moment. Until that glitch is fixed, Link of the Week selections will appear here.

To review selections for 2016 and earlier, visit the usual Link of the Week page.
July greetings to everyone. 

If you work at a college or university, ask me for an invitation to the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. 

We have 159 members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.K. Join to read the questions people ask and the replies received about how to make sure your website best meets the needs of the people who use it.

Just reply to this email and ask me to send you an invitation to join the Top Tasks group on LinkedIn. 

My presentations from the Academic Impressions conference on Improving Your Student Recruitment Communications conference last month are online. "Evaluating Your Institutional Website" is at and "Affordability and Financial Aid Communication" is 
Conference Events in July, August, December

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

The eduWeb Digital Summit is August 1-4 in Denver for a new pre-conference workshop: "Top Task Content and Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success." Details at 

December 4-7, Orlando: "Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World," pre-conference tutorial at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.

Join 7,230+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your July marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Content Marketing and the Marketing Echo Chamber

Do we as marketers spend too much time talking to other marketers? Tom Fishburne asks that question in the context of the content produced by content marketers for other content marketers. See 
The Future of the Internet: Mary Meeker and Internet Trends 2016

Mary Meeker has devoted followers who eagerly await her annual insights on the most important trends impacting the Internet. This year's complete 213 slide presentation is 

For a fast review of key marketing points made by Meeker, Lauren Johnson has culled 22 topics "that marketers need to know" in an easy-to-scan format from AdWeek at 
Very Different Landing Page Designs: Drexel University and Creighton University

A classic, time tested design for a successful landing page for your online advertising: Creighton University at 

A different approach that follows the design format on many of today's home pages: Drexel University at

One key element in common: Short, easy to complete inquiry forms. Both Creighton and Drexel know that the longer you make the inquiry form the fewer people will complete it.
Effective Video Marketing: 10 Cost-effective Examples

Video is playing an increasing role in effective marketing, if done right. And done right does not always mean large budgets and super professional production values that sometimes actually decrease credibility.

For links to 10 video efforts from large universities and small colleges visit "Video Content for the YouTube Age" at 
Public Universities and Net Price: Reducing Tuition Costs for Lower Income Students

Which of the 650+ public universities in the U.S. do the best job of lowering tuition for students with annual family incomes of less than $30,000?

Jon Boeckenstedt gives you the ability to easily read the data in one of his "Higher Ed Data Stories." Check the trend at individual schools since 2008. Compare levels within individual states. Note the percent of Pell-eligible students admitted. 

Identify the most affordable public universities when you visit 
Recruiting Online Students: 5 Key Points

If online student enrollment is important to your school, take time to review 5 key marketing points from a recent Learning House research report.

Pay special attention to "speed to enrollment is a priority" as most students make decisions in four weeks or less before enrolling and expect rapid response from the schools that interest them. The "need for speed" is important on your website and everywhere in your enrollment process.

More on demographics, cost, location, and alternative credentialing at 
Snapchat Advertising: Participate with Caution

AdWeek recently reviewed plans from Snapchat for a "colossal increase" in advertising driven by the need to achieve $1 billion in revenue.

In an age when millennials are skeptical of many forms of marketing and ad-blocking continues to be popular, potential advertisers, including colleges and universities, will have to move forward here with caution. As with any advertising, believable messages and targeting will be critical.

The detailed review of how Snapchat plans to roll out the expansion is at 
Content Marketing Strategy: 9 Mistakes Checklist

From the Content Marketing Institute itself, comes a much-needed article by Neil Patel on "9 Mistakes You Might Be Making."

The first two might seem obvious but in the rush to create and distribute content they are too often ignored: The content is not good and the content it is not useful. Review the infographic for a process to improve content usefulness. 

My favorite mistake was the last one: Content marketers too often ignore SEO criteria. Patel makes a strong case that the two approaches are not in conflict.

Given the popularity of "content marketing," this is essential reading at 
Website Design: The Perils of Hamburger Menus

Hamburger menus, those three little lines stacked on top of one another, seemed a perfect fit for the diminished space on mobile-friendly websites viewed on smartphones.

But not everyone agrees, especially now that the hamburger feature is migrating from smartphones to large screen website views. To keep things in balance and to understand what task completion obstacles you might be creating, read the Nielsen-Norman Group report on why "Hamburger Menus and Hidden Navigation Hurt UX Metrics" at 

If you do use the hamburger sign, add the "menu" word next to it. Not everybody yet knows the graphic.
Email Marketing: 7 Stats to Help Plan Higher Success

By now few marketers still believe the email is dead as an effective part of a marketing tool kit. 

But email certainly has evolved. To help stay up-to-date in your email campaigns, review "7 email stats you'll want to quote in your next meeting" at 
Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter: The Rewards of Creating New Logos

Once again, a Tom Fishburne cartoon won the most clicks, this time his take on the process endured and the results achieved in the creation of a new logo. Visit 
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 

Top Task Website Design Research with Gerry McGovern
Communication Audits
Expert Marketing Communications Website Reviews
Writing Right for the Web: Webinars, Conferences, and Campus Workshops
Competitive Website Reviews and Secret Shopping
Greetings in December. And a special welcome to new subscribers from my Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education last month. Review the complete set of tutorial slides at 

The Call for Papers for the 2016 eduWeb Digital Summit in August is open until January 15. Review the 5 track topics and prepare a presentation proposal. Start at 

Make time on December 8 for a new Gerry McGovern webinar on Measuring the Customer Experience at your website. More than anything else online, the experience people have at your website will influence what they think of your school. Register at 
Conference Event in February

Are you renewing your website in 2016? Attend the Academic Impressions "Planning for a Higher Ed Website Redesign" conference in February. Check the details and register to join us at 

Follow me on Twitter at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your December marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: The Danger of Mixing Content Marketing and Brand Promotion

In rushing to feed the "content marketing beast" are organizations failing to edit content to deliver what is of interest to the intended audience? The Cartoon of the Month is at 
Social Media Strength: Top Media-Savvy Universities in the U.S.

If you like infographics you will love this view of the top social universities in categories that include total online mentions, facilities, professional schools, Twitter mentions and followers, and Facebook likes.

As you might expect, size and reputation help. Start your scan at 
Advertising Online: The Ad Blocking Challenge

If you advertise online the strong trend to use ad-blocking software, especially among Millennials, raises new challenges to a decent ROI from your advertising dollars.

Visitors to gaming sites are most likely to use ad blockers, at 26.5 percent. Visitors to education sites are at 16.9 percent adoption. Both charities and government sites are under 5 percent.

Discover a useful resource when you download the 17-page "2015 Ad Blocking Report at 
Content Marketing and Your Website: Two Priority Goals

Two goals are most important to the success of a content marketing strategy. First, reduce the content of your current website by at least 50 percent to improve search and navigation. Second, focus on making it as easy as possible for visitors to complete their top tasks.

What quickly dooms content marketing? The wide-spread addiction to "ego content" that is difficult to escape. Think welcome messages from presidents and deans and "Disney World" photos and stories.

Gerry McGovern writes more in "Less Content Marketing, More Quality Content" at 
Student Recruitment: Communicating with Latinos

The Pew Research Center has published a new report on the challenges of conducting surveys among the Hispanic population in the U.S. If you or your agency are planning marketing research surveys that include a sampling of potential Hispanic students and their families, "The Unique Challenges of Surveying U.S. Latinos" is required reading at 
Financial Struggles in Higher Education: Another Pessimistic Moody's Report

Moody's is back with a November report based on a survey of 169 private sector universities and 129 public sector schools. The report: 50 percent in the private sector either expect falling tuition revenues or gains of less than 3 percent. Similar "softness" was reported in the public sector.

Continuing price-sensitivity and fewer students in the Midwest and Northeast again were cited as the culprits, fueling increased tuition discounting to maintain enrollment levels.

Bloomberg Business summarizes the report at 
Digital Marketing Strategy: 9 Key Questions

Sean Carton is a smart fellow. And he has just written a blog entry to help marketers navigate their way through the sometimes arcane world of digital marketing strategy, with a special focus on avoiding magical declarations from digital oracles masquerading as high priests. 

Study and answer the 9 questions from Sean "when developing a digital strategy" to keep your plans as realistic as possible. My favorites were Question 4 (What resources do we have available?) and Question 7 (If we do this, what are we going to do less of?) because both force the strategy discussion down to the real world.

Visit and review each important question that Sean asks in "How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy" at 
Net Price Calculator: A New Easy-to-Find University Example

At most college and university websites, finding the Net Price Calculator from the home page is still rare even though cost information is a top task for many if not most potential students. Carroll University joins a tiny group of four schools I have found so far, with versions for both freshmen and transfers.

A Most Unusual Scholarship: For Terrier Lovers Only

Hiram College athletic teams are known as the Terriers. And starting in 2016 up to 5 new freshman students can receive a one-time $1,000 scholarship based on how well they show a love for terriers.

To win, students will need a photo or a 15-second video showing their terrier affection. While the bull terrier is the official Hiram mascot, love for any terrier makes a person eligible. More at 
Advertising in the 1980s: 5-Minute Summary from AdAge

Did people like this really exist in the 1980s? It, for sure, was not a time of reality marketing.

Spend just 5 minutes to go back in time and watch a mash-up of TV ads from the 1980s at 
Most Popular Topic in November Newsletter: Marketing Lessons for Student Recruitment

Since it was published in August more than 1,400 people have visited "4 Top Marketing Lessons for Student Recruitment" 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. Tell me about your most important challenges at 

Communication Audits
Expert Marketing Website Reviews
Top Task Website Design Research with Gerry McGovern
Writing Right for the Web: Webinars, Conferences, and Campus Workshops
Competitive Website Reviews and Secret Shopping Projects

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