Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Recently in Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter Category

November greetings. Hoping to see many of you at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in December in Orlando just a few weeks from now.

Our Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn continues to grow, with over 40 new members since the October newsletter bringing the total to 267. If you are on LinkedIn and work at a college or university, join us by requesting membership at bit.ly/2cyyLs5 

New to "top tasks" strategy that will increase the marketing strength of your website? My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is at bit.ly/2aDS5BV 

How well do future students, current students, faculty and staff, and alumni like your website? Now you can do our basic Customer Centric Index survey at no cost. Details at bit.ly/2f2g5VF 
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Conference Event in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at bit.ly/2buWkQM Early registration discount is open until November 6.

Join 7,300+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your November marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: How Much Content Marketing is Just "Crap"?

Not long ago Mark Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, referred to a "content crap trap" created by a huge increase in "content marketing" production that overwhelmed the people receiving the deluge of resulting messages. 

Tom Fishburne took inspiration from Pritchard's comment (and research reporting that a 35 percent increase in brand content happened in the same year as a 17 percent decrease in brand engagement) in a new cartoon at bit.ly/2f9JucT 
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Gen Z and the Future of Marketing: 5-Minute Video with Wunderman CMO

Gen Z, including college-bound folk under 18 years of age, is a key focus of an interview with Jamie Gutfreund, CMO at the Wunderman agency, about new challenges that marketers can expect. Anyone recruiting traditional students should invest 5 minutes to watch the video.

Key points: Gen Z is very marketing-savvy, very practical, and very much in search of transparency from brands that interest them. Find more to help improve your recruitment communications and website content at bit.ly/2f4L80Z 
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Promoting Early FAFSA Benefits: Moravian College

Here is a rare example of gaining marketing advantage from creating new content around the benefits that potential students might expect to receive from the early FAFSA opportunity that started this fall.

On a page that makes strong use of headings and an easy-to-read text size, the college explains why early FAFSA "makes things easier for students and their parents."

Moravian noted that students who file early will receive financial aid award letters in November or "three months earlier than in past years."

For more on an unusually strong effort to take marketing advantage from early FAFSA visit bit.ly/2dUQGd2 
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Branding with Substance: Furman University

New branding efforts often fall primarily into the "promotion" part of the 4 marketing Ps and less often on major change in product.

Furman University offers a different example. A new "Furman Advantage" program, fueled by a $20+ million-dollar donation, will create an elaborate array of mentors, internships, and research opportunities to strengthen the connection between a liberal arts degree and career success.

For more on how one liberal arts university seeks to strengthen brand position and increase first-year enrollment despite a less than ideal geographic location visit bit.ly/2fxF9Em 
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Ranking Canadian Universities: The 2017 Maclean's Magazine Report

The top "comprehensive" university this year is Simon Fraser, followed in the Top 5 by Waterloo, Victoria, Guelph, and Carleton. Sort schools by student satisfaction and reputation ratings as well when you visit bit.ly/2farKhq 
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Virtual Reality: Explore a New Shiny Object

If you are talking on campus about how to add virtual reality to your tactical marketing mix, add this Adweek Brand Share infographic article to your reading list. Spoiler: VR developers think this is a very good idea. If you are not a VR developer, move with caution as you explore.

My favorite point: "A lot of companies that are eager to dive into VR still have islands on Second Life they no longer use." You do remember Second Life, yes?

Explore more in "For Brands, Virtual Reality is All About Genuine Connection" at bit.ly/2esjyJC 
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Web Design: Top 10 Enduring Mistakes from the Nielsen-Norman Group

Some design mistakes persist through each new generation of creativity and so the visitor experience does not improve. And so, it is always good to check your web site performance against the warnings you will find here. 

My favorites are #5, "Hidden Fees and Prices," and #7, "Poor Search Results." See the other 8 mistakes that endure at bit.ly/2fwJh7A
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Digital Marketing Glossary: Quiz Yourself on 18 Terms

How expert do you want to be on marketing in the digital era? Test yourself on 18 terms from AdAge starting with Attribution and ending with Trading Desk at bit.ly/2fxBab2 
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Writing Right for the Web: A to Z Guide to Effective Language 

Making the words on your website as quick to read as possible should be an important content marketing goal. Alas, too often we cannot escape phrases that our bureaucracies seem to love but real people do not often use. 

To explore how well your website content, emails, and blogs use "real people" language, scan the A to Z list of "Simple Words and Phrases" at bit.ly/2efBCsB 
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Football Coach Salaries: 72 at $1 Million or Higher

How does the compensation of your head football coach compare with the top 119 reported by USA Today? 

University of Michigan leads the pack at nearly $10 million. See the rest at usat.ly/2erCGXW 
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Most Popular Topic in October Newsletter: Strong Graphic on College Ranking Press Release

Higher education folks often dismiss and disdain college rankings. Unless, of course, a college or university does especially well. 

Centre College created a strong graphic image to introduce a press release reporting how well the college did on a new ranking system from the Wall Street Journal. Check the image at bit.ly/2dopyWg 
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Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with one or more of these 5 services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

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
An October hello to everyone. Happy to see that here in Michigan summer is gone and fall is arriving. We can deal with winter a few months from now. 

Reply to this email and ask me for an invitation to the group on LinkedIn if you work at a college or university. Better yet, if you are already on LinkedIn, just request a membership invitation at bit.ly/2cyyLs5 

To date, 221 people have joined from the U.S. and at least 9 other countries.

New to "top tasks" strategy that will increase the marketing strength of your website? My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is at bit.ly/2aDS5BV 
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Conference Workshop in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at bit.ly/2buWkQM Early registration discount is open until November.

Join 7,300+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: Do you really know where people are on the customer journey? 

Mapping the customer journey is popular. But how accurately can we do that? Or are we just playing a "Where's Waldo?" game that will irritate people when we contact them with marketing messages?

Tom Fishburne's take on the challenges we face in journey mapping is at bit.ly/2depaHI 
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More College Rankings: The Wall Street Journal Joins the Crowd

With a heavy weight to college financial resources (30 percent) and outcomes after graduation (40 percent), the WSJ has issued a new ranking system that puts 10 private-sector schools on top starting with Stanford University. Six others are Ivy-league schools.

The first public university, University of Michigan, is ranked 24th.

You have to subscribe to the WSJ to get complete results, including why the WSJ thinks the survey stands out from others. Start at on.wsj.com/2cOUgHf 
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Hugging the New WSJ Rankings: Strong Graphic Opens a Press Release

Some foolish survey recently reported that college presidents do not put much value in college rankings. Maybe it just depends on where your college lands in the results.

To see how one college has embraced the WSJ ranking results in addition to online advertising, check the powerful graphic that opens the Centre College press release at bit.ly/2dopyWg 
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Net Price Calculator Alternative: MyIntuition at 3 Schools

Most people do not enjoy completing the FAFSA. And that's why most people, if they can find them, do not enjoy completing Net Price Calculators that replicate the FAFSA.

At least 3 colleges and universities give potential students and their parents a much easier route to completing the top task of estimating likely college costs by using the quick and simple (less than 10 questions) MyIntuition format created by a Wellesley College professor.

In addition to Wellesley, MyIntuition is used at the University of Virginia and at Williams College. Check the Williams version at bit.ly/2doitoF 
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Web Design: Are You Planning for Voice Search?

If you like to stay ahead of the crowd, start thinking about how your website will take people to their top tasks when they use words to search for the content they want. 

That's the message coming from Microsoft and supported by new tech projects at Google, Amazon, and Apple. Today, people search by voice about 5 to 10 percent of the time. Expect that to increase significantly over the next 5 years. 

One marketing key: You will need to know the words that potential students visiting your website will use to find what they want. Abandon jargon unknown to the public. 

More on the advent of voice search in the AdAge article at bit.ly/2cGCIte 
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Admissions Directors Survey: 66 Percent Expect Earlier Financial Aid Awards

Inside Higher Education is out with a report on what college admissions directors think about any number of things, from the Coalition Admissions application, to debt levels, and race, and the new SAT and more.

One item of note where you will not want to fall behind your competition: 66 percent of the directors expect to see earlier financial aid award letters as a result of earlier FAFSA filing. 

Download complete survey results at bit.ly/2cNV7cz 
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Content Marketing: Advice from 15 Experts

From the Content Marketing Institute comes advice from 15 people who reveal the "Number 1 Thing You Should Do in Content Marketing." As you might guess, the experts offer many different "Number 1" things to do.

Forced to select just one I would go with Andy Crestodina and his advice on correct presentation format. Fail at that and people will bounce from your web page no matter how well you follow the other 14 admonitions.

See what might help your content marketing results at bit.ly/2cqoSwg 
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Admission Officer Salaries: News from NACAC

Considerable consternation was reported at NACAC over a new Federal mandate that will require overtime pay for many admission counselors, thus increasing recruitment costs.

Average salary of an admissions officer is about $38,000 or well below the overtime pay threshold. Average salary of an annual fund officer is $63,000. For an alumni relations officer, the number is $49,000. 

The real problem? High turnover and weak training for people who have a major impact on the financial well-being of most colleges and universities. Pay level and working conditions contribute to that. 

See Eric Hoover on "Who's Got the Time to Train Admissions Offices" at bit.ly/2dnQapg 
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New Book from Gerry McGovern: Transform: A Rebel's Guide to Digital Transformation

If you are exploring the challenges of the digital era at your college or university, this new book by Gerry McGovern might help light the way. Decide for yourself after you read the first chapter for free at bit.ly/2dDqW53 
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Advertising Online: Review of Social Media Options and More

Adweek asked a bevy of online advertising agency people for their comments on the strengths and weaknesses of online advertising options, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google, and more.

Anyone interested in online advertising for student recruitment or brand awareness will want to review the article. Start reading here.   
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Blog Posts: The Best Length is 1,500 to 2,000 Words

The Wordtracker article itself does not specific a precise length but overall makes the point that blog posts of less than 1,500 words are not likely to contain enough value, content, and SEO keywords to attract the attention that well done longer articles will capture. And on the proverbial other hand, articles of more than 3,000 words will have to be superb indeed to hold reader interest.

More on why 1,500 to 2,000 words is a likely sweet spot in blog writing at bit.ly/2dmv6T4 
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Colgate University: Vice President for Communications

Colgate University is searching for a Vice President for Communications.

The usual details of position responsibilities and candidate qualifications are at bit.ly/2dqRMxX 
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Most Popular Topic in September Newsletter: Questioning the Value of Campus Visits

Yes, we all know that campus visits are the single most important conversion event in a student recruitment plan for traditional students. Right?

Take a moment to read about unreal and ineffective campus tours in the Washington Post article at wapo.st/2cyDo5K 
________________________________
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with one or more of these 5 services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

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
Hello from Atlanta. Today we are starting the Academic Impressions "Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan" conference. The hashtag is #airecruitcomm if you want to follow the various sessions over the next three days on Twitter. The session schedule is at bit.ly/1O8Jdr3 

My presentations are online now. See Evaluating Your Institutional Website at bit.ly/1r7BFcW and Affordability and Financial Aid Communication at bit.ly/22FN5Cg 

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 152 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 group. 

Writing an RFP this month? Check my "6 Quick Steps to Better RFPs" at bit.ly/244kECK 
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Conference Events in July and August

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 bit.ly/1PPWYt0 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is August 1-4 in Denver. I will do a new pre-conference workshop: "Top Task Content and Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success." Details at bit.ly/21A4VGp

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your June marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: Rebranding and New Logos

Is creating a new logo part of your plan to rebrand your college or university? This Tom Fishburne cartoon will help you keep your feet on the ground. Visit bit.ly/1XsgwJ3 
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Generation Z: Revelations from Marketing Research

If you recruit high school students, research on how the younger part of the 10 to 18-year-old generation prefers to communicate deserves your attention. Preferred places to communication with one another are Vine, Instagram, and Twitter, in that order.

But do not get overly concerned with what social media is most important now. The larger message from the Center for Generational Kinetics is just how screen-focused and text-oriented these people are, including the possibility that they will be increasingly receptive to online learning. 

More at wapo.st/1WAkH4S 
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Tuition Discounting: Private Sector Freshman Rate Climbs to 48.6 Percent

NACUBO reported in May that the average tuition discount rate in the non-profit private sector for new freshman last year continued on an upward path to 48.6 percent. Yes, it is possible to have higher net revenue despite a rising discount rate. Not many of these schools are doing that. 

Sobering, if not unexpected, news as a price sensitivity plague continues to spread.

More from NACUBO at bit.ly/1O8Iead 

Can cutting tuition by 42 percent help with sticker shock and boost enrollment? First year results at Utica College are promising. See wapo.st/1UpjqHn 
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Website Design: Gerry McGovern on Zombies and Hamburger Menus

Gerry continues to cast stones at some of the more popular features of website design. For a different take on an element created first for mobile read "The Hamburger Menu and the Zombie Apocalypse" at bit.ly/1UkwHkH 

One question Gerry asks: why is the search box so hard to see on so many websites? Why not put it front and center on the page? Well, one university has done just that. See the Xavier University home page at bit.ly/1SWaUPQ 
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A Higher Ed Success Story: Increasing 4-year Graduation Rate

Today we are inundated by stories about higher education disruptions, budget challenges, enrollment failings, and brand identity changes.

To escape all that to something positive, spend a few minutes to read about how University at Buffalo increased the 4-year graduation rate of undergrad students from 35 percent to 55 percent in 10 years of steady progress. No, that is not the level of super-selective colleges and universities. But it does show what is possible outside that exalted realm. The result is a brand point of special distinction. 

More at bit.ly/1O8GvBM 
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Honest Talk About Financial Aid Awards: The Real Deal from Muhlenberg College

Do colleges and universities give some students preferential financial aid awards based on how much they want a particular person to enroll? For sure. Can you read that on higher education websites? Almost never.

And so it is worth noting again that Muhlenberg College has been up-front and honest about how financial aid decision are make for about 10 years now. If there was a Hall of Fame for Honesty in Marketing, this college for sure would have a place.

See "The Real Deal on Financial Aid" at bit.ly/1TKjG7Y
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Student Recruitment Website Myths: Take a Brief Survey

Michael Stoner and Gil Rogers are collaborating again on a new edition of their research comparing how high school students use the web in exploring college choices and how people who work in admissions, marketing, and enrollment management think high school students use the web.

The first edition was, shall we say, filled with disparities. Help Michael and Gil with the 2016 effort to see how much the gaps have closed by completing the short survey at bit.ly/1sWR0hB
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Public University Enrollments: Growth in Out-of-State Students

We continue to get interesting information from Jon Boeckenstedt at DePaul University. In this case, Jon is letting us easily track state-by-state changes in the percent of undergrad students that universities in the public sector have been enrolling between 2002 and 2012. 

You will not find many where the percent has decreased. The reasons may be many. Some of would say a primary element is a desire for the increased tuition revenue these students pay. Or, as in the case of the University of Maine, just a way to counter a falling in-state population.

Compare the change in your state with others around the country at bit.ly/1UBIUEm 
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Public Support for Higher Education: 46 States are Below 2008 Levels

One reason for the increased interest in out-of-state students noted above is the fact that in 46 states higher education funding for the public sector remains below pre-2008 recession levels. Only Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are higher. 

The largest decrease is in Arizona at 55.6 percent. The lowest decrease is in Alaska at just .6 percent. Find your state among the others at bit.ly/1ssXS6C 
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Marketing Communications Note: Do Not Use Prior-Prior Year with the Public

Admissions and financial aid professionals are reacting in different ways to the FAFSA change that will allow earlier filing for financial aid and possibly earlier awards. Some people predict massive disruption. Maybe chaos. Others think everything will be just fine. I vote for the latter sentiment.

Whatever your thoughts, "prior-prior year" is an example of higher education jargon that we should not be using to communication with potential students and their families. How about "New, Earlier Financial Aid Opportunity" for the next year? Or something similar. And positive. Maybe even a benefit.

Do not take the University of Cincinnati approach. Do not headline your website page so that the first thing people see when the page opens is "Prior Prior Year" at bit.ly/1U1vvW8 

For one alternative, here is a clean and simple chart that uses the "early" word twice at 1.usa.gov/1U1waH3 
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Tuition Prices and Student Debt: The Australian Example

For a look at how these two related issues are being debated in Australia, see the Times Higher Education review at bit.ly/1Xsug6y 
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Highest Room and Board Charges: The Top 10 Schools

This is a U.S. News list that most people are happy not to make. Four schools are in New York City (but not Columbia or NYU or Fordham) and two are in Boston (but not BU nor Northeastern.)

The highest 2015-2016 room and board rates are at bit.ly/1Pvap3A 
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Most Popular Topic in May Newsletter: Customer Journey Mapping

Tom Fishburne's cartoon and comments on the challenges of customer journey mapping was by far the favorite. If you missed it, visit bit.ly/1XYIBEf 
________________________________
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

Communication Audits
Expert Marketing Communications 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
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 bit.ly/244kECK 
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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 bit.ly/1Tf5xje 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 bit.ly/1PPWYt0 

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 bit.ly/1Y4lXdt 

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your May marketing news and notes.
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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 bit.ly/1XYIBEf 
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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 bit.ly/1pX9BZ9 
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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 bit.ly/1VHloJ6
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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 theatln.tc/1SzHvPd 
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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 bit.ly/1rrcv9M 
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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 bit.ly/1Yty4B1 
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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 bit.ly/1Y3w0jk 
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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 bit.ly/1SVhtoq
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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 bit.ly/1rOgQob 
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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 bit.ly/1ObYe5S 
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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 wapo.st/26LRjvC 
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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 atbit.ly/1M7rI9o 
________________________________
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

Communication Audits
Expert Marketing Communications 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

An April hello to everyone. And best wishes for a successful enrollment deposit time as that traditional May 1 date approaches colleges and universities here in the U.S.

Are you interested in content marketing strategy and web design to quickly and easily meet visitor expectations? Do you work at a college or university?

If "yes" is your answer to both questions, ask me for an invitation to join a new LinkedIn group,Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content. We have 102 early members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago. Discussions underway include alumni donations, library tasks, top task results for student recruitment, and the tension between strategic plan priorities and website content task priorities. 

Email me at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com and ask me to send you an invitation.
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Conference Events in June, July, August

Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan is an Academic Impressions conference June 6-8 in Atlanta. Review the sessions and register at bit.ly/1Tf5xje 

July 20-21 I will be in Louisville at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House. Check the details and register to join us at bit.ly/1PPWYt0 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is set for August 1-4 in Denver. Early discounted registration is open and most sessions are online now at bit.ly/1Y4lXdt 

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your April marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: Virtual Reality as a Shiny Object

Are you talking on your campus about the potential of VR as a marketing tool? 

Cost to purchase the headsets aside, circulate this Tom Fishburne cartoon before you chase too quickly after the latest shiny new object from SXSW. Laugh and think about the future atbit.ly/1RQPWAZ 
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300 Best Value Colleges: The New Forbes Ratings

Forbes is out with the 2016 listing of 300 "best value" colleges and universities. While public research universities dominate the top levels, you will find a much more varied list as you scroll through to see how you and your competitors fared.

You can sort by public or private sectors, bring up an alpha list that includes individual rankings, or search by name for a school of special interest when you visit atonforb.es/1X4bQ8g 
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April Fool's with a Bite: Difficult Website Designs Are Better 

April Fool's day is past but the 5-point Nielsen Norman Group critique of website designs that are too simple has lasting value. Struggling with difficult design elements will make people better humans. And is that not a worthy goal for colleges and universities? 

Start with "Make navigation joyfully surprising" and end with "Gamify the user experience" atbit.ly/1Y4Bmum 
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March Madness: 2016 Net Price Madness Bracket

Robert Kelchen, assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, has a special interest in pricing, costs, and discounts. For the 4th year he has created a March Madness basketball bracket based on the invited "colleges with the lowest net price of attendance."

Over the first three years his picks have won just two games (Wichita State in 2015). See how he did this year when you check his bracket at bit.ly/1X6Smjt 
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Too Many Student Inquiries: 3 Steps to Reduce Your Numbers

If your future student inquiry pool is too large, these 3 steps will help reduce the number using your online inquiry form. First, require a user name and password before starting the form. Second, ask people for the exact date of their high school graduation. Third, require the high school CEEB code.

If you would like more inquiries from potential students who visit your website, copy this blessedly brief "Request Information" form from St. Mary's University at bit.ly/1UuX7W6 
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Student Recruitment: Does the Admissions Funnel Still Make Sense?

The funnel concept survives and thrives in student recruitment conversations and plans despite the advent of stealth applicants, digital communications, rapid-response expectations and more. But should it?

In an AdAge article Jason John argues that "In Today's Digital World, the Sales Funnel is Dead." Yes, the focus of this article is on consumer sales. But the primary point is applicable to higher education: we can no longer control the order in which a person seeks information for a enrollment decision or when they will seek it. Old style marketing communications plans, designed to create movement through a funnel from awareness to enrollment, no longer work as well as they once did.

Find more on how people think and act in the digital era and the adaptations we must make to influence them at bit.ly/21Xs301 
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Writing Right for the Web: An "Ultimate Web Writing Cheat Sheet"

Here is a quick easy-to-review list of the basics from Aimee Beck. Print copies or send the link to anyone on your campus who prepares web content, especially the people in various departments who do not do this on a regular basis.

This is especially valuable if you are interested in search results. The cheat sheet starts by reminding us that the title tag on a web page remains the most important element in getting a good search response. Anyone responsible for content on a web page should also be responsible for the title tag on that page.

See more good tips at bit.ly/1M7rI9o 
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College & University Presidents: Inside Higher Ed 2016 Survey Results

What do 727 public and private sector college presidents think about these 6 topics: Race relations, Presidential selection, College Scorecard, President Obama and higher education, Guns on campus, and Budget and finances?

Opinions differ more in some areas than others. Most presidents (84 percent) believe that race relations on their campuses are good to excellent. And most (88 percent) do not believe that letting students carry concealed guns on campus will make them safer. Opinion is more divided on whether or not President Obama's "overall treatment of education" has been good, with 41 percent giving the president an A or B and 29 percent a D or F. 

Read a summary of results and download the complete 27-page PDF report at bit.ly/1Y6wxAt 
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Faster Website Speed: 8 Tips from Target Marketing

Kylie Lobell does not think we pay enough attention to website speed as an important marketing element. I agree.

In her article for Target Marketing, Kylie reviews 8 steps that taken together can improve the speed and thus the visitor experience on a website. My two favorites were the 1st (Identify Speed Issues using Google PageSpeed Insights) and the 6th (Forget the Fancy Home Page).

The complete array of 8 tips to improve your website speed is at bit.ly/1SvajEn 
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Digital Marketing: 5 Myths to Remember

Do you agree with Benny Coen that your website and your email are more important for your marketing success than your social media presence?

Social media is not unimportant but controlled expectations and attention to website and email will produce happier marketers. Coen notes that when top brands post on Facebook only 6 percent of their followers see the posts. 

Wise words to help you plan more successful marketing in the digital era at bit.ly/1RCYv2U 
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Most Popular Topic in March Newsletter: 22 Higher Ed Top Task Websites

"Best Practices for Top Task Web Design: 22 Higher Ed Examples" was the most popular item last month. Visit the presentation slides at bit.ly/1Rr78Qb 
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Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

Top Task Website 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 Projects




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