Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2009

New Year’s greetings to everyone!

Many things about 2009 are uncertain, but we know for sure that marketing efforts are going to have a new importance as colleges and universities work to reach enrollment goals set when economic conditions were far better than they are now. Best wishes that your goals are met.

Two changes are taking place with my newsletter. First, starting with this January edition, it will appear at the start of each month rather than at the end. Second, past copies of each newsletter will now be at my blog ( rather than on my website. This will let you use the blog’s search engine to scan past issues and make it much easier to find news and links on earlier topics as the year moves along.

The popular Link of the Week emails will continue with a new selection next week. Previous sites will remain on my website at where you can now find 93 picks. And if you are not already on Twitter, visit, follow along, and comment at where I report items from my daily marketing reading.

Carol Aslanian is offering a quick turn-around (10 weeks) market analysis for colleges and universities that need to recruit more adult students in 2009. More and more adults will return to college for new skills and training, and you can benefit. Visit for details on how the Aslanian Group can help you meet summer and fall enrollment goals.

Look down below for my presentations in 2009 that start later this month at the ACT Ohio conference in Columbus.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for January.
NAICU Survey on College Economic Fears and Plans

Just before Christmas, NAICU released preliminary results of a survey on “The Impact of the Economic Conditions on Independent Colleges and Universities“. A press release with details is at

With responses from 371 presidents (39 percent of those invited), you’ll find information about the level of anxiety over loan availability (especially for first generation students with weak family credit histories), popular cost saving remedies (hiring freezes, travel restrictions, delayed facility plans) and much more. Scroll down the press release page to a link that downloads a 15-page PDF that’s well worth reading.
3,359 Schools Reviewed at “StudentsReview”

Have you checked your ratings on StudentsReview yet?

The site offers reviews by alumni as well as students and highlights the percent of current students who say they would return to their college again. Reviews, varying from several hundred to just a few contributors, are available for 3,359 schools.

Glancing at the top 20 group, Brown, Texas A&M, Cornell and RIT seem to do well, while Boston College, Georgia Institute of Technology, SUNY Binghamton, and Bob Jones University don’t do nearly as well.

Read about what people are saying about your school at
10 New Year Resolutions for Social Media Marketing

Brad Mays suggests 10 resolutions to help develop an effective social media marketing plan in the context of declining traditional media impact and a weak economy. Three seemed especially valuable: a continuing admonition to give up trying to control what’s said about you; the value of a formal plan; and attention to emerging mobile marketing opportunities.

Read the resolutions at
New Phoenix Online Ad Campaign

Competition for non-traditional students in general and online programs in particular will be intense in 2009 as more schools turn to this enrollment segment to boost enrollment revenue. The University of Phoenix has launched a new advertising campaign around a “Be a Phoenix” theme featuring individual students who have, we presume, risen from the ashes as a result of their Phoenix experience.

A landing page for the campaign at will give you a good idea of the actual online ads if you haven’t already seen one. As a good landing page should, this one repeats and reinforces the initial message in the ad that prompts a visit to this page. Be sure to complete the inquiry form. A phone number is mandatory and you’ll be asked to acknowledge that you know a phone call is coming your way if you send them your number.

An email response came in seconds. Can you do the same with new online inquiries?
10 Pointers on Raising Money with Online Communications

Remember when communicating online was all about email and not much else? Things are more complicated now. If you work in the fund raising sector or are trying to convince friends in that area to get more involved with online communications, get them to read Robin Fisk’s article “Electronic Communications Pays Off: How to Get Returns” at

Risk’s review touches on Facebook and Twitter techniques and the value of getting your president involved. And don’t forget the last and critical point: make it easy for people to respond on your website. Take this tip from some strong student recruitment sites: make the response link prominent in the right hand column on every relevant page.
Get Ready for Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing, empowered by the continuing spread of smart phones, continues to creep over the horizon. Your marketing plan won’t fail in 2009 because you’ve left this out of your communications mix, but that might change in a year or two.

The Pew Internet and American Life project released its report on fut
ure evolution of the Internet last December. The report is at

You might want to first go direct to a special segment on mobile marketing where you’ll find a plethora of predictions from experts who agreed to be quoted in public at

If you have a marketing strategy group on your campus, these quotes should make for great discussions over the next few months.
Air Force Outline for Responding to Blog Postings

If people on your campus are still blocking blogs from lack of a clear policy on how and when to respond to positive or negative comments, be sure they read detailed recommendations from the Air Force at

The guidelines should work well for both your own blogs as well as comments made on other places, including social media sites. The clearly presented chart will help you determine who is a Troll or a Rager or just Misguided or Unhappy. And of course, you might also want to respond to those who say nice things about you.

The response elements are especially worthwhile: reveal your organizational identity; don’t rush a response; and cite specific sources when you are correcting false information.
10 Resolutions for Better Email Results

Sometimes there’s value in refreshing our minds with things we know but maybe don’t give enough attention. That’s the value of Stefan Pollard’s ClickZ column on “Ten Resolution to Make 2009 a Better E-Mail Year” at

My favorite was the last one: “I Will Banish the Word ‘Blast’ from my Vocabulary.”

If all you are doing is “blasting” email at hordes of people, that’s not smart marketing. Most of the resolutions that come before this one remind us that we need to tailor email campaigns as much as possible to the special interests of the various people who receive them. That’s smart marketing and the effort will pay dividends in sustaining interest and increasing conversions.
Anthropology Professor Changing Education with Social Media

If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch Michael Wesch on YouTube, don’t miss his University of Manitoba presentation on “The Future of Education” at

Wesch is a professor at Kansas State University. He was just named a “Professor of the Year'” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE.

Here he’s talking about using social media to engage more students more easily so they learn more. If there is a college or university where faculties widely adopt these techniques, the resulting marketing advantage will be great.

Share this video with any professor who will watch it.

Thanks to my Carewords partner Mike Atyeo at Neo Insight in Ottawa for sending the link during our work on the Manitoba Carewords research project.
Web Analytics: Interpreting the “Bounce Rate

The WebTrends “Fundamentals of Web Analytics” glossary defines “bounce rate” as “The percentage of entrances on a web page that result in an immediate exit from the web site.”

At my presentations on web analytics, I’ve found some confusion over good and bad bounce rates, perhaps driven in part by that “immediate” word in the definition. When you look at the bounce rate reported, also look at the average time on the page and whether or not you actually intended someone visiting the page to go anywhere else on your site.

If people are spending as much time on the page as you’d like them to before they leave, then a high bounce rate might not be a bad thing. On the other hand, if you expect them to continue on from one page to another, then anything over 50 percent is bad. It all depends on your goal for the page.

See the A to Z definitions at
It Must Be True Department

Marketers see the recession ending in 2010, so we only have one year to suffer. See the results of a MarketingSherpa survey at

But MS is hedging bets here. For the New Year, it promises to focus on “data that explores inexpensive and high-return methods to improve the performance of your marketing programs” so you’ll be prepared if evil times last longer.
Pillars of Civilization Department

For the first time in history, the New York Times has accepted a display ad for the front page.

See the AdAge report at

When the financial barbarians are at the gate, the unthinkable becomes acceptable.
My Upcoming Presentations in 2009

Share questions and answers with people like yourself who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Hope to meet you at one or more of these events!

January 27-28, Columbus, Ohio: ACT Conference, “Surviving in a New World: Social Media and Web Communications”

February 17, Webinar: Innovative Educators, “Key Website Features for Better Adult Student Recruitment.” Session details and registration at

March 30, Webinar: Academic Impressions, “Writing Right for the Web.” Session details and registration available soon at

June 4-5, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group, Web Marketing to Adult Stude
: “Writing Right for the Web” and “Using Adult Friendly Social Media in Marketing.” Registration starts 15 February; review the outline of sessions now at

Increase ROI from your online marketing. Expand the writing, editing, and search marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a campus workshop on online marketing.

Contact me at
That’s All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (
President and Senior Consultant
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your online marketing success with these 6 services.
• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web On-Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Review
• Competitive Website Reviews
• Content Copywriting Services
• Usability Analysis

Start now at

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