Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… May 2009

May 5 greetings to everyone, and especially to those who are tallying enrollment deposits this month. It has been a year of special anxiety as old enrollment formulas struggle in a new economic climate. People will be attending college but we will have to wait a while longer to see just how many and in what schools and programs and at what cost to tuition discount rates. As I write this on Monday, Twitter updates have not yet produced new insight into how things are unfolding.

One expected increase area is among adult students. There is still time to register for the June 4-5 Carol Aslanian conference on “Web Marketing to Adult Students” and fine tune your website marketing for maximum fall enrollment conversions. Register at and use “Bob100” to save $100 on the registration fee. I will do a new presentation on using social media for adult student recruitment.

Pre-conference workshops on recruitment communication “in a world without paper” are on my July conference agenda for the ACT Enrollment Planners Meeting at and eduWeb 2009 at

Join me on Twitter to read daily marketing notes on social media and more at

And now here, in space that blessedly allows for more than 144 characters per item, are your marketing news and notes for May.
Early Moves to Wait List

One sign of the times in 2009 is an early move to wait lists to maintain desired enrollment. Washington University in St. Louis, Union College, and Lawrence University anticipated lower than usual yield rates of admitted students and made admission offers to wait-listed students before the May 1 deposit deadline.

Read details about these changes and others at Providence and Vanderbilt at
University of Phoenix Website and Brand Position

How well does the University of Phoenix website support the university brand position? Very well indeed according to a BrandFeatures review by Abram Sauer. He notes that Phoenix only has to appear comparable to other higher education websites to make the desired impression that Phoenix is as reputable an institution as its rivals. In the Sauer view (he compared with Harvard, Yale, University of California – Berkeley, University of Florida, University of Oregon) Phoenix succeeds at the effort.

Read the analysis at
Google Offers Prep for Mobile Advertising

If you are new to online advertising, spend some time at the Google for Advertisers web pages at where you can find an overview of what to consider in planning an online campaign, whether you use Google yourself or plan to work through an online agency.

Even if you are experienced at this, take note of the section on mobile advertising. Just about everyone on the planet is convinced that the advent of mobile advertising is upon us in a serious way in 2009. Time will tell the truth of that, but it makes great good sense to start learning now about how to make this new format work best for you. If you are still advertising in print, you might want to move some of those dollars over to mobile at least by 2010.
Introduction to Web Analytics for Everyday People

As I work with people at various colleges and universities, I am always impressed by the wide variation in how well people use web analytics to help them meet online marketing goals. And I am equally impressed by how difficult it can be for marketers to talk with IT staff about how to get relevant analytics information out of the extraordinary amount of data available.

If that sounds familiar, read the Web Analytics Demystified blog post by Avinash Kaushik to get extra confidence the next time you take your IT friends to lunch. Kaushik is a recognized analytics expert. You will gain credibility just by knowing who he is. But you will also get valuable information that will help you ask for what you need most. The post is at

After that, join 462 people who have read my presentation “Web Analytics, A Guide for Higher Education Marketers,” at for specific recommendations on elements that deserve close attention.
Best, Worst Rejection Letters

The Wall Street Journal gives us a detailed if unscientific review of admission rejection letter details from 9 colleges and universities.

Tough but Honest: Bates College
Kindest: Harvard and Duke
You Were a Legacy Candidate and You Still Could Not Get Admitted: Boston University

Are you ready to fine-tune your rejection letters? Visit
Social Media and Analytics

You are thinking about investing more marketing time in social media activities but you are not sure how you can justify that, especially if it means pulling someone away from other, more traditional recruitment activities. You need to show ROI for any new ventures like this.

Get off on the right track with “How To: Track Social Media Analytics.” This is not easy work for the uninitiated but if you can find an office volunteer who wants to develop a new skill, you will be well on your way to more successfully using Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and whatever other elements you think will work best for you.

Setting up on Facebook or Twitter is not difficult. Knowing when you are getting good results is a challenge. Start at
Peter Drucker and the Cost of Higher Education: Good News or Bad?

Business Week magazine returns to Peter Drucker to lament an ongoing rise in the cost of higher education that is not reflected in an increasing quality of education received. Will that change? Not as long as colleges and universities control degree access that for most people is essential to career success.

That is good news if you make your living at a college or university. Not quite so good if you do not.

Read details of the Business Week position at

Grinnell College: Using Endowment to Reduce Student Debt

Grinnell has an unusual advantage over private colleges of similar size: one of the highest endowments per student of any college in the country. The value of the endowment has fallen from a 2007 high of $1.7 billion to a still impressive $1.1 billion today.

Grinnell retains an endowment far beyond those of most private sector schools. And the college is using those resources for a significant reduction in the average student debt at time of graduation: from $18,000 for graduates last year to about $10,000 for the class this year. That should leave the college in a strong competitive position, even against many public institutions, in these times of diminished debt acceptance.

Details are at
6 Reasons a Blog is Your Best Social Media Bet

Every once in a while a silly article appears by a person obsessed enough with the latest social media fad to write that blogs are no longer important.

To help ward off anyone who suggests you spend more time on Twitter than your blogs, read Newt Barrett on “Six Reasons Why Your Blog is Your Most Important Social Media Tool” at

In online marketing today, you of course need more than blogs to succeed. But make sure that blogs remain a core part of your marketing mix and integrate their use into your plans for Facebook and Twitter. Millions of people love them. And read them.
5 Twitter Research Tools

Twitter is a new arena in higher education marketing. In the last week or two there have been a multitude of happy Tweets from people extolling the news that admissions offices around the country are starting to use Twitter as a marketing tool. That is indeed a good step, but like any tool, the results will only be as valuable as the skill used to wield the tool.

Find valuable advice on 5 ways to measure your Twitter impact at

One favorite is TweetStats (, a program that will tell you how your use of Twitter compares with those of your competitors. Enter the Twitter URL for the schools that most plague your enrollment success and you can learn how many times they update content each month, what words and phrases appear most often in their Tweets, the frequency of interaction with people on Twitter and more.
Berea College Defines Value Education

In the private sector of higher education, one mantra that is often held up as the saving marketing element is the “value” proposition: “Yes, we cost more than a public university but your experience here will be so much better that we are worth the extra cost and/or debt.” In 2009, that value proposition is being put to a strong test.

Berea College has an unusual advantage: it offers free education to students willing to work for the college. This year, yield from admitted students is expected to be around 78 percent. That is about the same as last year, but in 2009 the academic credentials of entering students will increase. Details are at

Berea is not immune to the economic plague. Endowment is down and layoffs have been made. But for students, value is stronger than ever before.

A personal note: if you are ever traveling through Berea, do try to stay in the student-run hotel in town. And enjoy the Spoonbread pudding with dinner.
Online Magazines: Amherst and Flagler

The spread of alumni magazines as true web publications continues. No, a printed alumni magazine put online in PDF format does not a web publication make.

Check my blog post highlighting true online efforts at Amherst College and Flagler College and the subtle but significant content additions that make both these efforts fit the Web 2.0 era. You will also find links to 3 other online magazines. Mix and match the best of what you find here for your own online publishing effort.

Visit for the details.
Reducing the Product: Academic Programs Offered

Concern over efficiency amidst diminishing resources is fueling unusual attention to one of marketing’s proverbial 4 Ps: Product.

A recent “Dead Programs Walking” article in Inside Higher Ed reported on ventures in Louisiana, Florida, and at Radford University. Read the details at
My Upcoming Presentations in 2009

Share questions and answers with people like yourself who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me for one or more of these events!

June 4-5, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group, Web Marketing to Adult Students: “Writing Right for the Web” and “Using Adult Friendly Social Media in Marketing.” Enter “Bob100” as a discount code to save $100 from the registration fee. Review the sessions at

June 15, Orlando, FL: Career College Association: “Anatomy of a Student Community,” Google hosted panel discussion. Conference details at

June 17, Webinar: Paper Clip Communications: “The Technology Revolution in Admissions.” Session details and registration at

June 21-25, San Antonio, TX: College Sports Information Directors of America, Annual Conference: “Writing Right for the Web.” Conference program at

July 15-17, Chicago, IL: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference: “Student Recruitment in an Online World: Creating a Recruitment Communications Plan in a World without Paper: 2009 Update” (Pre-conference workshop) and “Rating Higher Education Websites: The Student Experience.” Review the program and register at

July 20-22, Chicago, IL: eduWeb 2009: “Student Recruitment in the Online World: Communicating from First Web Search to Final Enrollment” (Pre-conference workshop). Sessions and registration at www.e

July 29, Webinar: Magna Publications: “Crafting a High Impact Recruitment Website.” Content and registration soon at

October 26-27, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin System, Adult Student Recruitment & Retention Conference: “Key Website Features for Adult Student Recruitment.” Conference information is 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
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