Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… July 2009

July greetings to everyone, from an unusually cool Michigan. Perhaps that bodes well for a limited summer melt of the traditional students expected to enroll in the fall. Whatever your local temperatures, my best wishes are with everyone as this enrollment year continues to unfold.

I hope to see many of you at the ACT EPC and eduWeb conferences in July in Chicago. You can still register for either at the links below. My combined workshop registrations are over 60 but there is likely room for a few late additions at both events.

Registrations are open for July 29 and August 11 webinars on student recruitment websites and social media marketing. Details are at

If you have started on Twitter recently, join me at

More than 1,100 people have viewed my presentation on web analytics for higher education marketers. See what they’ve seen at

And now here are your marketing news and notes for July.
Read Now: Higher Education in 2020

Plan now to read each installment of the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s 3-part executive summary series on “The College of 2020.”

Unless you are retiring in the next 5 years, this is must reading about the extraordinary change underway that will transform higher education over the next 10 years. Many of those changes, of course, have already started. If you are even dreaming about marketing plans for the future, start reading today.

The first installment focuses on “Students” and is online at

The full report is only $95. Every marketing office should have one.
Rankings Sensitivity: A Storm over Clemson

An institutional research person goes to a professional conference to deliver a paper detailing how Clemson University planned to use US News rankings to help achieve a goal of becoming a “Top 20” public research university. Insider Higher Education reports on the presentation. A firestorm erupts.

The details and the 27 or more comments to the original article make fascinating reading at

The most controversial aspect focuses on the least provable: that the Clemson president and others deliberately ranked other public research universities as lower than average so that the relative rank for Clemson would improve regardless of actual quality.
A Boost for Online Learning

The U.S. Department of Education is out with a new report on “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” that should give strategy and marketing planners more reason to advocate for investment in this area.

The report is based on a review of available research. The overall conclusion is that online learning works and that “blended” versions that combine online and in-class features work best of all. Technology advancements that get students move involved in their own learning process are also praised.

A 93-page PDF is available for your reading and printing pleasure at
Keeping Control of Twitter

Colleges and universities everywhere have started Twitter sites to increase communication with future students, alumni, sports fans and more. One challenge, if you use your site to follow others, is organizing the great variety of updates that arrive at your site each day.

Salvation may rest with the variety of software available to classify Twitter content. The folks at Mashable get you off to a good start with their review: “Twitter Better: 20 Ways to Filter Your Tweets.”

Visit and pay special attention to the programs listed under the “Groups” heading.
Recommended Social Media Reading: Groundswell Blog

If you are still grappling to find the best way to integrate social media with your other marketing communication elements, you likely will find insights at various Groundswell blog updates.

One of my favorites is the June 26 entry on “To Use Social Technologies in Ad Campaigns, Get the Rhythm Right” that explores why traditional agency compensation methods create problems in this area. The recommended solution, attention to number and enthusiasm of fans recruited, might help your internal ROI expectations.

Join the Groundswell blog at
2009 Top Tagline Contest

Do you have a really strong tagline?

If you do, enter it in the 2009 “Powerful Non-Profit Taglines Contest” that is open until July 31.

Details at
Free Guide to Web Analytics and Testing

Avinash Kaushik, author of “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day” is recommending a 32-page PDF, “Converting the Believers,” guide to improving conversion of people who visit your website. That is good enough for me to make a recommendation even though I am about to download it myself and so have not yet read it.

Make your decision after you check the table of contents at
Boston University Success at

I have always been fascinated with What especially interests me is that for most faculty at most institutions I have checked, overall ratings are high.

RateMyProfessors is an early example of a social media site in the Web 2.0 world. Sites like these will grow in importance, as more and more people read product evaluations. If a person reads the reviews available at, moving to RateMyProfessors is not a large step.

Recently I checked the ratings of 48 political science faculty at Boston University. The very positive results are on my blog at

The note to marketers: review your faculty ratings to find student praise of faculty that helps build your brand.
Video Impact on Landing Page Conversions

Special landing pages can significantly increase online conversion results from email campaigns but what happens when the landing page includes a video element?

This ClickZ article by Jeanne Jennings suggests that while many people might watch the video, final conversions may well be stronger without the distraction of this popular element. And if that is the case, there is no reason to take the extra time and expense to use one.

Check the details of two email campaigns compared at

And of course do plan to add special landing pages for any campaign that brings people to your website. Repeating and reinforcing the original message can result in significantly better results than dropping people on a regular web page.
Accountability in Higher Education: 10 States are Leaders

With public interest in the performance of public universities increasing, we now have a 3-group ranking (Best Practice; In Progress; Needs Improvement) of how well states are using public accountability data in making policy decisions. And that depends in part on whether or not assessment information is available at all.

I was not surprised to find that my state, Michigan, ranked in the bottom group. See if your state joins California and 9 others as leaders in the Education Sector report at

Each state has an individual report card. Enjoy reading yours.
Phoenix Tops 400,000 Students

The Apollo Group, owners of University of Phoenix and others, has released a third quarter report noting that for the first time gross revenue for a single quarter has topped $1 billion, fueled by Phoenix enrollment in the quarter of just over 420,000 students.

Marketers will note that “sales and promotional expenses” for the quarter were $246.3 million. Details on growth rates and other expense categories are at
Marketing & Communications Position in Vermont

St. Michael’s College in Vermont is searching for a Director of Marketing and Communications, a cabinet level position reporting to the president. Responsibilities cover the usual brand, research, and communication areas and include the website.

For details visit
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!

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” (2 hour 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

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

August 11, Webinar: Magna Publications: “Social Media Marketing.” Register at

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

November 15-17, Boston, MA: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, “Marketing in a World without Paper: Creating a Recruitment Communications Plan in a World without Paper” (3 hour Sunday workshop). Details and registration are in progress.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *