Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… September 2009

Late summer greetings to everyone. From the chatter on Twitter, it seems that the arrival of new freshmen on campuses across the country has been a marvelous event. Special congratulations to everyone who helped carry freight from cars to dorm rooms.

Check at the end of the newsletter for new fall presentations, including a conference in Denmark, a December webinar for “Writing Right for the Web,” and the continuation of the “Bob$100” discount for the October Aslanian adult student recruitment conference.

Plan to attend the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education and register for an updated and expanded “Marketing Communications in a World without Paper” Sunday tutorial. A highly rated summer version from eduWeb09 is the first one on SlideShare at

Check my blog for notes on Heather Mansfield’s “10 Twitter Tips for Higher Education” at

Join me on Twitter at

For everyone here in the States, best wishes for a fine Labor Day weekend.

And now here are marketing news and notes for September.
Forbes Magazine 2009 College Rankings

Forbes released 2009 rankings in early August, based on “the quality of the education, the experience of the students, and how much they achieve.”

While most of the usual suspects fill out the top spots, Forbes calls attention to unexpected additions at the highest levels, including Centre College and Union College. At the top of the list: West Point.

My favorite criterion: 25 percent of the ranking is based on student evaluations at That beats the “reputation” factor in another popular report.

Start the full report at
Evaluating Social Media Results

You should not worry if the people who sign on to your social media sites or read your blogs do not actively participate with comments and other contributions of new content. Most people just read,without joining or actively participating. And that, of course, has marketing value by itself.

By far the largest category for social media participation is from Spectators (79 percent), while Creators (24 percent) and Critics (37 percent) lag far behind. Indeed, only 51 percent will actually join a social media site where they are spectators.

What is the marketing lesson? Do not over promise active results when you start new social media ventures. For the details, check the latest research at the Groundswell blog site at
Drexel Gets First Place: Top University Websites for Search Engine Optimization

Find methodology you can use to test your own school as you review “Top SEO College Websites 2009” at

The writer gives most colleges and universities an “F” grade for SEO and includes four reasons why he thinks more schools do not do better. The first: over reliance on “brand recognition” to bring traffic to the website.

The increase in the importance of online education does seem to motivate some schools to do much better than others. The “Top Three” here: Drexel University, University of Phoenix, and Capella University.
Google Analytics Basics

Just getting started in web analytics? Thinking of using Google Analytics?

“Google Analytics 101” by Ron Jones at Search Engine Watch is a good place to start. The link at will take you to Part 2 and you can track back from there to Part 1.

Better use of analytics is an essential step to getting higher impact from your website. Pay special attention to the “bounce rate” (percent of people who leave a page without going further) at your admissions entry page and at each important page after that. Be sure that you filter out results for first-time visitors from those who are returning visitors.

Google advises that a bounce rate between 20 and 35 percent is acceptable.
Best Ad Sizes for Online Advertising

AdAge reviews what works best and why at

Special note: flash-based ads were the least effective of every type tested.
Time Magazine Picks Top 50 Websites

No college or university websites made the Time list, but the academic world is represented by selection #9, Academic Earth. That is a website for free college courses and lectures from 7 “leading universities.”

Browse the full 50 to learn more about the expectations that some of these sites will create for users of higher education websites. The Times list is at,28804,1809858_1809957,00.html

And visit the clean and simple Academic Earth home page at
Mobile Web Help from MIT

Expect more and more people to access your website from iPhones and similar smartphone devices. And more and more schools are developing special mobile-friendly web content rather than forcing people to navigate and use their regular websites.

Review in detail the strong effort from MIT at or access it from a mobile browser at

Not only MIT can do this. For a smaller school alternative, visit the Azusa Pacific University example at

MIT will help you get started. Contact Information Services & Technology at
Old School Marketing: 5 Tips for Better Envelope Copy

Still using mail to prospect for potential new students? Then “mystique” and “relevance” are especially important first impression goals.

Learn more at
7 High End Twitter Analysis Tools

If you are very interested in Twitter, take time to explore the tools profiled at and you will likely find something of interest.

Scroll down to the end of the report for more links to other Twitter tools.

If you are not that interested in Twitter, keep reading.
National Merit Scholarships End at UT Austin

What is the future of merit scholarships in the present economy?

The move by University of Texas at Austin to stop funding over 200 National Merit full-tuition scholarships reflects new pressures to focus scare funds on need-based awards. That is the rationale given to explain why UT Austin is dropping out of the National Merit competition and rolling those funds over to students with financial need.

What is the marketing impact of fewer National Merit scholars? UT Austin does not believe it will be great. Current brand strength is sufficiently strong that the SAT and GPA components of the academic profile are not expected to suffer.

Teens and Twitter: Age is Not the Problem

New research on how people use Twitter makes an important point. Yes, the “great majority” of teens do not use Twitter. But then, neither do the “great majority” of adults use Twitter.

A key finding: Teens use Twitter at a higher rate than people from 25 to 44 years of age.

Another key finding: the reason most adults and teens do not use Twitter is simple: they can do the same things elsewhere on other sites that they prefer. Not using Twitter, it seems, is not related to age.

See the in-depth details at
Distance Learning Gains Faculty Support

A detailed report from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities brings good news to marketers who recognize that student interest at every age level is shifting in favor of online learning.

Professors, both senior and junior, are more willing to entertain teaching online courses than ever before. That is an important message for the not-for-profit sector as for-profit competitors continue to expand their online offerings.

Of course there is a caveat. Faculty do not think they are receiving enough support for the effort it takes to develop and introduce new online courses. Read an outline of the report at and see where senior enrollment and marketing professionals might give support and encouragement to people willing to expand product in this key area.
Web Writer Position at Alma College

Alma College is taking applications for a web content writer position within the marketing and public relations office. Details for the position are 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.

October 21-22, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group Seminars: Competing for Adults Students, “Branding and the Web: The Value of Your Official Website in the Social Media Era.” Download conference brochure at Save $100 when you enter “Bob$100” in the discount code box as you register.

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

November 3-5, Aarhus, Denmark: J. Boye Conference: Aarhus09, “Improving Higher Education Websites: Lessons from the Student Experience.” Conference program and registration 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 an Online Future” (3.5 hour Sunday afternoon tutorial). Details at

December 8, Webinar: “Writing Right for the Web.” Program details soon from Academic Impressions 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 Ca
rewords 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 *