Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… October 2009

October greetings to everyone, with special wishes for fine fall colors if you’re on the right part of the globe for that over the next few weeks. Leaves are just starting to turn here in southern Michigan and the Sandhill Cranes are gathering near my office in Marshall.

Conference as well as client travel beckons over the next few weeks. There is still time to use a “Bob$100” discount code when you register for next Carol Aslanian adult student recruitment conference at

If work at a university, you are eligible for a 40 percent discounted registration fee at the J.Boye2009 conference in Aarhus, Denmark. Check the new higher education program track at

My next “Writing Right for the Web” webinar is set for December 8. Register at
Follow me on Twitter at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
Optimizing YouTube for Search

YouTube is the second most-used search engine so it pays to spend some time making it as easy as possible for people to find what you post there.

Julie Batten reviews the similarities and differences between optimizing for YouTube and for other search engines. She reminds us that popular videos, all other search elements equal, will rise to the top. When you add something new, let everyone who might be interested know about it right away. Use email and social media sites to spread the word with a link to your newest production.

Read more from Julie at
University of Nevada Dropping Email for Students

Can you force students to use an official university email system, especially if the free plans available offer more features than the in-house version?

University of Nevada will drop the current email system for students, effective fall of 2010. Reasons include limited student use (about 20 percent) combined with cost-saving. Sounds like a strong combination at a time when everyone is looking for ways to save money.

US News reports the details at
Admissions Dominates University of Maine Home Page

Something unusual happened with a September Link of the Week selection. Most often about 50 percent of the people who open the Monday morning email will click through to my website. That figure is almost as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.

But in this case, just over 90 percent followed the email link. None of the other 121 Link of the Week selections at has come close to that.

What created the stampede?

A Home Page that gives Admissions top priority by eliminating the usual navigation points at the top of the page and down the left-hand column. That navigation is gone. Admissions and administration and academics and 10 more offices are not equal.

See a smart marketing move from a flagship public university at
The Real World at Dickinson College

Dickinson College has for many years been one of the more marketing-oriented institutions in the land, starting right at the top with the president, William Durden.

So it was not really a surprise to find a presidential letter online that clearly outlines the steps that Dickinson has taken so far to weather the financial storm and notes the problems that will continue in the future. At a college where 80 percent of revenue comes from tuition, that area receives special attention.

Dickinson benefitted this past year from an unusually high freshmen retention rate of 92.3 percent that contributed to an FYO9 surplus of $3.2 million. But that was then and this is now. The freshmen class decreased from a 5-year average of 621 to 582. And the tuition discount rate for that class increased from an “average” 33 percent in “recent years” to 38.6 percent this year.

The Dickinson community can only benefit from the frank reality of letters like this. Especially noteworthy is the public disclosure of the discount rate. Do you know where your discount rate is today?

See a presidential update done right at
Skeptical About Twitter?

Yes, you can be skeptical about Twitter. It is not a marketing silver bullet. But it can be useful. A ClickZ article from Gary Stein recommends marketers to follow and ways to benefit even if you do not plan to add content yourself. Lightening will not strike those who only join to listen and learn rather than to tweet.

Give special attention to his notes on using the “search” function, including the ability to filter by geography and by topics of special interest.

The article on “How to Use Twitter to Become a Marketing Genius” is at
Tips on Top Website Tasks, Search, and Usability

Customer Carewords partners met in Belfast last month to review what we have learned over the past year from working with a variety of corporations, government agencies, and colleges and universities.

A top usability item: make the sitemap on your website as visible as possible. Websites that do that have much better usability ratings than websites that do not.

Check my blog post at for more tips from our meeting.
Student Blogs at M.I.T. Boost Admissions Marketing

Sometimes it is far too easy to get swept up in new social media fads and forget that old style formats still have marketing power.

That message comes through in the NY Times review of student blogs for the admissions office at M.I.T. Nice that this high tech university places great importance (and gets great results) from a relatively ancient tool that no longer interests many people captivated by Twitter-style micro-blogging.

Learn how M.I.T. selects those who blog, how much they are paid, and more in the article at
Branding in the Digital Era

Is “branding” dead in the digital era?

Augustine Fou asks that question in his “A New Definition of ‘Digital'” column. Fou is not saying that the concept of “brand” is dead but that traditional branding campaigns will have less impact with the increasing growth of digital communications.

Traditional branding campaigns are expensive. Many colleges and universities have invested in research and creative without the resources or the patience for sustained implementation. In the digital era, there just might be a better way to invest those resources.

Review how marketing is changing in a digital world at
WordPress for Your Alumni Magazine

WordPress, the popular and free blog software, is not just for traditional blogs.

Is someone on your campus recommending moving a print magazine online using PDFs or some form of “flip” technology (the clever software that creates a miniature of the print version online so people can click and “flip” the pages)? Suggest they visit the online magazine from The Johns Hopkins University, created with software from Word Press.

Scroll to the bottom of the front page and compare the WordPress version with the “Digital Replica Edition” that is also available.

See a magazine that makes it easier for people to read online at
101 Landing Page Tips to Increase Website Conversions

Where do people go on your website after your advertising campaign convinces them to visit?

Most of the ads I see still do not take people to special landing pages designed to increase conversion by repeating and reinforcing the ad message that motivated them to act. Most ads drop people on a regular website page and leave them to fend for themselves after that. The result is lower conversion and wasted advertising dollars.

Take a few minutes to download “101 Landing Page Optimization Tips” at and plan to get more value from your next round of advertising dollars.
Consumer Profile Tool from Groundswell

The Consumer Profile Tool from Groundswell lets you pick gender, age, and individual countries to find out how people are using social media. In most cases, for instance, more people are spectators rather than active participants at social media sites.

The folks at Forrester Research who provide the Profile tool recently updated it with 2009 data. See how things have changed since 2008 and check on your groups at
Contest for Best Higher Education Advertising

New this year at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education (November 15-18, Boston) is a contest to select top college and university television ads. Submission deadline is October 9. Details of the contest are at

If you are going to the Symposium this year, join me for a 3.5 hour Sunday afternoon tutorial on “Marketing in a World without Paper.” Early registration price is available until October 15. Sy
mposium program is at
SUNY CUAD Call for Papers

Advancement people take note. The call for papers for the 2010 SUNYCUAD conference is online now at

Paper proposals are due by November 6. SUNYCUAD will waive your registration fee and pay your travel expenses and one night at the conference hotel if your proposal is selected.

The 2010 meeting is in Buffalo, June 9 to 11.
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 a World without Paper” (3.5 hour Sunday afternoon tutorial). Details at

December 8, Webinar: “Writing Right for the Web.” Program outline and registration 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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