Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… December 2009

December is upon us and that means the rapid arrival of the holiday season and a New Year. My best wishes to everyone over the next few weeks as 2010 approaches.

Record attendance of more than 600 people at the recent AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education showed that higher education marketing continues to have a critical role to play in the success of universities here and abroad. Next year’s meeting is in San Diego in November. Look for the exact dates soon.

Thanks to everyone who has attended one of my conference presentations or webinars in 2009. It was indeed a busy year and it was a pleasure to meet old and new friends. Look for the first listing of 2010 events in the January newsletter.

Close out your marketing year by joining me on Twitter at or by connecting on LinkedIn at

And now here are your December marketing news and notes.
Xavier Works to Reduce Stealth Applicants

Doug Ruschman, director for web services at Xavier University, sent word this week of a new effort to reduce stealth applicants.

While many schools have online scholarship calculators, most do not require the person using them to reveal their identity. That is a legitimate marketing tactic to get quick information to people about possible sticker price reductions in the hope that interest will increase.

If you are bothered by the growth in stealth applicants, why not offer a concrete benefit in return for identity information rather than give the benefit for free? The results of this approach will help Xavier learn more about early explorers with high interest.

Early results: 300 people who were not yet in the database completed the form in the first weekend.

Check the approach at
5 Pending Facebook Changes

For student recruitment, alumni relations, athletics and more, Facebook gets more attention as a higher education marketing tool than other social media sites.

And that’s why you might want to visit an early preview of 5 new Facebook page changes brought to you by the social media watchdogs at Mashable.

One key element: more prominence for the search feature.

See what’s coming soon when you visit
NSSE 2009 Survey Results

Results of the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement are available now at

Despite new challenges to the survey methodology and use of results, this remains a useful way to compare trends at your institution and to compare yourself with similar schools.
4 Top Mobile Marketing Points

Sean Carton is one of my favorite writers about online marketing.

With the advent of a new Android phone for Verizon, he notes that mobile marketing has received another boost (not everyone wants an iPhone from AT&T). If you are not yet thinking about the best ways to add this to your marketing mix, add the topic to your resolutions for the New Year.

Sean recounts the pitfalls of a mobile marketing strategy and urges attention to 4 simple but key elements (Where, What, Who, and Why) at
Sweet Briar College Pays a Price

In this year when nobody was quite sure what impact the economy would have on student recruitment, the question of whether or not to raise the tuition discount rate no doubt was widely discussed, especially in the private sector.

Sweet Brian College decided not to raise the 42 percent rate. The result was a drop in enrollment from 650 to 605 students and a drop in revenue of nearly $1 million.

Details and frank talk from the president about future options are at
ACT Gains Market Share vs. SAT

Fortune reviews the contest for market share between the two test-taking giants, noting that since 1999 ACT has achieved virtual parity with the SAT exam with respect to number of students taking the tests.

Fortune attributes this weakened market position to a decision by College Board to begin letting students who take the SAT more than once to send only their highest score results to colleges and universities with a new Score Choice program. ACT has always had that policy.

Read more from Fortune at
Students Protest Pittsburgh Tuition Tax

Pittsburgh wants to raise revenue with a new 1 percent tax on student tuition. If the city succeeds in breaking the exemption enjoyed by non-profits, will others be far behind?

Expect legal challenges, of course, so the final outcome is not clear.

Meantime, students are protesting. Watch the video and follow the story at
Web Analytics: New vs. Returning Visitors

If you need ammunition on your campus to convince people that web analytics can play a valuable role in understanding what happens on your website, read Shelby Thayer in her Trending Upward blog post at

One point is important for admission offices: be sure to separate new from return
ing visitors in the data you are looking at. Then check the bounce rate (percent who leave the page without continuing anywhere else) and the average time on your page.

Pay special attention to your admissions entry page and to the first page people visit after that.
Creating Effective Web Links

Little things really can kill your online marketing efforts. One of the most common is poorly created website links.

Gerry McGovern     offers insight on creating more effective links at

A very basic point: make sure your text links appear in blue and are underlined.
Opt-In Email Lists Grow in 2009

Here is another note for anyone tempted to believe that email is dead as an effective online marketing tool. Business to consumer email lists grew slowly (56 percent) or rapidly (11 percent) in 2009. Another 30 percent reported neither growth nor decline.

The message is clear. Give people a beneficial reason to subscribe to your email and they will do it. Details from Marketing Sherpa at
Engagement Marketing Revisited

Alex Brown, an old friend from his Wharton days, returns from his current world of horse racing to update an earlier article on Engagement Marketing in the social media world.

To help understand how to integrate social media marketing into your overall marketing plan, his concept of three circles of marketing (traditional, engagement, and free) is well worth a visit at
Social Media for Mass Advertising

Maybe mass marketing to create brand awareness is not dead yet. Maybe it has just transformed itself and emerged again in the social media world.

Ford Motor Company for the past 6 months has used social media to create brand awareness for a new Ford Fiesta that will first go on sale in 2010. The campaign produced 4.3 million video views on YouTube, 540,000 photo views on Flickr, and 3 million impressions on Twitter.

The result, Ford reports, is 60 percent brand awareness in the United States at far less cost than the estimated $50 million for a traditional campaign.

The core element of the campaign was a website.

Read more and link to the Ford Fiesta website at my blog at
5 Search Engine Optimization Fears to Overcome

If you’re concerned that your search engine visibility is too low, an article by Stoney deGeyter at might help.

Read his rationale for long-term commitment, continuous change, and sometimes the deconstruction of an existing website. Effective SEO is not easy. Understanding what is required for success will help create reasonable expectations.
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.

Here are the last presentations from a very active 2009. Thanks to everyone who attended this past year. A new list for 2010 will start in the January newsletter.

December 3, Ames, IA: Iowa State University, Social Media Marketing Summit.

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

December 12, Webinar: “Maximise Your Website to Recruit International Students.” Australian Education International, Washington D.C. By invitation to Australian universities.

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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