Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… March 2009

Writing this as the sun shines on the first March day in Michigan. Nice introduction to the arrival of spring not long from now. May all your marketing endeavors thrive in the new season.

Attend a web strategy conference with a strong international flavor here in the U.S. Check the program, with a higher education track, at J.Boye Philadelphia 2010 at

Ready for webinars in April? Join me for “Web Analytics for Enrollment Success” ( or “Writing Right for the Web” (

Here are your marketing news and notes for March.
Update on Millennials from Pew Research

Most Millennials are out of their teens now (18-29 years of age) and many plan to continue in graduate or professional school after college graduation if they can balance that with work and finances.

Pew Research released a February report that describes Millennials, despite the current economic state, as “confident, connected, and open to change.” Keep that in mind as you plan stories and outcomes information for your website and social media network.

If Millennials are important to your marketing plans, read the executive summary and download the 149-page report (with special attention to Chapter 5 on “Education and Work”) at
Videos for Admission at Tufts University

Is this an exception or the start of a new wave?

For 2010 applicants, Tufts University is giving applicants the option of using a YouTube video as part of their admission application materials. According to a New York Times story, about 1,000 of 15,000 applicants have taken up the offer.

The NYT article at includes a link to the most popular video with nearly 79,000 views as I am typing this.

Will you be doing anything similar soon?
Top 10 Online Degree Programs in January 2010

How many can you get right? Make a list before you visit.

The most popular based on online searches and inquiries reported by are at
Myths and Realities of Distance Education

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education explores what is true and what is not quite so true in the ongoing debate over distance education.

Just as interesting as the article by a Yale librarian are the comments that follow on the merits of everything from the motives of administrators who promote distance learning to the deficiencies of software used to run the courses.

Be better informed for your campus discussions after you visit
Quick Test for Keyword Popularity

If you need a break for something that is both fun and informative, visit Googlefight.

Enter two competing keywords and see which is more often used on Google Analytics. Try your competitors, various academic programs combinations, or my old favorites, “scholarships” vs. “financial aid.” Results just might help you plan title tags and key headings for your website pages.

Get the stats at
Short Forms Increase Online Inquiries

Does your online inquiry form ask for so much information that it discourages people from completing it? Direct marketers know that the shorter a form, online or not, the more people will use it.

If you want more people to leave stealth status and inquire online, make your form short enough to fit “above the fold” on your web page. Review elements to consider dropping and follow a link to one university’s excellent online inquiry form when you visit
Pre-Paid Tuition Plans at Risk

The shaky future of pre-paid tuition plans in many states was the feature of a Wall Street Journal article that will make many readers who use them nervous about meeting higher education tuition costs in the future.

WSJ reviews various “shaky guarantees” in states “across the nation.” The anticipated pattern: states will restrict the amount of tuition covered by the plans at the same time that public universities are raising tuition to offset declining state appropriations.

Read the full article at
Marketing Wisdom 2010: Dark Space of the Marketing Universe?

MarketingSherpa is offering this collection of stories, notes, and observations from a long list of marketers for free. While this is not a detailed roadmap to marketing success, you will likely find worthwhile nuggets in the 34 pages to help shape your marketing plans.

The report notes a major change this year in attitudes toward social media: Social Media is viewed as “the dark matter of the marketing universe, filling the space between all other channels, and quietly shaping the activities that take place within them.”

For more on that and many more topics download the report at
Nielsen on Website Usability Progress

In a recent Alertbox column, Jakob Nielsen outlined the progress he believes website creators have made over the last 10 years in creating a better online experience for their visitors.

His conclusion is that the glass is half-full rather than half-empty. How long will it take to fill to the top? About another 74 years.

Review the progress made and the hurdles to overcome at
Higher Education Slips in Public Opinion

This might not be a surprise, but a new public opinion poll details how attitudes toward higher education institutions continue to deteriorate. While people continue to believe that a degree is valuable, most do not believe that universities are acting in the public interest. Most people believe that schools can make more cuts without hurting the quality of a higher education degree.

Check the important details at
Middlebury Limits Tuition Increase to CPI + 1%

Can your college or university survive and thrive if tuition increases are limited to 1 percent above the Consumer Price Index?

That’s the new strategy announced at Middlebury College, along with a series of other financial restraint measures that recognize that for most institutions the era of growth enjoyed for the past 15 years or so has ended and will not return soon.

Expect contraction more than expansion over the next 10 years. Middlebury has taken an unusual first step in recognizing the new reality. Details at

If more schools did the same, public opinion polls might start to change.
9 Tips for Social Media Marketing Proposals

Are you concerned that VPs and other “higher ups” at your school do not understand the realities of what is needed for effective social media communication, especially the budget?

I especially liked the note here about expected viral results: “It (viral) is as much a strategy as a lottery ticket is a retirement plan.”

Find what might work well for you in “Tips for Talking to Your Boss About Social Media” at
Especially for Web Writers: Mission Impossible?

Is it impossible to write a Mission Statement that anyone will actually read and remember?

Especially online, where people have to scan and connect quickly, in about 5 seconds?

Note the difference between the examples from Brannigan’s Restaurant and CARE: you can scan the latter but not the former. It would take about 60 seconds to make the weak example friendly for online readers with bullet points.

Dean Rieck offers worthy tips at
My Upcoming Presentations in 2010

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

April 7, Magna Publications Webinar: “Web Analytics for Enrollment Success.” Program details and registration at

April 20, Academic Impressions Webinar: “Writing Right for the Web.” Check the outline and register at

May 4-6, J.Boye Philadelphia2010, Philadelphia, PA. Follow higher education track sessions at

June 3-4, Education Dynamics Aslanian Group Seminar, Marketing to Adult Students, Chicago, IL Check the topics and register at

July 21-23, ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, Chicago, IL

July 26-28, eduWeb2010, Chicago, IL Follow the conference program as it grows at

July 29, Education Dynamics Aslanian Group Seminar, Marketing to Graduate Students, New York, NY

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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