Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… August 2011

Hello from San Antonio where I am doing a pre-conference mobile marketing workshop today at eduWeb2011. After that, time to learn new things and to meet old friends and make new ones on the River Walk

A special welcome to new subscribers who joined at the San DiegoChicago, and New York City conferences these past two weeks. 

The summer conference season is about over, but fall is soon upon us. Check 5 new presentations at the end of this newsletter. Things begin with a September webinar, “Top Task Completion: The Key to Marketing in the Mobile Era” at and continue through “Writing Right for the Web” in December.

And now, here are your marketing news and notes for August. 
Mobile Marketing & Student Recruitment

How are you using mobile marketing in student recruitment? My workshop from the ACT Enrollment Planners Conference is online now at minus the questions and comments from the 50 or so people who attended. Thanks to everyone for a great two hours.

Examples from higher education range from texting to QR codes to top task navigation and more. 
E-Expectations for 2011

The always eagerly awaited 2011 edition of the Noel-Levitz E-Expectations survey is online now.

The first thing to note: most things do not change much from year to year. The survey found again that about 20 percent of college-bound high school students will drop a college from their early exploration list if their first experience on the website is not good. 

And the single most important content area for students and their parents remains information about academic programs. How easy is it to find an alpha list of your programs? And what do people find when they travel from that list to a program of special interest? Does your content strategy address this primary marketing element?

Is text messaging in the mobile arena important? Do not jump to the wrong conclusion from the information that most students are not eager about texting early in the recruitment cycle. Focus, instead, on starting an early relationship with the ones who are ready to do that.

Read the full report at 
NACUBO and Private Sector Tuition Revenue

Imagine this: the average tuition discount rate in the non-profit sector of higher education in the U.S. is now 42.4 percent. That means, of course, that many colleges and universities are discounting tuition at even higher levels in order to maintain enrollment.

For most schools, that not a sustainable business model. But some may adapt to it. Ten years ago, for instance, I knew of two places that were living with tuition discount rates of over 50 percent.

Read more about the reaction to tuition discounting at the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers at
The Impact of “Discountitus” on Brand Image

For more on the brand perils of relying on a discounting strategy to maintain market position, read the Al Ries column “Discountitus, the Disease That’s Sweeping the Marketing Community” at 
Video in Your Marketing Plans

The folks at the Pew Internet and American Life project are out with a new research report on the huge use of video by adults in the U.S.: 71 percent of people online use YouTube and other video sites.

Forget YouTube for a moment and consider instead the content strategy message for your website: what content that you now have in text might be better presented in video format?

Student and alumni testimonials come immediately to mind. How many of these might you change to videos about 2 minutes (or less) in length? Words are powerful website elements. But personal experiences from real people are best told in video vignettes.

Ask for increased video resources for your website after you read the Pew report 
Can You Verify Your Marketing Claims?

A recent court decision defeated an attempt by the for-profit sector of higher education to strike down the Department of Education effort to more closely monitor marketing claims made by colleges and universities.

The ruling will have implications for everyone in higher education. How can you support, for instance, a statement on your website that a particular academic program is the “gold standard” for programs in that area? How can you demonstrate your commitment to “academic excellence”?

Learn more about the U.S. District Court decision at 
FAQs as Useless Navigational Device

Many websites attempt to use Frequently Asked Question pages to help visitors find content that they cannot find using normal navigation.

Gerry McGovern makes a strong case against the utility of FAQ pages at

Check your FAQ pa
ges. If “When were you founded?” and “What is your mission?” are on your list, you have a problem. If you know that certain questions are indeed often asked, change your navigation to make that content prominent on your website. And then remove the FAQ page itself.
Advertising on Mobile Devices: Annoying and Ignored

Much of the ad world is buzzing these days about increasing budgets for mobile advertising. If you are thinking about adding mobile ads to your marketing mix, plan to track the results very closely.

A recent research report reviews how people respond to any form of mobile advertising. Response to text advertisements (which I assume people have agreed in advance to receive) is highest at 6 percent, while instant message advertising is lowest at 2 percent.

Find more details from the survey at
Reducing the Cost of an Undergraduate Degree

Does higher education truly have an insatiable appetite for money as Derek Bok once claimed? Is there any way of significantly reducing the cost of an undergraduate degree in this time of scarce financial resources?

The Economist reports on suggestions from a University of Oklahoma professor that include: reducing degree time to 3 years, separating the cost of research from undergraduate tuition, and increasing class size. The possible result: an undergraduate degree that costs less than $7,000.

Is this crazy? Decide for yourself after reading more at 
Associate VP for Marketing Opportunity

Albion College is searching for an Associate Vice President for Marketing, reporting to the VP for Advancement and “responsible for developing, leading, and implementing a strategic integrated marketing plan.”

More position details and requirements are online at 
My Upcoming Conferences and Webinars in 2011

Attend an upcoming conference to share questions and answers with people like you who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me at these events.

August 1-3, eduWeb2011, San Antonio, TX: Pre-conference workshop: “Mobile Marketing in Higher Education: Challenges and Strategies for 2011.” Visit 

September 28, Magna Publications, Webinar: “Top Task Completion: The Key to Marketing in the Mobile Era.” Register now at 

October 20-21, Carol Aslanian Research – Education Dynamics, Chicago, IL: Marketing Online Programs. Mark your calendar. Details are coming soon.

November 6, AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, Chicago, IL: “Mobile Marketing in Higher Education: Getting Ready for 2012 and Beyond” pre-conference tutorial. Link to the program PDF and register at 

November 8-10, J.Boye Conference Aarhus11, Aarhus, Denmark: Pre-conference tutorial on top task analysis for mobile communication and regular session, “Websites and Brand Strength: Achieving a 90% Customer Rating.” Review and register at 

December 6, 8: Academic Impressions Webinars: “Writing Right for the Web: Social, Mobile, and Traditional Websites.” Registration opens soon.

Improve 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. ( 
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: Webinars, Conferences, Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Reviews 
• Competitive Website Reviews 
• Content Copywriting Services 
• Marketing Analysis for Google Analytics

Start now at

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