View book in print… gone at Washington State University

Student Recruitment Marketing… no view book anymore at Washington State

An email came along yesterday that reminded me of presentations done in 2009 on “recruiting without paper.” 

Cheryl Reed-Dudley, communications coordinator in marketing and creative services at Washington State University sent an email with a link to a new, interactive online view book that was replacing a print version. Print isn’t disappearing completely. There is still, for instance, a table piece for use at college fairs. But what has traditionally been the premier piece in recruitment communications in the U.S. is gone.
The view book gained traction in the 1980s as the first response piece to send to new inquiries to introduce them to a college or university. Most often it was sent late in the junior year or early in the senior year as a first response piece when someone filled out a card in response to a search mailing or at a college fair or high school visit. Remember those days?
Recruitment Communication in an Online World
And then came websites. And broadband Internet access in the home. And smart phones. Before many people quite knew what was happening, college-bound high school students were starting their college searches in the sophomore year, using websites to get their first information about schools they wanted to consider, and failing to fill out online inquiry forms.
What role for the view book when you don’t have someone’s address until they apply for admission?
The value of the old style printed view book was in flux. Downward flux. 
Opinions differ about the value of an online view book. Why, many say, create an online view book when the information in it should already be online someplace? “Someplace” of course is the killer phrase here. If navigation and content is designed to let future students beginning the college search to easily complete their top tasks, there might not be a need for an online view book. But that’s not easy to do on many “admissions” websites. Putting everything in a single place and labeling it a “view book” may indeed be the best move.
Tracking Use with Google Analytics
WSU has the right idea re measuring results. Cheryl reports that Google Analytics is set to track use of the new piece. Six or nine months from now we’ll know much more about how effective this approach is. And how to improve on the initial effort if that’s needed. 
I’ll be especially interested to learn which of the primary section tabs are most used by people on their first visit.
Visit the Online, Interactive View Book
Check an interactive online view book that doesn’t rely on flip technology when you visit the new WSU online example.
That’s all for now.

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