Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… August 2012

A special welcome to our new subscribers from the eduWeb2012 conference last week in Boston. Presentations and discussion this year were great. For 2013, the conference returns to Boston.

If you have friends who might like a newsletter subscription, it only takes 30 seconds at

What is the state of admissions marketing today?

That question has been bouncing around in my head since I heard a talk by Steve Kappler at another fine event in July, the ACT Enrollment Planners Conference. Read a new blog post on how far we have yet to go to reach the Promised Land and link to a new ACT Enrollment Management Trends Report at

My Writing Right for the Web webinar returns October 31 and November 1. Review the program and bring people together on your campus. Read and register at

Mark your calendar for the 2012 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November. Visit the conference website at and attend my digital marketing strategy tutorial.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for August.
Forbes Magazine on Top 100 Colleges, Universities

Forbes is back this month with the 2012 edition of “America’s Top Colleges.”

Forbes claims the methodology eliminates reputation as a major factor, focusing instead on “results.” Ivy League schools dominate the list, but neither Harvard nor Yale rank among the top four schools: Princeton, Williams, Stanford and Chicago. Yale and Harvard follow along after that. The top 10 closes with Swarthmore.

Military academies dominate a list of 20 best value colleges, but in between is an interesting mix of small private colleges and public universities, including some flagship institutions.

See how you and your competitors rank at
E-Expectations 2012 Survey: Marketers Must Read

You do not want to miss the latest results from this long-running Noel-Levitz and friends survey of college-bound high school students.

Two things stand out to me, among this treasure trove. First: 60 percent of high school students are open to receiving text messages from colleges that interest them. If you are not yet using text messaging in your recruitment communications mix, you had best plan to start soon.

Second: only 23 percent have used a net cost calculator. And 74 percent could not find one to use. Which reinforces my belief that secret committees exist on many campuses to design a way to hide net cost calculators on higher education websites. This must be true: every time I mention this in a conference presentation, half the audience will look at one another and laugh.

Learning the real cost of attending an institution is now a top task of both high school students and adult students. Ignore that reality at your peril.

For the latest E-Expectations survey report, start at
Mobile Marketing: 10 Top Campaigns

Mobile marketing is still tricky, no doubt about it. Review the 10 examples that Mobile Marketer has put together from the 2nd quarter of this year to find new ideas and mistakes to avoid.

The most important mistake to avoid appears in the first description, a successful campaign from Boar’s Head. An early Boar’s Head campaign failed for a simple reason: mobile advertising took people to a regular website page rather than to a mobile-friendly page. Changing to a page optimized for mobile viewing transformed results.

What ideas might you copy and steal? Review the campaigns at
Twitter Use in 2012

The Pew Internet and American Life folk are back with another survey telling us that while Twitter use has increased significantly in the last year, it still is far from universal. In the highest user group (young adults, 18 to 24) the use rate is 31 percent.

To help play your marketing communications, see survey results by age, ethnicity, location, education and income at
9 Tips to Build a Strong Email Database

Email marketing is alive and well. And marketing success starts with a strong internal email database. Tal Nathan gives 9 tips to consider, starting with the inquiry form at your website and including advice on how to best use your Facebook page, your call center and a referral system.

Review those steps and more in the ClickZ article at
Top Task Website Design: 9 Higher Education Examples

What’s the most important step you can take to improve the marketing impact of your website? Identify the top tasks that potential students visit your site to complete and build your page design and navigation to make them as easy to do as possible

My presentation from eduWeb last week includes screen shots from 9 universities in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. that use top task web design. One example: an easy-to-find link to a net cost calculator right from the Admissions entry page. See that one and 8 others at
Facebook Marketing: 3 Recommendations for Advertising Success

One thing about Facebook is clear: just building a page and hoping for results is likely to disappoint.

In the second of a series of articles for Marketing Land, Emily Wilson outlines three different approaches to effective advertising on Facebook depending on one of three possible goals: increasing your fans or getting visitors to go elsewhere and complete a specific action or increasing engagement activity on your Facebook page.

Emily’s wise words and simple graphics are here
Financial Aid: The 10 Year Future

A panel at the annual meeting of financial aid professionals last month in Chicago was asked to speculate on the future of financial aid in U.S. higher education 10 years from now.

The predictions were bleak, from an end to long-standing SEOG grants and Perkins loan programs and other changes that would effectively end the present system.

An emerging challenge: a growing number of students who will assemble online courses from various universities and look for a single degree-granting institution without ever enrolling full-time at one school.

Another challenge: an increasing emphasis on quality of education to maintain eligibility to award financial aid to students.

See if you agree with the panel after you read the report at
Search Optimization: Link Strategy in 2012

How important is it to create inbound links to your website to increase your visibility to people searching for your academic programs online?

As it always has, it depends on the type of links. For an up-to-date review of what is likely to work and what it likely to hurt you, read Tom Schmitz on “What Everyone Needs to Know About Good, Bland, and Bad Links” at

The bottom line: link quantity is not nearly as important as link quality. The puzzle remains: how do Google, Bing and others distinguish between the two?
Most Popular Topic in the July Newsletter: Is Branding Only for Cattle?

Most popular July topic was the AdAge article urging people to “Drop the Word Branding from Your Vocabulary” and pay more attention to positioning. Read it at
My Conferences and Webinars in 2012

Attend a conference in 2012 to share questions and answers with people who are building a competitive advantage in higher education marketing.

October 30, November 1: “Writing Right for the Web” webinar with Academic Impressions. Review the program outline and register at

November 11-14, New Orleans: AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The Symposium website is at Register for my “Digital Marketing Strategy” tutorial on Sunday.

Expand the marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a campus workshop on any of my presentation topics or “Writing Right for The Web.” Scan the presentation topics at

Contact me at or call me at 248.766.6425.
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 5 services.
• Top Task Website Design Research with Gerry McGovern
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