Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… April 2013

Spring is at last emerging in Michigan. The crocuses are chilly but out of the ground. Tulips must be coming along soon. 

Just as the flowers are blooming, I hope that enrollment conversion efforts at your school bring deposits from new freshmen between now and May to match your goals. 

The J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference will offer international insights, superb organization, stimulating sessions and great social events in May. Review the program and register

Workshops and regular session titles for eduWeb 2013 are online now at 

If I have a favorite conference topic it is “Writing Right for the Web.” Join us for the next event in Boston May 30-31. Check how you can make your website a better place to visit at

And now here are marketing notes and news for April.
Competitive Intelligence: Try this Tool from Jon Boeckenstedt

IPEDS information can offer marketing strategists valuable insight into key differences between their own institutions and their primary competitors if they take the time to wade through the data.

Jon Boeckenstedt at DePaul University has done everyone with a competitive intelligence inclination a favor by creating a format to check up to 8 schools for information on new student test scores, admission and graduation rates, ethnic diversity enrollment, and endowment and Pell Grant levels.

When Jon’s chart opens you will see stats for 8 Ivy League universities. Look in the right column for detail on how to delete those and add your own school and any others up to a total of 8 that interest you.

See how it works at and send Jon a note of thanks at
Higher Ed Sticker Prices: Still Important for Parents

A new survey of the parents of college-bound high school students here in the U.S. shows that sticker price is still an important factor as families decide what college or university a child might attend.

Despite continued efforts to spread awareness of various financial aid programs, people like Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, admit that an “affordability mental block” still exists. 

Here is a modest proposal: public and private sector universities should follow the example of the University of Delaware and Lynn University and put links to their net cost calculators on the home page. It is past time for marketers to take a leading role in increasing the visibility and ease of use of a tool that can reduce the “affordability mental block.” If your school does not do this, you cannot complain about “affordability” mental blocks.

Spread the research around your campus after you learn more about parents and college selection at
Coursera Online Courses: Only 62 Universities Can Play

Some might call it necessary quality control and others might call it controlling competition but whatever the you call it your university is not likely to get approval from Coursera to join in offering online courses unless it is one of 60 U.S. and two Canadian universities that are members of the Association of American Universities. 

Schools outside the U.S. and Canada will need to be a “top five” university in their own country. Waivers from an advisory board are possible but rare. Courses for the masses, offered by the elite.

Read more about policy at 
Gerry McGovern: Why Content is Not a Strategy

If you are planning a website revision or just tuning up your current site, create your improvement strategy by identifying the top tasks your visitors want to complete before deciding what the top content should be.

To better present that position to everyone involved, read an interview with Gerry McGovern 
Tuition Increases: The Impact of Declining Teaching Loads

This has the potential to cause public relations nightmares for higher education leaders: the extent to which lower teaching loads have spread throughout higher education from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, resulting in a loss of income from tuition that has forced higher overall tuition rates.

The charts in this report are fascinating: from genuine research universities with important research responsibilities to nearly every other type of institution, a modest restoration of teaching loads would produce significantly more revenue and lower overall teaching costs. 

Download your copy of “Selling Students Short” at 
Higher Education in Alberta: Public Sector Future in the U.S.?

Just as state governments are doing in the U.S. so too are provincial governments reducing higher education funding in Canada. And in Alberta, the Advanced Education Minister is mandating review and elimination of academic programs based on criteria that include duplication, low enrollment, and quality. 

Read more about an unusually vigorous intervention in higher education planning at 
Tablets vs. Smartphones for Website Visits: Are Tablets Winning?

Adobe is reporting that around the world Internet visits from tablets have overtaken visits from smartphones. Overall, tablet users now make about 8 percent of website visits while smartphone visits are at 7 percent.

Here in the U.S. it is also true that for teens a smartphone is more valuable than a tablet for daily communication. But is that true when researching higher education choices? Marketers will want to watch closely this year their analytics reports about how new visitors are accessing their websites.

More on the Adobe report at 
Facebook Advertising for Mobile: Think Newsfeed

Are you advertising on Facebook? If you are and you want to engage the growing number of mobile users, the only place way to do that is by placing ads in the newsfeed. That was the advice of Facebook executive Nicholas Franchet at a conference in March.

Not only is the newsfeed the only place mobile visitors will see ads, it is also the most engaging place to put them. See more about the ad types available in the Mobile Marketer report 

And of course remember that people are still not overly happy about social media and mobile advertising. That does not mean you should not do it. It does argue for careful selection of where your ads will appear so that your ad content matches the interests of those who see it as closely as possible.
Responsive Design: The Dartmouth College Example

Work is in progress on a responsive design remake of the Dartmouth College website. Visit my blog for Q&A with Gene Lewis, creative director at Digital Pulp, to help you draft a realistic plan if responsive design is in your future. 

Start with “Responsive Design: Not a Magic Solution” at 
Pinterest: Analytics for Marketers

If Pinterest is part of your social media marketing plan, visit “The Complete Guide to Using Pinterest’s Free Analytics Tool” at for review of basic but important stats. 

Before you get to see results you have to verify your site and switch to a new Pinterest design. If you do not like the new design, you can change back to the old one.

Is Pinterest important? That depends on your marketing plans. The very large majority of people using it are women. Hitwise reports Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media site in the U.S. at 1.17 percent of visitors at the end of March. That is still well below the 25.2 percent of visitors to second-place Yahoo.
Most Popular Topic Last Month: Monsters University Website

Laugh and weep as you see how the folks at Pixar accurately captured just about every brand cliché you can find on a higher education website when you visit 
Conferences and Webinars in 2013

May 7-9, Philadelphia: “5 Top Web Management Principles: Achieving Consensus within Your Organization” and “Winning Friends at Your Website: Use Top Task Design for a Great Experience,” J.Boye Web and Intranet conference. Program and registration starts at 

May 30-31, Boston: “Writing Right for the Web: Improving Your Institution’s Web Content,” Academic Impressions Conference. Details are online at 

June 25, Webinar: “Improving Your Website to Increase Adult Student Enrollment,” Academic Impressions. Description and registration are online now at 

July 10-12, Chicago: “Advertising Online for Student Recruitment” pre-conference workshop and “Increasing Conversion: The Best (and Not So Best) Email Marketing Plans,” ACT Enrollment Planners Conference. Workshop details are at 

July 29-31, Boston: “Advertising Online” workshop and, with David Marshall, “An Admissions First Mobile Site,” eduWeb 2013. See all the sessions at 

Plan a custom presentation on your campus. Host a workshop on any of my conference presentation topics. 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

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