Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… May 2014

May greetings with the hope that the deposit expectations of everyone here in the U.S. were met on May 1 and that any summer melt is remarkably small. 

Now that May is here it is time to plan your summer conference schedule. Let me recommend three choices to consider for June, July, and August. Hope to see you at one or more.

June 25-27 will bring “Building a Strategic Recruitment Communication Plan” from Academic Impressions. Details are at

On July 23-25 the always excellent ACT Enrollment Planners Conference convenes in Chicago. Check the program for sessions of interest at

The eduWeb Conference for 2014 runs from August 4-6 in Baltimore. Start your exploration with a strong selection of pre-conference workshops at

And now here are your marketing news and notes for May.
Snapchat and Student Recruitment: Reports on a big University and a small College

Time magazine reports on how 6 schools are using Snapchat, including efforts in student recruitment by the University of Michigan and Tennessee Wesleyan College at 
Gerry McGovern on a University Website and “Billboard-on-the Highway” Web Design

Most people visit websites to complete a task as quickly as possible. Organizations, including universities, and marketing agencies often cannot resist the impulse to broadcast great things about themselves. The result more often than not is an obstacle in the path to task completion. And that is a marketing liability.

If you are fighting the good fight for a clean and simple website as a key to marketing success, circulate “Revenge of the brochureware billboard designers” by Gerry McGovern at on your campus.
Search Marketing Success: New Matt Cutts Google Video

The most important point that Matt Cutts makes in this video: do not follow so-called gurus as they jump from one magic solution for better search results to another six months later. 

That makes great good sense to me. Focus on a clear presentation of the content that people want to find on your website. And focus on the basics: page title tags, for instance, are still important. So are the link paths you build within your site.

More from the primary Google person on what counts in search at 
Decoding Financial Aid Award Letters: An Alert from National Public Radio

Early in April National Public Radio asked whether we expect too much of normal human beings to understand financial aid award letters. 

Given the upscale demographics of NPR listeners, I found it especially interesting that this topic was picked as of likely interest to listeners. If NPR finds deciphering financial aid award letters a challenge, what can we expect from first-generation students and their parents?

The marketing lesson: pay attention to the points raised here, make revisions, and gain a competitive advantage when future awards are made.

Read an article on the show or listen to the show itself when you visit 
Writing Right for the Web: Research on “The Ideal Length of Everything Online”

Great article here on the ideal length of Twitter and Facebook posts, blog posts, email subject lines and more. Do you know if the ideal length of a Facebook post is 100 characters or just 40 characters?

Your online marketing success may depend on the answers you find at 
Wise Marketing Move: A Liberal Arts College Plans to Be Smaller

We should have more stories to read like this one. St. Michael’s College in Vermont has adopted a strategy to achieve success by shrinking in size. That seems a realistic interpretation of how liberal arts colleges will survive and thrive over the next decade and perhaps beyond.

Too many colleges are trapped in a dilemma: a desire to maintain or restore enrollment levels while shrinking a high tuition discount rate. For anyplace without unusual brand strength, that is a difficult goal. For many, it is an impossible goal.

Read more about the wisdom at St. Michael’s at 
Tuition Comparisons Online: How 13 Colleges and Universities Do It

Community colleges and regional public universities are doing it the most, but there is one flagship state university in this group as well. And one private college is doing it for adult online programs.

Do you compare your tuition with those of your competitors to gain a marketing advantage? See how 13 colleges and universities compare themselves with the competition at 
Credit for Experience: An Important Affordability Element

The willingness of schools to award credit for experience will be an increasingly important element in helping people make an affordability decision on what college to select.

One approach that anyone can adopt is in place at Lipscomb University, where a faculty team conducts intensive student interviews and compares notes to determine how many credits to award. Credits are given for 22 majors in a College of Professional Studies. 

Students pay $1,500 for the interview and can earn up to 30 credits for a tuition savings of as much as $15,000. Read more about the Lipscomb approach at 
Advertising Online: Advice from an Old-Time Marketer

Denny Hatch has been a leader in direct marketing for decades. He is an expert on getting the best possible ROI from advertising dollars. And the state of online advertising today does not make him happy.

If you have questions about the success of your online advertising, see what Denny means when he writes that “the dabblers who buy ads and place ads on the Internet today do not know squat about advertising” at 
University Websites: Review of 5 Site Designs that Help and Hinder Top Task Completion

The move to adapt to mobile viewing is creating new approaches to website design. But are those approaches helping people actually do what they want to do at the site?

One Canadian and one U.S. university are doing an especially good job of using words rather than images in the transition from big screen to mobile viewing. As a result, the most important links are easy to see and act upon.

Five university websites in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. are reviewed at 
College Campuses: Are they Obsolete? 

The future importance of college campuses was the topic of a debate at Columbia University on “More Clicks, Fewer Bricks: the Lecture Hall is Obsolete.”

What I found most interesting was the input from the audience of an Indian student recently enrolled in a new online international degree program who hoped for close personal relationships with other international students that she could not get in a traditional format.

More at 
Most Popular Topic in April Newsletter: 5 Reasons Visitors Leave Your Website

This Website Magazine article starts with the need for speed in page downloads: anything over two seconds and you are losing visitors, rapidly. See the conversion speed chart and four other important reasons at 
Conference Presentations in June, July, August

June 25-27, Orange County, CA: Academic Impressions Conference, “Building a Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan.” Agenda and registration at 

July 23-25, Chicago, IL: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, “Affordability and Financial Aid: Crafting a New Student Communication Message,” and a pre-conference workshop, “Essential Keys to Successful Recruiting Online: Speed, Simplicity, and Top Task Completion.” Details 

August 4-6, Baltimore, MD: eduWeb2014 Conference. Program details coming soon in April 

Plan a custom presentation on your campus. Host a workshop on any of my conference topics. Review the 2013 and 2014 topics at and contact me at or 248.766.6425.

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