Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… February 2014

February greetings to long-time and new readers. 

The 2106 eduWeb Digital Summit Call for Papers is extended until February 7. Review the 5 track choices and send a presentation proposal this week. Start at and plan to join us in Denver in August.

My December article on “6 Great Website Examples” for connecting quickly on a website starts with a very unusual home page from Xavier University. See how Xavier and 5 other schools distinguish themselves at 
Conference Event in February

Whether you are planning a major website update in 2016 or will just keep making incremental quality improvements, register for the Academic Impressions conference on “Higher Ed Web Redesign” starting February 29. I will do sessions on “Top Task Website Examples” and “Web Writing.” Check the full program and register at 

Join 7,110+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your February marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Creativity and Brand Reality

Does the reality of your brand create special challenges for the agency you hired to promote it with an “original, interesting, memorable” campaign?

That’s the theme behind the Cartoon of the Month at 
Deceptive Advertising and DeVry University: Implications for Higher Ed Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against DeVry University for deceptive advertising. One specific concern is with claims about employment after graduation, including jobs in graduates’ fields of study.

My friends in advertising have often asked me how colleges and universities can make the claims they do in recruitment materials. The DeVry suit suggests that every school should review ads, publications, and websites to eliminate marketing claims that cannot be substantiated.

The text of an FTC statement on the suit and a rebuttal from DeVry are at 
Advertising Online: Preferred Ad Formats in 2016

Mobile advertising continues to grow in higher education and elsewhere. But what format is most in favor in the advertising world?

Native advertising is projected to decline from a 2015 high point while still remaining the most preferred format by 42 percent of advertisers. Interest in both rich media and banner ads also is declining. Interest is growing in interstitial ads that take up the entire mobile screen. Will that boost even higher the growing use of ad-blockers? 

More on what to expect in 2016 advertising online from Mobile Marketing Daily at 
Email Popularity: Why a “Most Reviled” Technology Still Thrives

Here is a review of email use and popularity since the first one was sent (and had to be printed to read) in 1971. Today, Adrienne LaFrance reports in The Atlantic, it thrives because it is a perfect medium for smartphones in the mobile era. More on the email we love to hate at 
Writing Right for the Web: Creating Great Headlines

Ken Bowen at Marketing Experiments has summarized major research from 2015 in “The Surprising Sensitivity of a Single Line of Text,” with special attention to headings on email and landing pages that increase visitor conversions. When you visit you will notice a more generous version of my 5-second rule. Ken says you have 7 seconds to connect as your page opens.

My favorite finding: Section lists 3 principles for effective headlines, including an admonition to make sure that a headline matches the current motivation of the person who receives it. In other words, is it really best in the first response to an inquiry from a high school student to invite that person to visit campus?

Whether you aim for 5 seconds (or less) for an immediate impact, your online communications with potential students will benefit from attention to the Bowen article at 
Recruiting International Students: 5 Steps to a Better Website

If enrolling international students is important to you, be sure to compare your website content with the 5 steps outlined by Megan Brenn-White in “5 Ways International Students View Your Website Differently.”

Pay special attention to creating content that speaks to the three top concerns of international students and their parents: funding, campus safety, and safety in the areas around your campus.

Find more wise advice when you visit 
Top 200 International Universities: A Times Higher Education List

Is this perhaps on
e list too far? The U.K. publication has reviewed the number of international students and staff and the number of journal articles authored with someone from outside the host country to create a this list of the 200 most international universities.

The first U.S. university is M.I.T. at number 90. From the comments to the article, more than a few people are skeptical about the value of a list like this and the criteria used to compile it. Decide for yourself after you review the 200 schools at 
Creating a SUNY Brand: Stony Brook Not Yet on Board

Creating a system-wide brand with national recognition has long been a goal of State University of New York chancellors. At the same time, New York’s four major research universities (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) have not been especially eager to adopt the “SUNY” affiliation.

A new campaign video for Stony Brook University illustrates the SUNY brand challenge. See if you can find any reference at all to a SUNY connection when you watch the video at 
Website Obesity: You Really Must Read This Plea for Restraint

No illusions exist in my head that John Allsopp will succeed in convincing people to dramatically reduce the weight of websites collapsing under ads, tracking codes, new video and photo features and much more. Not enough people care that “heavy pages tend to be slow pages, and slow pages mean unhappy users.”

But maybe, just maybe, if you get people you know to read “The Website Obesity Crisis” you might encourage at least some level of restraint that is missing on many if not most websites today, including higher education sites. Is your site obese? Do you really think responsive design solves your mobile challenges? 

Journey along with John as he rails against website pages that surpass the weight of Russian novels at 
The Alpha Generation: An Early Introduction from AdAge

What is the Alpha Generation? They are the folks between just born minutes ago and two years of age.

AdAge has decided it is not too early to be thinking about the challenges Aphas might bring with them to the marketing world. Laugh along with writer David Berkowitz and pray that current behaviors will fade away when you visit “13 Things to Know about the Alpha Generation” at 
The Mobile Revolution: Net Yet Complete for High School Students?

Last week I completed a CCI survey of potential future freshman students in the inquiry pool of a Midwestern university. We asked a question about the device types used most often to access the university website. Desktop or laptop computers were used most often by 62 percent. Smartphones were used most often by 30 percent. Just 8 percent said they preferred tablets.

A qualitative question asked people to list the most important tasks they visited the site to complete. Most often mentioned were academic program content and cost and affordability.

What is a CCI survey? See our Customer Carewords page to “Find out what’s really annoying your customers” at 
Most Popular Topic in January Newsletter: 7 Marketing Resolutions for 2016

Before you start chasing after Virtual Reality this year, pause to review the marketing resolutions in this Tom Fishburne cartoon at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. 
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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