Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… April 2016

An April hello to everyone. And best wishes for a successful enrollment deposit time as that traditional May 1 date approaches colleges and universities here in the U.S.

Are you interested in content marketing strategy and web design to quickly and easily meet visitor expectations? Do you work at a college or university?

If “yes” is your answer to both questions, ask me for an invitation to join a new LinkedIn group,Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content. We have 102 early members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago. Discussions underway include alumni donations, library tasks, top task results for student recruitment, and the tension between strategic plan priorities and website content task priorities. 

Email me at and ask me to send you an invitation.
Conference Events in June, July, August

Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan is an Academic Impressions conference June 6-8 in Atlanta. Review the sessions and register at 

July 20-21 I will be in Louisville at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House. Check the details and register to join us at 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is set for August 1-4 in Denver. Early discounted registration is open and most sessions are online now at 

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your April marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Virtual Reality as a Shiny Object

Are you talking on your campus about the potential of VR as a marketing tool? 

Cost to purchase the headsets aside, circulate this Tom Fishburne cartoon before you chase too quickly after the latest shiny new object from SXSW. Laugh and think about the future 
300 Best Value Colleges: The New Forbes Ratings

Forbes is out with the 2016 listing of 300 “best value” colleges and universities. While public research universities dominate the top levels, you will find a much more varied list as you scroll through to see how you and your competitors fared.

You can sort by public or private sectors, bring up an alpha list that includes individual rankings, or search by name for a school of special interest when you visit 
April Fool’s with a Bite: Difficult Website Designs Are Better 

April Fool’s day is past but the 5-point Nielsen Norman Group critique of website designs that are too simple has lasting value. Struggling with difficult design elements will make people better humans. And is that not a worthy goal for colleges and universities? 

Start with “Make navigation joyfully surprising” and end with “Gamify the user experience” 
March Madness: 2016 Net Price Madness Bracket

Robert Kelchen, assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, has a special interest in pricing, costs, and discounts. For the 4th year he has created a March Madness basketball bracket based on the invited “colleges with the lowest net price of attendance.”

Over the first three years his picks have won just two games (Wichita State in 2015). See how he did this year when you check his bracket at 
Too Many Student Inquiries: 3 Steps to Reduce Your Numbers

If your future student inquiry pool is too large, these 3 steps will help reduce the number using your online inquiry form. First, require a user name and password before starting the form. Second, ask people for the exact date of their high school graduation. Third, require the high school CEEB code.

If you would like more inquiries from potential students who visit your website, copy this blessedly brief “Request Information” form from St. Mary’s University at 
Student Recruitment: Does the Admissions Funnel Still Make Sense?

The funnel concept survives and thrives in student recruitment conversations and plans despite the advent of stealth applicants, digital communications, rapid-response expectations and more. But should it?

In an AdAge article Jason John argues that “In Today’s Digital World, the Sales Funnel is Dead.” Yes, the focus of this article is on consumer sales. But the primary point is applicable to higher education: we can no longer control the order in which a person se
eks information for a enrollment decision or when they will seek it. Old style marketing communications plans, designed to create movement through a funnel from awareness to enrollment, no longer work as well as they once did.

Find more on how people think and act in the digital era and the adaptations we must make to influence them at 
Writing Right for the Web: An “Ultimate Web Writing Cheat Sheet”

Here is a quick easy-to-review list of the basics from Aimee Beck. Print copies or send the link to anyone on your campus who prepares web content, especially the people in various departments who do not do this on a regular basis.

This is especially valuable if you are interested in search results. The cheat sheet starts by reminding us that the title tag on a web page remains the most important element in getting a good search response. Anyone responsible for content on a web page should also be responsible for the title tag on that page.

See more good tips at 
College & University Presidents: Inside Higher Ed 2016 Survey Results

What do 727 public and private sector college presidents think about these 6 topics: Race relations, Presidential selection, College Scorecard, President Obama and higher education, Guns on campus, and Budget and finances?

Opinions differ more in some areas than others. Most presidents (84 percent) believe that race relations on their campuses are good to excellent. And most (88 percent) do not believe that letting students carry concealed guns on campus will make them safer. Opinion is more divided on whether or not President Obama’s “overall treatment of education” has been good, with 41 percent giving the president an A or B and 29 percent a D or F. 

Read a summary of results and download the complete 27-page PDF report at 
Faster Website Speed: 8 Tips from Target Marketing

Kylie Lobell does not think we pay enough attention to website speed as an important marketing element. I agree.

In her article for Target Marketing, Kylie reviews 8 steps that taken together can improve the speed and thus the visitor experience on a website. My two favorites were the 1st (Identify Speed Issues using Google PageSpeed Insights) and the 6th (Forget the Fancy Home Page).

The complete array of 8 tips to improve your website speed is at 
Digital Marketing: 5 Myths to Remember

Do you agree with Benny Coen that your website and your email are more important for your marketing success than your social media presence?

Social media is not unimportant but controlled expectations and attention to website and email will produce happier marketers. Coen notes that when top brands post on Facebook only 6 percent of their followers see the posts. 

Wise words to help you plan more successful marketing in the digital era at 
Most Popular Topic in March Newsletter: 22 Higher Ed Top Task Websites

“Best Practices for Top Task Web Design: 22 Higher Ed Examples” was the most popular item last month. Visit the presentation slides at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at 

Top Task Website Research with Gerry McGovern
Communication Audits
Expert Marketing Communications Website Reviews
Writing Right for the Web: Webinars, Conferences, and Campus Workshops
Competitive Website Reviews and Secret Shopping Projects

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