Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… September 2016

September greetings to everyone. This Friday I am headed for Rome and our annual Carewords partners meeting with Gerry McGovern and old and new friends. We will focus on Top Task research results from the past year and plans for 2017.

And thus this reminder: If you work at a college or university, reply to this email and ask me for an invitation to the “Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content” group on LinkedIn. Or, if you are already on LinkedIn, request a membership invitation at

To date, 200 people have joined from the U.S. and at least 8 other countries.

My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is online now at

AMA Conference Event in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at Early registration discount is open until November.

Join 7,290+ followers on Twitter at for your daily marketing updates.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for September.

Cartoon of the Month: On the Pokemon Go Phenomenon

View the cartoon and read Tom Fishburne on why we are still in “an awkward adolescent stage of digital marketing.” Start your visit at

Campus Tours: Questioning the Value

If there is one element of a student recruitment campaign that remains as important today as it did 15 and 20 years ago, it is the campus visit.

Like everything else, campus visits can be done well and not-so-well. To help tune your campus visit program, read the words of one parent about unreal and ineffective elements in “Do you really have to go on college tours?” from the Washington Post at
Student Migration: Moving to and from Out-of-State Public Universities

Which states are gaining and losing public university students as people enroll outside their home state?

The NY Times has an easy-to-read graphic display of movement within the United State that will also let you check the stats for individual states. California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas are among the loss leaders.

See if your state was a winner or loser, including where students came from and where they went, at

Marketers Must Read: Gerry McGovern on the Value of Website Speed

Are you still fighting the website speed battle on your campus? If so, make sure everyone reads “Speed is the best measure of customer experience.”

Circulate the stats you will find here on the impact of 2 seconds slower download time on conversions, bounce rates, time on page, and just about everything else. If websites for schools that you compete with work faster than yours, you have a marketing challenge.

Build a stronger case for improving the speed of your website using information in the article at

Unicorn Found: Fastest University Home Page?

I do not make a practice of repeating Link of the Week selections in this newsletter but this is worth an exception after the article by Gerry just mentioned.

I test many college and university websites on Google PageSpeed Insights for Speed and User Experience ratings on a smartphone. User Experience usually scores 90 or higher. I have never seen a Speed rating higher than about 80. Anything in the 70s is rare. Some are in the 40s and 50s.

Last week was an exception. The Full Sail University home page, with a primary focus on student recruitment, scored a 92 for Speed. To see the unicorn for yourself, start your visit at

Content Marketing: Advice from 15 Experts

From the Content Marketing Institute comes an article presenting the view of 15 “experts” about what element of content marketing deserves your priority attention.

Expert opinion varies. My favorite was from Andy Crestodina who asked for more attention to basic content formatting (subheads, short paragraphs, bullet points, internal links and more) so that people can quickly scan content. Overly long blocks of dense text are still far too frequent.

Decide what changes will help you the most when you review “15 Experts Reveal the #1 Thing You Should Do in Content Marketing” at

Evaluating College Presidents: What Presidents Think is Most Important

The Gallup survey folk have given us the July responses of 663 college and university presidents who ranked the importance of 16 possible evaluation factors.

Student enrollment was ranked first as extremely important by 68 percent and very important by another 26 percent.

Most often ranked as “not that important” were scores on college ranking lists at 36 percent, research funding at 25 percent, and GPA and test score levels of admitted students at 24 percent.

You can review how the presidents rated all 16 elements at
New U.S. Ranking System Debuts in September: Times Higher Education

College presidents may not think that the place of their school in rankings should be important in evaluating their performance but that will not drive rankings from existing.

And so here is an alert that we can expect a new ranking of about 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities to debut this month from Times Higher Education in the U.K.

The primary focus is reported to be on teaching, outcomes of graduates, and the student experience. Criteria like admissions selectivity are less important.

More on the new rankings plan at

Personalization: From Website to Campus Visit

Website personalization is making a comeback as a priority for enhancing the online experience. That might be good, if personalization leads to faster top task completion.

To keep things in perspective, circulate this AdAge article by Jason Burby: “Why Too Much Personalization Can Be a Problem for Brands.”

If, for instance, you create a website that allows a highly personalized experience it is also likely that you are increasing the expectation for a highly personalized campus visit experience. And of course, also personalize your email and text recruitment communications. In other words, you need an integrated personalized marketing effort. Before you take a first step, make sure you are repeating the experience along the entire student recruitment journey.

More on the potential and the perils of personalization at

Search Engine Optimization: 11 Myths to Ignore

Are the people who tell us that search engine optimization is not important anymore related to the people who tell us that email marketing is dead? Perhaps.

And so the first myth listed in “11 common SEO myths to ignore in 2016” is basic: “SEO is dead,”

My next favorite is No. 4: “The more web pages you have, the better the ranking.” Indeed, the opposite more likely is true. If you have too many pages that are seldom if ever visited, Google will penalize your SEO standing.

More on SEO myths to refute at

Most Popular Topic in August Newsletter: Cartoon on the Excesses of Storytelling

Storytelling is a marketing rage this year, and rightly so. But like anything, it can be overdone.

See how Marketing Cartoonist Tom Fishburne advises caution at

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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