Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… August 2017

Only a few days until eduWeb Digital Summit in Boston next Monday. Just finished updating my Monday morning workshop, Top Task Content and Design: Strategy for Website Success. I will have that online next week with 22 examples of college and university task-oriented websites from home pages to alumni and academic services. Look for the P.S. in the next Link of the Week email.

For a sneak peek at the Top Tasks workshop, see the “6 Closing Points.”

Mark your calendar for the 2017 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education: November 12-15 in Atlanta. Add my Digital Marketing Strategy Sunday Tutorial E to your schedule. Program details and registration are online now.

Join 459 members of our Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. If you work at a college or university, request membership now.

What do potential students like and dislike about your website? Before you start your next website revision, get feedback in 5 days on 13 key quality points with our free visitor survey.

Join 7,480+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your marketing news and notes for August.
Cartoon of the Month: The Problem with Focus Groups

Kale salad or a cheeseburger? Why you should never slip into the trap of believing that focus group results equal data from quantitative research. Visit and laugh with Tom Fishburne.
College Rankings: 711 “Best Colleges for Your Money”

The folks at Money slice and dice their college rankings in many different ways, including 711 that made a “Paycheck League” based on alumni earnings compared to actual degree costs.

Ivy League and selective flagship publics dominate the top 50 schools (but note that Baruch College at CUNY is ranked 2nd) while the 100 to 250 range includes many colleges that are much easier to enter, graduate with relatively low debt, and make enough money to pay off that debt.

See if your school is listed with the Paycheck League.
New in Student Recruitment: Brain Waves, Behavioral Engagement, and More

How are colleges and universities beginning to use new techniques to increase student recruitment results?

An article by Eric Hoover summarizes a variety of tools from various consulting companies, starting with measuring brain waves as students react to various statements about liberal arts education.

Does something wicked this way come? One company with neuromarketing success selling cars and pet insurance is moving into higher education. National University, an early adopter, reports success.

See more on what your competitors might be contemplating.
Advertising Online: Comprehensive Guide to Google, Facebook, Instagram Costs

Online advertising might not be especially popular but done right it can be effective.

This detailed guide from WordStream focuses on Google, Facebook, and Instagram. In addition to overall average cost per click and cost per action, you will find Education included among 16 industry sectors for Facebook and Google. Targeting, as always, is a key to cost control and better ROI results.

Whatever the scope of your online advertising, review the WordStream guide.
Chatbots: A Realistic Intro to a Shiny Object

Regular readers know my skeptical attitude about chasing after the latest shiny object, especially when that detracts from improving basic marketing elements (See my email marketing note below.)

That said, Eric Baily has written a short piece on “Crafting a Chatbot That People Will Use” based on his experience on a chatbot project over the past year that is worthy reading. To be prepared when someone asks you about chatbot marketing possibilities, visit this chatbot review.
Business Officers: Yes, Higher Education is in Fiscal Crisis

People in higher education often admit to challenges, but much less often to crises. The 2017 Inside Higher Ed survey of college business officers shows a steady increase in the number who agree that higher education indeed is in fiscal crisis.

The percent who admit to crisis was 56 in 2016, then 63 in 2016 and rose to 71 this year. The number is high in both public (68 percent) and private (74 percent) sectors. Fewer people believe that a solution rests with either increasing enrollment or decreasing tuition discounting.

More on the business officer survey is here.
Website Design: The Marketing Value of Contact Information

HubSpot presents “17 Website and UX Design Statistics” to help build better websites. What struck me is that 3 of the 17 are about the interest of website visitors in learning how to contact people.

As you scan the content, you will first see in #3 that 51 percent of web visitors do not think organizations have “thorough contact information.” Another challenge: information might be thorough but hard to find.

Review the complete list.
Email Marketing: Simple Steps to Boost Recruitment Success

My collection of secret shopping inquiry response emails continues to grow. And it continues to include far too many emails that are difficult to read on a laptop computer let alone on a smartphone. Bad tactics kill the best strategy.

Basic points: Put spaces between paragraphs. Think about where you can use bullet points to highlight your most important points. Open with the name of the person you are writing to and end with the name of a real person at your school.

For a better-than-most example, check this email from Western Governors University.
Landing Page Video: Recruiting for Fall 2017

More than a few colleges still need to meet freshman class goals for 2017. Sierra Nevada College is using retargeting ads to follow after people visiting their website (or at least the admissions part of the website).

Potential students who respond to the ad will see short text promoting “Unique Education” and “Unique Degrees” that leads into a 30-second video promoting location of the college. Watch the video and check the blessedly-brief inquiry form.
After Responsive Design: Next Steps for Marketing Success

It is finally safe to say in public that converting a website designed for large screen use to a “responsive” mobile format does not always produce a mobile-friendly visitor experience. Marketing failure follows when the visitor experience does not go well.

Paul Boag provides an improvement guideline in “Is your site as mobile friendly as you think?” Attention points include speed, text size, link use, and much more. Take your site to a new mobile friendly level when you follow the Boag advice.
Most Popular Topic in July Newsletter: 8 Most Annoying Online Ads

The Cartoon of the Month returned to “most popular” status with Tom Fishburne’s collection of annoying ad types that include “oversized” on mobile and “auto play” videos. See the 6 other most annoying ads.
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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