Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2018

Happy New Year! And a fine January that we all know leads, eventually, to Spring. Until then, a strong wish for successful student recruiting the next months.

A prediction you can count on: Competition for online students will intensify in 2018. In that context, plan to follow my review of email and social media content from online MBA programs at American, Dayton, and Syracuse universities and Simmons College. Find an introduction including mobile download speeds and social media links in the first installment.

The Call for Papers for the 2018 eduWeb Digital Summit (July 23-25, San Diego) is open until February 15.

The 2017 edition of my Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial from the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, “Creating Conversion Experiences to Gain Competitive Advantage,” is online.

Join the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. Visit and request membership with 574 other higher education professionals. 

Updating your website in 2018? First find out what potential students like and dislike about it. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points is yours with Gerry McGovern’s unique survey. Start at

Join 7,525+ followers on Twitter at for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your January marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: The Future of Advertising

What can we expect in 2018 and beyond? Marketers are exploring a plethora of advertising options based on new AI devices in your home.

See if you can add to the “internet of things” portrayed by Tom Fishburne in “The Future of Advertising.”
Freshmen Migration: Where Students Leaving Your State Attend College… and More

What out-of-state colleges attract students from your state? How does your out-of-state enrollment compare state-by-state with your three top competitors? What states export the most students? Are your expectations for increasing enrollment from other states realistic?

Answers to those question and more are available in “Freshmen Migration, 2010-2016” where Jon Boeckenstedt again presents information that can benefit every enrollment marketing plan. Sort by public and private sectors if you want.
Advertising Word of the Year: The 2017 Pick from Association of National Advertisers

The ANA picked “transparency” in 2016 and “content marketing” in 2015. See the ANA pick for 2017 here.
Brand Campaigns: Can You Really Change Your Position?

Before you fall to the siren call of a new brand campaign to transform your marketplace position, delve into the work of David Aaker, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Branding.”

Start with this Aaker observation, based on considerable research into what is possible and what is not: “The stability of brand positions in nearly all markets is simply astonishing.”

Brand change is possible. But not likely. Research on what people think about you and new creative campaigns is the easy part. Patience, persistence and the ability to make substantive changes that will impact competitive position if far harder.

Start with David Aaker on “The Only Way to Grow Your Brand.”
Top Task Research: The Experience at Roosevelt University

Convincing people at a college or university to apply the results of top task research to content and navigation website priorities for future students is never easy.

A new blog post by Aaron Rester, assistant vice president for web development at Roosevelt University, gives important guidelines in how to navigate the storms and shoals for a successful result that contributed to increased visits to application, inquiry, academic program, and visit pages.

Read Aaron’s recount of the Roosevelt experience with top tasks application.
Texting Teens: Skip Brand Bravado, Stay Practical

Texting should be part of every student recruitment communications plan. But like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Michael Stoner reviews what will work best in “Texting Teens? Proceed with Caution.”

Do not deliver standard marketing messages via text. Instead, focus on practical things like reminders of admissions application and financial aid deadlines. In other words, listen to what teens tell you they want you to text about. More from Michael is here.
Innovation in Paying for College: A Percent of Future Income

Clarkson University will accept 20 freshmen in 2018 into a new “Income Share Agreement Program.” Students will agree to repay a percent of their income over a fixed period to repay a portion of Clarkson Tuition. Elimination or reduction of loans is one benefit. In 2016, 54 percent of Clarkson graduates were engineering majors. The median starting salary was $62,800.

Students have to apply by February 1, including a 2 to 3-minute video or a written essay. More at
FAFSA Verification: A Fun Thing to Do?

Sometimes the design demand for a photo on a web page leads to a curious mix of photo and page content that does not fit well together.

Take, for instance, the 3 smiling students that open the Azusa Pacific University “Verification” page.

Or have the folks at Azusa indeed found a way to make complying with a FAFSA verification request a fun thing to do? Compare image and content.
Competing for Online Students: University of Massachusetts Aims for National Position

UMassOnline plans to increase revenue from about $100 million to $400 million with a new venture to achieve a national presence.

UMassOnline now has about 10,000 “online only” students. About two-thirds live in Massachusetts and most of the rest are from New England. By comparison, Arizona State University enrolls 30,000 online students.

How important is this to the UMass future? A university PR person says the Board believes the revenue growth is needed to “ensure the financial sustainability of the entire system.” Business models indeed are changing.

Check the Boston Globe article on the new venture.
Website Design: 5 Trends to Watch in 2018

Forbes magazine presents 5 “Top Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018.”

As always, before you decide that a touch of “brutalism” might be right for your site, make sure that future and current students and faculty and staff can find and complete the top tasks that bring them to the site.

Review the trends now.
Most Popular Topic in December Newsletter: Marketing to Millennials

Cartoonist Tom Fishburne highlights 4 assumptions that marketers make about the Millennial Generation. See if you agree when you visit “trying to appeal to millennials.”
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with one or more of these services. Details at

Top Task Website Research with Gerry McGovern
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