Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

12 Courses in 12 Months: Easy to Scan Program Requirements

Students planning to enroll in online programs want to know what courses they will take to earn a degree or certificate. Today's Link of the Week makes that especially easy to do.

At Full Sail University you can earn in Master's degree by completing one course a month for 12 months. Our Link of the Week page lets visitors scan the titles of each course in less than 5 seconds as a laptop or desktop screen opens. You can then click immediately on a course that interests you to see a description of the course. 

Mobile visitors will see the first two courses with just a short scroll required to scan the remaining ones. 

On mobile, the 57/100 Speed rating on Google PageSpeed Insights is slow despite the simplicity of the page. Google puts the blame on slow server response time. User Experience rating is a robust 99/100.

To review a strong example of how potential students can easily review the courses required for a degree, visit this Full Sail University Course Schedule page.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. My website editing software is not editing at the moment. Until that glitch is fixed, Link of the Week selections will appear here.

To review selections for 2016 and earlier, visit the usual Link of the Week page.
Future Student Top Task Leads on Mobile Home Page

In a design era when live video is the new hero image of choice as a home page opens, University of Glasgow deserves credit for staying with two static blocks at the top of the page, each with just 4 easy-to-scan links:

First, in the high visibility upper left position, are 4 "Study" links:
  • Undergraduate degree programmes
  • Postgraduate degrees
  • Online programs
  • International students
Next to that are 4 "Research" links:
  • Postgraduate research opportunities
  • Research units A-Z
  • Research in focus
  • Business and Innovation
To the left of those top blocks is a list of 7 "Quick Links" that read as if they are indeed high priority paths for people visiting the site:
  • Colleges
  • Research Institutes
  • Schools
  • Maps and Travel
  • University Library
  • Information for current students
  • Information for new students
The home page still uses a carousel. But that appears underneath the main content blocks and does not distract the visitor from them.

On mobile, a visitor will first see the 4 "Study" links. That's ideal for potential students whose first task is most often to learn what programs are being offered at a university. Google PageSpeed Insights gives a 67/100 for Speed and a 95/100 for User Experience. 

To visit a university home page that gives top priority to important pathways rather than hero images or videos, visit the University of Glasgow.

July greetings to everyone. 

If you work at a college or university, ask me for an invitation to the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. 

We have 159 members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.K. Join to read the questions people ask and the replies received about how to make sure your website best meets the needs of the people who use it.

Just reply to this email and ask me to send you an invitation to join the Top Tasks group on LinkedIn. 

My presentations from the Academic Impressions conference on Improving Your Student Recruitment Communications conference last month are online. "Evaluating Your Institutional Website" is at bit.ly/1r7BFcW and "Affordability and Financial Aid Communication" is atbit.ly/22FN5Cg 
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Conference Events in July, August, December

July 20-21 I will be at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House for a presentation on "Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students." Review the program and register at bit.ly/1PPWYt0 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is August 1-4 in Denver for a new pre-conference workshop: "Top Task Content and Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success." Details at bit.ly/21A4VGp 

December 4-7, Orlando: "Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World," pre-conference tutorial at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.

Join 7,230+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your July marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: Content Marketing and the Marketing Echo Chamber

Do we as marketers spend too much time talking to other marketers? Tom Fishburne asks that question in the context of the content produced by content marketers for other content marketers. See bit.ly/29wnJqA 
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The Future of the Internet: Mary Meeker and Internet Trends 2016

Mary Meeker has devoted followers who eagerly await her annual insights on the most important trends impacting the Internet. This year's complete 213 slide presentation is atbit.ly/1K0zJt3 

For a fast review of key marketing points made by Meeker, Lauren Johnson has culled 22 topics "that marketers need to know" in an easy-to-scan format from AdWeek at bit.ly/29q7GsX 
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Very Different Landing Page Designs: Drexel University and Creighton University

A classic, time tested design for a successful landing page for your online advertising: Creighton University at bit.ly/29hPcJc 

A different approach that follows the design format on many of today's home pages: Drexel University at bit.ly/29ciLOA

One key element in common: Short, easy to complete inquiry forms. Both Creighton and Drexel know that the longer you make the inquiry form the fewer people will complete it.
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Effective Video Marketing: 10 Cost-effective Examples

Video is playing an increasing role in effective marketing, if done right. And done right does not always mean large budgets and super professional production values that sometimes actually decrease credibility.

For links to 10 video efforts from large universities and small colleges visit "Video Content for the YouTube Age" at bit.ly/29zwU7P 
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Public Universities and Net Price: Reducing Tuition Costs for Lower Income Students

Which of the 650+ public universities in the U.S. do the best job of lowering tuition for students with annual family incomes of less than $30,000?

Jon Boeckenstedt gives you the ability to easily read the data in one of his "Higher Ed Data Stories." Check the trend at individual schools since 2008. Compare levels within individual states. Note the percent of Pell-eligible students admitted. 

Identify the most affordable public universities when you visit bit.ly/29HqvWb 
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Recruiting Online Students: 5 Key Points

If online student enrollment is important to your school, take time to review 5 key marketing points from a recent Learning House research report.

Pay special attention to "speed to enrollment is a priority" as most students make decisions in four weeks or less before enrolling and expect rapid response from the schools that interest them. The "need for speed" is important on your website and everywhere in your enrollment process.

More on demographics, cost, location, and alternative credentialing at bit.ly/29GWia0 
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Snapchat Advertising: Participate with Caution

AdWeek recently reviewed plans from Snapchat for a "colossal increase" in advertising driven by the need to achieve $1 billion in revenue.

In an age when millennials are skeptical of many forms of marketing and ad-blocking continues to be popular, potential advertisers, including colleges and universities, will have to move forward here with caution. As with any advertising, believable messages and targeting will be critical.

The detailed review of how Snapchat plans to roll out the expansion is at bit.ly/29qc9vH 
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Content Marketing Strategy: 9 Mistakes Checklist

From the Content Marketing Institute itself, comes a much-needed article by Neil Patel on "9 Mistakes You Might Be Making."

The first two might seem obvious but in the rush to create and distribute content they are too often ignored: The content is not good and the content it is not useful. Review the infographic for a process to improve content usefulness. 

My favorite mistake was the last one: Content marketers too often ignore SEO criteria. Patel makes a strong case that the two approaches are not in conflict.

Given the popularity of "content marketing," this is essential reading at bit.ly/29wx29M 
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Website Design: The Perils of Hamburger Menus

Hamburger menus, those three little lines stacked on top of one another, seemed a perfect fit for the diminished space on mobile-friendly websites viewed on smartphones.

But not everyone agrees, especially now that the hamburger feature is migrating from smartphones to large screen website views. To keep things in balance and to understand what task completion obstacles you might be creating, read the Nielsen-Norman Group report on why "Hamburger Menus and Hidden Navigation Hurt UX Metrics" at bit.ly/29zErUl 

If you do use the hamburger sign, add the "menu" word next to it. Not everybody yet knows the graphic.
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Email Marketing: 7 Stats to Help Plan Higher Success

By now few marketers still believe the email is dead as an effective part of a marketing tool kit. 

But email certainly has evolved. To help stay up-to-date in your email campaigns, review "7 email stats you'll want to quote in your next meeting" at bit.ly/29ImNvS 
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Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter: The Rewards of Creating New Logos

Once again, a Tom Fishburne cartoon won the most clicks, this time his take on the process endured and the results achieved in the creation of a new logo. Visit bit.ly/1XsgwJ3 
________________________________
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

Top Task Website Design 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
Online Programs Available: Just One Link to Top Task Completion

For students of any age or degree interest, finding out what degree programs a university offers is always a top task. More often than not, it is the first top task that potential students want to complete on a university website.

The home page for online programs at Old Dominion University stands out for the "can't miss" position it gives to that top task, unhindered by marketing-speak content that too often puts speed bumps on the journey to top task completion. 

As soon as the page opens in a large screen view, it is impossible to miss the list of 5 available program types:

  • Bachelor's Degree Programs
  • Master's Degree Programs
  • Doctorate and Ed Specialist Programs
  • Licensure/Endorsement Programs
  • Certificate Programs
One click brings you to an easy-to-scan alpha list of everything available in a category. One more click and you'll be at the description of the program that interests you.

On mobile, the page receives Google PageSpeed Insight scores similar to most other higher education pages: A weak 65/100 for Speed and a strong 96/100 for User Experience. (Rumors abound that Google will soon increase the weight given to Speed performance in mobile SEO rankings. Speed counts.)

To experience a quick and simple path to top task completion for potential online students, visit the Old Dominion University ODUOnline page.

The Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. My website editing software is not editing at the moment. Until that glitch is fixed, Link of the Week selections will appear here.

To review selections for 2016 and earlier, visit the usual Link of the Week page.
Hello from Atlanta. Today we are starting the Academic Impressions "Improving Your Student Recruitment Communication Plan" conference. The hashtag is #airecruitcomm if you want to follow the various sessions over the next three days on Twitter. The session schedule is at bit.ly/1O8Jdr3 

My presentations are online now. See Evaluating Your Institutional Website at bit.ly/1r7BFcW and Affordability and Financial Aid Communication at bit.ly/22FN5Cg 

If you work at a college or university, ask me for an invitation to join the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn. We have 152 members, most from the U.S. with others from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago. Discussions are an eclectic mix: raising money, academic program pages, strategic plans, library tasks and more.

Reply to this email and ask me to send you an invitation to join the Top Tasks group. 

Writing an RFP this month? Check my "6 Quick Steps to Better RFPs" at bit.ly/244kECK 
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Conference Events in July and August

July 20-21 I will be at the Connect Higher Education Summit sponsored by Learning House for a presentation on "Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students." Review the program and register at bit.ly/1PPWYt0 

The eduWeb Digital Summit is August 1-4 in Denver. I will do a new pre-conference workshop: "Top Task Content and Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success." Details at bit.ly/21A4VGp

Join 7,200+ followers on Twitter at twitter.com/HighEdMarketing for my daily marketing updates.

And now here are your June marketing news and notes.
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Cartoon of the Month: Rebranding and New Logos

Is creating a new logo part of your plan to rebrand your college or university? This Tom Fishburne cartoon will help you keep your feet on the ground. Visit bit.ly/1XsgwJ3 
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Generation Z: Revelations from Marketing Research

If you recruit high school students, research on how the younger part of the 10 to 18-year-old generation prefers to communicate deserves your attention. Preferred places to communication with one another are Vine, Instagram, and Twitter, in that order.

But do not get overly concerned with what social media is most important now. The larger message from the Center for Generational Kinetics is just how screen-focused and text-oriented these people are, including the possibility that they will be increasingly receptive to online learning. 

More at wapo.st/1WAkH4S 
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Tuition Discounting: Private Sector Freshman Rate Climbs to 48.6 Percent

NACUBO reported in May that the average tuition discount rate in the non-profit private sector for new freshman last year continued on an upward path to 48.6 percent. Yes, it is possible to have higher net revenue despite a rising discount rate. Not many of these schools are doing that. 

Sobering, if not unexpected, news as a price sensitivity plague continues to spread.

More from NACUBO at bit.ly/1O8Iead 

Can cutting tuition by 42 percent help with sticker shock and boost enrollment? First year results at Utica College are promising. See wapo.st/1UpjqHn 
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Website Design: Gerry McGovern on Zombies and Hamburger Menus

Gerry continues to cast stones at some of the more popular features of website design. For a different take on an element created first for mobile read "The Hamburger Menu and the Zombie Apocalypse" at bit.ly/1UkwHkH 

One question Gerry asks: why is the search box so hard to see on so many websites? Why not put it front and center on the page? Well, one university has done just that. See the Xavier University home page at bit.ly/1SWaUPQ 
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A Higher Ed Success Story: Increasing 4-year Graduation Rate

Today we are inundated by stories about higher education disruptions, budget challenges, enrollment failings, and brand identity changes.

To escape all that to something positive, spend a few minutes to read about how University at Buffalo increased the 4-year graduation rate of undergrad students from 35 percent to 55 percent in 10 years of steady progress. No, that is not the level of super-selective colleges and universities. But it does show what is possible outside that exalted realm. The result is a brand point of special distinction. 

More at bit.ly/1O8GvBM 
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Honest Talk About Financial Aid Awards: The Real Deal from Muhlenberg College

Do colleges and universities give some students preferential financial aid awards based on how much they want a particular person to enroll? For sure. Can you read that on higher education websites? Almost never.

And so it is worth noting again that Muhlenberg College has been up-front and honest about how financial aid decision are make for about 10 years now. If there was a Hall of Fame for Honesty in Marketing, this college for sure would have a place.

See "The Real Deal on Financial Aid" at bit.ly/1TKjG7Y
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Student Recruitment Website Myths: Take a Brief Survey

Michael Stoner and Gil Rogers are collaborating again on a new edition of their research comparing how high school students use the web in exploring college choices and how people who work in admissions, marketing, and enrollment management think high school students use the web.

The first edition was, shall we say, filled with disparities. Help Michael and Gil with the 2016 effort to see how much the gaps have closed by completing the short survey at bit.ly/1sWR0hB
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Public University Enrollments: Growth in Out-of-State Students

We continue to get interesting information from Jon Boeckenstedt at DePaul University. In this case, Jon is letting us easily track state-by-state changes in the percent of undergrad students that universities in the public sector have been enrolling between 2002 and 2012. 

You will not find many where the percent has decreased. The reasons may be many. Some of would say a primary element is a desire for the increased tuition revenue these students pay. Or, as in the case of the University of Maine, just a way to counter a falling in-state population.

Compare the change in your state with others around the country at bit.ly/1UBIUEm 
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Public Support for Higher Education: 46 States are Below 2008 Levels

One reason for the increased interest in out-of-state students noted above is the fact that in 46 states higher education funding for the public sector remains below pre-2008 recession levels. Only Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are higher. 

The largest decrease is in Arizona at 55.6 percent. The lowest decrease is in Alaska at just .6 percent. Find your state among the others at bit.ly/1ssXS6C 
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Marketing Communications Note: Do Not Use Prior-Prior Year with the Public

Admissions and financial aid professionals are reacting in different ways to the FAFSA change that will allow earlier filing for financial aid and possibly earlier awards. Some people predict massive disruption. Maybe chaos. Others think everything will be just fine. I vote for the latter sentiment.

Whatever your thoughts, "prior-prior year" is an example of higher education jargon that we should not be using to communication with potential students and their families. How about "New, Earlier Financial Aid Opportunity" for the next year? Or something similar. And positive. Maybe even a benefit.

Do not take the University of Cincinnati approach. Do not headline your website page so that the first thing people see when the page opens is "Prior Prior Year" at bit.ly/1U1vvW8 

For one alternative, here is a clean and simple chart that uses the "early" word twice at 1.usa.gov/1U1waH3 
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Tuition Prices and Student Debt: The Australian Example

For a look at how these two related issues are being debated in Australia, see the Times Higher Education review at bit.ly/1Xsug6y 
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Highest Room and Board Charges: The Top 10 Schools

This is a U.S. News list that most people are happy not to make. Four schools are in New York City (but not Columbia or NYU or Fordham) and two are in Boston (but not BU nor Northeastern.)

The highest 2015-2016 room and board rates are at bit.ly/1Pvap3A 
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Most Popular Topic in May Newsletter: Customer Journey Mapping

Tom Fishburne's cartoon and comments on the challenges of customer journey mapping was by far the favorite. If you missed it, visit bit.ly/1XYIBEf 
________________________________
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

Increase your marketing success with these services. Contact me for details at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com 

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




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