Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

May 2015 Archives

Have you been as amused as I have been about the alarms these last few weeks during the build-up to Google's April 21 change to mobile-search ranking results? Did you believe that a devastating "mobilegeddon" was descending upon us? 

Yes, the change is important. No, it will not destroy your student recruitment results or your brand reputation. Put your danger in perspective. Check your analytics to see how many of your "new" visitors in the past year came to your website through a general search that did not include the name of your school. That is your danger point. Yes, you need a mobile-friendly website. But this search change is far from the most important reason. 

With any luck "mobilegeddon" will soon fade from use. Civilization continues.
Upcoming Conference Events

Travel to Houston June 1-3 for "Improving Your Strategic Recruitment Communication Plan." I am looking forward to my new sessions on "values messaging" and "affordability and financial aid" as well as an updated presentation on evaluating your website. Details for all the sessions including a pre-conference workshop on "Integrating Recruitment Communications with Your Brand" are at 

The fifth "Writing Write for the Web: Improving Your Online Content" conference with Academic Impressions takes place in San Diego July 13-14. Check the agenda, including a post-conference workshop on creating and presenting "affordability" content, 

Early registration is open for eduWeb Digital Summit, in Chicago in July. Check the program details starting with the 3-hour pre-conference workshops at 

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And now here are your marketing news and notes for May. 
Cartoon of the Month: Challenges of ROI Data for Marketing 

How can marketers best meet the demand for data that proves results? It is not easy.

Our May cartoon selection will make marketers groan and chuckle at the same time. 
Teens and Social Media: Facebook Still Dominates

Pew Research is out with a new "Teens, Social Media and Technology Overview" for 2015. 

Points that stand out: Twitter still dominates with 71 percent use, followed by Instagram at a distant 52 percent. Twitter use is up to 33 percent. Most teens use more than one site. When asked what site they used most often, 41 percent said Facebook and 20 percent said Instagram.

Differences exist by income level and gender. For full details, visit the report 
New "Value Added" Rankings: The Brookings Institution Measures Alumni Success

With the increased interest in "outcomes" information to measure the value of investing in a particular college or university, a new rankings system from the Brookings Institute might become especially popular. And not only by parents of college-bound students but also by some schools that rank unexpectedly high and can use this site as a recruitment tool.

Ivy League schools, for instance, do not dominate. Brown University is the first Ivy listed at 30th while Marietta College has the 18th position. Manhattan College ties with Stanford University to finish the top ten.

Review the methodology and search for your school when you visit 
Demand for Master's Degrees: About to Collapse?

Over the last few years many colleges and universities have drawn financial solace from increased revenues from master's degree programs as recent graduates sought a career-building competitive edge. Is that about to change?

Jeff Selingo thinks it is about to do just that, with serious financial consequences for many schools including his model, George Washington University. Why? Growth in lower-cost and faster online credentialing in specialty areas will expand rapidly. Jeff's article is

To see one example of the new competition, check the course offerings and video tutorials at (just purchased by LinkedIn) at 
Higher Education Public Sector Funding: A State by State Comparison

Need to know public funding changes for higher education in one or more of the 50 states today and changes since 2009, including net tuition as a percent of total revenue? Download the 50-page "FY 2014 Report" from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association at 

Since 2009, FTE enrollment has decreased the most in Illinois, California and Michigan and increased the most in Idaho, Ohio and Oregon.
Storytelling: Increasing Engagement and Persuasion

Most marketers agree that storytelling by current students and recent alumni is a critical part of the marketing communications mix in the student recruitment cycle.

A short infographic from Website Magazine reports on Emory University research findings on how specific words and phrases can increase or decrease engagement. Be especially wary of overused "buzz adjectives" such as "responsible" and "creative." And maybe "academic excellence" fits here as well.

More on how our brains react to what we read and hear at 
Website Design: Time to Get "Ruthlessly Simple"

The message from Scott McDonald writing in UX magazine is clear: "Simplicity" is the "next design battleground" in the web world. That headline tells us the battle will not be easily won. But for higher education marketers interested in success with potential students it is a battle worth waging.

Make sure everyone involved with the web on your campus reads and discusses "Four ways to a simpler you" at 
Website Navigation: Do People "Pogo stick" on your website?

I will confess to not having heard the pogo-stick term applied to web behavior before. In brief, it is what happens when people move from one page to another, do not find or cannot use the expected content, and hop back to the previous page. If your site has activity like this, it is not very web-friendly.

Our friends at the Nielsen-Norman Group will walk you through how to use your analytics program to find out if you have the problem in the first place. Read through the discovery process and recommended steps to fix the problem at 
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly: 5 Ways to Check

Mobile friendliness is indeed important, even if not as many schools will collapse from the April 21 Google SEO changes as the purveyors of "mobilegeddon" hysteria would have us believe.

Check your site from 5 different perspectives offered by Website Magazine at 
Most Popular Topic in April Newsletter: 15 Great Landing Page Examples

Nothing will kill the ROI on your advertising efforts faster than a bad landing page. Compare your landing pages with these 15 examples from HubSpot at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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