Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

November 2015 Archives

Hello in November to everyone reading this issue.

We are well into the fall admissions season for traditional students here in the U.S. and it is fitting that the New York Time Education Life supplement for November includes 4 articles that focus on different parts of the admission process. If you don't get the Sunday NY Times, you can find everything online at

The supplement includes an article reviewing the issues around a proposed new admissions process that caused no small amount of controversy at NACAC 2015 in September. You can skip everything else in the supplement and go right to A New Coalition of Elite Colleges Tries to Reshape Admissions at

I am still in awe at the title appropriated by the group of 80+ schools: "Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success" leaves no high ground unclaimed. Fortunately, the title has not awed the critics into silence.

On a more practical level: Do people on your campus think social media marketing is more important than your website for successful student recruitment? If so, send them to 4 Top Marketing Lessons for Student Recruitment at 
Conference Event in November

The AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in November is just two weeks away. You can still register and add my Sunday afternoon Digital Marketing Strategy tutorial at 

Invite a friend or colleague to subscribe to this newsletter. Just 30 seconds at 

If you are not already a Twitter follower, join me at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your November marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Your Marketing Toolkit

What is the most important element in a successful marketing campaign? Laugh at the possibilities in the Cartoon of the Month at 
"The New Math of College Rankings": Especially for Wall Street Journal Readers

For families who have the most money to spend on a college education, the WSJ is providing advice on how to best select a college with "return on investment and graduation prospects" in mind. In other words, focus on how a college or university will provide ROI on the cost paid.

The November 2 article highlights 8 websites that parents can visit to find ROI content. Wise marketers will read this article, review what is available on their website, and wonder how they can help potential students and their parents complete the task the WSJ article is encouraging them to research elsewhere.

Suggestion: See how your school fares on the 8 websites listed by WSJ at 
World University Rankings: U.S and U.K. Dominate Top 25

The Times Higher Education rankings for 2015-2016 perhaps are not surprising, although no Ivy League university made the first five. Two countries other than the U.K. and U.S. have universities listed in the Top 25 at #9 and #19.

Check the ranking criteria and search the 800 listed universities by individual countries at
Niche Rankings: Top 100 Test-Optional Colleges in the U.S.

Here is a new list of public and private sector schools that do not require either ACT or SAT scores to make an admissions decision. Bowdoin College heads a list that ends with Walsh University.

A "show details" link grades each school in 10 areas that start with academics and end with campus safety, including "value," "professors," and "campus quality."

See the rankings from Niche, a lead-gen site, at 
Reducing Tuition at Utica and Rosemont Colleges: What Do We Call It?

Is reducing your tuition level by 40 percent or so a "tuition reset" as the colleges prefer to call it or a "cut" or "slash" as has been reported in newspaper and TV reports? 

The difference shows just how nervous a school can be when flying in the face of prevailing sentiment that a high sticker price conveys a high-quality image. Both Utica and Rosemont are attempting a realistic approach in the face of tuition discounting that NACUBO reports as now averaging about 48 percent. 

Time will tell if the lower sticker price approach works. Meantime, neither school likely is happy with the "bargain basement education" label used by CNBC in a report at 
Brand Evolution in Higher Education: A Brief History

Take just a few minutes to read this fine review of higher education from the 1600s to the present, prepared by Sean Carton to keep everyone rooted in reality as we continue to debate who should go to college and the value of a college degree.

You can find "The Brand of Higher Education: Context for the Conflict" at 
Mobile Marketing: Google and Why "Every Second Counts"

Do you have skeptics on your marketing team who do not yet believe that "every second counts" in online marketing, especially on mobile? Ask them to read the AdAge article outlining new plans from Google to boost speed expectations from mobile users. 

Check your web pages at Google PageSpeed Insights after you read "Google is Making the Mobile Web Faster" at 
Social Media Marketing: Check Your Landing Pages

If you marketing plans call for students to journey from a social media site to become an inquiry, the quality of your landing page likely will decide your success. Nothing will kill marketing ROI faster than a bad landing page.

Create a separate landing page for every ad or post that you expect people to follow to become an inquiry or register for an event. Never drop people into a regular website page. That might sound obvious, but I have seen graduate programs in Integrated Marketing Communications drop people right into a home page with no obvious place to take the desired action.

Read the Social Media Examiner recommendations and/or listen to the podcast for "How to Optimize Landing Pages to Boost Social Media Conversions" at 
International Student Recruitment: Impact of Cost on U.S. Success

Cost is the factor most likely to keep students accepted to U.S. universities from enrolling here, according to a recent Eduventures report. For 2015, about 47 percent of students accepted to a U.S university declined the invitation. 

Nearly two-thirds gave "I can't afford it" as their reason not to enroll. About one-third said they might enroll at a later time. And a surprising 23 percent said they did not know enough about the school that accepted them.

The countries most often selected as U.S. alternatives: Canada, the U.K., Australia, and Germany.

More details from the research are at 
Twitter vs. Instagram: Which Will Best Boost Your Marketing Results?

The answer to that question is complex. Instagram, says author Dominque Jackson, is better for engagement within the network. Twitter is better at creating engagement outside the network.

See the reasons and review detailed demographics of the people using each site at 
Pell Grant Enrollment: Variations in Enrollment and Graduation Levels

How serious are universities about enrolling low-income students? A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy suggests that some schools are more serious than others.

In addition to four universities in California cited for strong performance with Pell Grant students, universities in four other states made a "Strong Student Outcomes" list: Indiana Wesleyan, Grand Valley State in Michigan, Stetson University in Florida, and University of Tennessee - Knoxville.

For a detailed review of how 18 universities are meeting the challenge of enrolling and graduating Pell Grant students at varying net price points see the report at 
Most Popular Topic in October Newsletter: Growing a New a Brand Reputation

It takes generations to grow a brand reputation and not nearly as long to lose one. The Cartoon of the Month gives pause for thought to anyone thinking about a rebranding campaign at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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