Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

October 2016 Archives

3 Personal Motivational Topics at Entry Page for Online Students

Most higher education websites don't do an especially good job of connecting on a personal level with potential students searching the site. Today's Link of the Week differs from most others in two important ways:

  • Generous use of the "you" word in an informal writing style that starts in a heading as the page opens and speaks directly to a concern of many "adult" students: "Continuing your education without putting your life on hold."
  • Motivational options that let potential students move along to content focused on their primary reason for returning to school:.
The 3 motivational options you'll seen in large blocks appear under the heading "Everyone has a reason for going back to school. What's driving you?"

  • To Fulfill My Passions
  • To Advance My Career Path
  • To Earn a Bigger Paycheck
This truly is one of the rare times that a college or university admits that simply earning more money is a motivation worth recognizing.

On Mobile

Google PageSpeed Insights reports that smartphone visitors will experience a slow download Speed (41/100) followed by a high User Experience (99/100).

Follow the Link of the Week

See the content that appears after each motivational topic when you visit the Regis University entry page for Degrees and Programs for Working Adults

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.
Home Page Navigation Highlights 25 Task Links

Most higher education home pages still use audience-based navigation on the home page and throughout the site: Prospective Students, Current Students, Alumni, Faculty & Starr. 

Most website visitors, however, are not looking for a particular audience. Instead, they have a task in mind and want to complete it as quickly as possible. And the best way to do that is to give prominent position to words that match as closely as possible the tasks that people coming to a site want to complete.

Colorado College does just that on desk top and lap top views with 5 prominent headings that you can scan in less than 5 seconds:
  • The Basics
  • Academics
  • Live at CC
  • Admission & Aid
  • News & Events
Underneath each heading are 5 easy-to-scan links that take people quickly to the task topic. And so we have a total of 25 links presented without clutter, drop down menus, or distracting animation. Clear. Quick. Simple.

On Mobile: Priority to Search

If you start your visit on a smartphone, you'll first see a search box so you can type in your priority task. I found it worked quite well for "majors" and not quite as well for "scholarships." The "Show Navigation" link will bring up the 5 headings used for larger screens. Here the font size might be a bit larger for a quick scan.

Speed on Google PageSpeed Insights is a respectable (by comparison with other sites) 69/100. User Experience is an excellent 99/100. It would likely be lower if the 5 primary headings were immediately visible.

Follow the Link of the Week

To see a higher education home page that breaks from the usual audience-based navigation paths, visit the Colorado College home page.https

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.

6 Study Areas are Home Page Visible in 5 Seconds... or Less

Learning what areas of study are available is no less a top task for people in search of executive education programs than it is for high school juniors and seniors and people seeking to earn an online degree.

Do a Google search for "executive education programs" and you'll see the home pages appear for programs throughout the country with high brand strength: the Kellogg School at Northwestern, the Wharton School, the Harvard School of Business, the Stanford School of Business, the Darden School at UVA, the Ross School at University of Michigan, Columbia Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Fuqua School at Duke. In that order. 

What you'll also see is that only one places available programs in the prime top-of-page space as the home page opens: the Wharton School at Penn.

Six areas stand out:
  • Advanced management
  • Comprehensive executive programs
  • Leadership programs
  • Finance and wealth management
  • Strategy
  • Marketing and Sales
Scan the topics and follow the links from an area that interests you and you'll see the upcoming courses over the next several months.

Mobile Experience: Stronger than Most for Speed

On mobile, Google PageSpeed Insights gives a relatively high 74/100 score for Speed and a sterling 99/100 for User Experience.

The mobile view here also shows the power of placing words in a prominent position: the mobile visitor immediately sees the 6 programs areas without having to scroll. First impressions count. This home page delivers.

Follow the Link of the Week

To see what makes the Wharton School home page for executive education stand out from prominent rivals visit Wharton Executive Education.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.
An October hello to everyone. Happy to see that here in Michigan summer is gone and fall is arriving. We can deal with winter a few months from now. 

Reply to this email and ask me for an invitation to the group on LinkedIn if you work at a college or university. Better yet, if you are already on LinkedIn, just request a membership invitation at 

To date, 221 people have joined from the U.S. and at least 9 other countries.

New to "top tasks" strategy that will increase the marketing strength of your website? My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is at 
Conference Workshop in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at Early registration discount is open until November.

Join 7,300+ followers on Twitter at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your October marketing news and notes.
Cartoon of the Month: Do you really know where people are on the customer journey? 

Mapping the customer journey is popular. But how accurately can we do that? Or are we just playing a "Where's Waldo?" game that will irritate people when we contact them with marketing messages?

Tom Fishburne's take on the challenges we face in journey mapping is at 
More College Rankings: The Wall Street Journal Joins the Crowd

With a heavy weight to college financial resources (30 percent) and outcomes after graduation (40 percent), the WSJ has issued a new ranking system that puts 10 private-sector schools on top starting with Stanford University. Six others are Ivy-league schools.

The first public university, University of Michigan, is ranked 24th.

You have to subscribe to the WSJ to get complete results, including why the WSJ thinks the survey stands out from others. Start at 
Hugging the New WSJ Rankings: Strong Graphic Opens a Press Release

Some foolish survey recently reported that college presidents do not put much value in college rankings. Maybe it just depends on where your college lands in the results.

To see how one college has embraced the WSJ ranking results in addition to online advertising, check the powerful graphic that opens the Centre College press release at 
Net Price Calculator Alternative: MyIntuition at 3 Schools

Most people do not enjoy completing the FAFSA. And that's why most people, if they can find them, do not enjoy completing Net Price Calculators that replicate the FAFSA.

At least 3 colleges and universities give potential students and their parents a much easier route to completing the top task of estimating likely college costs by using the quick and simple (less than 10 questions) MyIntuition format created by a Wellesley College professor.

In addition to Wellesley, MyIntuition is used at the University of Virginia and at Williams College. Check the Williams version at 
Web Design: Are You Planning for Voice Search?

If you like to stay ahead of the crowd, start thinking about how your website will take people to their top tasks when they use words to search for the content they want. 

That's the message coming from Microsoft and supported by new tech projects at Google, Amazon, and Apple. Today, people search by voice about 5 to 10 percent of the time. Expect that to increase significantly over the next 5 years. 

One marketing key: You will need to know the words that potential students visiting your website will use to find what they want. Abandon jargon unknown to the public. 

More on the advent of voice search in the AdAge article at 
Admissions Directors Survey: 66 Percent Expect Earlier Financial Aid Awards

Inside Higher Education is out with a report on what college admissions directors think about any number of things, from the Coalition Admissions application, to debt levels, and race, and the new SAT and more.

One item of note where you will not want to fall behind your competition: 66 percent of the directors expect to see earlier financial aid award letters as a result of earlier FAFSA filing. 

Download complete survey results at 
Content Marketing: Advice from 15 Experts

From the Content Marketing Institute comes advice from 15 people who reveal the "Number 1 Thing You Should Do in Content Marketing." As you might guess, the experts offer many different "Number 1" things to do.

Forced to select just one I would go with Andy Crestodina and his advice on correct presentation format. Fail at that and people will bounce from your web page no matter how well you follow the other 14 admonitions.

See what might help your content marketing results at 
Admission Officer Salaries: News from NACAC

Considerable consternation was reported at NACAC over a new Federal mandate that will require overtime pay for many admission counselors, thus increasing recruitment costs.

Average salary of an admissions officer is about $38,000 or well below the overtime pay threshold. Average salary of an annual fund officer is $63,000. For an alumni relations officer, the number is $49,000. 

The real problem? High turnover and weak training for people who have a major impact on the financial well-being of most colleges and universities. Pay level and working conditions contribute to that. 

See Eric Hoover on "Who's Got the Time to Train Admissions Offices" at 
New Book from Gerry McGovern: Transform: A Rebel's Guide to Digital Transformation

If you are exploring the challenges of the digital era at your college or university, this new book by Gerry McGovern might help light the way. Decide for yourself after you read the first chapter for free at 
Advertising Online: Review of Social Media Options and More

Adweek asked a bevy of online advertising agency people for their comments on the strengths and weaknesses of online advertising options, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google, and more.

Anyone interested in online advertising for student recruitment or brand awareness will want to review the article. Start reading here.   
Blog Posts: The Best Length is 1,500 to 2,000 Words

The Wordtracker article itself does not specific a precise length but overall makes the point that blog posts of less than 1,500 words are not likely to contain enough value, content, and SEO keywords to attract the attention that well done longer articles will capture. And on the proverbial other hand, articles of more than 3,000 words will have to be superb indeed to hold reader interest.

More on why 1,500 to 2,000 words is a likely sweet spot in blog writing at 
Colgate University: Vice President for Communications

Colgate University is searching for a Vice President for Communications.

The usual details of position responsibilities and candidate qualifications are at 
Most Popular Topic in September Newsletter: Questioning the Value of Campus Visits

Yes, we all know that campus visits are the single most important conversion event in a student recruitment plan for traditional students. Right?

Take a moment to read about unreal and ineffective campus tours in the Washington Post article at 
Be a marketing champion on your campus.

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

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