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Serious about transfer students? Franklin University makes it easy to estimate credits, savings, and time to degree completion

For many colleges and universities enrolling more transfer students is a key enrollment strategy to offset declining freshman enrollments. But how easy is it for a potential transfer student to complete an essential top task early in the recruitment cycle? At most schools, not so easy at all.

Franklin University, on the other hand, sets a clear path to learn about possible transfer credits right from a prominent (at least on the desktop version) link from the home page that leads to an interactive “my transfer credit” tool.

Key marketing advantage…

The tool is open to any potential student before applying for admission or even becoming an inquiry. Use it first… then decide if you want to identify yourself and move further down the recruitment path.

The same home page links are available on the mobile version… but hidden at first opening under the hamburger menu icon. Scrolling to the end of the mobile home page leads to the “Transfer Credit Calculator” pathway with the prompt that “In just 10 minutes, get an estimate of how many credits will transfer.”

What does the transfer tool offer in 4 available steps?

  • Step 1… Type in the name of a college or university (all Ohio schools + others outside the state) to see a list of transferable courses at each school. Select the courses you’d like to transfer to Franklin.
  • Step 2… Pick the type of degree at Franklin that’s your goal and identify the academic area(s) that interest you. Select “I’m done adding programs.”
  • Step 3… You’ll find out if the courses you picked will transfer and if so, how many credits remain for a Franklin degree. You’ll also see the “cost savings” as a result of the transfer and an estimated completion date.
  • Step 4… If you wish, you can “save” your information by giving Franklin your email address and starting an account with a password. Note that Step 4 is optional… you can get the above information without identifying yourself.

That’s it. Exactly how long it will take will depend on how many courses you check from how many different colleges. But all in all, this is a rapid, easy-to-use tool that delivers what it promises.

If enrolling transfers students is important at your college or university, the Franklin University example of top task completion is worthy of adoption.

On Mobile… a “slow” 3.7 seconds

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

As with most higher education sites we’ve been testing since the change, the Franklin University home page gets a “slow” rating for mobile downloading at 3.7 seconds.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link of the Week…

Follow the pathway to transfer credit evaluation from the home page link. Or go direct to the “MyTransfer Credit” tool.

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Join 720+ people on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn.

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Surviving & Thriving in Today’s Social Media World: Advice, Tips, News from University of Michigan

Life in the social media world today can be, to paraphrase John Locke, nasty and brutish and short. Well, maybe not so short. Everyone, including marketers, can benefit from the in-depth effort by University of Michigan to provide a survival guide: “Concerned about fake news and protecting your privacy? Sick of trolls and negativity”?

The opening page offers pathways to major content areas that are quick and easy to scan:

  • Privacy & Safety… Protect Your Information and Create a Safer Online Experience
  • Glossary… Get a Handle on the Latest Social Media Terms and Lingo
  • Tools… Find Out More Through These Useful Resources
  • Media… More News

If you think you know everything there is to know about social media, check yourself against what’s included here. Most people, I suspect, will find something worthwhile. The “Media” section, for instance, includes a collection of wide-ranging news articles on the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media today. Scan 10 on the first page… and depending on your interest, maybe move along through the several pages that follow.

Special Glossary: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter

Pay special attention to this marvelous section. The Glossary opens with a section on “general” social media terminology and then continues to list and define terms specific to 5 of the more popular social media sites.

  • Facebook… 12 terms
  • Instagram… 17 terms
  • LinkedIn… 10 terms
  • Snapchat… 5 terms
  • Twitter… 16 terms

Thanks to the School of Information’s Center for Social Media Responsibility for creating the site. Let’s hope that resources exist to keep the content up-to-date. Especially those new news articles.

To keep your social media marketing efforts as effective as possible, include this site on your regular reading list.

On Mobile… a very “slow” 8.6 seconds

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

As with most higher education sites we’ve been testing since the change, the “Social Integrity” site is rated slow. In this case, “slow” means 8.6 seconds. That’s by far the slowest mobile download speed yet recorded.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link(s) of the Week…

Review a comprehensive overview of the social media world (and give special attention to the Glossary page) when you visit “Social Integrity: Reclaim Your Digital Space” at the University of Michigan.

Top Tasks Website Content Group on LinkedIn

Join 720+ people on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn.

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July. Heat and dry weather finally have arrived in Michigan. And will continue for July 4 celebrations, we hope. A happy holiday break to U.S. readers and a happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends.

At the end of this month, expand your marketing insights and experiences with friends and colleagues in Philadelphia at the eduWeb Digital Summit July 29-31. Review the program and register.

The 2nd in a series of “deep dive” Top Task research webinars from Gerry McGovern is set for July 8. Perfect for people thinking about doing a top tasks research project on your own. “Top Tasks Identification: Shortlisting” gives you essential tips on how to create the final task list that people who use your website will vote on. Check the description and register here.

Improving the marketing power of your website? Find out what potential students like and dislike about your current site before making changes. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach.

Join 700+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8478858 and scroll for success stories of universities with a Top Task approach. One example: University of Sheffield reduced an academic program’s content from 120 to 50 pages. Rare. Marvelous.

7,300+ people get my daily marketing updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HighEdMarketing.

Forward this newsletter to a friend. Only email required here to subscribe.

And now, your marketing news and notes for July.
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Cartoon of the Month: “Data-Driven Marketing” Caution

Data. We all have data. Lots of data. Tom Fishburne is right to note that “There’s a lot of bad marketing that can be justified by data, particularly data used selectively or myopically.”

Share and discuss Tom’s cartoon and comments with your marketing team.
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High School Students & College Admissions: Advice from a High School Senior

An enterprising high school senior has combed IPEDS and Common Data Set data for public universities and private colleges as a senior project and created a website to share the results.

Note the motivation: “I would’ve found information about merit aid very helpful during my time applying to college, and it was something I couldn’t find on the internet in the way that I wanted to. That was the main motivation for this website.”

Every person recruiting high school students will benefit from close attention to “College Application Data and Advice.”

Interested in how it all came together? See “Gabe’s Senior Capstone Project” blog.
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Net Price Calculators: Not-So-Nice US News Report

Net Price Calculators are required content on college and university websites. But since the original mandate many have been hard to find and many mimic the FAFSA in ease of use.

A new US News reports continues those complaints and adds another “beware” item for the public: check to see if schools include loans in a calculation of net price. US News doesn’t think loans count as a reduction in net price. Another recommended check: is housing included in total cost at residential schools? If not, one school might mistakenly appear less expensive than another. Buyer beware.

More on what the public is being told about NPCs at “What to Know About a College’s Net Price Calculator.”
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Recruiting Online Students: “Online College Students” 2019 Report

For colleges and universities competing with online giants like Arizona State University, Southern New Hampshire University, Western Governors University and others, here’s the good news: increasing numbers of students prefer to enroll at a college close to their home.

In this research year, 44 percent enrolled at a school within 25 miles of their home. Another 23 percent enrolled within 26 to 50 miles of their home.

Explore the details of the 60-page Learning House/Aslanian report when you download “Online College Students.”
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T-Shirt Size: Asking a Potential Freshman Student

My ongoing review of college and university inquiry forms last week revealed how Oregon Tech answers that question: when a person completes an RFI form.

Oregon Tech offers 6 sizes, from “Small” to “XXX Large.” Future graduate students can also ask for a shirt.

Can’t say if the offer is unique or not. But I’ve not seen clothing on an RFI form before.

Marketing smart? Just might be another way of sorting out the more interested people early in the recruitment cycle. And texting after receipt to see how it fit.

Scan the complete Oregon Tech Request for Information form.
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“Exclusive Preview”: E-Expectations 2019 Survey Results

Karine Joly is gleaning key findings from this year’s popular E-Expectations survey of high school seniors, juniors, and sophomores from Ruffalo Noel Levitz. No need to wait for the official unveiling later this month.

Karine is writing four sections: Email & Text, Search Engine Optimization and Advertising, Higher Ed Websites, and Social Media. Every year there’s been results that suggest changes needed in student recruitment strategy and tactics.

We learn yet again, for instance, that email isn’t dead. (Are there really people who still need to hear that?) And we learn when to send and the most important elements to include. Does personalization help? Yes. It is essential? Not yet.

Read the email and text details at the higheredexperts website.
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MBA Programs: 10,473 Graduating Students Rate 126 Schools

Bloomberg Businessweek rated 126 MBA programs in several different areas based on results from a survey of their graduating students.

Categories include (1) inspiring and supportive instructors, (2) skills for real world business applications, (3) healthy competition among students, (4) inspiration to be ethical, (5) prestige to attract recruiters, (6) recruiters from a wide geographic range, and (7) right mixture of academics and business professionals teaching courses.

The top 5 schools in each category vary quite a bit. Easily scan the top 5 and expand to the top 30 at “Best B-Schools.”
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Transfer Student Recruitment: 14 Practical Tips

If recruiting transfer students in an enrollment priority at your school, check through the 14 tips provided by a transfer student recruiter with 12 years experience.

My favorite was #3: “Ensure you website speaks to the transfer audience.”

Compare your transfer recruitment practices with the tips at “Veteran wisdom for transfer student professionals.”
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Test Optional Schools: University of Rochester Joins the Group

Are colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT test scores as part of the admissions process growing faster this year than before? I don’t know but it seems as if that’s the case.

University of Rochester has just announced that change in admissions requirements. See “University drops first-year admission standardized test requirement.”

For colleges and universities that no longer require a test score, scan the alpha list from Fair Test.
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Most Popular Topic in June Newsletter: “too many cooks in the creative review” cartoon

Tom Fishburne advises that “Creative projects require an editor – someone who can sort between frequently contradictory feedback, listening to some, ignoring others, and making the final call.”

Spark creative discussion. Circulate “too many cooks in the creative review.”
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Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.

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Real students tell real stories at the MIT Admissions Blog

Real stories by real students are a key element in online student recruitment website content. That’s why the venerable MIT admissions remains important communications content. And those stories don’t always have to be only on Facebook or another social media site away from your main website.

Why “venerable”? An MIT student admissions blog was a Link of the Week feature back in March of 2007. Just a handful of sites can match that persistence record. If it works there’s no rule that says you have to change it.

Content presentation is key on a page like this. Visitors can easily scan the topics of the 13 posts on the opening page. A sketch of the person writing the blog adds an additional human touch. Not many people comments on blog posts they read. In this case, comment numbers per post range from 16 (“but her emails, how to assert”) to 1 (“The Class of 2019 Graduates from MIT”).

The posts are current. The most recent is from June 23. The “oldest” is from June 2.

If a visitor wants more… there’s a link at the end of the page to “Browse 5,688 more posts in the archives.”

On Mobile… a “slow” 2.7 seconds

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

As with most higher education sites we’ve been testing since the change, the MIT blog site is rated at a “slow” 2.7 seconds.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link(s) of the Week…

Read real stories from real MIT students at the MIT Admissions Blog.

Top Tasks Website Content Group on LinkedIn

Join 710+ people on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn.

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UT Austin & UC Berkeley… Comparing 2 Top Ranked U.S. University Websites

Search for “university website rankings” and you’ll find an array of results based on a variety of criteria.

Last week Convince & Convert released a 2nd annual listing of its rating of the top 25 websites selected from 50 schools with the highest enrollments in the U.S.: “The 2019 Best Websites Among America’s Top Universities.” Most are public universities.

Last year University of California Berkeley was the highest ranked. This year University of Texas at Austin tied with Berkeley for the top spot. Curiosity sent me along to look at each site to see if there were any obvious marketing differences. And, from my perspective, there were.

In a nutshell:

  • The Berkeley home page has no special marketing or “brand” push to tell the world how great the university is. There’s no emphasis on student recruitment. It is as if Berkeley assumes that everyone knows that it is a highly desirable, well regarded elite university. No need to push for special attention. The “Berkeley” name is all it takes.
  • UT Austin, on the other hand, is most definitely working to promote itself as a premier university. Compared to Berkeley it feels as if there is a marketing strategy to showcase content to help move the university higher in the rankings of top-level universities.

Usual university website rankings reinforce this relative status. The Times World University Rankings, for instance, lists UC Berkeley as 6th in “world reputation.” UT Austin is in the 36th spot.

University of California Berkeley

Consider the home page opening here: a “Walking with wildflowers” invitation to learn more about “Gathering data on the Pacific Coast Trail.” Just below that you’ll find an easy-to-scan array of 6 university stories and 3 events upcoming in June. At the end of the page there’s a special feature on the performance of Berkeley athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Overall, more of a traditional public relations focus.

No special logo graphic. No slogan. A Berkeley name wordmark, it seems, is all it takes.

University of Texas at Austin

You can’t miss the opening promotional message “What Starts Here Changes the World.” That’s a strong claim. Content on the rest of the home page is designed to support the claim. UT at Austin, we are told, is a “University of the First Class” and several topics and relevant stats are used to illustrate that, with links to more information about each:

  • “Here, First Class is Public.”
  • “Here, We Do High-Impact Research”
  • “Here, We’re Revolutionizing Health Care”
  • “Here, We Create a More Vibrant Texas”

The home page closes with an exhortation to “Be a Leader. Be a Longhorn” and 4 student recruitment links to undergrad programs, costs, visits, and campus life at “Texas’ premier University.”

Like Berkeley, there no special logo design graphic. A wordmark will suffice.

On Mobile… less than 2 second downloads are still rated “slow” by Google

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

The UC Berkeley home page time of 3.2 seconds matches most other colleges and universities tested for another “slow” rating. The overall site speed is 1.7 seconds and that still gets a “slow” sticker.

UT at Austin home page is faster with a 2.9 second “slow” rating and an overall site speed of 1.2 seconds that’s also considered “slow” by Google.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link(s) of the Week…

The marketing free (in the usual sense) University of California Berkeley home page.

The marketing oriented University of Texas at Austin home page.

Top Tasks Website Content Group on LinkedIn

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Marketing-Smart Undergrad Outcomes Data from Fordham Features Industries & Employers in Easy-to-Scan Format

If you’ve been following various research findings on what potential students want to know about colleges and universities they might attend you’ve seen the rising interest in learning about the results that graduates achieve. Fordham University offers in the admissions section of the website an unusually strong example of how to present that valuable content.

The mobile version opens differently than the large-screen page. Visitors first will see 3 options for individual parts of the information:

  • Leading Industries and Occupations
  • Top Hiring Employers
  • Public Service Statistics

Scroll down a bit on the page to find the opening that appears on the desktop/laptop version, a chart on the “First Destinations of the Class of 2018.” Which is best? Beats me. No reason not to think that each content presentation version works.

Note once again the absence of a top-page campus photo that would only distract and delay people from the important content here. No images needed on pages like this. Keeping web design as clean and simple as possible is best.

The Fordham outcomes information is based on contact with 98 percent of the 2018 class. That’s an unusually high response rate.

Those who want even more details, including salaries for different employment areas, can follow a visible link to “see the complete 2018 Placement Report.”

On Mobile… “slow” 3 seconds to download

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

The Fordham University outcomes page is “slow” to download, measured by Google at 3 seconds. (That’s better than the rating for the overall Fordham.edu site at 4.7 seconds.)

With the Google rating of a particular page now will come 4 “recommended fixes” (in addition to an available full report) with a brief explanation of each. For the Outcomes page these were:

  • Preconnect to Required Origins (Yes, that was Greek to me as well until I read the explanation.)
  • Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources
  • Serve Images in Next-Gen Formats
  • Ensure text remains visible during webfont download

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link of the Week…

Visit marketing-smart content about the results of a Fordham University education at the Class of 2018 “Undergraduate Outcomes” page.

Top Tasks Website Content Group on LinkedIn

Join 700+ people on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn.

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June. What I’m thinking about this month are the marketing changes reported in May that are underway at institutions of varied types. Academic program reductions at University of Tulsa, Gordon College, and Wheeling Jesuit University and financial aid reduction (no more “need blind” admissions) at College of the Holy Cross come first to mind.

Is the place of “product” in the proverbial 4 Ps of marketing taking a more prominent role? Not all is negative. St. Bonaventure University, for instance. Is reporting high freshmen enrollments the past two years, attributed in part to new program additions that will continue in the fall. Let’s hope that similar happy stories are on the way.

Share your marketing insights and experiences with friends and colleagues in Philadelphia at the eduWeb Digital Summit July 29-31. Review the program and register.

Improving the marketing power of your website? Find out what potential students like and dislike about your current site before making changes. Feedback in 5 days on 13 quality points with Gerry McGovern’s unique Customer Centric Index (CCI) survey approach. Visit “How it works” at http://bit.ly/2kLI2kt

Forward this newsletter to a friend. Only email required here to subscribe.

Join 700+ higher education professionals on the Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8478858 and scroll for success stories of universities with a Top Task approach. Start with the several pathways Carleton College offers alumni to complete a top task. Continue on to how the University of Sheffield reduced website content for an academic program from 120 to 50 pages.

7,300+ people get my daily marketing updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HighEdMarketing.

And now, your marketing news and notes for June.
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Cartoon of the Month: “too many cooks in the creative review”

Try to include everyone’s feedback to a creative concept and you’ll end up with nothing creative at all.

That’s the opinion of Tom Fishburne who advises that “Creative project require an editor – someone who can sort between frequently contradictory feedback, listening to some, ignoring others, and making the final call.”

To spark creative discussion on your campus, circulate “too many cooks in the creative review.”
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Personalization in Marketing: 2019 Trends

Based on a survey of marketing professionals early in 2019, Evergage, Inc. reports that most marketers think personalization is important (78 percent) but few think it is being done effectively (32 percent).

Marketers say that personalization is most likely to happen in email (78%). After that, personalization drops to 58 percent on websites and (curiously) just 42 percent for “in-person” contacts.

Reasons for personalization vary, from “deliver better customer experiences” (88 percent) to “customers/prospects expect it (43 percent).

Details, including the role of Artificial Intelligence, in the 49 page “2019 Trends in Personalization” report.
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Marketing Online: A YouTube Guide

Most colleges and universities have YouTube channels. To make sure you get the best marketing results from your efforts, visit “YouTube Marketing: The Ultimate YouTube Business Guide.”

The tips here range from creating an effective home page to increasing watch time to using strong calls to action. You’ll also find sections on initial YouTube advertising and retargeting efforts.

These areas and more are included in the Social Media Examiner YouTube marketing guide.
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Tuition Discounting: NACUBO 2019 Report

The headline “Private Colleges Now Use Nearly Half of Tuition Revenue for Financial Aid” introduces details of the growth in tuition discount levels that continued from last year.

Rates increased to 52 percent for new full-time freshmen and 46 percent for all full-time undergraduates. Many schools are above 60 percent. A chart detailing annual increases since 2007-2008 is online here.

If tuition discounting interests you skip the press releases on the new report. Start with Jon Boeckenstedt’s exploration of a challenging subject at “The Discount Dilemma.”
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Admissions & Marketing Blogs: University Business Recommends 4 to Follow

Early in May I was pleased to see myself included in a short list from University Business recommending 4 blogs to follow for news and notes on admissions marketing.

The other 3 were College Web EditorHigh Ed Web Tech, and Digital Leadership in Higher Education.

You’ll find a short summary for the content of each one in the University Business article.
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College Costs and Public Relations: An AARP Report

More than 38 million people were AARP members in 2018. AARP is a U.S. organization for people over the age of 50. Many are retired. Many are helping children and grand-children with college costs.

Last month AARP reported to members on how costs have risen “dramatically over the past several decades across all types of institutions.” The many charts include public university flagship schools.

The 12-page report includes this warning: “A recent review of financial aid award letters found that some schools mischaracterized how student loans were incorporated into a student’s aid package, including 24 instances in which words other than loan were used and a number of letters in which parent loans were considered part of a financial aid award.”

Help everyone on your campus understand how public reviews of higher education costs impact your marketing when they read “A Look at College Costs Across Generations.”
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VP of Enrollment: VP of Sales is the real job

Rich Whipkey at Waybetter Marketing has written an insightful article that reminded me of something Brian Niles repeated often over the years he was leading TargetX: “The Vice President of Enrollment is the Vice President of Sales.”

That’s still something that many if not most people in higher education are not willing to admit. Or at least say in public. Whipkey’s article is a good place to explore the implications for the role, resources, and institutional support that enrollment VPs should have. Pay special attention to the negative impact of excessive attention to “brand” as a solution for enrollment problems.

Good reading awaits at “What Does a Vice President of Enrollment Do?”
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Gerry McGovern: “Digital Transformation or Digital as Usual?”

Gerry’s latest webinar, developed for a business consulting firm, updates the role that Top Tasks approach can take to improve customer sales and satisfaction by focusing digital efforts on providing the best possible experience for people working with your college or university.

Gather your team and get ready to discuss “why digital is never done” after the “Digital Transformation or Digital as Usual” webinar.
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Most Popular Topic in May Newsletter: 10 Strong Examples of Mobile Landing Pages

The best ad campaign will fail if the landing page fails to turn a potential student into an inquiry. If you advertise online, don’t miss the Unbounce report on “Mobile Landing Page Examples that Seriously Set the Bar.”

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6 Key Alumni Links = Easy Top Task Completion = A Fine Visitor Experience

What makes any website visitor enjoy their experience and think well of the people who created the site? Again and again web visitors give a simple answer: “It was easy to find what I wanted to do… and get it done.” Not bells. Not whistles. Easy task completion.

Carleton College gives us an excellent example of that simple but not-found-often enough approach to content presentation at the Alumni Network site with options that allow alumni to connect with fellow graduates in several ways.

Visitors on mobile, desktop, or laptop immediately see in 5 seconds or less the key content on the page. Taken together 6 links make it easier than most similar sites to alumni to connect with fellow alumni and to update their own information:

  • Search the directory for an individual person of special interest or update your personal info.
  • Connect with alumni “in your area.” In my case, that meant the “Michigan Carleton Club.”
  • Check on people by “class” or “era,” recognizing that some favorite friends might have graduated a year or two before or after you did.
  • Locate alumni in one of 36 career fields, presented in easy-to-scan alpha order.
  • Connect via “Interests and Affiliations” that include reading, cooking, travel, hiking… and many more.
  • Or search within your major.
And a bonus task…

Many alumni, especially the more recent who are seeking employment or headed to graduate or professional school, need a transcript. Visitors on a large screen device will see that link just to the right of the primary page content. Mobile visitors who scroll to the end of the page will find it there. No need to first visit the Registrar’s page.

On Mobile… a “slow” 3.1 seconds to download

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

The Carleton College alumni network page has a “slow” home page, measured by Google at 3.1 seconds.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link of the Week…

Explore the top task pathways for Carleton alumni at the Alumni Network page.

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Quick, Easy State-by-State Merit Scholarship Estimator at Eastern Kentucky University

Merit scholarships have been in use as a recruitment tool at non-elite private sector colleges and universities for decades. Their use at public universities is a more recent addition. Eastern Kentucky University has been offering them since at least 2015.

Merit scholarships are available for in-state students but this form pays special attention to out-of-state students. An easy-to-scan list of states is available. Awards vary by state for students with the same GPA and test score. In one test, for instance, Ohio students were eligible for up to a $10,000 scholarship while only $4,000 was reported for Alaska and Louisiana students.

Notice an important out-of-date point on the primary “Scholarships at EKU” page. Deadlines for the “New for 2019-20” diversity scholarships (December 1 for “priority” and March 31 otherwise) have passed. Dated content sends the wrong signal re attention paid to site content. In this case, it is especially hard to miss.

The “Scholarship Estimator link is easy to see in an upper right corner position for desk top and lap top visitors. Potential students and parents using a smart phone have to scroll down through the full page content before the link appears.

See your scholarship amount in seconds…

The estimator form itself is well done. Both mobile and large screen visitors will find it quick and easy to complete the 3 data points required: ACT or SAT test score, GPA, and residency state. That’s it. Hit “View Results” and you’ll see your likely award in just a second or two.

Marketing note for an inquiry form…

In between the primary scholarships page and the estimator form there is an intermediate page to select for “U.S.A.” or “International” students. On that page is an well-positioned inquiry response form with a blessedly brief requirement for only 5 data points. That’s even better positioned if it also appears on the estimator page itself. Potential students might be more inclined to become an inquiry after they see the amount of a possible scholarship.

On Mobile… a “slow” 2.2 seconds to download

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

The primary EKU scholarship page has a “slow” home page measured by Google: 3.6 seconds. Google could not rate the actual application page.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website.

Follow the Link of the Week…

To experience a merit scholarship estimator form that is unusually easy to complete visit the EKU 2019-20 Scholarship Estimator.

To start at the primary scholarship page so that so that your journey includes the form for international students and the inquiry form… that’s here.

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New Style Home Page for Drew University features “Minimal Navigation”

Does being different from other higher education websites by itself create a competitive advantage? If that’s the case then Drew University indeed has advanced past its competitors by using a “minimalist” design approach.

What is minimalist design strategy? A definition from the Nielsen-Normal Group in The Characteristics of Minimalism in Web Design: “A minimalist web-design strategy is one that seeks to simplify interfaces by removing unnecessary elements or content that does not support user tasks.”

Note a key element here: A minimalist goal is to “support user tasks.”

The agency that worked with Drew on this site, Capture Higher Ed, says this about minimalist design:

“Although mega menus were all the rage a few years back, there’s been a shift to minimal and even hidden navigation elements. This is taking a cue from mobile, where most of Gen Z is already viewing websites. Some institutions, including Capture partner Drew University, have already adopted a minimal navigation for their main websites. Declutter your homepage by removing your traditional navigation menu and testing a minimalist navigation button like in the example below.”

No mention here of making it easier for potential students to complete their top tasks when they first visit the Drew home page.

Yes, navigation is hidden…

On mobile, the minimalist design does hide the regular navigation. Indeed, as the page first opens it hides just about everything on the home page. (More is visible from a desktop or laptop computer but the goal here is a more effective site on mobile, “where most of Gen Z is already viewing websites.”)

Eventually visitors will see the first of 5 content headings and 5 buttons to review each major element on the page:

  • Launch Your Life.
  • Let’s be clear – college tuition is too high.
  • Learn it. Use it.
  • Plug in.
  • Put the “hire” in higher education.

Home page content is recruitment-oriented. Each piece is designed for impact with future students. Which one might be most appealing? That would be easier to know if each one were available to scan right from the start. In this format, that’s not possible. On mobile, Drew wants you to see each one in order.

What about top tasks that future students have, especially a review of available academic programs? You can’t see that pathway from the 5 elements here. If mobile visitors persist past “Launch Your Life” they will find content on affordability (a 20% tuition reduction in 2018 and information on merit scholarships and low debt loads) and job prospects after graduation.

A more complete menu is available to people who open the hamburger symbol on the page. Follow the “Academics” path and you’ll find a list of the academic programs.

On Mobile… a “slow” 3.6 seconds to download

Google in March made major changes to the “Test My Site” tool. Among other points, speed is now rated using a 4G standard rather than the 3G level that Google told us until March 70 percent of people are still using to access mobile sites. Comparison with past Link of the Week mobile speed reports isn’t valid. Speed expectations are higher now than in the 3G world.

Drew University has a “slow” home page measured by Google: 3.6 seconds. Minimalist design does not, by itself, lead to a faster site.

Competitive comparison… Google now gives you the ability to add up to 9 URLs from competitor sites for comparative speed ratings. Do that. If the result shows that your site is slower than your key competitors that might give you new internal leverage to increase attention and resources to the need for a faster website. How does your home page on mobile compare to the 3.6 seconds of Drew University?

Follow the Link of the Week…

Experience a most unusual design format at the Drew University home page.

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