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Articles: Marketing

The idea was simple: Let online donors make multiple gifts with a single checkout. Not long after Randy Brown joined the Michigan State University advancement team as webmaster in 1999, he got assigned this task, which was anything but simple to execute.

“That was sort of his night job,” says Bob Thomas, assistant vice president for advancement marketing and communications. “It was kind of a running joke. We’d talk about it at annual planning meetings.” One year, someone even presented a mini shopping cart at the meeting to Brown as a tangible reminder.

Not many colleges have a four-star general at the helm, but students at Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) are such big fans of their president, former Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak, that the campus bookstore wanted to come up with a t-shirt reflecting how they feel. When the store received a copy of a USMC poster featuring Krulak (known on campus as "the General") with his arm around a young recruit, they decided to use the image and make it their own.

Marketing and branding expert Tom Dougherty says that colleges and universities can and should adopt the promotional strategies of the top consumer brands. An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by The New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines. In his 25-year career, Dougherty has helped companies like Lexus, Tide, and IKEA capture market share from competitors by changing their focus from product to people.

Joshua Dodson works as a SEO and web analyst at Eastern Kentucky University. With a couple of consulting years under his belt, he also has been teaching a four-week online course on web analytics for higher education since September 2011. But, the “Higher Ed Analytics Prof” could also be called the Analytics Profiler. At his university, Dodson is mining web analytics data to go beyond the usual insights on click stream, conversions, or referring web properties.

As I noted in my previous column on the digital web in higher ed, digital analytics is bound to play an increasing role this year. Whether they call it big data, business intelligence, or analytics, many decision-makers on campus have been converted to the power of the data-driven approach. Make a difference with web analytics at your institution by taking these three steps.

In December, Tulane University (La.) announced it had misreported some admissions data for its Freeman School of Business to be used in US News & World Report’s college rankings.

Can you believe it? I’ve been writing this column about digital marketing in higher education for seven years.

So much has happened since February 2006. Together we’ve witnessed the first blips of Web 2.0, the development—and demise—of many social networking platforms, and the rising tide of new media that later turned into the social media tsunami. Over the past seven years, we’ve also seen the end of the desktop browser compatibility war, the start of the battle for the mobile and responsive web, and growing interest for digital analytics in higher education.

After the love-hate relationship higher education had with online advertising for many years, it’s finally time to move on. Have your institution’s leaders noticed yet?  

Postcards promote a Presbyterian College  microsite that can be personalized via Facebook.

As some colleges and universities sprint into the digital viewbook model, others are tiptoeing into a new model that bypasses the traditional print viewbook for other millennial-friendly approaches.

Millennials, the generation born between the late 1970s and early 2000s, speak a language all their own. A digital camera is a camera; a cell phone is a phone. They’ve grown up with the internet and are wholly immersed in technology with websites like Amazon and Zappos customized to their individual interests.
The question for higher education enrollment managers is this: Is the viewbook, the crown jewel of the admissions process, ready for a leap into the online world? The answer: A resounding maybe.

Most university presidents believe the idea of stealing share from other universities is unsightly. It reeks of business and winning, and it rubs against the collegial grain with other presidents.

I know that because the branding and marketing of universities proves it. If you run ads of universities together, as we did in a study this month, you see a blending of messages and tone that are so similar they are easy to tune out and rarely give students a choice. All they do is reaffirm a choice a current student has already made.

Roanoke Pinterest board

Colleges and universities are rushing to use Pinterest, the fast-growing social media innovation, but many remain uncertain of where it fits in their promotional mix. A key factor appears to be how important they consider adult women to be in their marketing outreach.

Last August, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook Virginia, people in offices up the East Coast were reading about the quake before they felt their desks not-so-mysteriously begin to wobble. How? Chalk it up to another feat of Twitter (by this time it had already helped topple unruly regimes in the Middle East). During the earthquake, users tweeted at a rate of 5,500 tweets per second, with 40,000 tweets hitting Twitter timelines and TweetDecks in just one minute.

Alumnae Beverly Diederich, Mary Habstritt, and Margot Note with “Today Show” host Al Roker.

On February 29, St. Catherine University (Minn.) students, alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends made their presence and appreciation for their school known in a big way. That Wednesday, designated Shout Out St. Kate’s Day, was a chance for everyone to share what drew them to the school, what they think sets St. Kate’s apart, and more. The hashtag #ShoutOutStKates earned trending status on Twitter. Daily total impressions on the university’s Facebook page jumped from 19,000 the day before to 232,000 that day.

UCLA’s Murphy Sculpture Garden was the backdrop for an interview with UCLA art professor James Welling for the four-part mini-series “Naked Art.”

There is more to YouTube than videos of talking dogs. Its vast collection of educational videos includes those from University of California Television (UCTV). In March, order was brought to the chaos by the creation of channels offering original programming funded by YouTube. Existing content creators ranging from TED to Madonna were invited to participate; UCTV has bragging rights as being the only university channel. “YouTube is moving into the content creation business by [investing] in a select few channels,” explains Lynn Burnstan, UCTV’s director.