Effective Web Design

A recent report by Higher Education Marketing, a digital marketing agency for higher education, released a report on the Provocative Innovations in Higher Education. In this report they give examples of innovative higher education web design and content strategy and development for student recruitment. A recent study done by Noel Levitz said that 71% of high school graduating seniors had viewed a college website on mobile phones or tablets. They also noted that 43% of teens use mobile devices exclusively to view the web. Higher education institutions must be focused on delivering a quality experience on these devices to be effective in student recruitment moving forward.

The report by Higher Education Marketing also gives four tips to approach web design: developing a solid navigational framework, creating an infrastructure to meet the changing needs & offerings of the University, consistent updates and quality assurance testing, and communicating the most relevant information without cluttering the user experience.

Heath Building - Rotunda/Hallway

New Year, New Team

It has been a while since we have contributed to our Marketing/Digital Media blog… Because there have been changes to our staff!

Not every university has an on-campus Marketing and Communications office. Here at Vanguard University, we consider that a blessing. Our team started with just a Director, Project Manager, and a Graphic Designer. That team of 3 took on the demands of a growing university and an ever-changing Marketing landscape.

Now, our team has grown to 10+ staff and interns who work together to accomplish projects with excellence, creativity, and professionalism. We have since undergone new brand guidelines, Athletics mascot and logo makeovers, and most recently: a user-friendly website that adapts to desktops, mobile phones, and tablets. Last year, our total number of Marketing projects was 1,565. That number of completed and in queue projects continues to increase.

As John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

We reflect on our past and present, but we most especially look forward to being a continued resource to Vanguard University in this upcoming 2014-2015 school year.

Click here to meet the new Marketing and Communications Team.

Website Announcement: Keyword Strategy

In an effort to better serve each department on campus by increasing traffic to department microsites, the office of marketing and communications is spearheading a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

With this SEO strategy, we’d like to ask that you incorporate the following keywords into the content on your department’s microsite. If it’s in a blog post, on a webpage, wherever there is text—we’d ask that you incorporate the following keywords and phrases as naturally as possible and only when appropriate:

christian colleges
christian universities
christian education
christian schools
christian school
christian colleges and universities
best christian colleges
christian bible college
list of christian colleges
top christian universities
christian universities in california
accredited christian colleges
california christian university
best christian universities
christian colleges in southern california

For example, instead of:

The School for Professional Studies at Vanguard University is dedicated to assisting adult learners in reaching their goals by providing quality education, along with personal concern and genuine support.

You can say:

Vanguard University’s School for Professional Studies is one of the top Christian universities in the nation, dedicated to assisting adult learners in reaching their goals by providing quality education, along with personal concern and genuine support.

Benefits of SEO

  • Increases chances that our key audience(s) will find us online
  • Improves opportunities for engagement with our key audience(s)
  • Builds brand awareness that Vanguard is a leader in Christian, liberal arts higher education

Please keep in mind that we’d like for you to incorporate these keywords as naturally as possible, and should you have any questions, feel free to contact us at socialmedia@vanguard.edu

Thank you for your work in updating your department microsite—a powerful recruiting tool in showcasing Vanguard University.

Say it with video.

Sometimes it’s hard to put things into words. It really is true that a picture can tell a thousand words–but video can tell a million! Using video in your social media can be incredibly powerful, if done well. The Class of 2016 page for Vanguard University (built of incoming freshmen) is a perfect example. On this page, students have turned the camera on themselves, allowing other students on that Facebook page to get to know them and what they like, their hobbies, etc.

When students initiated that, we jumped on it in Undergrad Admissions and had the UG Admissions Counselors plop themselves in front of the camera and tell some stories of “little known facts” about VU. It was incredibly successful, got our incoming students talking and engaging–and all we needed was an iPhone to do the job! Check out all of the videos on the Class of 2016 page here, and get some ideas for your own Facebook page. Say it with video.

Finding the time.

There’s no questioning, time is valuable. YOUR time is valuable! And when you have a full plate of projects for your department or your students, thinking about blogging and updating your social media (Facebook, etc.) it seems like a small task that can slide by for another week or two. But with the power of web and social media in reaching the next generation of prospective students, keeping that online presence fresh and updated is invaluable! Mashable recently released news that Facebook has now reached 901 million monthly active users, and you know that number is only growing. It’s a growing number that reminds us all that we have an incredible online audience that is listening, waiting and watching for what our university will do next in breaking news and featured stories–we just need to find the time to update, update, update!

A few tips on finding that time to keep web and social media presence fresh:

  • Look at your website everyday: it will help you see what the average reader sees, and give you ideas on how to spice things up.
  • Carve out 30 minutes: everyday, shut the door, mute the phone and blog, read a blog, update Facebook, make a web-based impact.
  • Delegate: utilize faculty, students and even experts in a particular field to guest blog or empower you with new ideas or angles.
  • Be aware: always be on the lookout for the valuable news in your department (events, deadlines, accomplishments of students/faculty) and you’ll quickly be able to remember it later on to use as content on your blog, Facebook page, etc.

Says a thousand words

As I walked across campus the other week in our beautiful, 80-degree weather in February — you know, the kind that most East Coasters crave this time of year — I came across this student-made sign that was woven together with yarn and nails and draped over the side of the Heath staircase. This was the sign of a movement on campus for a long-time ministry called “Hands Across the Border” that our campus outreach hosts. I couldn’t help but snap a photo and think of how a picture says a thousand words.

This week in your blogging, I challenge you to tell the story with a photo instead of with words. It may be worth more than you can write!

Be a writer, be a reader.

Since I’m a blogger myself, a lot of folks ask me what blogs I read. I love that question, honestly. I think it’s fantastic to read blogs, just as much as you read books. Blogs are always up to date with new, insightful info, and can give you a new perspective on a subject–just like a book! But if you are a blogger, it’s especially important to read other blogs. Even if you’re blogging about higher education, planned giving–whatever the subject may be–it’s definitely helpful to read blogs on all sorts of subjects.

A blog I read pretty much everyday, called Social Media Examiner, recently came up with a TOP 10 list (no thanks to David Letterman) of the Top Social Media blogs of 2012. Check it out. It’s a great list for you to add to your favorites in your web browser, and view what other bloggers are doing–even get social media tips for your department.

So now I challenge you: make a list of your TOP 3 blogs that you want to begin to visit everyday, to gather inspiration. To be a writer, you have to be a reader, and I know you can do just that!


Holly Clinard is Assistant Director of Marketing & Digital Media. Find out more about Holly and the rest of the Advancement Team here. Or contact her at socialmedia@vanguard.edu

3 fundamental things to know about yourself & your market space

This week, I’ve had the pleasure of holding a few blog coaching sessions this week with our Advancement Team to get them up and ready for blogging season this spring! As we go through vision and strategy and how best to reach each of their target audiences – whether it be church pastors, potential donors, members of the community or local government. In going through this basic blogger training here on campus, I’ve asked each blogger to know these:

3 fundamental things to know about yourself and your market space

  1. Who YOU are: what’s your story and perspective?
  2. Who THEY are: your target audience, and why they should care.
  3. What CONTENT can you provide them to build loyalty?

Using these three identifying factors can help launch your blog and even keep you on the right track as you continue to write. Remember, it’s not about you the blogger, but about them the reader!


Holly Clinard is Assistant Director of Marketing & Digital Media. Find out more about Holly and the rest of the Advancement Team here. Or contact her at socialmedia@vanguard.edu

Social Media Examiner: 26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts

One of the things that can zoom you straight into being a great blogger is to take a few minutes out of your week to read other people’s blogs. One of my favorite social media blogs out there on the world wide web is the Social Media Examiner. This is a great blog to visit on a regular basis for the latest tips on blogging, Facebook, Twitter, eNewsletters, videos, and more (I receive their daily email updates – you can too!). Recently, they had an article called 26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts – and I found it helpful, and I think you will too!

A great blogging tip of theirs, that immediately jumped out at me was the six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post. These are six “must haves” that you can incorporating on a regular basis as you blog:

  • Eye-catching title
  • In-text links to landing pages
  • Sidebar/banner calls to action
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Call to action at the bottom
  • Relevancy—making sure the post is relevant from top to bottom
Photos courtesy of the Social Media Examiner


Holly Clinard is Assistant Director of Marketing & Digital Media. Find out more about Holly and the rest of the Advancement Team here. Or contact her at socialmedia@vanguard.edu

Big load of gossip?

A lot of people wonder–what is a blog anyway?

To start off, you should know that BLOG does not stand for big load of gossip (little known fact) – it comes from the word: Weblog. A blog is a web publishing tool that allows authors to quickly self-publish text, photos, videos, and even links to other blogs or websites.

Blog vs. Website–what’s the difference?

One word = CONVERSATION! Blogs are like online journals, filled with text or visuals that should be regularly updated. In your blog, the primary content is made up of daily postings as opposed to just static information like you’ll see on a website. Each blog post should be fairly short and to the point, and above all be frequently updated!

But what do I have to say in a blog that’s important?

SO MUCH. Students want to know the latest. They want to read what is happening in your department, they want tips on application processes, to read life experiences of current VU students, to hear from professors – and so much more. Here are a few examples of some good blog content that’s at your fingertips!:


What the faculty is up to (speaking engagements, lectures off-campus, performances, etc.)


If your department is hosting a lecture or event, blog about it. Draw from real experiences at each lecture or event to show more emotions and engage readers as a person so they can connect with you on a human level.


What trips your department is taking (science field trips, music department tours, etc.)?


What successful alums have come out of your department, and out into the world to live the story that God has for them. Your alums will tell the story.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much you can share on your blog. Next time I’ll share about WHO in your department should be blogging–so stay tuned and blog away!


Holly Clinard is Assistant Director of Marketing & Digital Media. Find out more about Holly and the rest of the Advancement Team here. Or contact her at socialmedia@vanguard.edu