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Times are changing. And business schools are taking note

By Jane Armstrong June 22, 2018

business school

By: Jane Armstrong, EMEA Director, Industry Solutions for Higher Ed

With the expansion of new technologies across every sector and rapid adoption of new engagement approaches, almost every industry is going through somewhat of an digital evolution. “Integrated”, “omnichannel” experiences are now the norm, and in a sector that seeks to engage with the leaders of the future, business schools can’t afford to miss out. In fact, what we’re seeing, is increasing numbers of business schools leveraging highly targeted, data-driven strategies to ensure that the right students apply and enroll at their school.

In addition to technology advances and social factors, there are other forces at play. Recently, during a webinar, Sara Strafino from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) shared GMAC findings on the changing global business school landscape and purchasing patterns of students.

Sara first explained the shift in the geographical span of leading MBA providers. North America is still leading, but it’s clear that there is intense competition from Asia Pacific and Europe. This represents a great opportunity for those regions in terms of attracting new candidates and shows how student mobility is a factor that every school needs to take into account.

Top 40 MBA programs per region

  • In 2000 North America held 80% of the top 40 MBA programs and in 2017 held 45%
  • In 2000 Asia Pacific held 0% of the top 40 MBA programs and in 2017 held 23%
  • In 2000 Europe held 20% of the top 40 MBA programs and in 2017 held 33%

Not only is the graduate management education market becoming increasingly global, but the types of programs graduate schools are offering are also becoming more specialised. Sara explained, that by tracking programs selected by students, they could see that there is considerably increased interest in specialised masters’ programs.

business school course shift

If we consider that, before even contacting a school, students will have completed about 75% of their research, it’s clear that business schools need to be inclusive in how they position and market their courses, in order to attract this new cohort of students who are veering away from the traditional approaches.

During the webinar, Emmanuel Iatrino, Digital Director from leading French business school, ESSEC shared some of their approaches to recruitment. For them, building brand awareness internationally is a priority – they need to attract students from outside of France, they know there’s an opportunity there. And they also know, that in order to make their efforts give a return, they must ensure that the experience from the first touch through to application and admissions is critical. For this, they have employed Salesforce technology.

ESSEC started using the Salesforce platform a number of years ago. The goal was – to capture data from its students and its prospective students in order to better understand them, and then with this information, deliver personalised experiences across the student life-cycle.

One campaign ESSEC ran after launching with Salesforce resulted in a 239% increase in prospect conversion. A clear indication of the power of data.

Relationships have become the currency of higher education. The strength of a relationship often means the difference between getting the ideal student to choose your school over another, the difference between a student deciding to stick it out for another semester or give up, the difference between an unengaged alum and a major donor.

Having a centralised platform and a 360-degree view is the start. It offers business schools the opportunity to become smarter, more student-centric organisations, that can engage in a more connected, personalised way.

Learn how business schools How Business Schools are transforming the way they engage, recruit and retain top students by watching our on-demand webinar. Click the link below to view.