INSIGHTS WHITEPAPER What Motivates People to Apply for an MBA? netnatives.com twitter.com/netnatives

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1 INSIGHTS WHITEPAPER What Motivates People to Apply for an MBA? netnatives.com twitter.com/netnatives

2 NET NATIVES HISTORY & SERVICES Welcome to our report on using data to analyse the behaviour of people considering an MBA and how Business Schools can use the data to recruit them - brought to you by Net Natives Insights. We have taken the most recent data from online searches for and conversation about MBAs, and analysed it to better understand how the social and digital postgraduate landscape impacts on university s marketing strategies. About Net Natives Since 2008 Net Natives have worked with over 200 education institutions where they ve seen an average enrolment increase of 14% year on year across their client base. Net Natives Advertising A Google Certified and Trusted Partner and the first Facebook Business Partner agency outside the US, our online advertising and social media marketing campaigns have recruited students from over 150 countries. We are NOT traditional media buyers; instead we pioneer an agile marketing method for real-time, responsive advertising and combine it with an empirical approach to media buying. We use programmatic advertising software and Big Data, that turns our clients websites into a remarketing engine. Net Natives Insights Our teams of analysts and consultants provide expert qualitative and quantitative research reports and insights for MBA Providers. We deliver essential in-depth country reports, social media, digital and competitor audits

3 TM OUR INSIGHTS EXPERTISE Net Natives are digital marketing partners for over 200 education institutions. Net Natives Insights division uses the latest in digital data analysis to provide actionable insight to the Higher Education sector. An elite Facebook Business Partner A trusted Google Partner Google Analytics Qualified C netnatives.com/china Award winning social listening and social analytics tools Edurank UK Edurank- AUS Edurank - USA Clearingstats.com

4 INTRODUCTION In this whitepaper we will explore the following areas: The MBA Audience Search Behaviour how is the MBA audience searching for opportunities Social Behaviours where are the MBA audience discussing course opportunities online and what are they talking about Institutions Activity Business School Social Activity What activity is generating engagement on Facebook and Twitter Business School Display Ads Activity - What ads are institutions using and which websites are they advertising on

5 SEARCH BEHAVIOUR

6 KEY SEARCH TERMS MBA MBA + Institution MBA + Other MBA Type MBA Ranking MBA + Location Online MBA Executive MBA 9% 10% 6% 4% 34% 11% 12% 14% Source: Google (tool: Google Keyword Planner)

7 POINTS OF INTEREST: The largest proportion of people are searching for the key term MBA on its own MBA providers take the 2 nd biggest share The broader topics surrounding MBAs were also popular and covered 5 main categories - Requirement/Entry, Definition of MBA, Advise during MBA on exams projects, Scholarships and accreditation RECOMMENDATIONS: Ensure you have specific pages for your subject area and course pages, with engaging content and the functionality for someone to enquire. For many providers with lower search rankings, Google ad campaigns should be used to increase course awareness. It s also important that each of the broader topic areas are mentioned on your website and content plans designed to reflect a variety of discussion topics. ASK YOURSELF Do you know what your potential candidates are searching for? Do you appear high in the organic ranking? Have you thought about competitor campaigns? Do students know straight away where they want to study? Have they seen other advertising and are trying to find out more about the provider? Is there currently enough marketing focus on the other topics around MBAs?

8 SEARCH BREAKDOWN BY DEVICE % 27% 6% % 18% 5% Sources: Google (tool: Google Keyword Planner) Top UK and World universities ranked by the QS Top MBA ranking & The Financial Times. Google bringing in mobile friendly algorithm (

9 POINTS OF INTEREST: Mobile MBA searches have increased by 9% in the last year, Tablets increased by 1% Computer searches decreased by 10% 30% of MBA providers websites we looked at were not optimised for mobile RECOMMENDATIONS: Ensure you are using mobile friendly ad copy Keep your copy shorter and include click-to-call functionality in your ads Ensure all your MBA pages are optimised for mobile and are mobile friendly Run mobile-first advertising campaigns with optimised landing pages

10 SEARCH TIMES AND TRENDS Search Trends 2014 Undergraduate Postgraduate Search Trends Present Sources: Google Trends MBA Degree

11 POINTS OF INTEREST: With prospective MBA students generally being from professional backgrounds it s not surprising that there is little seasonal variation to their research, which means they are thinking about career progression at different times of the year. However the 10 year trend for MBA consideration is one of annual decline RECOMMENDATIONS: Ensure you understand the customer journey for your MBA students and that you can provide them with the information they need at all times; by using the right platform, at the right time to engage with these prospective students. Course awareness campaigns across social and display should also be combined with search campaigns throughout the year. ASK YOURSELF Why have MBA searches decreased since 2004? What are the reasons for the peaks in search activity in late 2008? What can be done to renew interest in the sector?

12 UNIVERSITY vs. BUSINESS SCHOOL Global Searches - Top UK MBA Providers University Name and MBA Business School Name and MBA Global Searches - Top Global MBA Providers University Name and MBA Business School Name and MBA 25% 75% 59% 41% Source: Google (tool: Google Keyword Planner)

13 POINTS OF INTEREST: Reviewing search results from all countries for the top 10 UK MBA providers we see that only a quarter searched the business school name and MBA 75% searched for the term MBA with the associated university (not business school) Results only differed by 2% when looking at just UK searches Reviewing global searches for the top 10 global providers shows that the business school was predominately known over the university when searching MBA and either the business school name or the university name RECOMMENDATIONS: Firstly determine whether your institution is known more by the University name or the business school name and focus your messaging to the most appropriate; ensuring your advertising and digital media presence reflects the behaviour of prospective students.

14 SOCIAL BEHAVIOURS

15 AUDIENCE ACTIVITY Percentage of MBA related content MBA Provider Share of Voice MBA Jobs Top MBA MBA Finance MBA Courses MBA Other MBA Location 52% 15% 33% UK Top MBA Providers USA Top MBA Providers Other Top MBA Providers 30 MBA Providers Sources: Net Na7ves insights

16 POINTS OF INTEREST: The data tells a story around the customer journey. Most candidates are initially talking about where they want to, or are interested in studying, followed by the geographic location of the course Other topics such as study support, is closely followed by conversations about course types and funding The least discussed topics cover institution rankings and job opportunities Almost half of conversations about MBA providers focus on the World Top 10 and UK Top 10, MBA providers RECOMMENDATIONS: Look at the conversations happening around your institution and understand the MBA topic areas to see what is important to your target students when considering an MBA. Ensure that you address the most important points in your marketing strategy and with the information you provide to candidates. ASK YOURSELF What are the actual conversations around the providers? Can universities learn from these conversations?

17 KEY REGIONS AND CHANNELS 47% Media Type 26% 19% 7% Social Network Mainstream Forum Blog Source: Net Na7ves insights

18 POINTS OF INTEREST: Social Networks are the dominant platform for discussion around MBA courses, providers and opportunities Mainstream media and forums play their part in generating conversation and awareness of MBAs online, with the former focussing on rankings, research and popularity of MBA programs Looking at the global heat map, the northern hemisphere is most actively talking about MBAs RECOMMENDATIONS: Understand the platforms, locations and languages of your target audience to inform your marketing strategy. People use social media to get advice AND voice their opinion about MBA courses, providers, funding and more. It is crucial that you understand the conversations on these platforms and use the information to improve your own materials. It can be difficult to start conversations on student led forums (where you re not an established part of the community) but you can listen and address concerns or common questions through your social channels. Tools like Facebook Post amplification can help to broadcast your message further. ASK YOURSELF What blogs do MBA students engage with? How can you leverage any PR generated around your MBA courses from the main stream media?

19 BUSINESS SCHOOL SOCIAL ACTIVITY

20 WHAT CONTENT WORKS BEST ON SOCIAL PLATFORMS? Photo Post Link Post Video Post Status Update Event Post Audio Post % of average total engagement generated split by post type Engagement Level 18% 12% 18% 19% 33% Photo Post Link Post Video Post Audio Post Status Post Source: Facebook (tool:fanpagekarma) The data is based on last year Facebook ac7vity of UK and world top 10 MBA providers.

21 POINTS OF INTEREST: Reviewing the content published by the top business schools on social media we can see a number of trends 1. The shorter the post the greater the response. (based on weighted comments and likes ((10* shares +9*comments+1*likes)/ (number of fans)) 2. Photos attract much higher engagement in the form of likes per post than all of the others 3. Video content is the new kid on the blog but makes up the 2 nd highest proportion of engagement after images based posts 4. Video content has an 18% engagement rate but there bare in mind less video content is published due to the production time, in comparison with images 5. Facebook event posts have close to zero engagement RECOMMENDATIONS: Short text and image posts suit those viewing Facebook on their mobile phones; Facebook now regards itself as a mobile platform and with Google following with it s mobile-friendly approach, it is crucial that you design content with mobile in mind. Including links in your post is the best way to get people back to your website and again images can be included for further engagement with link posts, which are particularly good for lead generation and increased web traffic. Make use of your current students for video content and ensure your productions and final edits can be adapted for use on social media. Even videos that are cinematically perfect won t necessarily work well on Facebook, so think about why people are on each social platform and what they might be expecting to see.

22 EXAMPLES OF ENGAGING CONTENT (TWITTER) Occasion Event Video Open Event POINTS OF INTEREST: Source: TwiOer (tool:fanpagekarma) From the top ranked postgraduate universi7es, these are some examples of the most engaging published content. These were some of the highest ranking posts on Twitter and we see that tweets including an image or a video achieve a much higher response than standard 140 character tweets

23 EXAMPLES OF ENGAGING CONTENT (FACEBOOK) Article Lecture Success Post Seasonal Video Source: Facebook (tool:fanpagekarma) From the top ranked postgraduate universities, these are some examples of the most engaging published content.

24 POINTS OF INTEREST: Again with Facebook we found that posts including an image or video achieved a much higher response than other post types RECOMMENDATION: Think about the themes of content that works for your university and your competitors. Create a content strategy with a mixture of themes that will be of interest to all of your audience and vary it with seasonal trends and key calendar dates. Utilise all your assets; the location of your institution, your alumni/ influencers and your events could all be of interest to a prospective student. Look at what s working for content published by the university as a whole and then use what s working and apply that to MBA specific content INTERESTING QUESTIONS: What does a successful piece of content look like? What USPs do you have that you can utilise for your content? Does your content have links back to your key pages? Are you tracking conversions from your content? High engagement levels are great but are you measuring activity against your main objectives?

25 BUSINESS SCHOO DISPLAY AD ACTIVIT

26 Source: Publisher and websites that have ads on (tool:whatrunswhere)

27 POINTS OF INTEREST: There is a good variety of topics being promoted that can be grouped in to a couple of key areas - global connections and geographic landmarks Only a small number of websites are displaying these ads, pigeonholing the audience and ignoring the vast number of sites that a prospective MBA student will be using RECOMMENDATIONS: Original creative should be at the heart of any ad campaign. To stand out in a crowded market place it s crucial to think about your audience and design engaging, unique creative to appeal to them. Most universities advertise across a small number of major publishers but we strongly recommend you use visitor and conversion data to advertise on the websites that your audience actually visit, rather than the ones you think they visit. By all advertising on the same websites you will be paying more per institution and not getting the best return on investment.

28 Media Type Social Network Mainstream Forum Blog 19% 26% 7% 48% Source: Publisher websites (tool:whatrunswhere) & Net Na7ves Insights

29 POINTS OF INTEREST: On many websites your competition is global and not limited to the education sector (Salesforce, GE Capital, Microsot) and they re paying a premium to be in these places The publisher websites that you buy media across make up a small proportion of the websites where conversations are actually happening RECOMMENDATIONS: This highlights even more the importance of good creative and a conversion led strategy (NOT publisher led) for media buying. Looking at partnership opportunities with big brands that may want to recruit your MBA grads or sponsor degrees. How about referencing these organisations in your ads in return for sharing costs and improving their employer brand. ASK YOURSELF Are you buying media direct or programmatically? What conversions are you getting from the publishers where you buy media?

30 FINDINGS Your competition is global - Get creative with your ads and communicate what makes your proposition unique when trying to attract students. People search for MBA courses but don t always search how you d expect - Your MBA pages need to be optimised around the terms your prospective students use, and include data capture functionality. An MBA student cannot be pigeonholed MBA students are a diverse range of people. Think about exactly who you are trying to engage with and what s best practice for that platform when planning and executing your content strategies; theme content and vary what you post. There is growth in mobile usage - You should have mobile optimised MBA pages and be adhering to mobile best practice for advertising and content. Video consumption is growing Ensure that you invest in professional and student resource to create engaging video and edit it to suit the platform you post on. MBA students do use social platforms to discuss MBA courses. Start conversations and target specific groups of users using carefully designed posts and promote this to targeted audiences using amplified content. Students still discuss MBA courses on forums Use forums to research what your audience is talking about in relation to MBA opportunities. Inform your marketing and strategy with this insight. MBA students are active on a huge range of websites Don t just buy media on the most obvious websites. Use your audience data and your conversion data to buy media programmatically, ensuring you optimise to a specific outcome. The digital MBA landscape is more varied and complex than ever Digital research around your MBA brand and audience are crucial for planning and online strategy.

31 TM FOR MORE INFORMATION Steve Evans Founder netnatives.com twitter.com/netnatives NetNatives 2015

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