How the Buyer's Journey Has Changed in the Higher Education Marketplace

June 25, 2015

LinkedIn Educators

We talk a lot about the buyer’s journey in this blog. Today, we’re going to talk about what the journey looks like when the buyer is a prospective MBA student. Where do candidates go on their journey? Whom do they consult along the way? And how can educational institutions leverage networks like LinkedIn to reach and engage educationally motivated professionals in an increasingly crowded and highly competitive landscape?

Read on for some answers to these questions, which were provided in a presentation today at the 2015 GMAC Annual Conference in Denver by Jessica Naeve, Education Sales Director at LinkedIn.

student journey

There are now more than 4,000 MBA programs in the United States, and competition to attract qualified educational candidates is fierce. Unfortunately for marketers, according to a recent trend analysis reported by Sparkroom, costs per inquiry (CPIs) are rising, while conversion rates remain stagnant. In the wake of these challenges, recruitment and education marketers must find efficient new ways to generate quality leads and keep their schools top of mind with prospective MBA students.

Where does the journey begin?

According to a recent report from CarringtonCrisp, 45 percent of prospective MBA students say word of mouth recommendations are more important than rankings. A 2014 GMAC survey confirms that friends and family are the top “non-school” resource candidates use to research business schools.

In short, peer reviews trump published rankings. Word of mouth and the advice of friends and family have always played an influential role in educational choices. The difference today is that this social component now occurs online and at a heretofore unfathomable scale. With the rise of social media, prospective MBA students can access an unlimited number of opinions at any time, from anywhere—often from a mobile device that’s become a fifth limb.

Today’s student seeks educational information online—particularly on professional social networks.

To reach today’s MBA prospect, you have to go where they go—and they’re going online, in droves. According to the 2014 GMAC survey, nearly half of prospective students (some 44%) use LinkedIn, and that number is growing daily.

A recent LinkedIn survey of students found that they turn to professional networks like LinkedIn twice as often as personal networks when they seek educational content. That’s because personal networks are where students go to spend time, but professional networks, liked LinkedIn, are where they go to invest time.

Students turn to LinkedIn for career advice, lecturer profiles, expert commentary, and more.  And they expect and trust the content they receive from brands on LinkedIn—precisely because LinkedIn is a professional network and its members are there for the express purpose of creating, sharing, and consuming professional content.

content influence decision

Today, savvy colleges and universities are embracing social media to connect and converse with both prospective and current students. In fact, there are now 25K+ schools leveraging the LinkedIn platform.

LinkedIn can help schools improve relationships with all of their key audiences, from prospective students to loyal alumni.

LinkedIn can provide marketers in the higher education sector with tools and data that impact the entire student journey, from researching MBA programs to building a professional network, establishing alumni connections, landing a job, and advancing their careers. For a deeper dive into how LinkedIn can help education marketers reach their audiences, explore the LinkedIn Platform overview.