GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency


GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | January 19th, 2022

Use 2021’s trends to inform 2022’s strategies

Use 2021’s trends to inform 2022’s strategiesAfter another uncertain year of admissions, program changes, and market ambiguity, you may be having difficulty re-establishing benchmarks, planning for the upcoming admissions cycles and even evaluating success. Although you may be ready to move forward, taking stock of recent trends can help inform your next steps.

A recent article in Forbes outlines a few of the top learnings that emerged in the education industry in 2021. We’re commenting on a few of these as it relates to higher ed admissions and marketing so as to carry the lessons of last year forward into our planning.

Pandemic life

The pandemic has continued to dominate headlines. Although this year may have given way to a bit more normalcy, there were still multiple disruptions that created uncertainty. Whether it was offering hybrid options, shifting policies on in-person learning, masking, or modifying events for students, your staff has been required to continuously shift to match the ups and downs of pandemic life.

What lessons can we take forward? Flexibility is king and communication is critical. While business schools herald change management as a key component to successful leadership, it can still be difficult to incorporate these elements into the admissions process, especially when it feels like you are chasing a moving target. But remaining aware of graduate recruiting trends, adapting quickly and communicating clearly can go a long way in validating your transparency to your current and prospective students.

Testing changes

With many schools modifying their admissions testing policies or making tests optional, the value of testing has been called into question for some prospects. If your school made decisions to suspend, amend or eliminate testing requirements based on limited accessibility, you may be facing questions today like when or how to re-instate testing, or what type of test will be your new standard.

What lessons can we take forward? Regardless of what your testing policy is or will become, be as clear as possible in all of your materials – website, digital advertising, emails, events – and make sure your updates are made in real-time to eliminate confusion. If you decide to change a rule, giving your justification for that decision can help avoid confusion. As a higher ed institution, you can feel confident in modifying your policies to fit the current business and economic environment and to ensure the best fit of students in your programs. Just be sure to clearly state your intentions and be transparent.

Enrollment changes

While a downward slide occurred in almost every area of post-secondary education, enrollment in graduate programs grew by 2.1%. In fact, GMAC states in their Application Trends Survey 2021, that, “ candidates hedged their risks and schools introduced more flexible admissions policies, the application volumes soared in 2020. The 2021 application cycle is set in the context of this dramatic growth in applications in the preceding year.”

  • What lessons can we take forward? The value of an MBA and post-grad Master’s degrees persists. And during a time when professionals are rethinking their priorities and reconsidering their career paths, graduate school remains a timeless way to add evergreen skills to any professional’s resume. With the “great resignation” upon us where employees are leaving their jobs in droves, the network students can gain through post-grad programs remains extremely valuable. In your marketing and admissions materials, be sure to tout the skills earned in your MBA or master’s programs as valuable going into the next phase of life.

The past couple of years has been difficult at best. And no one knows what 2022 will hold. But with the tools of flexibility, transparency, and clear communication, your school can stabilize admissions and even increase enrollment

If you need help with a new marketing strategy, selecting the right digital advertising channels to reach your target audience and personalizing communications for your prospects, contact GPRS today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | December 14th, 2021

It matters where your digital campaign lands

It matters where your digital campaign landsWhen was the last time you were interested in a product or company and clicked on an ad hoping to learn more, but the final destination didn’t offer what was promised? Maybe you were directed to a company’s homepage or a general page with very little information. Or maybe you were required to fill out such a long form to get to the next step that you gave up. This can be so frustrating, especially for people who are seeking specific information about a particular degree or program. You don’t want your prospects spending too much time searching for what you promised them in your ad — and you certainly don’t want to lose them once they’ve shown interest.

Where you send people in your digital campaign matters. Here are a few tactics we’ve employed over the years of working in the higher ed industry.

Make sure your call-to-action is clear

When the call-to-action (CTA) of your school’s digital campaign is to “learn more” or “request information,” it’s important that your landing page facilitates that process. Think of your landing page as a win-win for both prospects and your program because they get to learn more about you, and you get to learn more about them. First, be sure your CTA is prominent on the page. Some people may want to go straight to filling out a form, while others may want to read a bit more before committing. Include clear direction on what the form is and what they will obtain by filling it out. While it’s recommended to stick to 4-5 fields in an information capture form, be sure that you’re getting what you need to fully be able to communicate with them.

Apply a solid content strategy to build your page hierarchy

When you’re constructing your landing page, think about it from your prospective student’s perspective. What are the 2-3 key takeaways you want them to know about your program? Lead with strong features and benefits and then present them with additional supporting media. If you can vary the type of content you’re using, like videos, infographics, photos, or alumni spotlights, that’s a bonus because it keeps readers engaged and gives them a sneak peek into your program. And remember, the CTA should always be displayed prominently both above and below the fold.

Keep it short and sweet

For digital campaigns, keep in mind that many people will be viewing your information on a phone. Plan to include content that doesn’t require your readers to scroll for too long. Try using short sentences, bullet points, and clear directions for what you’d like them to do. Make sure your forms are mobile optimized and can quickly and easily be filled out on a phone or tablet.

Require them to give you some information, but keep it casual

There’s a possibility that your prospects are looking at multiple schools at different points during their selection journey. Keep in mind their barriers to commitment and realize that asking for too much information upfront can scare people away. With most digital campaigns, you’re beginning at the top of the funnel which means your goal is to get qualified leads to subscribe to your list, not submit an application. Assuming your campaign is targeted properly, you’ve already done the initial step to find the right candidates. Now, make sure your landing page draws them into giving you enough information for you to contact them.

With these few simple steps, you can optimize your campaign landing pages to make sure your prospects make it to the next step in the funnel.

If you’re looking for an agency that is well-versed in digital campaign planning, set-up, tracking, and real-time optimizations, GPRS is your partner. We can help you create a strategy to collect data and track leads so you can fill your funnel with qualified leads. Give us a call to start the conversation.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | November 29th, 2021

Data makes decisions less difficult

Data makes decisions less difficultOne of the biggest questions universities have about their marketing is related to its effectiveness. How do you know if your marketing spend is making a difference? And while your program may be using common tracking methods like a CRM and data points like website performance, yield metrics, and click-through rates, you may be wondering how to piece everything together to give your team an overall performance picture. We’ve compiled a roundup of past articles that showcase different ways to evaluate data, report on ROI, and make decisions using data.

Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectiveness

Marketing and recruiting success is typically evaluated in black and white terms: Did you meet your enrollment goals? What was your cost-per-seated student? How did digital advertising fare in terms of CPL? Although using a tracking method to evaluate these benchmarks at key points during the year can certainly give you a window into how well your plan worked, it’s also important to look at the results in context. And in terms of planning for the future, this may be the time to create new benchmarks that are adjustable to the market and your prospective students’ needs. Here are a few ways to find meaning in your data from the past year. Learn more in our blog, Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectiveness.

Metrics matter when you’re making decisions

During a time when resources are limited – time, money and people – it’s important to focus your efforts on clear measurable strategies and tactics that will give you a solid return on your investment. While one of the most common key metrics to gauge success starts at the top of the funnel and follows them down to seated students, there are other areas to be aware of including engagement and event attendance. In order to make decisions about your next round of spending, you’ll want to take a holistic approach to data evaluation. Learn more in our blog, Metrics matter when you’re making decisions.

Data-driven marketing: It’s not as complex as you think

Are you intimidated by the term data-driven marketing? It’s not as daunting as it sounds. If you’re not used to working with statistics, crunching numbers, or harnessing large amounts of information, there are simple ways to use data as a powerful resource to help you make informed marketing decisions. Here are some simple ways to start using the info you have to strengthen your marketing campaigns, regardless of your comfort with data visualization tools. Learn more in our blog, Data-driven marketing: It’s not as complex as you think.

Ways to track your marketing spend, optimize your campaigns and find an ROI for your graduate student recruitment campaigns

If you’re not sure if your recent spike or dip in interest, leads, or applicants is related to your advertising, the competition, the economy, or something else, you’re not alone. Gauging ups and downs in your funnel can be difficult and often cryptic. Assuming that your marketing campaign is based on a sound strategy and tied to your enrollment goals, the next most important thing you can do related to your spending is to track it carefully so you can use data to optimize your campaigns for greater success. But how do you get started? Learn more in our blog, Ways to track your marketing spend, optimize your campaigns, and find an ROI for your graduate student recruitment campaigns.

If you’re looking for an agency that is well-versed in digital campaign planning, set-up, tracking, and real-time optimizations, GPRS is your partner. Our proprietary lead optimization platform, GP Insights™, shows your real-time campaign data and can even display industry benchmark data showing how your peers and competition are trending. We can help you collect data on ROI and evaluate it so you can make sound decisions about your marketing strategy. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to give you a demo.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | November 16th, 2021

Tailoring your messaging to your prospects’ career goals

Tailor your marketing to your prospects’ career goalsIn a recent GMAC research survey, prospective students outlined their top reasons for pursuing an MBA. Not surprisingly, getting a raise and advancing in title showed up at the top of the list. Among other goals for prospects were obtaining management experience and a global business mindset. So how — as a marketer — do you find ways to connect the dots between their aspirations and what your program offers? Saying it is one thing but showing it may be even more powerful. Read on for some tips to address common outcomes prospects are seeking.

Top 3 Career goals for MBA students
Image source: Prospective Students Survey. Data collected between Jan-Jun, 2021

Management experience

While your curriculum and course summaries may be listed online, schools can win big by showcasing the type of management experience students will gain by giving real examples. This can be done by highlighting:

  • Client projects where students will function as a leader on a cross-functional team
  • Presentations to entrepreneurs, business leaders and classmates
  • Case studies evaluating and solving real business challenges
  • Competitions among student groups aimed at creating business plans or launching a company
  • Clubs that allow students to lead in an arena of their own interest

Getting a raise

When students are evaluating their career trajectory, they may start by looking at the salary they’d like to make. Some may be seeking a steady increase in salary with a gradual and more traditional climb up the corporate ladder, while others may desire a large jump with an accompanying industry or functional role jump. For schools, outcomes data is often trended over a longer period of time. And although you may not be able to promise an immediate salary jump, it’s important to show upward trends. You can do this through:

  • Including salary reporting data on your website and in communications
  • Reporting on how your school compares to peer schools or national trends
  • Highlighting the ROI story and how quickly students recouped their investment in their advanced degree

Obtaining a promotion or management role

Whether prospects’ goals are to move up the corporate ladder in their chosen field, or to switch industries altogether, they may see an MBA as the key that can open up their next set of doors. Finding a way to position your program as their partner along the journey to a rewarding promotion or management role is key. You can show the value of your program through the lens of career growth by:

  • Sharing alumni testimonials that highlight career movement
  • Reinforcing that an MBA offers a crash course in speaking the “language of business”
  • Showing how broadening your perspective can gain you a seat at the table where decisions are being made
  • Including promotion data on your website and in communications

Global immersion

Whether it’s working outside the country or collaborating across borders, prospects who aspire to a global career are looking for valuable and unique experiences that immerse them in different cultures. It’s important to outline what your global curriculum looks like to help prospects make decisions during the admissions process. To differentiate your program in a sea of programs offering a global mindset, try:

  • Highlighting the student experience through photo galleries and videos
  • Profiling what a diverse work group looks like from a geographic and industry view
  • Detailing what an international immersion might look like through a “day in the life”
  • Outlining what a global work study or exchange program might look like
  • Showcasing trips and explaining what will happen on each one

As you are developing your communications plan, it’s important to consider the key outcomes your prospects are seeking. Focusing on what success looks like for them will help you craft a message that is actionable and relatable, ultimately encouraging inquiry. Having a trusted partner by your side can help you develop a targeted communications plan. GPRS has worked with many schools to create, deploy and optimize their marketing and recruiting campaigns. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | October 29th, 2021

Seize the momentum of master’s in management program popularity

Seize the momentum of master’s in management program popularityAccording to a recent article in the Economist, the popularity of Masters in Management (MIM) degrees is showing no signs of slowing and may even be pandemic-proof. The reasons? Many people have recently reassessed their lives, decided to further their careers and are seeking ways to boost their resumes, skillsets and networks. MIMs often require less work experience, especially for post-undergrad programs and are also less expensive and time consuming than an MBA. And then there’s the skills gained during the program and an attractive high post-graduation salary to put the icing on the cake.

So during uncertain times, while people are still investing in their education to build business skills and their network, how do you take advantage of the momentum and capitalize on your MIM programs?

Segment your audience

While the MBA often requires a few years of work experience and is seen as a career accelerator, MIM programs often serve as a kickstart to a career that is just beginning. It’s important that your marketing department do some research into the target mindset for each demographic and develop separate marketing strategies for each segment including age, undergrad degree and years of work experience.

Creating personas can also help. When you do a deep dive into what your audience is thinking and their stage of life, you can address the barriers to their decision making processes. For example, if they’re worried about getting a job, you can highlight your internship program. If ROI is the question, make sure you provide factoids on how long it might take to recoup the investment. Developing personas can also help your internal marketing and admissions teams collaborate to prioritize your messaging, media strategy and tactics.

Target your media

When you are thinking about where your prospects are hanging out online, it’s important to consider their generation and career stage so you can choose the right platforms to suit their preferences. Although age isn’t the only factor, it is extremely important for online habits. For example, if your prospects are 30 and under, you may consider Snapchat or Instagram. For the 30-45 set, LinkedIn and Facebook may be your best bet. For 45-60+ Twitter or LinkedIn are solid choices because they also deliver news content. For all ranges, targeted Google AdWords campaigns can be successful. Additionally, you may think about how email vs. texting can play a role in how you get in touch with prospects.

Either way, navigating the generational divide can be extremely complex. In a recent blog, we discussed using segmentation and your CRM to bucket your communication strategies. For emails, if you have a birthdate or years of work experience, you might be able to use that knowledge to craft different messages aimed at core motivations.

Guide your prospects through the selection process

Regardless of how a prospect makes their way to your website, you can’t assume that they already know which program is right for them. It’s your job to make it clear to them where they fit before they make it to the “request information” step. If it’s not clear on your website which programs offer certain skills to which demographics, it’s possible you will lose them. Consider optimizing your website content with a “which program is right for me” tool. This could begin with a simple landing page or a survey they take to help them identify their path.

As you’re segmenting your audiences, creating communications that are aimed at certain demographics, and finding ways to promote your best programs, having a trusted partner by your side can enhance your success. GPRS has worked with many schools to create, deploy and optimize their marketing and recruiting campaigns. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | October 20th, 2021

Four ways to ramp up your marketing strategy during another unique recruiting year

Four ways to ramp up your marketing strategyAlthough you may be staring down challenges to your planning process that include financial pressures, demographic changes and adjustments to rapidly changing technology, it’s important to realize that the opportunities that have arisen for the higher ed industry over the past year and a half have encouraged innovation and reshaping the admissions process. Whether you’re just starting to develop your projections, adjusting your enrollment goals, or creating your supporting marketing strategy, here are four ways to prepare for the next round of recruiting in the midst of another unique recruiting year.

Assess your current marketing strategy

Let’s face it. A lot has changed. Your pre-pandemic marketing plans (or even tactics you used last month) may no longer be relevant. Tools, technology, and even your prospects’ mindsets are evolving rapidly. If your marketing and recruiting teams are feeling a collective feeling of “whiplash”, it may be time to assess your current strategies with an enrollment growth diagnostic. When you dissect each element of your strategy with an objective viewpoint, the outcomes can help you develop a roadmap to continued growth and sustainability. Learn more.

And while your marketing department is determining how best to support your new enrollment goals, you may be wondering if you need to request more funds, how to justify more dollars and how to accommodate for constant goal shifting. Addressing these budgeting challenges is the first step in developing a sound digital marketing plan. Learn more.

Address your stalled leads

If you’re like many schools, you’ve got a group of stagnant leads that you’re wondering about. Did they decide to pursue another program/school/path and forgot to let you know? Or is it possible that they may emerge from a black hole as a stealth prospect and raise their hands, magically giving you that last push across the finish line of filling your class? Stagnant leads are tricky for many reasons. Here are a few ideas on what to do with them. Learn more.

The key with stagnant leads is that you can only re-engage them if you know why they stopped interacting in the first place. And a CRM gives you all of the data you need to find out why your leads stopped engaging so you can develop a plan to get them back on board. Learn more.

Set up tracking early

When you track your program inquiries back to specific marketing campaigns, you can powerfully optimize your spending and match your enrollment data back to your marketing efforts to prove ROI. But the tracking needs to start with your very first campaign to be successful. Learn how to measure cost-per-click, cost-per-lead and how to optimize them during the recruiting season so finding your return on investment isn’t a daunting task at the end of the year. Learn more.

Once you’ve determined what you will track, and your systems are in place, your data will begin pouring in. But what you do with that data is more important than how you collect it. When you can attribute your key metrics back to leads and seated students, you can identify what worked and what didn’t. And when you have benchmarks that you can track year over year, it allows your team to develop strategies, make important decisions and allocate resources for your next round of recruiting. Learn more.

Find a qualified partner

In most retail or consumer goods businesses, a good digital agency will be successful in helping meet revenue goals. But finding a firm that has experience in education and enrollment marketing and may even be able to help you keep up with your leads via a qualified contact center is taking it a step further. Higher ed is a definite “niche market” and working with a firm that is both qualified in digital advertising AND has graduate education expertise is key to success.

During a time where many schools are stretching their marketing and operations dollars, you may be looking for creative solutions to meet your enrollment targets. A new approach could be seeking out a shared risk relationship with a firm that gives you more freedom, not more restrictions. A Program Investment Partnership™ with GPRS may be what your school needs. Learn more.

As you’re refining your marketing, determining the right cadence for connecting with your leads, and working on ways to track your ROI, having a trusted partner by your side can enhance your success. GPRS has worked with many schools to create, deploy and optimize their marketing and recruiting campaigns. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | September 30th, 2021

Email basics – finding ways to stay top-of-mind

Email basics – finding ways to stay top-of-mindPerhaps one of the most important middle funnel activities your school can do is consistently communicate with your leads. One way you can ensure that your school stays top-of-mind is to remain in their inboxes. Heading into the recruiting season, one of the key things you can do to enhance your marketing is to be sure your email campaigns are cleaned up, targeted, and automated.

In this roundup, GPRS offers advice on ways to maximize your CRM, create a plan for email communications, and how to track and automate the process to ease the burden on your admissions staff.

Maximizing your CRM

While some prospects are super-engaged and ready to act right now, there are others who are just starting their search and want to “browse.” So how do you strike the balance of giving everyone what they need, when they need it, but not turning them off? The answer is a structured plan. Even for the hottest prospects, you want to be sure you’re not coming on too strong.

For all prospects, consider a base weekly email campaign, or a communications map that is auto-triggered to send messages every 10 days (following lead entrance into the system). For the active leads, you can layer on a calling or text campaign. By mapping out your communications, considering your audience’s motivations, and varying your frequency, you can find ways to connect with your prospects on their terms. Learn more.

Nurturing your leads

The beauty of most CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems is that they give your school the ability to automatically connect with your prospects over a set period of time via email with no manual labor involved. Using these tools can help you nurture your leads so they feel important and give them the information they need to take action. Here are some creative ways on how to use CRM data to keep engagement high and re-energize prospects that may have fallen off the radar. Learn more.

Automating your email plan

As you plan for the upcoming recruiting year, you’ll want to make sure your email plan is automated, set up for consistent communications, and tailored to your prospects’ needs. This can ease the burden on your admissions staff and give your prospects confidence that they can expect personalized customer service from your program. Learn more.

Tracking effectiveness and ROI

When you’re using an automated tracking system that ties in with your CRM and aggregates all of your marketing and email data in real-time, you can use that information to optimize your tactics throughout your recruiting season. When you can track every program inquiry back to specific marketing campaigns and messages, you can see where they came into the system and how they interacted with your emails after they arrived. This is a great way to match your enrollment data back to your marketing efforts to prove ROI at the end of the year. Learn more.

As you’re refining your email communications, determining the right cadence for connecting with your leads, and working on ways to track your ROI, having a trusted partner by your side can enhance your success. GPRS has worked with schools to create, deploy and optimize their email campaigns. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | September 17th, 2021

Addressing admissions myths in your communications

Addressing admissions myths in your communicationsBusiness school has always had a reputation of being sophisticated, selective – and for some, even an exclusive club. This perception can serve as a double-edged sword; it’s enticing, yet also a deterrent. For many schools, marketing includes a delicate balance of maintaining your reputation of being selective while also appearing accessible and personal. The good news is that you can address common admissions myths in your communications and your enrollment process.

Recently one of the most highly selective programs in the country published an article on Poets & Quants, “11 Myths About Getting into Harvard Business School.” Regardless of where your school falls on the spectrum of perceived selectivity, you can address prospects that may be intimidated by the degree, the competition, or just business school in general.

Address personal barriers

Many people who are considering a graduate program have similar personal and professional barriers in common, especially for MBA and Executive MBA programs where they may already be in an established career. These include:

  • Cost
  • Time commitment
  • Admissions requirements
  • Current job responsibilities
  • Family commitments

Prior to prospects entering your funnel, they have questions that you can address in your digital advertising, website, marketing materials and events. Offering direct messaging that acknowledges their hesitations can be done with transparent questions like, “Is now your time?”; or reassuring statements like, “We know you have questions, let’s chat.” Learn more.

Address business school myths

Regardless of how selective (or not) your program is, there will always be those prospects who are too intimidated by the idea of business school to apply. Here are some common misconceptions that can create the perfect storm of doubt in your prospects’ minds:

  • It is too hard to get in
  • Test scores are the only determining factor
  • The environment is cutthroat
  • Faculty is not accessible
  • The return on investment isn’t there
  • A background with a low undergrad GPA or an unconventional career path can be a deterrent

For some of these myths, you can easily add verbiage to your application and admissions pages on your website. You can also employ current students and alumni to give testimonials regarding their application process to give a personal and believable spin on the information you’d like to present. In addition, you can combat the inaccessible faculty myth by including professors at your on-campus events, in webinars, in videos, or in sample classes that provide a preview of faculty interaction. The last thing your prospects want to feel like is “number.” Do your best to combat that feeling with a strategy aimed at transparency and personalization.

Address truths and misconceptions about your school

Let’s face it, certain schools or programs have the reputation of being aimed at specific functional areas – such as finance or operations. There may also be a misconception that unless you are targeting a CEO career path, the program may not be for you. Although those things may not be true, your prospects may believe their success will be limited in your program.

A few things your prospects may be concerned about:

  • There’s a certain type of person/background that will fit the student profile
  • The program is only for a certain career path
  • The application process is too difficult

While you may want to highlight certain career paths, classes, or professors, it’s important to showcase a well-rounded curriculum and focus on how all backgrounds can be successful. This can be done by highlighting alumni with diverse backgrounds and outcomes. You can also find ways to showcase those with non-traditional career paths and how they fit into the classroom dynamics and peer groups. The goal is to show how everyone can belong and that all backgrounds and skillsets are valued.

With just a few additions to your website, marketing materials, and admissions process, your school can be well on its way to myth-busting common misconceptions to open the door a bit wider for your prospects.

If your school needs help brainstorming ways to improve your communications and address your prospects’ barriers in marketing, GPRS can help. Our team has worked with over 60 schools to develop solutions to increase lead activity and grow enrollment. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | August 30th, 2021

With less people taking the GMAT, what is happening to the top of your funnel?

With less people taking the GMAT, what is happening to the top of your funnel?The GMAT was once seen as the gold standard in higher ed — a way to predict success of prospects in an MBA program, a determinant of quantitative skills and a judge of work ethic. And because of the test’s reputation and its status as a key gatekeeper for prospective students, many schools have been using GMAT test registrants to populate their databases for years. Due to the pandemic and recent market shifts, the GMAT is on the decline, and along with it, its ripe list of registrants. So what can schools do that have relied on this test for so long?

The GMAT is on the decline

In today’s market, there are several reasons why GMAT is on the decline, according to a recent article in Poets & Quants:

  • Fewer schools than ever before are requiring it, due to the upheaval the pandemic has caused on test-taking in general.
  • The GMAT is losing market share to the GRE; where tests are required, the GRE is quickly growing in popularity as its at-home version had a smoother rollout during the pandemic. It’s also less expensive.
  • Currently more than two-thirds of B-schools in the U.S. now offer some form of waiver. And of the top 50 programs, 32 now offer applicants a path to avoid taking a test all together. That number is growing as the pandemic stretches on.
  • Schools that previously required the GMAT and waived it during the last admissions cycle are having trouble justifying a return to stringent test requirements.

So what is this doing to the top of the funnel?


Schools that relied heavily on purchasing GMAT registrant names to populate their databases and mailing lists are seeing less availability of qualified leads. Although fewer test takers don’t necessarily equal less interested prospects, it is a disturbing trend in higher ed that marketing and admissions departments across the country haven’t yet figured out.

If your school falls in this category, here are a few potential solutions:

  • Expand your name purchase strategy to include competitor tests like the GRE.
  • Develop and expand your lead generation campaigns to target those who frequent admissions sites like Poets + Quants and rankings websites.


Schools that previously relied on a minimum GMAT score to determine candidate viability may be having trouble gauging prospects’ qualifications. There are many schools that have devised specific formulas to predict students’ success in the program based on certain quantitative scores, especially for programs with a heavy finance and accounting curriculum. In addition, other schools see the GMAT as being extremely rigorous and use it as a way to gauge prospects’ commitment to studying for the test and potential work ethic that will help them succeed in the program.

If your school is struggling with finding ways to gauge lead quality due to the GMAT decline, here are a few potential solutions:

  • Develop a new set of criteria to establish a baseline of requirements.
  • Determine a new way to gauge commitment, like a test developed by internal faculty.
  • Review the success of the students admitted in the past admissions cycle against the students’ performance from the previous 2-3 years. Determine what differences there were.
  • Find a way to bring perceived lagging students up to speed with a class prior to being admitted or starting the program.

There are many ways that schools can overcome the shifts that have been caused by the pandemic, but it can be extremely difficult to overcome these challenges, especially when you are in the midst of constant change and a static recruiting cycle.

If your school needs help identifying ways to increase the quantity and quality of your leads, even with the declining GMAT test taker numbers, GPRS can help. Our team has worked with many schools to develop solutions to increase lead activity and grow enrollment. Start the conversation today.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | August 18th, 2021

What higher ed can learn from luxury brand marketing

What higher ed can learn from luxury brand marketingIf you’ve ever purchased an expensive watch, the latest handbag or designer shoes, you hope that the quality is worth the cost. Regardless of your motive for buying a luxury brand – a desire for buying the best, or the ability to show others you have refined taste, the reality remains the same – you were willing to pay a lot of money for something you hope delivers value.

An advanced degree is similar in many ways – and often costs even more than that bag, scarf or piece of jewelry you’ve been eyeing. Let’s take a look at the similarities between luxury brands and higher ed, and what schools can learn from how the big brands do it.

Marketing for luxury goods

Advertising for luxury goods and brands tend to focus on opulence, quality and the happiness you will feel when you interact with their brand. They want to inspire confidence in customers that they will elevate their status by using their product. They do this by:

  • Using elevated words like timeless, performance, prestige and elite
  • Using imagery that conveys luxury
  • Employing prestigious spokespeople, celebrities and clients
  • Implying scarcity, as in, it’s hard to obtain, find or fit into
  • Implying a mystique – what’s in the secret sauce?

In addition, there are some things they don’t do, like:

  • Mentioning price
  • Telling you where to find/buy it
  • Stating the value you’ll receive (as it’s implied)

As far as the channels they use:

  • Avoid casting a wide net and instead focus on channels that allow targeting of specific demographics.
  • Rely on word of mouth and personal recommendation.
  • Extend their customer service beyond the purchase with nurturing, personal care.

Using luxury brand marketing strategies and tactics for higher ed

While you may not use every advertising technique listed above, schools can:

  • Focus communications on where the degree will take you, the elevated circles it will place you in and the performance aspect of the new skills you will obtain.
  • Use imagery that conveys your brand. If you can’t swing a custom photo shoot, opt for campus shots and tight criteria on stock images.
  • Highlight prestigious alumni, faculty or current students as representatives of your programs.
  • Emphasize selectivity while remaining open to a diverse set of students.
  • Imply there’s a secret recipe to the success of your graduates without divulging the ingredients.

Like luxury brands, schools should avoid:

  • Mentioning price, ‘deals’ or words like ‘less-expensive’ or ‘cheap’
  • Limiting campus visits to scheduled appointments – instead encourage prospects to explore the campus on their own to get a feel for the atmosphere
  • Pushing too hard on the value you will receive for the money as this may concern some prospects and cause them to do in-depth price comparison

As far as channels go, schools can take a page out of the luxury good playbook and:

  • Target certain demographics for specific programs and do research on what channels your ideal student uses
  • Rely heavily on alumni referral
  • Provide nurturing, personal outreach to as many prospects as possible

Although there are many similarities between luxury goods and the higher ed industry, it’s clear that an advanced degree will take you much farther on your journey than a pair of designer shoes. Highlighting the benefits of your degree, showcasing successful alumni and targeting your advertising in both channel and communication type can go a long way.

If you need help customizing your marketing strategy and communications plan to appeal to your prospects, GPRS can help. Our team has worked with a wide range of schools to develop solutions to increase lead activity and grow enrollment. Start the conversation today.



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For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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