What's next for the business school website?

19 December 2019

In just 12 years, business school websites have transitioned from poorly thought through marketing tools which often neglected what core audiences wanted to integral digital marketing tools, but the journey is far from over. Working with EFMD, CarringtonCrisp has run the GenerationWeb study for 12 years and the recently published study suggests some key directions for the next part of the journey – more video, greater authenticity and a focus on engaging content.

The latest GenerationWeb study worked with 603 students from 49 nationalities to review a series of school websites and to understand how students use digital tools in their decision-making. Video use is very much on the rise - just over half (53%) watch video on school websites, up from 46% in last year’s study and half (50%) search for business school videos on YouTube and other video sharing platforms, also up from the previous study (39%).

Video is increasingly becoming a staple of website home pages with recent additions at Saïd, Cass and ESCP Europe, but there are a host of ways in which video is being used for different audiences with different impacts. In the UK research by UCAS suggested the ideal length for a video for prospective undergraduate students was just under a minute. At Rotterdam School of Management, video is used regularly to communicate their latest research findings.

Perhaps, most importantly, however, video is used it should be authentic for its audience and this is a message that resonates across a business school website. The study reveals some scepticism around content on business school websites. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents relayed that they are more likely to believe independent reviews from students and graduates than content from a business school itself. The school website may be the medium used by prospective students, but the message needs to be delivered not just by the business school. 

Another part of delivering authenticity is engaging content. Other than course content, students prioritise rankings (67%) as their most important content on a school website followed by accommodation/housing (51%), fees (50%), living costs (50%), career services (50%), open days (46%) and accreditation (44%). Some of this content needs hard facts, but stories from students which perhaps tell a journey from open day through study to career services and beyond, provide powerful insights for future students.

In the first GenerationWeb study, one of the key conclusions was don’t put the Dean on the home page, the argument being that this was a prime piece of digital real estate and the space could be better used for prospective students. Today, the message might be, put the prospective student on the home page in a video and have their story inspire the next generation.

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