[Case Study]: Media Restructure Delivers 55% Lead Efficiency in Pandemic Year
The Graduate Management Admission CouncilTM (GMAC) is a global, mission-driven association of leading graduate business schools. They own and administer the Graduate Management Admission TestTM (GMATTM), the most widely used exam for graduate business school admissions. Mindstream Media Group has had the pleasure of partnering with GMAC for several years to hone strategic media initiatives that grow their business, even in spite of the difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic.
GMAC found themselves facing simultaneous challenges. The issue of potential MBA candidates opting out of business school to go straight to the workforce, combined with the increase in schools dismissing the need for the exam when recruiting new students, were already a trend impacting the business over the last several years; moreover, the 2020 pandemic caused all global test centers to shut down for months at different times as the virus progressed in each country. This resulted in a large decrease of their primary revenue source (in-person testing), considering at that point all tests were conducted in person.
These challenges needed to be overcome with less resources compared to previous years, due to the impact of the pandemic.
In order to solve these complex challenges, we gathered data and insights from previous years of campaigns and built a robust, yet lean, paid media funnel where the target audience (potential MBA candidates) could be nurtured through their journey from initial awareness and engagement, to the purchase of test preparation products, all the way through to the exam registration.
Based on the historical data, we completely restructured GMAC’s campaigns across all platforms involved, resulting in a channel mix allocation which included paid search, paid social and programmatic display. Creative focused on each step in the customer journey to resonate with users whether they had not yet considered graduate management education, were merely considering it or were ready to purchase study materials or register for the GMAT exam. Specific and measurable KPIs were identified within each stage to gauge campaign success.
The carefully planned funnel, along with remarkably close monitoring of data through our analytics technology and intel, allowed for agile adjustments on all types of allocations from channels, to creatives, to global regions, with the objective of maximizing the efficiency of every marketing dollar.
At the end of the most challenging year in recent times, the overhauled marketing strategy and implementation of the paid media funnel yielded extraordinary results. In 2020, there was up to a 55 percent improvement (decrease) in Cost per Lead and a 70 percent improvement (decrease) in Cost per Registration compared to the previous year (2019). We anticipate continued improvement throughout 2021 as well as funnel stage allocations are adjusted to fine-tune the structure.
55% YoY Decrease in Cost per Lead
70% YoY Decrease in Cost per Registration
Julie Slovin, GMAC Senior Director of Strategic Marketing notes, “The funnel performed so well that the performance gains that we saw this year I think were so significant that they sort of outweighed the market losses that resulted from the pandemic, from an advertising and marketing effectiveness and efficiency standpoint.” Click here for the full interview.
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