In Fall 2016, we surveyed 612 college prospects who Googled online programs for an MBA, MS in Nursing, or MS in Education. Participants were asked to review sets of banner ads in their chosen category and pick the most appealing ad among each set. Some of the findings are shown below.
MBA — Tuition, Test-Drive, Testimonial
Summary: This set of ads tested the relative pulling power of a low tuition, a free 3-credit course, and a successful graduate testimonial. A substantial majority of these prospects were most interested in a low cost.
MBA — Free Course, Free Books
Summary: Surprisingly, the two ads that offered a free course were less compelling than free books.
Nursing Testimonials — Promotion, Patient Care, Format
Summary: Though one-third of the prospects chose the “promotion” testimonial with its 20-month time to graduation, more than half chose the testimonial that promised “improved career and patient care.”
Master’s in Education — Popularity, Facts, Innovation
Summary: In this category, prospects who are actively comparing online programs seem more interested in facts than feelings. The school that graduated more teachers pulled 26 percent. The school that stated the tuition and time-to-graduation did even better.