Following a meeting with the OU vice chancellor, Good Growth presented initial thoughts to Group Communications Programme Manager Colin Morris. Colin identified the pay per click (PPC) page for the MBA as an area where Good Growth’s skills, methodology and insight could be useful.

“The MBA is a flagship product for the OU and we wanted to see what could be achieved using the Good Growth approach with a ring-fenced area of the curriculum. We knew that there were a number of issues and challenges with the way that the MBA was presented online, particularly in terms of the complexity of messaging and where website visitors were actually directed. We had lots of information but it was held in various places with responsibility distributed across the university”. said Colin.

For any potential student, investing in an MBA is never an impulse decision. It may take someone months or even years to finally commit to what is, in many ways, a major life decision. There are multiple considerations that include finance, the nature of the study itself (part time, distance or full time), the impact on family time and whether achieving an MBA will provide the career benefits sought by each individual.

To assist in their decision-making, MBA students want detailed information. The challenge for the OU was what information should be provided and at what stages in the decision-making process.

Colin highlighted the key areas where Good Growth was invaluable: “There were a number of key strengths that were of obvious and immediate benefit. The Good Growth team offered us a huge depth and breadth of analytical expertise and they very much focused on the customer experience and customer need. They didn’t have an agenda so were completely dispassionate and neutral about the results. One of their real strengths is that they are able to tell you as a business what changes need to be made to a customer journey and they can back this up with hard facts”, he said.

Over a three month period, Good Growth built an insight platform from several sources: Dax, Crazy Egg page engagement analytics and Qualaroo customer surveys at point of interaction on the website. This was supplemented by interviews with those individuals within the organisation with the most consumer interaction and therefore the most insight into customer questions and barriers.

An initial hypothesis was developed which put forward the view that candidates were not reserving places as fast as they could because the critical and compelling differentiating information for the OU as a provider was spread across too many pages or was simply not available.

This hypothesis was moved forward into an A/B split test using Optimizely. Half of existing traffic went to the existing page, the other half to a newly-developed ‘Challenger’. At the time, Colin admits he was sceptical.

“The test page that was developed was very different to our normal approach. It was a long page and extremely detailed which was split into clearly signposted areas with multiple calls to action. This was supplemented by the use of at-a-glance graphics that highlighted our key points of differentiation”, he said.

The Challenger emerged as the clear winner. There was over 100% more interest in coming to an event and over 66% more interest in attending a webinar. The page delivered encouraging commercial results, with 62% more leads and 33% more registrations. This equates to around £207K in additional revenue and £701K additional lifetime revenue.

The success of the new PPC page, built and tested using Good Growth’s Customer to Action® process, showed that creating sales executions based on a rich insight platform can deliver significant benefits. It also showed that the vast majority of customers were willing to engage in the sales process completely online and that there is a significant opportunity to continue to drive performance improvement in the MBA in the UK and internationally in 2014.

“Working with Good Growth proved to be an interesting and valuable experience”, says Colin. “They weren’t distracted by internal roles and responsibilities or web infrastructure, but focused on the customer, their expectations and information needs. They were particularly good in organisational terms, driving the project through with a clear methodology and a total focus on deadlines. I feel we have made great strides with regards to the relevancy and clarity of the information we provide to prospective MBA students”, he concluded.