How Business Schools Can Maximize the ROI of GMAC’s GradSelect

Posted by Shannon Cook
Shannon Cook is a writer for BusinessBecause and GMAC Media. She is responsible for writing and managing sponsored and non-sponsored editorial content relating to the business school journey as well as covering the latest business news trends. She also heads up the video series, building brand awareness of BusinessBecause across social media channels and the website. Shannon earned a B.A. in English Literature with Legal Studies from the University of Sussex and an M.A. in International Journalism from the University of Leeds.

Posted on Dec 7, 2023 9:00:00 AM

Woman with short hair and glasses takes notes while looking at a laptopCreating meaningful connections with prospective candidates this recruitment season starts with having the right data at your fingertips. GradSelect is a 560k-strong database of qualified global candidates who are serious about pursuing graduate management education.

But with access to such a large—and growing—pipeline of candidates, how can business schools ensure they are maximizing their return on investment and using GradSelect data to create effective campaigns?

This is the question we asked Peter Glanville, director of marketing optimization at Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business in a recent GMAC webinar Maximize Your Investment: Unveiling the ROI of GMAC GradSelect. Having invested in GradSelect leads for multiple years, Peter had some valuable insights to share on strategies for turning data into results.

Christa Johnson-Perkins, product director of marketing solutions at GMAC, also revealed the upcoming changes to GradSelect that schools need to look out for. 

How To Measure the ROI of GradSelect

The messaging and approach schools use to target candidates will differ hugely depending on where they are in their application journey. To help business schools know where to begin, GradSelect leads are clearly grouped in one of three stages: Early Profiles, Consideration, and Decision.

Peter shared that Cornell has also developed a lead status tracker. All leads have a status—prospect, nurturing, application submit, offer, or matriculated. Candidates move further along the pipeline as they engage with marketing such as clicking through the call to action from an email campaign. When their status switches, candidates are presented with new messaging that encourages them further towards applying.

Using platforms such as Salesforce or Slate, business schools can see the status of all candidates and track the percentage of prospects who move further down the pipeline. Peter revealed that for the Cornell residential MBA campaign in 2023, 13% of GradSelect leads moved to nurturing status, 5% started an application, and 3% applied.

Cornell isn’t the only business school to successfully get meaningful results from GradSelect leads. A recent GMAC case study surveyed eight other business schools that all shared impressive conversion rates and an insight into their marketing strategies.

For example, Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business has a six-part email nurture campaign with the goal of encouraging applications. The results speak for themselves: between July 2021 and May 2022, 19% of applications submitted for the full-time MBA program were GradSelect leads.

So, what strategies can business schools use to maximize the ROI of GradSelect leads?

Strategies To Increase ROI

While strong candidate leads will kick-start your campaign, it’s about how you engage with them that will yield results. A strong marketing strategy will have multiple stages that work to capture prospective candidates, personalize their messaging, and encourage them to take the next step.

For Cornell, Peter said that recurring searches have been a key part of this. The marketing team runs monthly recurring searches for its 12 graduate business programs, which gives them access to the most current leads in the GradSelect database.

“It’s been a godsend for productivity,” said Peter.

When the admissions cycle approaches, the next step is to launch a drip campaign, Peter shared in the webinar. Of the schools surveyed in GMAC’s case study, every business school used automated drip campaigns as part of their marketing strategy. Once the drip campaign has completed, it’s key to revise all the emails to analyze what performed well and what didn’t to inform future strategy, said Peter.

A benefit of GradSelect leads is that they give insights that allow schools to be more personalized in their approach.

“The more personalized schools are in their outreach, the more likely they are to make a connection,” said Christa.

As part of Cornell’s strategy, the marketing team targeted leads by intended industry and previous industry as indicated by GradSelect. For example, for candidates who had expressed an interest in finance, the marketing team personalized their messaging to highlight the Cornell MBA Corporate Finance immersion.

“Make sure to bring all columns from GradSelect data in your list as you don’t know when you might need the additional information,” Peter advised. 

What Business Schools Need To Know About GMAT Focus Edition

The launch of GMAT Focus Edition is just around the corner. With it, there will be some changes to the GradSelect database that schools need to look out for.

As candidates opt into GradSelect for 24 months, business schools will begin to see a blend of GMAT exam tested candidates and GMAT Focus tested candidates among their leads. Schools using GradSelect will have visibility of candidates’ GMAT percentile range, GMAT score range, and test date.

Schools will easily be able to identify which test candidates have taken from the test score. The new scoring system for GMAT Focus Edition means all test scores end in a five whereas GMAT exam scores end in zero. GMAC has also added a feature to GradSelect that allows schools to see the percentile range translated into scores for both GMAT and GMAT Focus Edition and create a comparison between candidates.

“Our goal is to help schools discover comparable candidates who have taken either GMAT or GMAT Focus Edition with as little disruption as possible,” said Christa.

These changes are now visible on GradSelect. To learn more, visit

Topics: MBA Program, graduate management education, GME, MBA, candidate insights, GMAC GradSelect

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