How IMD Business School Capitalizes on Search Engines to Drive Results


Tamar Koifman | March 02, 2017

In the world of leading global executive business programs, Lausanne’s IMD is one that stands at the top. The school takes a unique approach to recruiting executive education participants, taking inspiration from the search engine marketing strategies of luxury brands to drive success. (A Digital Luxury Group Case Study)

On the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, in the bustling student-friendly city of Lausanne, lies IMD Business School. Consistently ranked one of the top business school programs in the world, IMD is dedicated to developing global leaders through high-impact executive education.

The team behind IMD’s success also believes in high-impact marketing programs that drive the flow of business-experienced executives looking to up their education. The challenge faced by IMD was that it was far from the only business program looking to attract top candidates and it needed an effective way to drive lead generation without disrupting other areas of its business too much.

Behind the scenes at IMD the impact of search engine marketing was being discussed, and it was determined that this should be a key area of focus for the school. IMD hired Digital Luxury Group (Luxury Society's parent company) to create and implement the global SEO strategy. 

Interested in learning more about Search and how it affects your brand?

Not only did IMD want to increase visits from search engines, but it wanted to increase qualified leads and do it all without modifying the existing website. To put it simply, IMD wanted SEO results without changing a single comma or letter on their website. 

Working together, IMD Business School and DLG addressed the challenge by taking on a mindset that IMD was a brand and needed to approach its search engine marketing efforts in the same way a consumer brand would.

After a website audit, in order to achieve IMD’s goals, three core optimization areas were defined: 

Search Engine Optimization: strategies and techniques used to ensure a website ranks highly on search engine results pages

Funnel & Conversion Rate Optimization: simply put, analyzing why visitors aren’t converting to a lead or sale and fixing it

Heat Map Testing: a graphical representation of data where varying degrees of a single metric are shown using colors directly on website screenshot

To provide the necessary solution without modifying the existing website, DLG created “its own” website within the structure. The purpose of the new structure was to allow DLG to create and manage dedicated search engine landing pages. When a prospective program participant does a search on Google for “Management Training Programs”, for example, they are redirected to a dedicated landing page specifically designed to convert that lead into a registration.   

Once the website within the existing website has been created, a continuous series of split testing started (driving people to different page designs to determine which design converts better) to determine which design provided the best conversion and track path from visit to lead. This process, over a period of 4 months, allowed IMD to significantly increase the number of qualified leads it was receiving online.

In parallel, a mapping of the school’s corporate website was done to better understand how visitors interacted on the site, where they clicked, and also important - where they didn’t click.

At the end to generate targeted visits and qualified leads for IMD, Digital Luxury Group’s luxury-influenced approach took the form of:

Optimizing to be search engine & visitor friendly

Analysis of over 700k keywords to identify the most strategic ones

Coordinating the creation and integration of articles in

Making necessary adjustments on the code of each page to strengthen the ranking of IMD on priority keywords

Testing multiple page designs to identify the best converting design for each education program

This approach produced tangible results for IMD. By the end of September 2016, the dedicated website built by DLG within website welcomed:

If the same results were accomplished through digital advertising IMD would have had to spend 1.9 million USD in media in 2016 alone.

Claudio Crivelli, IMD’s Head of Program Marketing, had positive things to say about results: “The DLG team has shown insightful expertise in analyzing and understanding IMD customer behaviors online. Their work in optimization has led to improved search engine rankings, better user experience and digital being our number one business channel. And importantly we are now able to measure the effectiveness of all of our online marketing and multi-channel activities to promote research and generate sales leads.”