Evidence-Based Innovation Blog

Business School Market Research with Google Alerts

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 11:04:00 AM

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Do you know what web conversations are saying about your MBA program?  Do you know what the web conversations are saying about competitor MBA programs?  Do you know what the web marketing efforts of your MBA program look like to others?

google alerts spy 250

In today’s competitive MBA marketplace, knowing the answers to these questions is a necessity.  Automated search and web intelligence tools can provide busy MBA program managers answers to these and similar questions with relative ease.  These simple-to-use tools not only search and organize the answers for you; they can deliver results to your inbox on a daily basis.  One tool with which I am most familiar is Google Alerts.

Google Alerts has been around since 2003.  I have been using Google Alerts as a business school qualitative research tool for approximately five years and find the tool extremely useful for monitoring topics of interest.  Several months ago, I created two Google Alerts, one for monitoring MBA programs in general and the other for monitoring EMBA programs in general.  Each morning, I receive two email alerts with everything Google found during the previous 24 hours relating to either subject.  Usually, there are between 15 and 100 items. I then scan the list of topics for relevance and select the articles of interest to review.

Google Alerts Introduction

Google Alerts is free and is easily set up.  You establish your search by selecting keywords that are appropriate for the subject you want to monitor.  In preparation for this article, I established an alert for “Kenan Flagler MBA.”  You can see the results of the search in the adjacent insert.  The search found two items during a 24-hour period; one was a blog post and the other a web post. No news item appeared.  In addition, there is a link to each source.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Google results


What You Can Do With Google Alerts

Google Alerts can complement business school market research to:

  • Monitor a developing news story that is about your MBA program, faculty member, student, or alumni

  • Keep current on an MBA program competitor

  • Learn where you or your MBA program is cited or quoted

  • Get the latest on your MBA program’s sponsored event

  • Find when someone links to your MBA program’s web site

  • Discover new websites that may be beneficial to your MBA program


Getting Started With Google Alerts

Other than a few minutes of time, it cost nothing to get started.  The following steps may prove useful for anyone that has never used Google Alerts.

  1. Go to the Google Alerts home page and create one or two simple searches.  Select topics that you already know something about so you can compare the results and the various options Google Alerts makes available to users.

  2. Closely review the alerts you receive in your email.  Click on the links associated with each search result.  You will likely find that some of the results are not relevant to your topic. Unfortunately, when setting alerts, Google does not allow for the exclusion of certain topics.

  3. Refine established searches or create new searches by going the Google Alerts manage page.  At this point, you can start collecting information so you can answer the questions posed at the start of this article.

More information is available by clicking Google Alerts.


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Rodney Alsup, Dr. Rodney G. Alsup is director of international programs and professor of accounting at The Institute for Business Administration in Bucharest, Romania, and Percept Research Senior Consultant.  Dr. Alsup assists Percept Research clients in a variety of consulting engagements.  He also created a blog to help MBA students live and work smarter while earning their degree.  Rodney welcomes your questions and comments.

Topics: Secondary Research, Rodney Alsup