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EdTech Marketing Guide #4: Hacking the student recruitment process - Matthieu Pouget Abadie, VP Stud

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

EdTech marketing guides

Practical tips from leading EdTech CMOs

Purpose of these guides

Marketing is such a critical function for an EdTech start-up and we know that getting reliable marketing insight is not an easy task. In addition to The State of EdTech Marketing Report that we recently published, we decided to launch a series of short practical guides that we created alongside leading EdTech CMOs.

These guides are intended to not only recognise their talent and great work but also to help you craft your marketing strategy, stay informed and to inspire you. Think of these guides as an EdTech marketing resource that you can tap into whenever you need some high-level tips.

We hope you find them useful and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions and/or suggestions (We highly appreciate feedback at Brighteye!).

Join our EdTech marketing community

We have launched a curated EdTech marketing Slack community, in which EdTech CMOs are able to exchange, ask questions and share experiences freely whenever they need it (e.g. advice, tips, recruitment, news, tools, etc.). If you're interested in joining, email us 📩 in order to receive an invitation.


Building an efficient student recruitment strategy while boosting students’ experiences

- Matthieu Pouget Abadie, VP Students at OpenClassrooms

OpenClassrooms is a leading online platform that offers high quality programs (bachelor and master-level diplomas) and career coaching services for people who want to take their career to the next level. They are pioneers in offering diplomas officially recognised by the French government. Their moto is to make education accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Who’s Matthieu and what’s his background?

Matthieu is the VP Students at OpenClassrooms and he’s charge of whole student sourcing, recruitment and enrollment strategy. Before that, he was in charge of the growth marketing strategy both at OpenClassrooms and Chauffeur Privé. Matthieu is originally from Paris France and after living in the US, Amsterdam and Singapore settled back to his home town. When he's not focusing on OpenClassrooms recruitment strategy, he is probably lost reading the Wait But Why blog.

What motivates you as an EdTech marketer?

Having worked in many different industries in the past, I am passionate how skill development and acquiring new competencies can totally reboot one's career & perspective. Through continuous training, one can become literally "future-proof", update their professional opportunities and change their live. OpenClassrooms is doing that exactly and contributes actively to the democratization of online training, making education accessible to everyone. Leading our company's growth, marketing and the overall students recruitment strategy is simply an amazing challenge that I am proud to be part of.

How is OpenClassrooms hacking the students' recruitment process?

Our mission is to make education accessible for everyone, everywhere. We deliver full-time online training paths to students interested in acquiring new competencies and ensure they are on the right track to achieve their ultimate goal: a new job in tune with the new competencies and skills they acquired. At OpenClassrooms, we focus a lot of our energy on the recruitment process as it is one of the first pieces for delivering an amazing student experience. We believe that they are 4 dimensions through which we can achieve our mission.

#1 Transparency and employability focused

We provide as much information as possible upfront in order to (1) highlight our unique value proposition and (2) manage expectations. For instance, we share details on estimated income after graduation, future job’s responsibilities, detailed program structure (i.e. projects, mentorship) and invite prospective students to talk to alumni, who we consider as ambassadors. We communicate on the fact that all our curriculum is designed to meet market demand for jobs. We basically reverse-engineer our curriculum to increase employability and this transparency with our future students help us increase conversion.

#2 Company’s DNA

We standardized our brand and marketing strategy. We internally created a brand book that includes everything from company’s value and mission to design kits and graphic guidelines. This brand book has become our marketing bible and every single employee knows that she/he needs to refer to it when it comes to marketing.

(Note: We did not want to outsource that process to a third party agency since it is the cornerstone of a company’s DNA. The two founders were deeply involved in the process as they are the only ones who have such a strong emotional understanding of and a deep sensitivity about their company).

#2 Fit, fit and fit

Once prospective students truly understand the program, they submit their information and we carefully review their application. (Note: Today this step is semi-automated as we believe that human interaction makes a huge difference). To me, this step is the most important part of the entire process - We spend time and energy on understanding the student’s motivation and aspirations and mapping their skills (both hard & soft) very thoroughly. The aim is to assess the potential fit and see whether their goals are realistic and how we help. If we come across a “mismatch”, we come up with a solid alternative and tailored plan as a suggestion. We genuinely want our students to accelerate their career, not jeopardize it and, based on our experience, we know that great matching will translate into a higher completion rate and happier students.

#3 Removing barriers

We quickly understood that one of the biggest challenges for our students, who would like to become premium users and earn a recognized degree, is financing. One way to overcome this challenge in France was for us to become an official registered vocational training institution and offer state-recognized diplomas. We pioneered that process by becoming the very first online training institution to get such registration, unlocking a series a financing options. In France, our financing options vary from employer sponsorships to local government bodies. We have financing experts in-house who constantly accompany and coach our students on this side of things. We try to make this step as easy and painless as possible.

#4 Human touch at the center of our program

At OpenClassrooms, we believe that human relations facilitates learning and increase motivation. That’s why we have dedicated experts and mentors who actively accompany our students in their learning path. These weekly sessions not only increase a program’s stickiness but also truly motivate students to go the extra mile. We meticulously select our mentors, and we leverage also our alumni network, who interestingly are proving to be excellent mentors!


In summary, these are the essential tips from the OpenClassroom's approach:

#1 💁‍♀

Spend as much time as you can on understanding your prospective leads in order to make sure that there is a match between them and your company. They need to understand that you can genuinely help them achieve their goals. The sooner they reach that WOW moment, the more your conversion rate is likely to increase.

#2 🔙

Reverse-engineering your value proposition and offering to ensure that both are 100% aligned with your customers’ needs. This will help you optimize and smoothen your acquisition funnel(s).

#3 ⚗️

Identify the main pain points within your user journey and overcome them by offering clear and simple solutions. Some solutions will be time consuming to implement but once they’re there, they will certainly enhance your overall offering by removing barriers, and create a competitive moat in the long-run.

#4 🕺

Depending on the nature of your business and you user flow, you may want to add and leverage a few human touch points from time to time. At the end of the day, most humans like to talk to other humans and this has proven to be a key differentiator for OpenClassrooms.

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