eNEWSLINE - Business Education News from AACSB International

Using Accreditation to Build Your Business School's Quality Image Online

Whether your school holds institution-wide accreditations or specialized, discipline-specific accreditations, such as AACSB Business and/or Accounting Accreditation, clearly communicating your school's quality achievements can further build your brand image online. For example, according to AACSB research, one of the benefits of AACSB Accreditation is that it has a positive effect on a business school's external image (97% of surveyed respondents). The question is where are the best places to integrate your accreditations into your website so that visitors can easily determine your school's level of achievement and locate additional information?

In order to further explore this question, we analyzed our website analytical data to determine which schools were driving the most visitors to AACSB's value of accreditation website (located at: www.aacsb.edu/aacsb-accredited). Perhaps, schools with the most referrals are placing their accreditation information and links to the value of accreditation site in locations that are allowing for easy access by visitors. According to our website data, between January 2011 and January 2012 the same schools consistently registered on the top-ten list of referring traffic sources. There also were several schools that appeared on the top-referral list once or twice throughout the year, which were newly accredited institutions that had placed information about the achievement of their AACSB Accreditation prominently on their homepages.

We visited each of the top-ten referral websites to better understand how these schools were successfully driving traffic to the AACSB Accreditation site. From what we observed, there are a variety of methods that schools are using to promote their quality online through the achievement of AACSB Accreditation, which all are seemingly successful. Here are several of the top referring sites and how they promoted their accreditation achievements.

CENTRUM—Consistent Number One Referring School Website
CENTRUM places the seal within a flash presentation about the institution on its business school homepage. Additionally, the seal is displayed throughout the school's website in the page footer. The school also has a hyperlinked button that reads "acreditaciones internacionales," which translates to international accreditations in English. From this button, the school links to a page that summarizes its accreditations. Within the side of this summary page, CENTRUM provides snippets of why these accreditations are important and links to answers to common questions. For instance, one text link asks "Why hire a graduate from a school accredited by AACSB?" Or, as shown on the CENTRUM website, "¿Porqué contratar un graduado de una escuela acreditada por AACSB?" A second text link reads "benefits for students and graduates." Both of these subheadings direct visitors to AACSB's website on the value of accreditation.

> Homepage

San Jose State University's College of Business
San Jose State displays the AACSB Accreditation seal prominently on its business school's homepage. The college also has a page that explains AACSB Accreditation and why it is important. This page can be easily located by visitors who may be searching for more information about the school and its quality. Both the seal and the page link to the AACSB value of accreditation website.

> College of Business Homepage
> Accreditation Page

University of Houston—Victoria, School of Business Administration
The University of Houston—Victoria displays the AACSB Accreditation seal on its business school homepage next to several logos associated with its rankings. On their "future students" page, the seal also is displayed. Additionally, the school places the seal on its program pages. For example, on its Global MBA Online program page, the seal is prominently shown.

> School of Business Administration
> Future Students Page
> Global MBA Online Page

University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business
The Opus College of Business displays the AACSB Accreditation seal within the footer on its homepage, as well as front and center on a banner featured on its "visitors" page. Both locations link to the AACSB Accreditation website.

> Future Students Page
> Visitors Page

SUNY (State University of New York) Geneseo, School of Business
The State University of New York's School of Business has placed the AACSB Accreditation seal in the center of its homepage where it introduces the school and communicates its quality to inquiring visitors. The page also links to the AACSB Accreditation website.

> School of Business Homepage

The remaining five schools that were on the top-ten referral list included:

• The University of Montevallo's Stephens College of Business displays the AACSB Accreditation seal and a link to the AACSB student website, BestBizSchools.com, on its homepage.

• Florida Gulf Coast University's Lutgert College of Business prominently places the AACSB Accreditation seal on its homepage, as well as on an accreditation page that is easily accessible.

• The Rouen Business School displays all three of its specialized business accreditations on the top of its website.

• The University of San Diego's Rady School of Management earned its AACSB Accreditation in late 2011 and promoted the achievement widely.

• Pforzheim University's Business School also recently earned AACSB Accreditation, proudly displays its achievement in a homepage flash presentation.

As you can see, many schools are very creative in how they integrate information about their accreditations into their websites. Regardless of the level of creativity, it is important that it is not too difficult for your stakeholders to determine who you are accredited by. This is particularly important with regard to the prospective student audience. For example, the most viewed page on AACSB's value of accreditation website is the student page. With more than 13,000 (nearly 14,000) business programs worldwide, students are becoming increasingly savvy about accreditation. And now that most all schools claim to be accredited by one entity or another, prospective students are learning what accreditation means and which types to look for—especially when they visit school websites.

Value of Accreditation Website Redesigned
The AACSB Value of Accreditation Website has been redesign to provide more resources, as well as a smooth transition from school web pages.

> Visit the New Site

> Resources to Promote Your AACSB Accreditation

For more information on this article, as well as other AACSB web properties and the value of accreditation initiative, contact:

Sari Wakefield
Manager, Digital Communications
AACSB International