Writers love clicks. In a world driven by rankings and records, clicks supply immediate gratification. They reflect which stories broke out beyond core readers to resonate with a wider audience. In some cases, these stories hit the right topic at the right time. Other times, their popularity is a testament to a unique perspective or flawless execution.
Of course, clicks have their critics. The purists will claim they are ego boosters for writers and cover to appease advertisers. Pageviews are coveted by sellouts and shills they say, an excuse to chase low-hanging fruit at the expense of producing challenging and time-consuming content. That’s not how John Byrne views the situation. Before launching Poets&Quants in 2010, Byrne served as the Editor-In-Chief of Fast Company and Businessweek.com. Now in his 45th year as a journalist, Byrne believes audience metrics enhance the reader experience.
A FOCUS ON THE AUDIENCE
“Some people decry stories that get a lot of clicks as click bait,” Byrne says. “I see them as stories that touch a lot of people and have a lot of impact. It’s all about serving the audience instead of serving yourself.”
Since its founding, Poets&Quants has focused on its readers. That’s why its stories generally target three motifs: choosing the right school, maximizing the MBA experience, and landing a high-paying job with the right employer after graduation. To do this, Poets&Quants produces content like breaking news, rankings, statistical analysis, student profiles, in-depth interviews, and reader engagement. Our goal, as always, is to act as guides that enable students to capitalize on an investment that often demands two years and six figures before yielding any return.
This August, Poets&Quants is celebrating its 10th anniversary. In doing so, we decided to look back, to examine the stories that piqued readers’ imagination – often enough for them to refer back to them over the years. From movies to MOOCs and rankings to reviews, here are the 10 stories that generated the most clicks from 2010-2020.
1) 10 Movies Every Business Student Must Watch: It is fitting that our most-read story wasn’t written by a P&Q staffer (aside from the opening four paragraphs). Instead, it is the work of Aditya Singhal, an entrepreneur and tutor who was a fan of the site. The premise of the story is strikingly simple: Singhal ranked his top 10 favorite business-themed movies. In the process, he created eye-catching graphics featuring a photo and quote from each film. Below each, he’d author a paragraph outlining the film’s main business lesson. It is sleek, succinct, and stirring, minimalist in structure and expressionist in delivery.
Written in 2014, the story didn’t race out of the gate in terms of views. Rather, it stirred a lively debate among readers on notable omissions (Glengarry Glen Ross, Boiler Room, and The Social Network among them). Thanks to SEO, the story stayed “above the fold” to borrow a print term. As a result, it often generates a few thousand views a month (a feat that hasn’t been replicated by P&Q’s staff in subsequent attempts). Come 2021, the story is expected to break the million pageview mark.
So take a look. Wall Street is a given. Citizen Kane is a classic. And Tucker is…wait, does anyone even remember Tucker?
2) Pricing for a Top MBA Degree: Sticker shock. That’s the response from most candidates to the cost of a top-tier MBA education. There is tuition (Think $60K-$70K) and room and board ($20K-$30K). That’s just for one year. Don’t forget to factor in school fees, moving expenses, insurance, and travel excursions (Lots of networking opportunities on those three-day trips to Vail). Despite financial aid and fellowships, there is a good chance that you’ll be anchored down with debt.
Worried yet? Did I mention you’re losing out on 12-18 months of salary? Yikes!
In 2011, John Byrne took a shot at clarifying the costs for readers. He combined tuition and costs over two years, while also supplying average loan amounts and percentage of students landing aid. It was a crude and conservative estimate, of course. However, it also provided readers with a starting point to conduct their own research and calculate their budgets. That may be one reason why it has corralled over 725K views.
Since our inaugural effort, the ‘cost story’ has been a staple on P&Q’s editorial calendar, with our calculations growing more sophisticated in recent years. What’s more, P&Q continues to supplement these numbers as more data becomes available. In other words, readers know exactly what they are getting into long before they tender their resignation and herd back to campus (or online these days).
3) Average GMAT Scores For The Top 50 Business Schools: A GPA gauges grit, the ability to consistently gut it out year-after-year. The GMAT? Well, that measures something altogether different.
Intelligence? Not really – that’s why you have IQ tests. No, the GMAT tests what makes students successful in business school. Here, candidates must apply their critical thinking and problem-abilities, the kind expected for them to understand cases and formulate arguments in class. Let’s just say the quant section will make test-takers wish they hadn’t coasted through Algebra…especially with Corporate Finance on tap in the core! In the end, GMAT scores enable adcoms to compare applicants side-by-side. It is one piece of the puzzle, but an important one. After all, GMATs are weighted heavily in rankings…and that means scholarship support for the top performers!
In 2016, P&Q’s annual GMAT story generated over 650K views. By the same token, the 2014 incarnation hit 450K views, ranking it among P&Q’s 10 most popular as well. While the GRE is increasingly picking up market share, the GMAT remains the undisputed gateway to business school. That’s why this story remains among our most popular – even in 2020. It is a place where readers can better discern their odds at various programs. More than that, they can view how GMAT scores have changed by school over the past five years, one indicator of whether a program is surging or stalling.