The Education Lead Market - a guide

History of Education Leads

The idea of acquiring education leads – the contact details of people interested in taking an educational course – started in the US in the late 1990’s.

It was driven by the advent of mainstream internet usage, which brought about three developments:

  • Educational establishments could now spread their recruitment net far wider, even abroad, but rather than relying on ‘hit or miss’ advertising, they were able to buy leads and guarantee a return on their investment
  • For profit universities and training establishments were no longer limited by the physical numbers of students they could accommodate. By launching online courses, they could recruit as many qualifying students as they could find
  • Students could now broaden their horizons when choosing a course, using the internet to search through a far greater list of options before making their decision

Growth of the Education Lead Market

From its inception in 1999 with the launch of the first online education portal in the US,, the Education Lead Market has grown exponentially as it shadows the development of the online education market, which today has an estimated value of around $60 billion, with Education leads generating around a tenth of this revenue or an estimated $1 - $1.25 billion.

growth of the online education market
Source: Babson Survey Research Group, Marketdata Enterprises, Inc. estimates and forecasts

The UK Education Lead Market

The UK market currently makes up a small percentage of this figure, mostly due to the fact that there are far fewer for profit establishments here and so most revenue has come from students looking to pursue online qualifications with US-based establishments. This situation is however changing as more UK universities launch online degrees and also as the market broadens to include other post-secondary education qualifications such as accountancy accreditation. This has brought more private training establishments into the mix, recruiting for both online and ‘real life’ classroom based training.

Similarly, UK companies have only entered the education lead market recently, having focused on other more obvious verticals such as finance and insurance. Today, however, there are several UK lead generation companies dedicated to delivering qualified education leads for UK-based and overseas clients. These companies work through a process where lead criteria are established up front along with an agreed cost per lead. Leads are then acquired via a selection of online channels such as search and email, qualified in a short phone call, and then passed on to the buyer.

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