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What to focus on for your 2021 Virtual open day

For students wrapping up their VCE or workers looking to upskill, university open days are an exciting experience.

There’s nothing quite like stepping onto a big university campus, meeting the lecturers and tutors, and discussing your future career.

But did you know that virtual open days can be just as effective at engaging prospective students and encouraging enrollments?

In fact, virtual open days even have several advantages over their traditional counterparts: They can be held several times throughout the year to capture a broader pool of prospects, and they are super-accessible to diverse students.

In this blog, we show you how to make your virtual open day even better than the real thing.

Make online navigation a cinch

Getting lost on a university campus can be amusing at first–until you realise you’ve been walking around for hours and missed half your itinerary.

Just as open day signage makes getting around easy for your attendees, so too should your virtual open day be easy to navigate.

Start by making the registration fast and simple so students don’t have to make multiple attempts. Make sure that information about the virtual open day is easy to find on a centralised website or page.

Next, let attendees plan and build their personalised open day experience in the lead up to the event using a digital planner. This helps them grow their excitement and anticipation of the event, while allowing you to generate leads.

Use interactivity

The reason why prospective students love their open days is because they get the chance to ask questions and engage with real staff.

Thanks to the wonders of modern webinars and chats, this level of interactivity is now possible in the virtual open day experience too.

Use live webinars for your presentations and discussions, giving prospects the opportunity to hear and see your amazing staff and faculty in real time.

While prospects benefit from getting their own questions answered, keep in mind that they also enjoy hearing or seeing the questions that others ask too. Making questions and answers visible in chat side bars goes a long way to enhancing the virtual open day experience.

Don’t forget games

Virtual open days have an edge over traditional open days when it comes to digital fun & games.

Competitions and games engage prospects and add value to the experience. This method of “gamification” is also fantastic for your brand awareness, encouraging positive associations and word-of-mouth advertising.E

Improve accessibility

You can probably already see how the virtual open day is so much more accessible to a diverse group of prospects—it can be attended from anywhere, and the option to attend from home offers another layer of protection from COVID-19.

But the virtual open day is more accessible in that it allows people with disability or speakers of other languages greater access to information: flyers are digitised, audio-visual material is compatible with assistive technology, and attendees have greater control over their environment for their own safety and comfort.

Even when the world opens back up after COVID-19, increased accessibility through digital experiences will be much more common. To give one example: our virtual tours of campuses are some of the highlights of the virtual open day experience.

Be personable and professional

Our prior experience and competitor research shows that the user experience is greatly improved when you have plenty of knowledgeable staff on hand.

Minimise the number of marketers you assign to the virtual open day and increase the number of course experts who can answer questions effectively.

At the same time, make sure all the presentations and content is personable and professional. Ditch marketing-speak and academic jargon—attendees have come to the open day specifically to avoid this!

Short and succinct wording is best, and avoid repeating information that’s currently live on your public site. Your virtual open day should give prospects a kind of hidden access.

Chamalee Karunanayake, Account Director

There were two main aspects that I thought worked very well when it came to Deakin University’s take on Virtual Open Day last year. In the lead up to the day, prospective students were able to visit the Virtual Open Day site and create a Planner. This was a great lead generation exercise, as virtual attendees had to create an account and then were able to effectively build their Open Day experience, ready for when the day arrived. 

Rosie Brown, Account Director

Tips:

  • Run more than once a year! We’re assuming people are all at the same decision-making process in August/September each year, however, the reality is quite different.
  • Implement a live chat with specific course experts rather than generalist marketing teams—allow people to go dive deep into their potential courses.

Conclusion: Preparing for virtual open days

Preparing for virtual open days is the best way to give your prospects a fantastic experience and showcase all that your institution has to offer.

Through increased accessibility, generous staffing, and an engaging personalised experience, your open day can be just as good as the real thing–if not better.

If you need help hosting an innovative virtual open day that gets real results, chat to one of our experienced account managers today.

 

If you would like to learn more, contact us for an Open Day Discovery session to see how we could help you this year!

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