Virtual open days


By Aimee Kleinman & Tim Landucci

Over the past few years, we’ve seen universities delivering virtual events to support various stages of student decision making from enquiry to enrolment.

But, they’ve often been in the fringes of recruitment activity and playing second fiddle to their on-campus equivalents.

Now, they need to be front and centre. Every institution is rising to this challenge from different starting points to provide digital experiences for prospective students.

A digital open day won’t be the same as an on-campus experience, but you can still bring your university to life for prospective students.

First, start by designing your virtual event from a digital-first perspective to meet audience needs.

From there, we’ve created some advice to help make your digital events shine and put your best digital foot forward. And, if you’re looking for more tailored support to see where you’re knocking it out of the park, or could be doing things better, we offer a mystery shopper service too.

Communication is king

How frequently are you sending out messages?

Before your event, make sure to send out frequent, timely and most importantly, relevant messaging. During the event, it’s important that your messages act as reminders and encourage people to take part in discussions and topics. People will expect to hear from you after your event but remember that it doesn’t have to be just about feedback.

Let’s get social

Are you using it to your full advantage?

Integrating your social channels into events will play a vital role in the success of your event. Not only this, but it also means that you’ll gain new followers, a wider audience and loads of great content.

Consistent look and feel?

How engaging is the overall look and feel?

A good visual identity that carries across from other material onto the event, and a strong understanding of brand essence, can guide execution to help convey those key take-out messages from engagement.

Get your user experience spot on

How much real time interaction are you incorporating?

User experience is the number one priority for all virtual events. If your event is difficult to use, navigate, takes too long to load or crashes too often, students are not going to have the positive experience you want them to have. And the same goes for interactivity.

Strong relevance and stronger quality

How strong is your content for a digital platform?

Re-purposing your content can be brilliant, but make sure it’s relevant and is suitable quality. Sometimes your previous content will be great face to face, but won’t be good to use online, for example, recordings of talks delivered at on-campus events without editing. The content may be relevant, but the tolerance of an audience that want to watch/listen all the way through, will not be the same level as someone experiencing the talk in person.

Keep it mobile friendly

How will it look on the small screen?

Most youth audiences will use a mobile to join events. Yet, many virtual events are not designed mobile first. While they’re likely to be responsive, the experience is often better on a bigger screen. Ignoring the way the majority of your audience want to engage with you, could significantly reduce participation with your event.

Website to event page

Do your website and event platform align?

A virtual event is one thing, but it is still connected to your institute and brand. How does the event work in partnership with your website? Using a separate platform for virtual events can sometimes cause inconsistent event and website experiences.

If you need any help with your virtual events or would like to know more about our mystery shopper service where we can analyse the experience of your prospective students, please contact us, and see how we can help you to get the best from your events.