Education open days aren’t a new thing. Universities and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) do them annually to help sell students on all the perks that come with choosing their program and facility, such as career outcomes, peer and professional networks and the overall campus lifestyle.
So why are open days important? Open days give universities and RTOs a chance to showcase their facilities and campus, allow students to get a feel for what it will be like to study there, generate interest from prospective students, and, most importantly, encourage course applications. So it will come as no surprise; a clearly defined marketing schedule should be in place to deliver an effective open day and maximise attendance. Want to know how to set up your next open day for success? We’re here to help you do just that. We’ve done the grunt work for you and included a step-by-step guide so you can get straight to the good stuff of implementing your next open day for success.
To successfully target open day attendees, it’s important to understand the types of audiences that attend the event. By understanding the attendees, you can create relevant and tailored content that is customised to each of the target market’s interests to increase your chances of converting student prospects into applicants.
This audience type usually enrols in the February/March semester in the year following their graduation from high school. They are most interested in a general course overview and learning about a campus’ facilities, including exploring practical facilities for skills-based courses. These students prioritise the location of a campus and its surrounds, including daily conveniences, restaurants, bars and local hangouts. School leavers care about the immediate day-to-day factors and will make their selection based on this information.
An important consideration for this target market is their parents, who should be considered as a sub-market because of their significant influence. Parents have opposing priorities when selecting a university or RDO, so it is critical to cover both the student and parent interests in marketing efforts to school leavers. Parents are most interested in career outcomes, pathways to jobs and further higher learning. Course costs and student testimonials are also prioritised as part of the long-term education perspective adopted by parents.
The July/August semester intake is mostly frequented by mature-age students with already established careers. These student prospects often need to work full-time during their study, so they are interested in virtual campus tours and flexible learning options, including virtual classes or intensive learning opportunities. This audience can typically be broken down into the following two categories:
- Hobbyists – these students have a side hustle that they want to grow or improve through study in addition to their regular employment. Providing flexible study options is critical to ensuring that hobbyist students can balance their full-time work and family commitments during their studies.
- Career changers – student prospects who are looking to change industries or role types. Undertaking study often feels risky for students who already have established careers, so it’s critical to show a clear future career path aligned to courses. Articulating this career path through ‘a day in the life’ example can help to mitigate the risk associated with study and provide greater clarity for their future career.
- Career advancers – some students will choose to undertake additional study to advance their current career prospects. They may be seeking a promotion or want to change companies and believe that further studies will help their advancement. These prospects also require flexibility to fit in with their current work commitments and will want course outlines and subject details so they can correlate the study back to their existing careers and understand how the study will be beneficial to them.
Event lead-up schedule
Marketing efforts for open days should generally begin six months before the event. There are critical, time-sensitive steps to implement in the lead up to the event to generate leads and achieve the overarching goal of getting prospective students to submit course applications.
Six months – the goal is organic lead generation at this point. Your website should be easy to navigate with updated information, event dates and details, and your social media content should reflect the target markets’ interests and priorities.
Three months – this is a great time to reach school students by providing detailed material to guidance counsellors so they can share your courses and open day details in their conversations with students. It is also a time to offer scholarships which serve as a serious incentive for students to consider your university or RTO.
Two months – you should begin your digital marketing campaign at this point. Use targeted search and social display advertising to promote student-specific content about entry requirements, facilities and the campus location, with a CTA to RSVP to the open day event. This is also the time to start targeting parents with social media advertising. The use of location and demographic ad targeting, as well as search advertising, are all useful at this stage.
One month – this a great time to increase efforts to target parents. The looming upcoming event can be a great trigger to encourage students to start planning their open day attendance.
One week – distribute critical event information including maps, schedules, activations, competitions and tours to generate buzz, allow prospects to plan their open day activities and have all the tools required to maximise their event attendance. This is a perfect opportunity to encourage last-minute RSVPs.
Event day – activate your event with giveaways, flythroughs, tours and other ways to spark conversation on the day and make a memorable impression. The event must be appropriately staffed with employees and volunteers with iPads who can encourage prospects to apply for courses and guide them through the application process in person.
Post-event – send an email the day after the event to thank prospective students for attending, reiterate key messages to each target market and remind prospects to submit course applications. This is also an opportunity to provide details on a university or RTOs’ recognition of prior learning.
That’s a wrap
Once the open day marketing campaign is complete, you will have generated significant student leads. You can utilise marketing automation to nurture these leads and create new campaigns to implement in the lead up to course application deadlines. With the new information gained at the open day, you can further target your campaigns to the prospect’s needs to encourage students to apply for your university’s or RTO’s course.
The lessons learnt from our previous article, marketing automation 101: the ultimate guide for the education sector, can be applied to the above open day schedule to maximise lead nurturing.
To enhance your open day marketing activities, contact us. We’re here to help you shine in front of prospective students through smart marketing solutions.