Virtual Open Day for Schools

A practical guide to running a successful school virtual open day.

Due to Covid-19, many schools are now considering holding virtual open days as part of their enrolment driving events. To be truly successful, your virtual open day has to be entertaining and engaging and help ‘convert’ new families into enrolments.

In the following article, we cover the top 5 things schools should focus on, namely:

  1. Goals
  2. Set up
  3. Engagement
  4. Attracting attendees
  5. Conversions

Read on for full details.

Goals for your virtual open day

Many schools go about setting up their virtual open day without fully establishing their objectives up front. A good guide to some basic goals may be:

  • Define who the open day is targeted at – is it families enrolling in Prep, Year 4-6 parents or who?
  • Establish how many ‘new’ prospects you want to have register/attend your event – i.e. who have not registered to an open day before. Ideally how many of these do you want to get ‘enrolments’ from? What is a good number to ensure adequate interaction.
  • Be clear on what you want to show and tell them – what is the added value they are going to get out of this online event?
  • Determine what you want the Call To Action to be – i.e. you want them to enrol, or book in for a one-on-one tour.
The look of your virtual open day ‘digital’ campus 

In reality, when a prospective parent comes to your virtual open day (where it is housed digitally), they are coming to see your school in a micro digital environment. Whilst this may be located on your website, you need to understand from a prospective parent’s point of view that they are not interested in everything on your website. You need to be able to channel them to an area that just speaks to them. They really may not be that interested in the current athletics carnival, school musical or science excursion – unless their child is particularly interested or talented in that area.

Most parents are more interested in the ‘broader’ opportunities. So what things do they want to know about? These could range from:

  • Seeing your key (and unique) facilities through a virtual fly-through video or photo gallery of your school campus (including seeing a campus map) – a virtual tour is ideal.
  • Meeting and hearing from your Principal, learning about your School’s philosophy and what makes it different to your competitors. What are your school’s top 5 key messages?
  • Exclusive Information – think about what you can tell your virtual attendees that is new and not available on your website or Facebook page. Maybe an announcement or a special offer.
  • Meeting key staff and students.
  • Seeing curriculum and co-curricular demonstrations that are engaging, showcasing a unique offering or facility.
  • Understanding how to enrol – what is the process?
  • Learning about key enrolment items – fees and inclusions, uniforms and book lists, transport options, outside school hours care.
  • Being able to ask questions – of staff and students.
How do you engage them online?

One of our team recently said: Engagement is entertainment in an online environment.

Think about the format of your event… will it be live-streamed, a pre-recorded video, webinars or something else? Having speakers talking for half hour to an hour is likely to get quite boring if they aren’t energetic and inspiring. So how will you make your virtual event entertaining?

Here are some ideas to inspire you to create a memorable virtual open day:

  • Create your own microsite to host your virtual event – somewhere that is easy to navigate and keeps them focused on what it is they’re looking for and interested in.
  • Develop an agenda for the event that is easily found on the microsite and emailed out to registered attendees. It needs to outline key livestream times and any sessions that they will need to log in to.
  • Use webinars or zoom meetings for more intimate/tailored sessions. These can be scheduled in advance and help ensure a more personalised approach.
  • Consider having a host for any livestream and key webinar sessions – someone who is well versed in managing the people speaking, can draw out answers and be able to think on the spot.
  • Use pre-recorded video vs Livestream for things that don’t need to be done on the day to help you achieve a polished outcome – for example:
    • Video fly through of the school/campus.
    • Videos of demonstrations.
    • Overarching ‘sell’ of your school and key messages – particularly with music and emotion.
  • Have FAQs for people to access.
  • Provide Live chat for additional questions on the day.
  • Have one place for all of their enrolment information and downloads.
Ensuring success for your Virtual Open Day

If you follow the steps outlined, you will most likely be on your way to a well-run event. But to be successful you want the right prospects registering, don’t you? To do this, you need an effective marketing campaign aimed at getting people to pre-register for the event so you have their information and can add them to your database and tailor your message as required.

A targeted digital marketing campaign aimed at your outlined prospect families is the best way you can drive traffic to your registration landing page. Consider a push campaign across Google, Facebook and Instagram.

Before the event, make sure you remind them it is happening via email or sms. A short video is a great way to do this.

Also, ensure your school’s IT department is up to the task and that your website can handle the registrations, downloads and bandwidth on the day. If you don’t think they can, consider an option like hosting it on Look Education’s virtual showcase platform. This provides you with your own dedicated virtual event and peace of mind knowing it will be looked after by professionals.

Converting people who attended your virtual event into enrolments – how do you do this?

Most schools that have face-to-face open days say that they are the key to getting enrolments, because the totality of the experience and the environment sell the school. How do you convert from an online event? There are few ways you can entice people:

  1. Consider offering an enticement offer for your online event – everyone who enrols today will get this kit (could be merchandise or a gift voucher) or have their enrolment registration fee waived. Think about an offer and ensure it is communicated either in advance, or during the online event.
  2. For those that are still unsure, but very keen, offer them the ability for a private tour – where you will be able to help them with all their specific questions.
  3. Commence an electronic direct mail campaign to those people who attended your virtual event with specifically curated emails on brand stories on your school. Follow them up with offers and further enticement to find out more. This is a great way to reinforce key messages but also let them see the quality and depth of your school. Once they’ve attended the event, your job is not over!
A final word

Whilst the investment in setting this up may be something that you haven’t budgeted for, once done it is there for any event you wish to hold in the future. You could also adapt the environment for additional online events the school wishes to hold (think parent information nights, sign-on days and more). This could also be particularly advantageous for boarding schools and those who take international students.

Here at Look Education, we specialise in helping schools with the strategies and tools to execute effective enrolment driving campaigns, either in person or online. Talk to us today about how we can help you with your next enrolment event.