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How to take the campus experience online

03 /Understand your audience

Taking time to understand your audience should be the first thing you do with any form of communications or marketing, but it’s especially important for an online open day as you’ll be competing with a wide range of environmental factors—from the family dog to checking social media updates—that are outside of your control when your audience is remotely viewing your open day experience.

Simply starting with the information you want to get across is not enough. Consider why students, and their parents, attend open days and what sort of questions they will be asking.

We think the primary reason young people attend university open days is to help make an informed decision about which university they want to attend.

Every institution will be different in how they want to present themselves in order to help potential students make that decision. Look at experiences from previous ‘real-life’ open days and use that as a basis for your online experience.

Perhaps your main campus is far away from the city centre. For newcomers to your university, this may seem like a negative point, which may put them off. But maybe the reality is that your student experience is built around having a safe, self-contained student ‘bubble’ on campus and away from the main city, but with easy transport links to the city centre for when students want that. 

Commonly asked questions by open day attendees in the past can be used to build an understanding of key factors in decision making.

From our experience, these fall into five categories (although feel free to add more if relevant). We’ve included some starting points for potential:

  1. Academic
    What will my course be like? How will it be structured? What are the required grades? What are the lecturers like? What are my potential options for career progression after university?
  2. Accommodation
    What are the options? What would my room be like? Where is it located? What are the contract lengths? What are the common areas like? How many people will I be living with? What do I need to bring?
  3. Local Area
    What’s the city like? How do I get around? How do I stay safe? What is there to do?
  4. Student Support and Engagement
    Where can I go for help? What services are available? What societies can I get involved in? 
  5. Peer-led Insights
    What do current students think? Would other students recommend this university? What could I only learn from another student who’s studied here?
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