I'm sure, to a certain degree, this debate will continue, but with the overall numbers in attendance far higher and more manageable spread over two dates, there’s a strong argument to say that we should continue with this formula next year. In reality, the extra date has now created far more choice for the visitor and, therefore, helped to increase overall attendance. This is important for us in order to maximise our chances of converting enquiries into applications, and it’s also helpful to our prospects at a time of the year when the majority of UK universities are trying to cram in their Open Days. And, given the nature of the application cycle, to move to another weekend later in the cycle would now be far too risky a strategy.
With this in mind, here are my tips on how to maximise on the interest generated over the last couple of weekends.
1. Contact Attendees
Failure to follow up after an event is a massive missed opportunity. The Open Day isn't the end of the journey and it would be a pity, after you've gone to the trouble to ‘pull out all the stops’, to now neglect to engage further with these prospects and fail to sustain their interest. At the very least, you should ensure you contact all your attendees with an acknowledgement of their attendance and details of who to contact should they wish to know more. Encourage two way communication and advise them on where to go to find out more.
2. Contact Non-Attendees
We usually get somewhere in the region of a 50 – 60% attendance rate from those who have booked onto an Open Day. So it also makes a lot of sense to follow up on these enquiries. Again, offer them a means to communicate directly with you and, given that they missed the Open Day, inquire whether they need any further information and offer them alternative ways for finding out more. This could be presenting them with another opportunity to visit you or simply directing them towards our applicant space on the website.
3. Social Media
4. Engage with all prospects
Speak to MRA about our enquiries database and ask for advice on following up on these enquiries. Now is the time to engage further with these prospects but remember that this ‘window of opportunity’ is very short as, within a matter of weeks, these prospects will be submitting their UCAS application. And don’t waste money advertising your course at this late stage in the game. Remember that your target market is likely to have been doing their research on their university choices for some time, so from here on out, it’s all about conversion: converting prospects into applicants and applicants into enrolled students.
5. Engage with all applicants
It’s obviously re-assuring that our Open Days attracted so many visitors, but don’t forget that there is still a long way to go before enrolment day. Again, ask MRA about our plan for conversion and consider how you can integrate with this plan to maximise your chances of conversion. To do this, it’s critical to keep engaged with prospects throughout the decision making and application process.
Start to consider how you can demonstrate the added value aspects of your course through your e-newsletters and how to make your Applicant Days a success.
Enjoy your weekend off everyone! What with Induction Week, the start of semester and our series of Open Days, you've all certainly earned it.
Until the next communication…