We were delighted to win York University as a client back in 2013. As most people know, it is one of 24 of the UK’s top higher education institutions in the highly respected Russell Group of Universities. It attracts home and international students for undergraduate and postgraduate study.
THE CHALLENGES THEY FACED
- York was struggling with their campus-based open days as they were not reaching a wide enough audience, and, in particular, were not attracting international students to these open days.
But Now, ‘In The Words Of York University’
“There’s no going back for us now as feedback from our departments is that they are getting more interest and not only that, the quality of the applicant is better.”
- iVent were able to offer their virtual event platform to tailor a virtual events’ environment for us. Initially, we began using virtual events by dipping a toe in the water with an online chat option. This didn’t go far enough for us and we moved on to do full-scale virtual open days.
- Data capture is one of the major benefits to us from using virtual events. The rich data we get, from numbers of people attending, looking at who registered and who actually turned up to interrogating the popularity of the content we provide to what questions students are asking. The key, though, is analysing the data and making simple changes to our event delivery to better meet the needs of our audience. We are constantly reviewing our online events, gathering feedback from both staff and students on the process. The ability to follow up with students, even if they registered and didn’t log in, is invaluable to us.
THE PRACTICALITIES OF IMPLEMENTATION
- In adopting a digital recruitment strategy, we’ve really had to engage with our academic staff from the outset – it’s a bit of a culture shift. The main leg work is setting everyone up with their log-ins, which is a bit time consuming when you have multiple departments logging in. Agreeing on content and having a central team managing the process is definitely useful and removes some of the headaches and therefore resistance to doing it differently. Once all of this is done, it’s plain sailing and staff report the ease of attending an event.
THE RESULTS – QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE
- Departments are not only getting more interest, they say the quality of the applicant is better. By that, I mean that they are more likely to accept an offer because they’ve had the opportunity to ask all the questions they need and can revisit content at a later stage to refresh and reassure themselves!
- Departmental feedback is that a virtual event works better when combined with social media – this is how students expect us to communicate with them. We will only see the use of digital channels grow now within a university environment.
- Some really simple changes we made to improve the experience for staff and users were the creation of a sound alert when logged into the chat function, allowing work to continue at the same time as the chat session. We found that the response has to be immediate or you lose their interest – with that in mind, we also requested the development of an icon to show someone is typing – just a little thing to let a student know someone is there and responding! Working with a provider who will listen and make system changes is a must. These changes will often benefit others too.
Should you want to hear more about Virtual Open Days, look at these Highlights from The Digital Transformation Event organised by University Business in March where founder, Gavin Newman talked about using virtual events to attract new students, with top tips for getting started as well as some useful things to avoid.