With open day season upon us, we wanted to catch up on the latest ad developments and platforms that our digital experts have been adopting for their open day campaigns this year.
We spoke to our Senior Advertising Strategist, Rosie Neill, to hear the latest digital innovations for creating a winning open day strategy.
Lead generation adverts
Facebook and Instagram lead generation adverts are perfect for encouraging open day registrations across various social platforms. And if you're running open days for postgraduates or MBA, LinkedIn offers lead generation adverts too.
Once a user clicks on the advert's CTA, they'll be taken through to a custom form (it's good to know that Facebook will autofill information from the user's account). A conversion page will then follow where you'll be able to add a link to your website for further information.
After you've received a registration, you can send a follow-up email with further information about your open day. To make this process manageable, we'd recommend using a tool like Akero to set up workflows and automation; making lead nurture and conversion as easy as possible.
Being the go-to creative platform that it is, Instagram is a really engaging platform for promoting your open days. The platform's Stories feature is a great format for awareness raising while generating registrations using the "Book now" swipe-up style CTA that takes the audience straight to your registration page.
Using footage of a previous open day is a good way to advertise your upcoming open days and give the audience a taste of what they can expect when they attend. Make sure you test different creative and video formats to get the best results possible.
The National Clearing Survey found that Snapchat is the platform that prospective undergraduate students use most on a day-to-day basis, making it an excellent choice when advertising your open days to potential students.
Snap Ads are a similar immersive advertising experience to Instagram Stories; also used to raise awareness and encourage registrations with the 'swipe-up' style CTA where your audience will be taken to a mobile-friendly version of your landing page within the Snapchat interface.
You could also create a Snapchat Geofilter or a custom Lense and promote it to attendees in the run-up to your open day. This is an excellent way of securing user-generated content on the day and will raise awareness of your organisation within the attendees' social networks.
Facebook Messenger ads could be used in an open day campaign to provide students with an interactive platform to ask questions and find out more.
Facebook Messenger ads look like Facebook Amplified posts but with a "Send Message" CTA, which allows your prospective students to send a direct message via Facebook Messenger.
This is a good way to engage students and build relationships ahead of your event, helping to increase the likelihood of attendance on the day.
You do need to bear in mind that if you're going to run Facebook Messenger ads, you'll need someone to monitor and reply to the messages you receive. If this isn't going to be possible resource-wise, you could consider building a chatbot to do this for you.
If you want to engage an audience that is unlikely to be able to make it to your open day, you could consider using Facebook Live to provide them with a virtual open day experience. Some universities have even used Facebook's live video as an interactive experience, where the audience can comment to suggest which direction the advisor should walk in or which facilities they'd like to see next.
We've found Google Search to be the strongest platform to use in open day campaigns for lead generation and attendee conversion.
Running local campaigns on Google Search is important, particularly if your organic SEO doesn't rank too highly, as you want to ensure that the audience most likely to attend your event can easily find your organisation and access the relevant information like event times and agenda.
Think strategically about the regions you are targeting. Reflect on how competitive you want to be and whether you could focus on new regions. Test, get the results and identify where you see the best ROI, then use this insight to inform future campaigns.
That being said, it's important not to target the whole country. You need to be strategic with your budget otherwise you will get people engaging and clicking on your ads that aren't likely to come to your open day at all.
Visual Sitelinks - Google Search
Visual Sitelinks are a new mobile feature on Google Search. They're carousel-style sitelink extensions that can be used to showcase your campus and facilities. And because Visual Sitelinks take up more real estate on the screen there's less room for your competitors' ads.
Visual Sitelinks are currently a product in BETA, but as Google Premier Partners, Net Natives' have access to this now, giving our clients a competitive edge over those who don't have access yet.
Out of Home
Of course, advertising doesn't always have to be online. You can also effectively promote your open day via offline channels too.
Although it can be harder to track the performance of offline advertising, using unique website URLs or phone numbers means you'll still be able to segregate traffic or enquiries generated by your offline activity. But, it's important to remember that if you're using both online and offline advertising to promote your open days that the two formats work alongside each other with consistent creative and messaging.
An exciting new technology called 'location intelligence' is improving how effectively we can integrate online and offline channels. The 'hyper-location targeting' feature can be used to measure whether a segment of people who received online advertising visited a certain location. For example, you could use this to see if those targeted with your offline ads actually attended your open day.