How to create a successful virtual Open Day campaign

A virtual open day is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your school to families when they cannot visit in person, whether that's due to the current Covid-19 crisis or, more generally, because they are based internationally or live far away from the school.

But once you've planned your virtual open day to perfection by creating virtual tours and videos, how do you spread the word and get as many attendees as possible? This is where digital marketing comes in.

How to create a successful virtual Open Day campaign

Landing pages

Before you advertise your open day, create a landing page for when people click on your link. An effective landing page will guide people to either sign up or register interest for your open day. Below is an example of Maida Vale School's landing page. Make sure to include a form that collects their name, email address and basic information about their child so you can add the parent to your marketing database.

Facebook advertising

Facebook Paid Ads are a simple and effective strategy for your school to reach the kind of prospective parents you really want. The more niche an audience you can target, the better results you can achieve. Facebook targeting allows you to specify your audience’s interests, age, gender, age of child, location, employment status, marital status and more. So, rather than advertising to thousands of random eyeballs, you can use Facebook ads to attract your ideal audience to your open day. Here's our complete guide to Facebook ads for schools.

Google advertising

Essentially, Google Ads allows you to pay for traffic to your website or landing page through a range of different advertising instruments including search engines, video and display advertising. One type of Google advertising is PPC (Pay Per Click). This allows your school to appear at the top of Google when parents type in certain key phrases that you select. For example, if your school is in Gloucestershire, you could ensure that when someone Googles 'best school in Gloucestershire' your school pops up with a link to register for your open day. For more, check out our expert team's guide to Google Ads.

Email marketing

An engaged mailing list is one of the most valuable tools a marketer can have. Thanks to your paid advertising and landing page, you should have the email addresses of lots of parents. Now you can send them email reminders about the virtual open day. Make sure that you provide the essential details including the date, time, what to expect and how they can confirm attendance. Here are 3 clever emails to send to increase open day attendees and admissions. Don't forget to send an email afterwards to thank them for attending.

Social media

Aside from paid social media advertising, normal social media posts are a great way to spread the word about your virtual open day. In a previous guide, we explained how to create a brilliant school social media profile, with examples of schools who are doing it well. When it comes to virtual open days, try to get creative and think about why people should give up their time to learn more about your school and incorporate these findings into posts. For example, you could provide a video from your headteacher or pupils, or a link to an online prospectus.

We hope you've found these tips on creating a virtual open day campaign useful. For help with your digital marketing strategy, get in touch with school marketing specialists Digithrive for Schools.

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How to use social media to promote a virtual school open day

With over 2.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone, social media’s ability to engage and influence audiences cannot be denied. The most successful users of social media are those businesses who serve up content that is relevant and useful for followers and subscribers.  Social media should be an integral part of any school marketer’s digital marketing strategy. Not only is it a means of engaging with current parents and students, but it also offers access to prospective parents who are interested in learning more about what you as a school can offer.  In this guide, Digithrive for Schools takes you through exactly how to use social media to promote a virtual school open day.

A vital part of a successful digital strategy is mapping your upcoming posts on a social media calendar so you have a good mix of content relevant to various persona groups (ie Existing Parents, Pupils & Prospect).

You should also investigate which social media channels best suit the demographics you’re looking to appeal to and how they prefer to digest information.

Once you’ve collated all the information on your virtual open day, make sure there is a dedicated pop-up on your home page and landing page with clear CTAs that you can lead your followers to. This hub will act as the main forum for those looking for information, so make sure it is relevant and provides adequate detail about your open day.

This in turn will allow you to devise a post on your chosen social media channel with bite-sized information. Think about the highlights of your virtual open day. Do parents get a chance to speak to the Headteacher one-to-one? Is there a live Q&A session where prospective parents can hear each others’ views and suggestions? Succinctly mention this in your caption in order to have the biggest chance of conversion. Don’t forget key information like when the open day is taking place and how prospective parents can join. You can hyperlink on a Twitter post, but make sure to update your bio link on Instagram.

Remember, it’s not enough to merely upload a post stating the facts of the virtual Open Day. Consider the reasons why people should give up their time to learn more about your school and incorporate these findings into other posts and stories.

For instance, upload short snippets of pre-recorded videos of the following:

  • Department heads discussing their achievements and curriculum
  • A video from your headteacher
  • A 360 tour of your school and its facilities
  • Videos from pupils talking about lockdown life and digital learning, as well as what higher education institutions they expect to move on to. This is key in conveying to parents how you nurture and help students progress after they’ve enrolled in your school.

In other posts you can also provide:

  • A link to a downloadable/online prospectus
  • A link to a booking system where parents are able to book meetings/interviews with Heads of Houses and other members of the senior team
  • A link to your ‘News’ page, which should be regularly updated as lockdown continues

You can also use Facebook and Instagram to find more leads who don’t already subscribe to your school. Read our guide on using Facebook ads to generate virtual open day leads. 

We hope you found this guide to using social media to promote your school's virtual open day useful.

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How to Generate Virtual Open Day Leads Using Facebook Ads

An open day is the perfect opportunity to proudly showcase your school to prospective parents and pupils. However with the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s unclear as to when open days will become possible again. So, schools are tackling this problem by embracing virtual open days.

While digital open days have been around for a while, particularly favoured by universities, the current challenge schools face is how to actually reach prospective parents and students. In this blog we will explain how to use Facebook to drum up interest for your virtual open day and get real leads.

What is a paid Facebook ad?

According to Facebook, “You can create targeted ads to reach different audiences and meet your marketing goals.” Facebook Paid Ads are a simple and effective strategy for your school to reach the kind of prospective parents you really want. 

The more niche an audience you can target, the better results you can achieve. Facebook targeting allows you to specify your audience’s interests, age, gender, age of child, location, employment status, marital status and more. Once your campaign is set up, you can use the ads to collect data that will help you improve the ads and in turn, increase their effectiveness.

How to build an effective Facebook ad

When you’re building your ad, there are a few important factors to consider:

1.1 Create an audience

Deciding which demographics to target is one of the most important parts of optimising your ad. For some schools, a broad target audience is more effective. For example, if you’re a boarding school, you may want to target families from all across the country, or even the world, as your boarding facilities can accommodate them. 

However if you’re a day school, it would be much more effective to target those who live within a five to ten mile radius of your school. You can even target multiple specific postcodes or areas as shown above.

1.2 Install a Pixel

A Facebook generated pixel is a piece of code that can be installed onto your website or landing page to track any visitors that come to your page. From this you will be able to retarget those visitors with Facebook and Instagram ads and collect vital data to help you analyse and optimise your campaigns.

1.3 Create a Lookalike Audience

You can also create a ‘lookalike audience’ which will allow you to find people who are similar in interest, demographic and behaviour to those that have already visited your website.



2. Craft a clear message

Your Facebook Ad has limited space, so make sure your messaging aligns with your marketing goal and influences action. Think about what will draw people in to attend your virtual open day. Are you showcasing a virtual tour of your school? Are you one of the leading schools in the area? Will you have the headmaster and other important speakers at your virtual open day? Make your message relevant to your audience and give it a call to action.

Don’t forget to add an image and/or video, too. Ads with video are much more likely to attract attention than those without. Finally, don't forget to make the time and date of your virtual open day clear on your ad. Otherwise, how will people show up?

3. Create multiple ad sets

When crafting your campaign you should try to create multiple ads for A/B testing. Creating more than one ad gives you multiple sets of analytics so you can determine which ads are performing the best. If your ads are working well, you know what to spend the majority of your budget on.

However, it’s still important to switch them up every so often so the message doesn’t stagnate. People get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, so keep it fresh. If your ads aren’t working, try adjusting the imagery, copy or call to action.


Need help setting your Virtual Open Day campaign on Facebook? Get in touch.

A final word

Facebook Ads are a great way to get your school in front of prospective parents and students, and Facebook has some great resources to help you get started.

Although Facebook advertising is extremely important, building and managing ad campaigns can be extremely time consuming and overwhelming. If you need help with your Facebook campaigns, book a discovery call with one of our experts.

To read more like this, click here.


Top tips for a memorable open day

Most school Open Days follow a standard itinerary - a welcome reception, followed by a talk from the head, then free time for attendees to explore the subjects they are interested in, whilst speaking to students and teachers. Whilst this may appear effective in showcasing your school during the limited time you have, it's difficult to stand out amongst the sea of competition to parents who are looking for the best schools for their children. Digithrive has pulled together our top tips for those organising open days, so your school can stand out and be remembered by both prospective parents and students. 

Don’t just focus on the parents

Whilst the parents are the lead decision makers, it's also important to not forget that children also have a say! Why not try having taster lessons for each subject during the open day. This could be just 15 minutes - get teachers to pick out their favourite material from the subject and conduct a mini lesson where prospective students can get involved and answer/ask questions. This is a great way for students to get a sense of what being a student at your school would be like, as well as for parents to see the quality of teaching.

Showcase your school’s talents

Does your school have a specialism, perhaps in music, theatre, or STEM subjects? If so, get some of your most talented students to showcase what they’re best at. Have the choir singing as parents come in, or your best violinist performing in the welcome hall throughout the night. Do you have any budding actors or actresses? Have them perform a dramatic monologue in the theatre room!  Does your school have special equipment in the science labs? Get some students to demonstrate an experiment! Open Days are about showing not telling, so actually demonstrating what makes your school unique rather than just talking about it will be sure to make you memorable to prospective parents and students.

Get endorsements from current parents

There’s no stronger marketing than word of mouth, so why not see if any current parents would like to make themselves available for prospective parents to talk to at the open days. This would be a lovely way to close the night and have a lasting effect on prospective parents. If you can’t get a hold of any current parents, request some testimonials. If they can write a short statement about how they feel about the school and how it has benefitted their child, this is all you need. The headmaster or teachers could read out the testimonials, or you could get the children of these parents to read it out & be available for questions afterwards.

Don't forget to follow up

While the physical open day may be the climax of your campaign, it’s important to ensure that you follow up with everyone that attended as well as those who couldn’t make it. Nurturing your leads is so important - don’t forget this element as you could lose touch with parents and students who were genuinely interested in your school! At Digithrive we use a 3 pronged approach for lead nurturing - this first step is pre-open day - we send reminder emails & texts to those who signed up, with a clear itinerary of the night. The second step is to post open day, we create emails to go out to those who attended, as well as a different email to those who couldn’t make it. Including photos of the best parts of the night is a great way to showcase your success to those who couldn't make it, as well as bring back fond memories to those who could. Finally, offering other options to visit the school for those who couldn’t make it is essential! Offer private tours, or taster days in your post-open day emails to ensure that those who are interested have the opportunity to attend.

Get feedback

Post open day surveys are an excellent way to find out what you did well and what needs you could improve on for your next open day. In your follow up emails, include links a short survey to those who attended to find out their thoughts about the school overall as well as their experience at the open day. This will give you great insight into how to improve your marketing for the next open day, or what would make your school more attractive overall. For those that didn't attend, send a survey to find out why, then you can understand what kind of marketing will be most relevant for them going forward. Was it just because they couldn't make the date? Send them email reminders of other open days throughout the year. Was it because the time was inconvenient? Let them know they can arrange a private tour.

We hope these tips were of use, and if you would like to find out more about our lead nurturing services, get in touch.