Virtual tours aren't new -- companies have been experimenting with them for decades. However, it is only in recent years that they have gone mainstream and are now expected. They have become an essential part of any marketing strategy.
Virtual tours of colleges allow students to get an authentic feel for your higher learning institution without having to set foot on campus. They can serve as an introduction before an in-person visit or even replace it – making the college vetting process more accessible for lower-income and out-of-state students. Plus, the pandemic has impacted travel plans and has limited on-campus tours, virtual campus tours ensure that you are never truly "closed" to prospective students.
Of course, part of creating a virtual campus tour is ensuring it is done well and captivates your audience.
So, what are the key features that will attract and engage prospective students?
Virtual tours of the past were flat. In many cases, they were little more than a digital version of a printed map or a Google map. While this approach may show what your campus looks like, it doesn't provide a sense of what it's like to be on campus.
Now, virtual tours should give students a truly immersive experience providing an insider's view into life on campus and the student experience. In addition to the walkthrough, other elements you might include are:
Integrated video of classes and student life activities
Photos and videos of various campus features and inside buildings and spaces
Live chats with admissions representatives and student representatives
Basically, think about the things prospective students love most about in-person tours and figure out how to best recreate those experiences virtually.
To impress Gen Zers, you need to include high-quality images and authentic video as an integral part of your virtual campus tour. You must make sure all your images – photos, videos, graphics, maps, and more – are high-quality and depict actual student experiences.
Leverage experienced video production specialists to identify the right students and engage them in candid discussions to draw out genuine stories that will speak directly to prospective students. It's critical to make sure the videos don't sound overly scripted.
3. A Clear Call-to-Action
No marketing effort can be effective without a clear call to action. Since virtual tours are not always linear, students can choose how to browse and navigate through the experience. As a result, the call-to-action buttons need to be always present and must be clearly visible for when the student is ready to take the next step. With virtual campus tours, every click can be measured allowing you to track and evaluate conversions and optimize as needed.