Virtual reality in marketing strategies for more effective student recruitment

Seasoned education marketing and recruitment professionals will have seen a few trends come and go over the years, from the one-page brochure through to the branded USB stick – and more. In this blog, we explain why video has brought dramatic change to the way schools market themselves – and why video represents a permanent shift in how you should market your school.

Virtual reality’s impact on students – the ‘beyond prospectus’ experience

In a world driven by a rapidly changing technology market, the younger generations of today are showing preference to experience over material items. As found in a 2015 study presented by VRScout Inc., 72% of millennials agreed that experience is more important than having physical items.

Beyond travel, there is no other way to provide this younger generation with the rich and unforgettable experiences they desire quite like virtual reality. The capacity of this revolutionary technology is limitless – spanning well beyond just the entertainment industry. Incorporating virtual reality in marketing efforts is one area that is seeing significant growth for a variety of reasons.

Why does virtual reality in marketing work so well?

An immersive experience is much more likely to keep your audience interested and emotionally involved in a scenario than simply seeing a picture. Exploring this concept, the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab developed a virtual reality experience, called “Becoming Homeless”, which is helping expand research on how technology affects people’s level of empathy. According to their research, people who saw in virtual reality what it would be like to lose their jobs and homes developed longer-lasting compassion toward the homeless compared to those who explored other media versions of the virtual reality scenario, like text.

Stanford’s study is one example of how virtual reality can be effective in marketing by developing a deeper emotional attachment between the audience and the subject matter. With a subtle nod to emotional marketing, virtual reality connects the audience in a human or personal way, supporting the evidence that consumers are increasingly making buying decisions driven by feelings rather than logic.

Virtual reality in marketing strategies

In an effort to understand how virtual reality could impact marketing strategies, Forbes Books has forecasted the following potential shifts with the introduction of immersive technology.

Visual Transmission – Any visually stimulating posts on social media outperform all other posts in terms of user engagement. Forbes Books believes that live-streamed video is expected to become more popular and virtual reality will help users achieve the real-time interactions expected from the media they consume daily.

Immersion – According to Forbes Books, one of the biggest selling points of virtual reality is its immersive factor. From interviews to tutorials and demonstrations, users will expect to be engaged in the content they watch. In a marketing world that is driven by increasing user engagement, Forbes Books expects immersion statistics to become the new driving factor of a successful marketing campaign.

Interactivity – Forbes Books explains that marketers understand that users want increasingly higher levels of interactivity from brands, content, and the media that they consume. Virtual reality could shape this marketing expectation by delivering additional opportunities for users to interact with their content.

Introducing virtual reality into your student recruitment strategies

Hosting open days are a fundamental method, and the most effective tool, in recruiting students to any university. In today’s global world, many students are considering international campuses for their studies but are unable to attend multiple open days around the world. Virtual reality offers institutions a unique opportunity to welcome these students to explore a campus from the comfort of their home, including meeting real students to learn about life on campus. It is additionally a wonderful tool to allow those students who are already registered to explore their new campus before arriving – including checking out their room before moving in, meeting staff, and exploring programme offerings.

Institutions that have virtual experiences on their website see a 22% increase in applications. And research shows that schools that the use of virtual campus tours obtains yield-rate increases by 28%.

Virtual Reality is also a strong tool to get students to come for an in-person campus visit. Crunch Simply Digital set up an immersive experience for the University of Wales Trinity St David’s (UWTSD) College of Art. The objective was to draw students to the colleges upcoming open day and offer a glimpse inside student life and the facilities. By marketing the open day with virtual reality, UWTSD was able to provide prospective students with a glimpse of university life, which encouraged them to attend the day in person.

Contact us to receive more information about how virtual reality in marketing can benefit your institution.