Virtual College Tours are a great way to present your college’s campus without actually being there. But how do you create an engaging Virtual Tour that is different from the other tours out there? Follow these steps and make your tour one of a kind!
What is a Virtual College Tour?
A virtual college tour is an online experience designed to give potential students the feel of an actual campus visits to your institution. A majority of colleges and universities have started creating virtual tours in response to increased competition for students amongst institutions nationwide. Although not every school offers virtual tours, they are becoming increasingly common. A virtual tour can help your institution stand out by giving potential students a better idea of what it would be like to attend your school.
Why Use a Virtual Tour?
Potential students are attracted to colleges based on the “feel” of campus and do not often have that experience until they arrive for their first visit. By creating a compelling virtual tour, you can give your potential students an idea of what school will be like long before they arrive.
How to Create a Virtual Tour
Designing the perfect virtual campus tour is not as simple as it sounds! It takes careful planning and a few different tools in order for your college tour to stand out and be effective. The following is a list of steps to help you create the best virtual college tour:
- Determine Goals of Your Virtual College Tour
First, determine what you are looking to achieve with your virtual tour and how it will tie into your overall recruiting strategy. For example, is this tour going to be used as an information resource for prospective students? Will it be used to increase enrollment numbers? Or will you be using a virtual tour in conjunction with your other college marketing initiatives?
- Determine Your Virtual Tour Audience
Once you have identified the goals of your virtual tour, it’s time to identify who this tour will attract and how they will interact with it. For example, will you be targeting students who are not from your surrounding area? What about your out-of-state or international visitors? By identifying your audience, you will be able to better understand what they are looking for in a virtual tour.
- Determine Your Virtual Tour Content
What do you want potential students to see on their tour? Are there specific buildings or landmarks on campus that you want to highlight? Will this tour be used for informational purposes, or will it be interactive and feature things such as a virtual class or the ability to request more information? Also, think about how much time you want potential students to spend exploring your college. If they are simply looking for quick facts, you’ll need to make sure information is easy and quick to find. If they are looking to take a virtual tour, this may require more time on their part for navigation through campus.
- Determine Your Virtual Tour Look
Now it’s time to pull all of these pieces together and create the actual tour! Decide what look you want to give your tour and how it will be navigated through. You may want to choose a “guide” in order for the potential student to follow along or show them around campus. This is where you can get creative; after all, this virtual tour is being designed by YOU!
- Determine Your Virtual Tour Navigation
Navigation is a critical piece of the virtual tour process. It needs to be simple yet engaging. Potential students should be able to navigate and control the content and easily find their way through your college tour with ease! This will depend on where you are hosting your tour (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
Tips for Creating the Best Experience
- Make it Engaging
As a higher education professional, you want to make sure that the virtual college tour is engaging and not dry as many tend to be. For example, a potential student might be watching your tour for a few minutes, but would they want to spend 15-30 minutes exploring your campus? You also want to make sure that you are considering how this tour will be shared among students on social media. Are you going to create links and buttons so that they can share them with their friends? This will allow more people to see your virtual college campus!
- Make Your Virtual Campus Stand Out
Part of creating the best virtual campus tour is standing out from all of the rest. After all, with so many campuses to choose from, how do you make yours stand out? The first step is to make it fun and interesting to view. Also, think about how quickly the potential student can see your campus; can they navigate through directly from the homepage, or will they have to search for it? Also, create a unique URL to make it easier for potential students to find your tour online.
- Make Sure Your Campus is Easily Accessible
One of the most important things is ensuring that your virtual college tour content is accessible to everyone. This means creating a mobile-friendly, accessible website with easy-to-use navigation and controls for various technologies. You want to make sure that this tour is easily accessible for everyone, so consider including navigational compass points and menu bars. These features are beneficial as they allow potential students to skip around and find the information they need quickly.
- Include Clear CTA Buttons
In the end, you want potential students to leave your virtual college tour wanting more! Therefore, it’s important to include clear Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons at the end of the tour. These buttons prompt them to take another step, whether it is requesting more information or to download a campus map.
- Keep It Simple and Consistent
One of the final steps in creating a virtual college campus tour comes down to keeping it simple and consistent! This means that you want to avoid clutter on your tour and make sure you are using a consistent design throughout. The look should match the overall tone of your college brand with clear navigational paths and easy-to-find information.
In this article, you read about the importance of creating virtual college tours in an effort to market your campus. Therefore, it is important to highlight marketing and engagement strategies that will keep potential students interested and engaged when they are viewing your college tour online. Furthermore, it’s a good idea for higher education professionals to create unique virtual tours that will help them stand out from the rest.