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We recently worked with a University to help them improve the conversion rate of applications to retained students. We started out by reviewing their open days, the only time in the whole process where they can actually communicate with applicants face to face.

We attended an open day as an observer, to find out what was working and what could be improved (there was a lot). We then reviewed our findings with the team that managed the open days. It was hard work, people don’t like to hear that they could be doing better, but, it had to be done to help them move on.

We looked at everything, from the initial invitation that applicants received, the information about the day, the structure of the day and timings. We also spoke to people that had attended open days and asked them what they liked (and more importantly didn’t like) about the current structure of the day. We then went back to the drawing board to add and remove different aspects of the day.

The next open day we attended at the University was completely different and seemed to be more positively received by those people attending. We’d decided to provide two streams throughout the day, one for students and a separate timetable for their parents; after all, they all want to find out different information about the University, so why try to cram it all into one stream?

The results spoke for themselves.  Conversion rates were up when comparing those students that had attended the first open day to the second, updated open day attendees.  Most importantly, the new format is still in place, conversion rates have improved, and people are actually calling the University to ask if they can come to an open day, rather than being dragged there by their parents!