Remember those days when prospective and wide-eyed students used to flock to your campus in large numbers and take guided tours before deciding to apply? Well, the pandemic has changed that picture drastically. And no one knows how soon things will go back to normal. Naturally, most colleges are coming up with virtual tours to deal with the situation, so that students can explore the campus and its facilities without compromising their and others’ health. Self-guided college virtual tours, especially, are a rage as they allow candidates to find out about institutions at their own pace and whenever they have the time. However, here are 5 things that you must incorporate in such tours so that the gap between real and virtual can be bridged as much as possible.
- Help them imagine campus life – Sure, beautiful buildings and manicured lawns look great! But, that’s not what campus life is all about. Students who are thinking of applying to your college needs to know what it really “feels” like. So, in your self-guided campus tour, include real images and videos of the faculty, current students and other staff members, to show what your culture is like. Promote diversity and let professors and students share their experiences and emotions through the videos. Show students playing, chatting, laughing, walking around, and attending lectures, for a realistic vibe. Include a live-chat feature so that viewers can get in touch with admission staff or student ambassadors.
- Customize based on student interests – Different students look for different things when applying for a college. So, your tour should account for varied interests and address them accordingly. For instance, international students might want to know if there is a buddy system in place to help them blend with a new culture. Some students might want to know about scholarships, while others might be keen on athletic programs. Prospective students might also want to know about your drama society, library, placement cell, community activities, cafeteria and more.
Read – 5 Mistakes to Avoid While Creating Custom Virtual Tour of Your College
- Make navigation easy – Even if in-person visits were happening, new-age students wouldn’t really know how to get around with a physical map. So, use Google Maps to create your self-guided tour map. This will help students to guide themselves around the campus, no matter how many blocks it has or how big it is. Make it easy for them to spot important buildings or stops, whether it is a lecture hall, residential area, playground, pool, or admissions office. Enable zooming features too, so that a prospective student can explore a particular place in details if they want.
- Provide insights about the locality – Campus life largely depends on the locality and community around your college. Is it a friendly neighborhood? Are there enough stores, ATMs, parks or clinics in the vicinity? Is it easy to reach your campus or what all can students do when they are out and about after class? By offering these insights through your self-guided virtual tour, you can make prospective students feel more at home. It will help them decide more easily between you and other colleges as well.
- Let them take action – A virtual tour for college gets you the right results only when it is embedded with smart CTAs or call to action buttons. Unlike a physical guided tour, convincing a prospective student to actually apply is not very easy when things are virtual and self-guided. So, apart from telling an appealing story about your institution, its specialties and facilities, you need to egg on the student to take action. Here is where tabs or buttons like “Contact a Student Ambassador”, “Talk to the Faculty”, “Schedule a Meeting”, “Apply Now”, “Check Scholarships”, and “Top Events” can help.
To cut a long story short, virtual self-guided tours are the way to go if you want your college to draw students safely during the enrolment season, in the wake of the pandemic. And by keeping the above tips in mind, you can actually make the most of it. Not sure how to get started or create a tour that gives your competitors a run for their money? Drop us an email at email@example.com and we will get back to you soon.
Read – Top 5 Ideas to Make your College Virtual Tour More Winning
There is a reason why visual marketing has emerged as the best form of marketing over the years. No one wants to consume text-heavy content anymore, as it eats up a lot of time, energy and focus. With most businesses taking the online route nowadays for promoting their brands and offers, it is all the more essential to create content that grabs attention quickly and conveys the message easily. That’s because your potential customer is busy and wants to find out things quickly, remember important information better, make decisions easily, and shies away from brands that hard-sell without connecting. Hence, the need of visual marketing, through photos, videos, GIFs or virtual tours, cannot be ignored. Read on to know more about the many benefits:
- Fast engagement and better organic traffic – Visual marketing, when done right, can hook potential customers more easily, as a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether you are using crisp and well-shot photos or a video that is funny or emotional, these methods are more attractive than plain text and will draw more organic (or free) traffic to your site. And that’s just what you want.
- Better search engine ranking – Ranking high on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo is the best way to reel in organic traffic, as you might already know. This way, you won’t have to spend regularly on ads. And you can achieve a better ranking when people find your content relevant, informative and interesting. That is exactly what happens when you include photos, videos or virtual tours in your website, blog and Google My Business listings. When more people interact with your content, search engines read it as better engagement and consider your site to be high-quality. This, in turn, leads to a better rank and more traffic.
Read – The Top 4 Predictions for the Future of Photography
- Evokes curiosity and emotions – One of the biggest pros of visual marketing is that, it makes people curious and eager to know more. Action-oriented visual content formats, like virtual tours or videos are especially effective as they are immersive and realistic. They make your target audience feel, relate with your brand, understand your mission, and trust you. For instance, if you are promoting your school through a custom virtual tour, students and parents can explore it thoroughly and appreciate the fact that you are transparent. This can help you establish an emotional connection. Similarly, by watching videos or virtual tours of cafes, gyms, spas and such, people can find out more or decide whether they like a place or not.
- Better brand recall and conversion – You might be surprised to know that visual content has been found to boost learning in students by 400%! Naturally, it’s a powerful tool for marketing businesses too. Since visual information can be processed faster and easily by the human brain, it is possible to recall product or service details with more clarity even after a few days or weeks. And the better this recall, the higher is the chance of a visitor coming back to your site to place an order or make a booking. In other words, better recall can translate to better conversion, which is your ultimate goal.
- Easy to share on social media – Another benefit of visual marketing is the ease with which visual content types can be shared on social media channels. Most people scroll their social feeds casually and notice posts or tweets that have images or videos. So, it is easier to connect with your brand’s followers this way and get them to share your visual content with others who might be interested too. Over time, it will boost your base of potential customers and website traffic.
Read – How to Maximize Exposure for Your Brand by Marketing Your 360 Virtual Tour
What kind of visual content should you use?
While still images are widely used these days by almost all kinds of businesses, consumer preferences and behaviors are evolving. And to keep up with them as well as beat competition, you need something more powerful than just pictures. You need beautifully shot pictures, emotive videos or immersive virtual tours that tell a story and keep your potential customers coming back for more. Apart from your website, these can be shared via emails, social media channels, brochures and more.
So, are you quite convinced about the advantages of visual marketing by now? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your brand and specific needs and we will help you zero in on the best visual content types.
Read Also – Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know why Google virtual tours are such a student-magnet during the college application season. They are super immersive, interactive, realistic, and can be explored remotely to make comparisons and decisions. Essentially, they minimize a prospective student’s need to visit every college, and waste time, money, and energy. However, creating a college’s custom virtual tour is easier said than done, if you want finesse and something exclusive (Gen Z is hard to connect with, right?). Check out the custom virtual tour mistakes you need to avoid, so that you get maximum applications.
- Not hiring professionals – If you are thinking of promoting your college through a virtual tour, you are not the only one. So, if your tour is difficult to explore due to technical glitches, is not smoothly rendered, or has poor audio or video quality, you are more than likely to lose out to your competitors. That’s why, hiring professionals who have experience in creating such tours makes so much sense. They will know exactly where to shoot, how to shoot, what to highlight, and the kind of lighting and editing to use, and so on. This can take a huge load off your mind.
- Not preparing the college – One of the common virtual tour mistakes is not to prep the campus well enough. When a prospective student takes a tour remotely, they want to visualize how their day to day will be like when they start living on the campus. So, to convince them, the college should look right. This means, ensure zero clutter and dust, and have the right furniture and decorative pieces and even flowers in place, to boost the visual appeal. Your lawns should be manicured and waste bins should stay out of sight. The use of artificial light is also important when you are shooting inside, since you want to be careful about shadows. Also, plan ahead about the places and unique aspects that you want to highlight in the custom virtual tour. For instance, the gym might have the latest cycling machines, or there might be a massive lake with ducks on the campus, or the library might have floor to ceiling windows for a unique setting.
Read – Top 5 Ideas to Make your College Virtual Tour More Winning
- Not connecting at a personal level – While putting together the virtual tour of a college, it is not enough to just flaunt picture-perfect study halls, dormitories and facilities. You need to connect with students at an emotional level, which can be done if you feature the admission staff or student ambassadors leading the tour. Or, you can insert videos showing current and past students talking about their experience. For instance, someone might love jogging around the campus or digging into the different kinds of cuisine you serve at the cafeteria or taking laps in your large pool after classes. These interesting tidbits can motivate prospective students to consider your institute over others.
- Not providing clear CTAs – One of the top mistakes while creating a Google virtual tour of your college is not providing clear and effective CTAs or call to action buttons. After all, you want prospective students to act after watching the tour, right? So, insert CTAs like “Apply Now”, “Talk to the Admin”, “Scholarships”, “Schedule a Meeting” and so on, which will drive students to convert from passive viewers to candidates who want to enroll. Make sure the CTAs are strategically placed, easy to see, and have bold fonts and colors.
- Using inexpensive cameras or software – The list of custom virtual tour mistakes is not complete without this one, as many colleges end up using cheap software or equipment to save money. In other words, you can’t expect your smartphone to do the job that a top quality digital camera and tripod can best achieve. The perfect angle, lens, and accessories can go a long way in capturing beautiful panoramic or 360 degree shots. Similarly, using any run-off-the-mill, cheap editing software can make your tour seem blurry, dark, unattractive or unreal.
To wrap up, avoid the virtual tour mistakes we discussed above, to reel in more students faster and stay ahead of the competition. Plus, a decent dose of creativity is also required to help your campus stand out from the rest. So, shoot us an email at email@example.com if you are not sure how to go about it or need expert guidance.
Read Also – Using Virtual Reality in Education Has Many Benefits
If you are reading this, you are already aware of the power of visual marketing. And you have also heard about 360 virtual tours as well as 3D virtual tours. Now, both these visual marketing tools are attractive, engaging, and can do wonders to boost a business’s traffic and conversions. But the problem arises when these terms get used loosely or interchangeably. Even if they seem the same, 360 virtual tours are a little different than 3D virtual tours. So, find out all about their differences based on 5 parameters, so that choosing the right tool becomes an easy task for you.
- Composition – 360 virtual tours are like a slideshow of 360 panoramas, where you can tag specific spots with extra information (if required), like videos, images, text or links that lead to other websites. While 3D virtual tours are similar to that, they ensure a more immersive and interactive experience by providing 3D depth and navigation features.
- Experience – When it comes to 360 virtual tours vs. 3D virtual tours, the difference in experiences that they offer is significant. If you are not gunning for an emotional experience or don’t need to evoke specific reactions from your viewers, a 360 virtual tour can be adequate. For example, if you simply want to make your Google My Business listing look a bit different than others that use plain images or videos, 360 virtual tours can do the trick.
Read – Find Out Why Your Business Needs 3D Mapping for That Competitive Edge
However, if you wish to connect with your viewers at a deeper level, make the experience more immersive and realistic, and want better recall, 3D virtual tours are the way to go. For instance, if you are promoting a luxury resort in a unique location, allowing potential guests to explore every nook and cranny through a 3D virtual tour can delight them and drive a positive decision.
- Floor plans and 3D models – The difference between 360 virtual tours and 3D virtual tours becomes especially evident if you are a real estate developer looking to market a property. In case you go with a 360 virtual tour, you will have to create floor plans and 3D models separately. However, if you go with 3D virtual tours, then the concerned platform can churn out 3D models automatically. It will also be easy to use 360 panoramas to put together floor plans in this case. Basically, you will end up saving a lot of time and effort if you choose 3D virtual tours.
- Spatial information – Providing spatial information to viewers essentially means showing them how much space you have at your disposal. This may not be necessary always, and can determine whether you need 360 business virtual tours or 3D tours. An example can make this clearer. Imagine you run an upscale restaurant and want to attract the right crowd. So, no matter what the exact size of your establishment is, if the theme, décor, and ambience click with your audience, it will be good enough. So, in this case, a 360 virtual tour will do the trick. But if you rent out your restaurant for corporate events, parties etc., viewers will need an idea about how big it is and what is the layout like. This means, a 3D virtual tour will work better.
- Money and time – 360 virtual tours (even big ones) usually don’t take much time to create. Professionals can especially do it fast with the kind of software they have, after asking you a few questions about the rooms you wish to show, the sequence, and any other information that you might want to add. Naturally, this doesn’t cost much. However, 3D virtual tours require more finesse and time, and hence, are costlier. So, which one you pick will depend on your budget, timeline and the other aspects that we discussed above.
All in all, who wins the 3D tours vs. 360 virtual tours battle will depend on your type of business, your target audience, the kind of marketing results you want, and the time and money you are ready to invest. If you are still not sure, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will guide you towards the right decision.
Read Also – Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?