Enhancing Your Visitor Experience Through a Virtual Tour - A WKU Case Study


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We all want to make our websites more engaging right? Much of the time it is easier said than done. In this presentation we will talk about how Western Kentucky University has approached the online visitor experience and specifically how their virtual tour plays a crucial role in that process through their partnership with nuCloud.Along with giving this specific case study, you will also receive all the information that you need to prepare for a virtual tour project. Specifically we will be sharing and discussing lots of relevant data that has come out around the value of a virtual tour to a university for recruitment reasons. We will also teach you how to prepare an ROI analysis to build a case for doing a virtual tour project. Finally we will discuss some of the biggest pitfalls that you should avoid when developing your virtual tour or interactive map of campus.

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  • WKU is a 4-year public with over 21,000 students. We are the 3rd largest university in the Commonwealth of Kentucky behind UK and Louisville. About 72% of our students come from KY, but we consistently have students from all 50 states and in 2011, we also welcomed more than 600 students from more than 150 countries.In 2010/2011 we opted for a complete website redesign and CMS adoption. Over the course of 9 months, we trained more than 500 CMS users and recreated more than 300 websites under the WKU.edu domain. Our content strategy was 100% prospective student focused and believing our website is our “window to the world,” we knew that in order to support WKU’s vision of being “A Leading American University with International Reach,” we needed to step up our game as far as how we presented our campus and virtual tour to prospective students and their families.
  • We really wanted our campus map and virtual tour to represent who we are. We wanted anyone who visited our tour to become excited enough about WKU to take the next step and come to our campus for an in-person visit or better yet, to apply! While we had already determined we wanted a prospective student focus, we also knew that this tour should give all visitors something to get excited about.
  • It’s always important for us to keep up with alumni for donations, but we have found our virtual tour has been useful in keeping our alumni up to date with events on campus and our developments to campus growth. We have heard from many alumni that they have loved seeing the changes to campus as demonstrated on our virtual tour that they otherwise might not have seen because they cannot personally make it to campus.
  • Current students can use your virtual tour to learn about events, what departments are located in what buildings, finding their way to buildings they have never had classes in before and of course, it’s a great tool for parents to learn about campus when they are coming for a visit.
  • Fans are often visitors to your campus as well. Your virtual tour can direct them to tailgating locations, sports venues, special events, game parking and more.
  • Sometimes you have special speakers that come to campus. These people might draw members of your local community to come out to hear them speak. Last year one of the coolest speakers we had was Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame. He spoke about sustainability and social responsibility.
  • HewebAROn occasion people will come to your campus to attend conference events. Having a clear map will really help them find their way.
  • Summertime brings lots of visitors to campus from campers to sports clinics, workshops and more. Your virtual tour can really help get folks excited about coming to your campus.
  • Probably the most important audience for your Virtual Tour is prospective students and their families. Students get really excited to investigate their options and we have found that many of our students will visit our tour repeatedly during different parts of their recruitment and enrollment cycle. In the beginning they are interested more in general information, which then transitions into interest in residence halls and common areas once the semester approaches.
  • Photo: Rentscouter.comThese days a virtual tour is an essential part of your recruitment toolkit. We know that students will go to your website early and often during their recruitment process and opening the virtual door to your campus first really gets them excited about your school and encourages them to come to your campus to see it up close for themselves.Noel-Levitz e-Expectations data?
  • Here is an imagining of pretty typical recruitment cycle milestones…A student starts thinking about college – maybe as early as their sophomore year, but by junior year, they are receiving materials already and prepping for ACT and SAT. They visit your website to learn more about your school; then they visit your virtual tour; Ideally, they get so excited, they schedule an in-person tour, they apply (hooray, she got in!) and four years later, they are off into the world!
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/2317301258/Student does a bunch of reading, talking to friends and family and probably spends some time online. So this process might not start as early as this guy but it’s always around.
  • List of School Logos
  • US News – students look at reports, follow sports, talk to their friends and their parents
  • Ultimately the take a road trip and visit campus
  • Just as a clarification point between an virtual tour an and interactive map here is how we think about the two. We commonly interchange the two words so it’s useful to understand the description of each.
  • Our old map was “managed” by the office of Admissions and in truth was so old that no one even knew how to log in to make updates or who to contact at our old vendor for changes.It was very sterile, and while it offered 360 views of specific locations, it didn’t give an accurate snapshot of our campus growth and vitality at all. We have more than 100 buildings on our historic campus and none of that was reflected in any way using this tool.Rather than show this dated version of a tour to our prospective students and visitors, we opted to take it down and replaced it with a static map.
  • We are all guilty of putting a map like this out there. It gives your website visitors an idea of how large your campus is…or does it? We know based on the number of buildings that WKU is a large campus, but we don’t have a personal feeling of what the buildings look like. We see shapes of rooftops, but what is enticing about this?
  • This is a zoomed out version of our new 3D campus map. Not only can you see what the buildings look like, but if you zoom in close enough, our artist even drew sculptures on campus and the tree placement is accurate. This map is a great representation of our campus.
  • In the time since taking our tour live, we have had more than 14,000 unique visitors. This to us is amazing considering what we had before – which was so bad, we had stopped telling people where to find it.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/9190330@N06/5810163712/
  • We have heard for years that the physical campus tour is the single most important element in the recruitment process and now we have the data to back that up.https://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2012/e-expectations-college-student-conversations
  • From report - https://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2012/2012-e-expectations-report
  • From report - http://www.noellevitz.com/papers-research-higher-education/2012/2012-e-recruiting-practices-and-trends-at-four-year-and-two-year-institutions
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanbaker/479278585/The real value of a Campus Tour is it’s ability to get individuals to want to apply to your school. It can be one of the single most influential things in the decision process for a prospective student. So how much is it worth and how do we get prospective students to want to apply to our school?
  • Enhancing Your Visitor Experience Through a Virtual Tour - A WKU Case Study

    1. 1. Enhancing Your Visitor Experience Through a Virtual Tour A WKU Case StudyKyle James Corie Martin@KyleJames @CorieMartinCEO @nuCloud Manager of Creative Web Services @WKU
    2. 2. Approaching the Online Experience• About WKU – 4-year public – 21,000 + Students on 4 campuses – 3rd largest university in Kentucky• 2010/2011 Website Redesign / CMS adoption – Prospective student focused content strategy – Included new virtual tour
    3. 3. Something for all audiences
    4. 4. AlumniEvents on Campus Developments to Campus
    5. 5. Current StudentsEvent and department locations, way-finding, Parent’s Weekend info and more
    6. 6. Athletic FansDirect fans to tailgating locations, venues, special events, parking and more
    7. 7. Community & Special Events
    8. 8. Conferences
    9. 9. Campers
    10. 10. Prospective Students
    11. 11. Vital toRecruitment
    12. 12. Milestone Cycle
    13. 13. The Prospective Decision Process
    14. 14. Lots of Choices
    15. 15. How to Narrow the List?
    16. 16. Visit Campuses!
    17. 17. You Can’t Visit Every School
    18. 18. Too Expensive & Too Much Time
    19. 19. In The News• USA Today instructs prospective students to take virtual tours as the #1 step before actually visiting a college http://usat.ly/6VXzE0• Fox Business instructs families to take a virtual tour to cut the cost of college visits http://fxn.ws/GCTyEv• The New York Times reports universities are turning to the internet for virtual tours http://nyti.ms/RpfdI3
    20. 20. Interactive Map vs Virtual TourVirtual Tour• Creating a virtual experience withoutactually being there• Picture, video, audio Interactive Map • Interacting with a user • Providing a means to give input and get results
    21. 21. So an interactive map isalways a virtual tour, but avirtual tour isn’t always an interactive map.
    22. 22. How Are You Competing?• Let’s talk about this…. – How about examples of other interactive media that colleges use • Email blasts • Print media/direct mail • Facebook • Custom Social Networks • Foursquare? Others?
    23. 23. Our Old Map• Dated 360 imagery• Poorly branded• Managed by Admissions• Little interactivity• No information or call-to-action• Dated and BOOORING
    24. 24. Our Old Campus Map
    25. 25. Our New Campus Map
    26. 26. Our Virtual Tourhttp://www.wku.edu/tour/
    27. 27. Our Mobile Tourhttp://www.wku.edu/tour/
    28. 28. Our Tour on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WKUNews
    29. 29. The Data
    30. 30. Physical Campus Tour Is CriticalData from Noel-Levitz – www.noellevitz.com
    31. 31. Most Important Web FeaturesData from Noel-Levitz – www.noellevitz.com
    32. 32. Credible Sources in Decision ProcessData from Hobsons - www.hobsons.com
    33. 33. 49% of Prospects are InfluencedData from Noel-Levitz – www.noellevitz.com
    34. 34. Why Aren’t More Schools Doing It?Data from Noel-Levitz – www.noellevitz.com
    35. 35. Building an ROI Case for this Project
    36. 36. Establishing ROIIf we can work backwards from the value of a student we can establish the value of an Interactive Campus Map. *All numbers are created as examples
    37. 37. What is the value of a Student?• Average Years = 3• Cost Per Year = $20,000• Average Yearly Discount = $10,000• Student Value = 3 * ($20,000 - $10,000)• So a Student is worth $30,000!
    38. 38. What is the value of an Applicant?• Student Value = $30,000• Conversion Rate in Applicant = 20%• App Value = $30,000 * .2• So an Applicant is worth $6,000!
    39. 39. Value Of Campus Tour
    40. 40. What is a Campus Visit Worth?• Application Value = $6,000• Conversion Rate of Visits to Applicant = 20%• Value of Visit = $6,000 * .2• So Each Student Visit is Worth $1,200!
    41. 41. Drive More Campus VisitorsInteractive Campus Map Visit Campus Application
    42. 42. What is a Virtual Tour Visit Worth?• Visit Value = $1,200• Conversion of Map to Visit = 5%• Value of a Map View = $1,200 * .05• So Each Map View is Worth $60!
    43. 43. Do You Think 1,000People Would View Your Map In A Month?
    44. 44. Then Having A Map Is Worth $60,000! Per Month!
    45. 45. ROI Spreadsheethttp://bit.ly/map-roi
    46. 46. Things Not To Do
    47. 47. Things Not To Do With A Map• Use Flash – it’s inaccessible and creates a maintenance nightmare• Only images – Include more content than just a map with some photo galleries. Tours need context.• Ignore updates – Keep building information and imagery fresh. You virtual tour needs the power to entice real visits.
    48. 48. Where Do I Start?http://www.uky.edu/CampusGuide/
    49. 49. Too Many Optionshttp://map.emory.edu/
    50. 50. Slow Load Timeshttp://www.suffolk.edu/virtualtour/
    51. 51. Confusinghttp://www.virtualtour.potsdam.edu/index.php
    52. 52. Don’t Fail!
    53. 53. Interactive Maps & Virtual Tours No Flash Embed Anywhere Facebook Ready Mobile Optimized 508 Compliance Google Analytics Map CMS Backend Customizable Options
    54. 54. Questions? Kyle James Corie Martin @KyleJames @CorieMartinkyle@nucloud.com corie.martin@wku.edu