Open day campaigns to boost your pipeline

One in four students we polled said an open day or virtual campus tour would help them make a decision about university

Open Days

The Student Room has both the data insights and the audience to deliver winning open day campaigns. Our platform attracts 15.5M Year 13 users a year [1] and we have 1.5M users in our “applying to university” segment [2]) each month.

Our open days research [3] on 2022 and 2023 applicants found:

  • Information applicants want from universities: Course e.g. modules, entry requirements (64%), University e.g. facilities, support, SU (59%), Accommodation (58%), Funding e.g. student loan, scholarships (55%), Flexibility of entry requirements (54%)
  • Top priorities for virtual events: specific course info (74%), to dip in/out of sessions (55%), taster lectures/workshops (55%), to be able to ask questions (55%), On-demand (54%)
  • Top priorities for in-person events: get a feel for campus/area (76%), taster lectures/workshops (71%), specific course info (68%), meet current students on their course (68%), see accommodation (68%)
  • Best time for virtual/on-campus events: Summer holidays before Year 13
    (Summer Term in Year 12 or Autumn Term in Year 13 also popular)

What kind of events do students want?

64% of all applicant respondents said they felt ‘quite’ or ‘very’ comfortable attending mass events


  • 46% have attended  (57% 2022 entry, 28% 2023 entry)
  • 41% still plan to attend (29% 2022 entry, 58% 2023 entry)
  • 80% found them useful (79% 2022 entry, 84% 2023 entry)

On-campus open events

  • 44% have attended (58% 2022 entry, 23% 2023 entry)
  • 72% still plan to attend (63% 2022 entry, 85% 2023 entry)
  • 90% found them useful (98% 2022 entry, 96% 2023 entry)

Client success stories 2022

University 1 (Yorkshire and the Humber): Summer open day 2022 – This university wanted to be seen and remembered by students, so they placed attention-grabbing billboards across The Student Room site. They also reached our audience with targeted impressions, a slot in a listicle and two email campaigns.  One email achieved an impressive open rate of 98.6%.

University 2 (Northwest): Summer open day 2022 – This university used targeted impressions for their summer open day promotion which performed incredibly well. They split their inventory by Year 12 and Year 13 and both performed well above the 0.08% benchmark. Year 12 delivered 358 clicks with a 0.34% click through rate. Year 13 served 105,992 impressions with a 0.24% click through rate. These were the largest onsite CTRs (non-sponsorship) for the whole of 2022.


Client success stories 2021

University 1 (Northern, campus-based): Summer open days promotion 2021 – This university booked a range of inventory to drive brand awareness and boost their open days, including mixed-format display ads, billboards, forum takeover and emails. It was a high-performing campaign in general, but one of the billboards did particularly well between March and June, achieving a CTR of 0.20% (benchmark 0.07%). This high CTR was maintained while serving ads to 73,607 users and gaining 145 clicks. This was followed up by an open day email which was sent on 14 July to promote an August open day – this got a 56.6% open rate.

University 2 (Central, Highly ranked by Guardian for career prospects): Winter Open day campaign – This university booked three emails and targeted impressions to promote their open days; the emails were spread across October, November and January. The open day emails performed exceptionally well throughout the campaign: October = 95.3% open rate. November = 60.2% open rate. January = 96.5% open rate.

University 3 (Legal education): Listicles drive registrations to open days in 2021 – This university booked a wide range of products including listicles and forum takeovers as well as emails and display advertising. The campaign was weighted towards promoting the university and its open days from April-June. The April listicle was opened by 45,497 users (27,679 uniquely) with 294 total clicks (224 uniquely) and 98 of these on the university section of the email alone. Subsequent email listicles built on this success, giving this university a chance to promote their open days to very large audiences.

Open Day solutions

Recommended approaches to promote your open day events.


Email blasts and listicles –  reinforce your message

Sending a series of targeted emails means your open day event is far more likely to be remembered, resulting in a much lower dropout rate. You also have the opportunity to highlight different aspects that make your university great, such as your student satisfaction ratings, your gorgeous campus, or the quality of your teaching.

We offer both solus email and listicle email options, so that you can select the best option for your objectives and budget. Our listicles calendar is available here. Open Day listicles are authentic email campaigns featuring your open day message and those of up to four other universities. Get more information about listicles here.


Content – make an impact with advice and storytelling

2022 and 2023 applicants told us that the top factors which would impact their decision about where to go to university included: how they feel about the campus, whether they like the location, and whether the university feels right and they can picture themselves there. This emphasises why open days are so important.

Sponsoring content is a great way to spark the emotional connections that students are seeking and encourage them to find out more on your open day. For example, you could sponsor an article about “a typical week studying Medicine.”


Display – stay front-of-mind and increase your turn-out 

Keep reminding students about your open day events with high-impact display advertising across our site. Getting applicants to register is only half the battle; you also need them to remember to turn up on the day and you want them to feel excited about the experience. Display can help build a sense of anticipation in the lead-up to your events.

We position your display ads in the right places and at the right times to maximise your exposure to Year 12 and Year 13 students. We also test and optimise your campaign so that the best creatives are used. Billboards are particularly effective for open day promotions.


The Uni Guide – add open day booking buttons

Target university applicants who are already narrowing down their choices and considering your university. By adding cost-per-lead buttons to your university profile on The Uni Guide you can prompt prospective applicants to book straight away.

Your lead generation pack will also include lead buttons allowing students to request information, visit your website or download your prospectus.

Find out more about open day lead buttons here.

vote and tell

Subject-specific campaign – target students by course interest

Reach students who are expressly interested in your chosen subject(s) or topic.

By tracking onsite engagement and combining this with our rich student data, we can build a highly relevant audience.

Our subject-specific solutions are great for boosting application numbers for courses that are harder to fill.

Your end of campaign report

We’ll follow up with a comprehensive report to give you a clear understanding of how each element of your campaign performed.

Your report will include:

  • Summary of your booked activity
  • Breakdown of each element of the campaign with performance metrics
  • Analysis of performance against our sector and overall benchmarks
  • Performance against any known industry benchmarks

Sources and data:
[1] User numbers extrapolated from member logins. Users = unique cookies, Average Sept 2022 – Aug 2023
[2] Users who viewed relevant content in the last 30 days (3 Sept 2023)
[3] Navigating Changing Options research (7-21 March 2022, Wave 7) Comparative data at: Navigating Changing Options research (June 2021, Wave 5)

Interested in Open Day campaigns?

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