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 16.9M Year 13 users a year [1] and we have 1.3M users in our “applying to university” segment [2]).

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 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 Ulaw’s specific 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.


Client success stories 2020

University 1 (South, global top 100): Autumn open day 2020 – This university ran an advertorial then followed it up with an email campaign targeting users who had engaged with the content, plus users in our “high achievers” segment. The email achieved an impressive open rate of 53.9%. View content and advertorial options.

University 2 (Northwest, TEF Gold): Autumn open day 2020 – This university wanted to be seen and remembered by students, so they placed attention-grabbing display ads across The Student Room site. They also targeted our audience with a series of four email campaigns (including segmented resends to openers and non-openers). The viewability for the mixed format display campaign was a 19% increase on the UK average [4] and the email open rates were as high as 36.4%.

University 3 (North, Russell Group): Virtual open day 2020 – All creatives in this university’s targeted display campaign exceeded both the sector and industry benchmarks for click-through rate. The campaign also over-delivered on impressions by 5%. The targeted email performed well too, with an open rate of 26.9% and a 7.3% CTR.

Edge Hill had “their most successful open day in five years” – View full case study here

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 Feb 2022 – Jan 2023
[2] Users who viewed relevant content in the last 30 days (1 Jan 2023)
[3] Navigating Changing Options research (7-21 March 2022, Wave 7) Comparative data at: Navigating Changing Options research (June 2021, Wave 5)
[4] UK average for mixed format display viewability (Q4, 2019) is 58.2% (Desktop = 60.5%, Mobile = 55.9%).

Interested in Open Day campaigns?

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