Asbury University Uses Virtual Reality to Capture the Attention of Prospective Grad Students

Services: Higher Education

It’s an all-too-common question for educational institutions: how do we make our online offerings seem as legitimate and valuable as our on-campus lessons? It’s this problem, which Asbury University decided to face head on, to entice a passionate following of college-aged folks for their online communications graduate programs.

To promote these three programs - Digital Storytelling, Screenwriting and Film & Television Production - Kentucky-based Asbury University recognized it needed a new playbook for audience development that went well beyond your standard college brochure. The team reached out to Structural Graphics to create original marketing pieces they could use at on-campus events, grad fairs and for direct mail campaigns.

“I didn’t like the traditional marketing pieces that I was seeing at a lot of other places,” said Bonnie Bruner, Asbury’s Graduate Studies Coordinator/Recruiter.“I’m trying to appeal to a very creative audience, so we really needed something that was outside the box that was very different than the traditional brochure that we usually do.”

After a designer told her about Structural Graphics’s unique designs, Bonnie said she started looking through the website after deciding she wanted to use Virtual Reality (VR) Viewers.

“With [your VR Viewer], we could actually brand it with our colors and logos, so that’s kind of how I came up with this concept,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, this is perfect because it’s lower cost and I can brand it the way I want, then we can give these out to people at these different events that I go to.’”

The concept Bonnie and her team developed would showcase the University’s fully equipped $12.6-million dollar School of Communication Arts facility via a virtual tour. Structural Graphics’ SleekPeeks® VR Viewer was the perfect vehicle.

“Because our programs are online, it can be challenging to communicate the credibility and the strength of our programs,” Bonnie said. “One of the things that people ask a lot when looking for an online program is whether we also have a facility. For some reason they give more credibility to some of the online programs, so I wanted to communicate what we had and what we have to offer.”

But that’s not all.

To provide additional information about the University and its programs, Bonnie and her team paired a business card with each of the SleekPeeks®. On the card was a QR code that, when scanned with a smartphone, would take the user to a designated landing page.

According to this Evergage Press Release, 63 percent of respondents mentioned that by creating personalized experiences for their online audiences their conversion rates increased, and 61 percent noted improved customer experiences. by Evergage, 63 percent of respondents mentioned that by combining technology with print marketing, their conversion rates increased and 61 percent noted improved customer experiences.

“Structural Graphics has been really good for us because the pieces get people talking. I can get someone to come over and talk to me, which sometimes is hard at one of these events,” Bonnie said. “It’s enabled us to show that we are a legitimate program, that we have an amazing facility. So, it’s been working really well for us.”

So well, in fact, that some of the prospective grad students Bonnie has interacted with have filled out their online information form on the spot.

“I have an iPad stand where we can put in some information for me to email them,” she said. “Sometimes having that conversation because of the piece gets them to the point where they start asking more questions and then they’re like, ‘Wow, this is a really legitimate program. Yes, I will give you my information.’”

“I think it looks way better than any of the other things that we looked at to use,” she said. “It’s a better quality. The print on it is very crisp. I’m very, very happy with it and have gotten so many compliments on it.”

In fact, Bonnie attended a creative conference in Nashville back in September and said attendees who saw the viewers asked her where they were from.

“I always go back to you guys because you always have the most unique pieces,” she said. “It’s like what you have is exactly what we need to target the people we’re trying to target, so I haven’t used anyone else. Everything I order from you guys is always something new and something kind of cutting-edge, so, for us, it’s just been exactly what our program needed to really get us to the next level.”

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