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How York St John University are using GatherContent to create content for on-demand virtual open days

How York St John University are using GatherContent to create content for on-demand virtual open days

4 minute read

How York St John University are using GatherContent to create content for on-demand virtual open days

4 minute read

How York St John University are using GatherContent to create content for on-demand virtual open days

Becky Taylor

Product Marketing Manager, GatherContent

2020 has brought about a new pace of digital transformation to the way we live and work. For universities this has meant a need to adapt not only the physical environment on campus but process changes throughout university operations including student recruitment.

It's become imperative to be able to attract students digitally without the reliance on traditional recruitments fairs and open days. Open days are now virtual events across the industry. In response to this York St John University have developed a strategy offering on-demand virtual open days as a channel to drive bookings for their virtual open day events. Dominic Billington who heads up the Marketing, Digital Experience and Conversion teams wanted prospective students to be able to access the same type of content they'd be exposed to in a typical open day, digitally, at time they choose, not limited by booking a slot and turning up to a specific online tour.

York St John have been using GatherContent since January 2019 to bring people, process and technology together in content creation. Content for the university website, marketing campaigns, policies and more is created in GatherContent and moves through content workflows to ensure all parties contribute when required and that content is approved for usage.

When York St John began work to create on-demand virtual open days, it was a no brainer to use GatherContent for this content too. Whilst the content would be a new content type, the content would follow the structure of previous work the marketing team used for each subject booklet.

By using a single platform for content creation, York St John are able to standardise their content production process saving valuable time when needing to react quickly and begin new initiatives such as on-demand virtual open days.

Step 1: Create an inventory of required content

The marketing team created content items in GatherContent for each academic subject and the professional services content. An inventory of content to be created then exists in the cloud-based content hub.

Content hub showing an inventory of content to be created for the virtual open day.
Content hub showing an inventory of content to be created for the virtual open day.

Step 2: Apply content templates

With a high level picture of what content is required from the inventory of content items, content templates are the next step to define the brief for each element of the virtual open-day tour. Content templates in GatherContent bring key benefits:

  • Creating a clear brief for contributors speeding up content creation.
  • Standardising content structure increasing content consistency and quality.
  • Enabling faster publishing as content is formatted for its publication destination, in this case, the CMS.
A content template York St John use for main content sections within their virtual open day.
A content template York St John use for main content sections within their virtual open day.

Step 3: Set a content workflow with deadlines

Content workflow in GatherContent works as the project management element of content creation. Content workflow defines the key stages each content item needs to pass through to be ready to publish. York St John follow a content workflow that moves from draft status through key sequential reviews in order for the content to be approved to be loaded their CMS.

A snapshot of content status showing how many items are at each stage of the content workflow.
A snapshot of content status showing how many items are at each stage of the content workflow.

To set expectations, it is then possible to set deadlines for each workflow stage (unique to each content item if required). GatherContent will automatically send reminders to those assigned to content when content is due. At any stage in content creation, content workflow creates a live snapshot of content status.

Step 4: Invite contributors to collaborate

Content for the virtual open day requires collaboration between marketing officers, the student recruitment team and academics at York St John. However the roles vary greatly between full rights to create content templates and set content workflow, to as narrow as only being able comment on rather than create or edit content.

In GatherContent it's possible to create specific roles and permissions that reflect the different content roles required for content creation. York St John have set up groups with different permissions that suit the roles for different teams in the university.

The marketing team are then able to invite collaborators into the project, assigning them to relevant content, getting the ball rolling to gather the content required for the virtual open day function.

Creating a digital experience to boost student recruitment leads

The on-demand virtual tour is hosted on York St John's website offering prospective students insight into both the experience they can gain through studying at the university and student life on campus.

The marketing team have been running paid advertising promoting the on-demand content and early data is very positive. The university typically see a 70-80% bounce rate in website traffic from paid ads, however to date the bounce rate is significantly lower: ~10%.

Having GatherContent as our established platform to manage content operations, enabled us to deliver the fastest and broadest gathering of content we've had to date, for our on-demand, virtual open day.

Dominic Billington, Head of Marketing and Digital Experience at York St John University

The success of this campaign is in offering an instantaneous digital experience without the barriers of a fixed date. Student recruitment is a highly competitive environment. By allowing prospective students to experience what York St John have on offer, they have been able to instantly increase conversions towards their virtual open day events, which now play a vital role in securing applications.

2020 has brought about a new pace of digital transformation to the way we live and work. For universities this has meant a need to adapt not only the physical environment on campus but process changes throughout university operations including student recruitment.

It's become imperative to be able to attract students digitally without the reliance on traditional recruitments fairs and open days. Open days are now virtual events across the industry. In response to this York St John University have developed a strategy offering on-demand virtual open days as a channel to drive bookings for their virtual open day events. Dominic Billington who heads up the Marketing, Digital Experience and Conversion teams wanted prospective students to be able to access the same type of content they'd be exposed to in a typical open day, digitally, at time they choose, not limited by booking a slot and turning up to a specific online tour.

York St John have been using GatherContent since January 2019 to bring people, process and technology together in content creation. Content for the university website, marketing campaigns, policies and more is created in GatherContent and moves through content workflows to ensure all parties contribute when required and that content is approved for usage.

When York St John began work to create on-demand virtual open days, it was a no brainer to use GatherContent for this content too. Whilst the content would be a new content type, the content would follow the structure of previous work the marketing team used for each subject booklet.

By using a single platform for content creation, York St John are able to standardise their content production process saving valuable time when needing to react quickly and begin new initiatives such as on-demand virtual open days.

Step 1: Create an inventory of required content

The marketing team created content items in GatherContent for each academic subject and the professional services content. An inventory of content to be created then exists in the cloud-based content hub.

Content hub showing an inventory of content to be created for the virtual open day.
Content hub showing an inventory of content to be created for the virtual open day.

Step 2: Apply content templates

With a high level picture of what content is required from the inventory of content items, content templates are the next step to define the brief for each element of the virtual open-day tour. Content templates in GatherContent bring key benefits:

  • Creating a clear brief for contributors speeding up content creation.
  • Standardising content structure increasing content consistency and quality.
  • Enabling faster publishing as content is formatted for its publication destination, in this case, the CMS.
A content template York St John use for main content sections within their virtual open day.
A content template York St John use for main content sections within their virtual open day.

Step 3: Set a content workflow with deadlines

Content workflow in GatherContent works as the project management element of content creation. Content workflow defines the key stages each content item needs to pass through to be ready to publish. York St John follow a content workflow that moves from draft status through key sequential reviews in order for the content to be approved to be loaded their CMS.

A snapshot of content status showing how many items are at each stage of the content workflow.
A snapshot of content status showing how many items are at each stage of the content workflow.

To set expectations, it is then possible to set deadlines for each workflow stage (unique to each content item if required). GatherContent will automatically send reminders to those assigned to content when content is due. At any stage in content creation, content workflow creates a live snapshot of content status.

Step 4: Invite contributors to collaborate

Content for the virtual open day requires collaboration between marketing officers, the student recruitment team and academics at York St John. However the roles vary greatly between full rights to create content templates and set content workflow, to as narrow as only being able comment on rather than create or edit content.

In GatherContent it's possible to create specific roles and permissions that reflect the different content roles required for content creation. York St John have set up groups with different permissions that suit the roles for different teams in the university.

The marketing team are then able to invite collaborators into the project, assigning them to relevant content, getting the ball rolling to gather the content required for the virtual open day function.

Creating a digital experience to boost student recruitment leads

The on-demand virtual tour is hosted on York St John's website offering prospective students insight into both the experience they can gain through studying at the university and student life on campus.

The marketing team have been running paid advertising promoting the on-demand content and early data is very positive. The university typically see a 70-80% bounce rate in website traffic from paid ads, however to date the bounce rate is significantly lower: ~10%.

Having GatherContent as our established platform to manage content operations, enabled us to deliver the fastest and broadest gathering of content we've had to date, for our on-demand, virtual open day.

Dominic Billington, Head of Marketing and Digital Experience at York St John University

The success of this campaign is in offering an instantaneous digital experience without the barriers of a fixed date. Student recruitment is a highly competitive environment. By allowing prospective students to experience what York St John have on offer, they have been able to instantly increase conversions towards their virtual open day events, which now play a vital role in securing applications.

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About the author

Becky Taylor

Becky is a Product Marketing Manager at GatherContent. She has 10+ years working in marketing executing affiliate, content, display, mobile, search and social campaigns for high profile clients across various sectors including Travel, Entertainment and Oil & Energy.

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