Ontario Colleges’ Information Fair Digital Experience Report

Report by JP Rains, VP Strategy at Soshal and Steve Krysak, Strategy Manager at Soshal.

This year’s edition of the Ontario Colleges’ Information Fair was once again very well received by Toronto area students, parents, and guidance councillors, who attended in record numbers, despite a historic election and a riveting Jays game. The fair represents the latest efforts from Ontario’s Colleges in recruiting prospective students. While each institution will have great conversation with prospective students, the event is a major source of leads (prospective students) for the college email newsletter. This report analyzes the use of digital technology to support the recruitment process.

Representatives from Cambrian College speak with OCIF attendees.

Throughout the fair, we evaluated how colleges were engaging students in order to collect their contact information. While this is often a goal of recruitment, it is vital for colleges to collect contact information in order to track the return on their investment in participating in the fair. This data collection, and subsequent emails, will increase the likelihood of a student’s attendance to their open house activities and aid in conversion throughout the recruitment funnel. Larger colleges can collect up to 3,000 names and email addresses at this event, which could account for the lion’s share of their email database.

Though this is a critical data collection opportunity, only a small number of colleges were featuring data collection as a central piece of a student’s booth visit. Additionally, we were surprised at the number of colleges that continue to rely on paper-based forms.

While having iPads or laptops available for electronic data capture is half the battle, increasing the potential for form completion through design is a key component of success. Here are the institutions that were particularly successful in doing this.

Fanshawe College

If there were an award for “best in fair, form” it would have to go to Fanshawe. Their minimalist form design surely increased completion rates and was presented in high traffic area of their booth. The form was very easy to use on an iPad, with easy to read instructions and intuitive design. They increased the form completion by providing animated digital scratch card for swag after the form was completed.

Cambrian College

Another simplified form, Cambrian collected only a small amount of information from each lead in order to increase form completion.

George Brown College

Probably the busiest iPad line-ups were seen at George Brown, which was providing a chance to win prizes after students completed the multi-step iPad based contact form. A nearby officer was scanning barcodes on cards which were provided upon form completion.

St-Lawrence College

Utilized a large touch screen to allow students to explore the career opportunities in various SLC programs. While the website being used wasn’t particularly optimized for touch-screen use, it did provide a nice promotion of the SLC website’s utility to a student in their search process.

Centennial College

Collecting data through a laptop bank in the middle of their booth, Centennial College was one of the few institutions to highlight their compliance with CASL legislation on their form. While this isn’t absolutely necessary, it does follow best practices and informs students.

Have questions about how your institution can make the most of events with digital marketing? Send us a note and we’d be happy to chat! If you’ve enjoyed this post, please sign-up for our newsletter.