Case Study

Seneca’s virtual experience plays a key role in the midst of a crisis

360º virtual campus tours launch just in time for the shift to online
4 min read

Redefining Seneca's virtual platform

Campus facilities are key criteria when prospects evaluate a school’s overall student experience, for domestic and international students alike. Before Seneca College started using Circuit, they relied on Google Street View 360º imagery embedded on tour pages to virtually show prospects around campus. This met an initial need, but “Street View wasn’t a solution we had enough control over, and only partially able to drive the results we hoped for,” said Peter Freer, Digital Marketing Specialist at Seneca. Seneca sought to convey the story of its faculty programs and campus spaces, as well as generating inquiries and applications.

The Seneca marketing team chose Circuit to deliver interactive content to prospective students and to provide a cohesive platform for managing and distributing virtual tour content going forward.

Seneca's newest facility: Centre for Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (CITE), Newnham Campus

One of the important criteria for the decision was the ability to let prospects explore new facilities. Seneca had recently undergone major new campus additions. “Campus facilities are a differentiating part of the student experience, and in the past it’s been challenging to keep our virtual tour up to date with the developments around campus,” notes Peter. As their campuses evolve and change, Circuit will make it easy for Seneca to promote the latest faculty spaces and investments in the student experience.

Crisis Hits, and Seneca Reacts

Fast forward to March 2020 - the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America and signs were pointing towards closure of non-essential businesses. All campus visits, in-person information sessions, and Campus Open Houses would be cancelled. Open Houses are key marketing events to connect and inform prospects.

The Seneca Marketing and Circuit teams pressed the timeline to get four campus locations and 13 area of study tours live on Seneca’s site. They launched just ahead of a wave of prospects who were starting their research online for the coming intake.

As Seneca quickly pivoted their planned Open House to an online format, virtual tours became a key engagement piece.

Maintenance Hangar at Peterborough Campus, Seneca College
Maintenance Hangar featured on Seneca's 360° Virtual Campus Tour

“The virtual tour was a top draw for visitors reaching the Open House landing page. Just like they would at Open Houses and Campus visits, it ensured that domestic and international prospects could experience ‘touring’ the campus,” recalls Peter.

Using Circuit’s shareable URLs (deeplinks), Seneca could send visitors to specific tours like ‘Newnham Campus’, ‘Aviation’ or ‘Business’, or to specific scenes within those tours, like an individual classroom or lab. In this way, Seneca could leverage existing context about their visitors to take them to the most relevant content. “Half of the virtual Open House experience was touring spaces. If that wasn’t online, it would have been a completely different experience.”

Aerial view of CITE Building, Newnham Campus
“Half of the virtual Open House experience was touring spaces. If that wasn’t online, it would have been a completely different experience.” Peter Freer, Seneca College

Assessing Early Results

Circuit’s robust analytics tracking is essential to Seneca’s Marketing. By integrating with Google Analytics and Data Studio, it provides an at-a-glance reporting in a weekly email digest for high-level trends, as well as the ability to dive deeper into GA metrics for custom queries.

Since implementing Circuit earlier this year, Seneca has seen strong initial results. Campaigns promoting virtual tours are performing exceptionally well on both click-through and on-page interaction. Behavioural data from the Open House, for example, revealed extremely high engagement rates. Open House visitors viewed 156% more scenes, spent 200% more time viewing content, and were over 3X more likely to initiate a call to action.

Seneca's virtual campus tours available on all devices

Using Circuit, Seneca was in the right position to leverage the shift to online. With this tool in hand, Seneca Marketing and Recruitment teams can enhance their future interactions with prospects. ”This was something we needed to do sooner or later, and I’m glad we did it sooner. We’re excited to expand the virtual tour experience with Circuit. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor for us so far.”