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How a virtual tour can improve your enrollment metrics

Insights and tips from an analysis of 9M+ EAB Virtual Tours visitors

May 29, 2024, By Bailey Buchman, Director, Product Management

Picture this: it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, and Alex, a high school senior, is sitting on the floor of her room researching colleges. She’s clicking through school websites on her laptop while glancing over at the TikTok videos playing on her phone. She stumbles upon a virtual tour of a school she’s had her eye on. With a click, she’s transported onto campus, strolling through the quad on a beautiful day, peeking into science labs, and soaking in the atmosphere—and she hasn’t looked at social media in several minutes.

While this is a completely imagined scene, it illustrates a very real fact: virtual tours are an excellent way to win the attention of Gen Z. Students spend an average of over 8 minutes viewing an EAB Virtual Tour, which is four times as much as they typically spend per session browsing a college website.

Because of their ability to engage students, virtual tours can be a powerful tool for improving enrollment outcomes. Here are the top ways that tours can drive results across the funnel, along with tips for maximizing your tour’s impact.

Download the full report: “How to Set Your Virtual Tour Apart”

Growing Awareness

The first step in making the most of your tour is to ensure that you’re getting in front of as many students as possible. At EAB, we help our partners do this by providing flexible embed code for all tours, which enables them to easily integrate their tour across a variety places, including school-owned channels such as the college website, digital marketing, and email campaigns, as well as on third-party platforms such as Common App.

It’s important to make sure your tour is featured anywhere students are looking for information. One way EAB partners can do this is by featuring their tour on Appily, our one-stop platform that supports students in college search. Virtual tours are spotlighted on a school’s Appily profile page and searchable in the virtual tour library, helping spread awareness among the 3M+ Appily student users.

How Appily Extends Reach for EAB Virtual Tour Partners


EAB virtual tour visitors in 2023


Students on the Appily platform


of college-bound seniors are in Appily’s audience

Recommendation: Maximize the visibility of your tour by promoting it comprehensively on your .edu site, admissions portals, digital and social platforms, outreach campaigns, and on campus. For a promotion checklist, download our insight paper.

Boosting Inquiry Generation

Given the rise in stealth-shopping behavior, inquiry generation is one of the most important functions of a virtual tour. EAB partner data illustrates just how effectively virtual tours can engage and capture new leads: 64% of students who inquired via EAB Virtual Tours were incremental to other sources. Virtual tours can also amplify engagement across other channels: including virtual tours in email campaigns boosted inquiry rates by 21%. And virtual tours’ power to generate quality leads has lasting impacts beyond the inquiry stage: EAB has found a 3.9x higher campus visit rate among students who inquired via a virtual tour.

Tour Impacts at the Inquiry Stage

  • 64%

    of students who inquired via EAB Virtual Tours were incremental to other sources

  • 21%

    increase in inquiry rate when email campaigns incorporated EAB Virtual Tours

  • 3.9x

    higher campus visit rate among students who inquired through a virtual tour alone compared to other sources

While tours have the potential to be powerful inquiry-generation tools, not all tours will be equally effective. Inquiry form design plays a surprisingly large role in a virtual tour’s ability to capture inquiries effectively. At EAB, virtual tours use a rigorously tested Conversational Inquiry Form that has been shown to result in a 2x lift in form completion compared to a standard inquiry form.

EAB UX testing has found that features which streamline user experience or maximize relevant data capture can have a major impact on how well a form works. Some of these features include “resuming logic” that enables users to resume the form where they last left off; real-time data capture, which saves information as a user progresses through the form even if they don’t complete it; gamified design; and a visual progress bar, among others.

Promoting Application Submission

It’s important not to underestimate how influential virtual tours can be at the application stage. Data from EAB’s 2024 First-Year Experience Survey shows that a large share of students (35%) took their first virtual tour right before they started applying to schools or once they started applying to schools but before they had been admitted.

First-generation college students were more likely than their non-first-gen counterparts to take a first virtual tour after they had started applying to colleges, indicating that virtual tour engagement at the application phase should be a particular focus for institutions looking to increase first-generation enrollment.

Recommendation: Don’t overlook inquiry form design. Many virtual tour solutions and alternatives, including school-built approaches such as YouTube videos or WordPress sites, lack the components mentioned above, making them unlikely to result in the same level of inquiry generation.

Recommendation: Include your virtual tour in multi-channel application campaigns. It can be an important tool for sharing campus life with students as they decide where to apply, especially for students who may not have the time or resources to visit your institution in person.

Increasing Yield

Virtual tours can help you during yield season in a couple different ways. First, effective virtual tours provide a source of inquiries that yield at high rates. EAB Virtual Tour inquiries have an average 81% deposit-to-enroll rate, indicating that virtual tours can successfully reach and engage inquiries who are later likely to yield. Second, virtual tours can help you actively engage and win over admitted students as they weigh their decision of where to enroll.

  • 81%

    Average deposit-to-enroll rate when students inquired via an EAB virtual tour


To make the most of your virtual tour during yield, consider strategies such as including your tour in communications to parents or guardians and hosting a counselor-guided virtual visit. For more on these recommendations, download our insight paper.

Bailey Buchman

Bailey Buchman

Director, Product Management

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