Are Mobile Apps the New College Recruiter?

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

With more students interacting with colleges and universities from their mobile devices, apps are starting to make a lot more sense. The lightweight look and feel of mobile apps as opposed to traditional websites is a main factor for why they are gaining traction among college students. So is it worth it to develop a mobile app for your higher ed institution? And if you choose to do so, what steps can you take to enhance communication and boost enrollment numbers?

We address the answers to these questions in our next article.

More Students are Completing the College Search from Mobile Devices

According to a recent study, over two-thirds of prospective college students have used their mobile devices to research college websites. The study polled 2,000 students about how they use their mobile devices in the college search. Here were a few interesting findings from the study.

  • Prospective college students agreed that colleges and universities should have a standard and mobile version of their website.

  • Seventy-three percent of students said they would be interested in mobile apps for specific universities.

  • Over 70 percent of students said they would be interested in using mobile apps to explore scholarships, view applications and complete enrollment tasks.

  • Other activities that students said they would like to complete on the apps include requesting more information, calculating financial aid, scheduling visits, applying online and registering for open houses.

Mobile apps have yet to reach their full potential. We are in the early stages of using them as recruitment tools. But this is a good thing. It means that there is a niche that can be filled by your college or university. With little competition, you have your own lane to explore without having to compete with a lot of other schools.

That being said, forward-thinking higher institutions are aware that mobile apps are a potential recruitment tool. Some are probably developing their own apps as we speak, so it’s only a matter of time that more of these applications will be rolled out from competing schools.

So how can you create a killer app that can expedite enrollment and enhance engagement without getting knocked out of the park? Let’s take a look.

What to Consider Before You Develop an App

Before you begin, you need to think about how the application’s effect on recruitment will be measured. Also, how will the app fit into your overall digital marketing strategy? Just as with other marketing tactics, a mobile app should not be a standalone marketing tool. It should complement your overall marketing strategy.

Here are some tips to help you answer these questions.

  • Define your institutional goals. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to expedite inquiries? Acquire more applications? Achieve higher enrollment numbers? If yes, plan on measuring metrics from your mobile app that correlate with that success.

  • Determine what indicates success. What does success look like for your institution? Set goals and objectives that are attainable and easy to measure. For instance, if you want your mobile app to increase the number of applicants you receive, determine how you will track the number of incoming applications and compare those numbers to last year’s.

  • Leverage existing marketing strategies. Remember, your mobile app should fit into your overall marketing strategy. Determining this ahead of time is ideal. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to squeeze it in where it doesn’t fit. If you know that your app is intended to increase applications, for example, you can offer it to prospective students at the right stage in the funnel.

Benefits of Mobile Apps for Students and Faculty

So are mobile apps right for your higher ed institution?

Only you can answer that question, but many colleges and universities are saying yes. Here are some of the benefits that you will want to consider when making the final decision.

Student Benefits

  • Enhance navigation with interactive maps

  • Connect with classmates through social media integration

  • Use directories to find buildings, classrooms, professors and more

  • Receive school news and updates

  • Browse campus events calendar

  • Access time-sensitive information such as weather, traffic, bus routes, etc.

Prospective Student Benefits

  • Attract more prospective students

  • Keep in touch after students visit your campus

  • Track and monitor interactions with your school

  • Offer an interactive map when visiting

  • Provide a city and campus search directory

  • Keep students in the loop with campus news and events

Faculty Benefits

  • Learn valuable information about students and visitors

  • Reduce paper and printed materials

  • In-app advertisements and sponsorship revenue opportunities

  • Enhance your brand’s image

  • Stay connected with students before graduation

Conclusion

Mobile apps are worth considering for your institution. As more colleges and universities look to strengthen their relationships with current and prospective students on mobile devices, smartphone apps will continue to be at the center of the conversation. Now is a great time to put your ideas into effect and create a worthy app that will set your school apart from others. With less noise from competing schools and a demand from the student population, you have the opportunity to succeed.

 
About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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