Mobile marketing should be at the top of any higher education institution’s marketing agenda. In other words, universities need to also contemplate a mobile-first approach to capture applicants' attention. Never before has information been so accessible; today, students can find everything they need to know in just a few taps.
Photo by rawpixel.
Millennials, and to a larger extent, Generation Z, don’t just use mobile to communicate with their peers. More than ever, they are using their mobile devices as a rich resource for research. For those who have grown up in the digital age, mobile is intrinsic to the way they experience and interact with the world.
According to Global Web Index, 98% of Gen Zer’s own a smartphone, and on an average day, they spend over four hours using it online, making it the most popular and influential device in their day-to-day lives.
With this in mind, it’s up to each university to engage with prospective students where they hang out most - on mobile. In doing this well, and by channeling the right content at the right time, they will empower students to make informed decisions on the future of their education.
Here are a few 'must-dos' for universities who want to prioritise mobile marketing.
1. It's got to look good
First impressions count, and this applies just as much to mobile as it does to print and desktop. Firstly, you need to make sure there is consistency from a design and branding perspective - not just on your website but on other communication collaterals, such as emails too. Ensuring homogeneity across different mediums can be difficult without an experienced designer to help, but it’s made a lot easier when you have access to email templates through your university admissions software.
Optimising your website for mobile is key from a functionality perspective too. Get a professional to test it to see if it translates well, if the text is easy to skim and whether the layout works. It’s particularly important to test the most popular pages prospective students will use, such as course enquiry pages, contact pages and the application form itself. Is your CRM capturing the data once an enquiry has been submitted?
There are plenty of online tools to help you out - Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test provides you with a website score and suggests ways you can optimise your mobile version.
2. Video reigns supreme
Research by Google into the way Generation Z engages with mobile reveals that, across all age groups, more time is spent watching online video on their phones than any other smartphone activity, but adolescents watch the most. Seven in 10 adolescents say they spend more than three hours per day watching mobile video.
YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google, and its app makes it incredibly mobile-friendly. Universities should be utilising this medium to appeal to prospective students, and there are many creative ways of doing this.
We’re big fans of SOAS’ video ‘Meet the World at SOAS’ which showcases the institutions diversity in a visually stunning way.
SOAS succeed in communicating their culture and values in just over two minutes.
Explainer videos are also a good idea. They help prospective students understand the admissions process and can be particularly useful for international candidates. The following video by University of Birmingham provides helpful information on how to apply to the University of Birmingham as an International student, to both Undergraduate and Postgraduate programmes.
University of Birmingham explaining how to best apply to their university
We’ve written a lot about video content, and have gathered some of the best examples of university video campaigns today.
3. Be discoverable
...on multiple channels.
Having an admissions phone number and email address is not enough nowadays. Prospective students expect to be able to communicate in real time and don’t want to wait long for responses. They also need to be able to reach the relevant people on the go through their smartphones.
Having a Whatsapp, Skype or Messenger account will portray your institution as both approachable and in touch with existing technology. Whatsapp is easy to use and offers a high level of security through encrypted messages.
Being discoverable also means ranking well for key search terms on Google. Although SEO for mobile and desktop follow the same basic principles, there are some differences that need to be factored in, because mobile and desktop use different algorithms.
4. Be social savvy
Social media is intrinsic to any successful mobile marketing strategy. It’s likely that once they’ve shortlisted, students will follow your institution's social media accounts to keep updated and get an impression of the culture and atmosphere. With this in mind, it’s important to post engaging content regularly, from useful things like deadlines to inspiration stories from graduates.
According to Hootsuite, Instagram is the most popular app for brand discovery, with 45 percent of adolescents using it to find cool new products (and places), followed by Facebook, which comes in at 40 percent. YouTube is also popular and shouldn’t be overlooked, as discussed above.
Engaging students and getting them to enroll can be challenging in a competitive industry like higher education, but it’s made easier with the right approach. A mobile-first marketing strategy will enable you to further your reach and nurture prospects through the process in a streamlined way.
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