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With 175 Billion App Downloads – Why Aren’t Colleges Recruiting Students Using Apps?

When asked if students could search for colleges, receive info from them, and communicate with them via a mobile app the overwhelming majority, 79%, said yes.

A recent article in the Register shared that globally, there were an astonishing 175 billion app downloads in 2017 alone. Given the numbers, a mobile equal student recruitment strategy is no longer an option for colleges. Those who continue to rely on traditional search and legacy communications to meet enrollment objectives will find themselves in a real pickle, and soon. Who today doesn’t rely on their smartphone to get information, review products, make purchases, and communicate via voice, text and email? It’s time that colleges started leveraging app technology as part of their student recruitment strategy.

The trend in mobile app usage is evident and the benefits to us enormous. In a business/data analytics class at Curry College in Milton, MA, when asked, students affirmed they check their phones almost constantly – every waking hour.

How did we get by before we had these smartphones and the apps that make them powerful tools? Today we are all interconnected and empowered with these devices that make our lives easier and information more accessible. It makes perfect sense to have a mobile equal strategy today, no matter what product, service, or brand you are promoting. Especially if your target audience is under the age of 30.

This means every high school, undergraduate degree program and degree program on the planet can benefit from leveraging a mobile app to achieve their enrollment objectives

Apps allow for consumer preference

It’s evident a paradigm shift has taken place in how we all connect and communicate. And it happened faster than we ever imagined it could. It’s hard to believe that the iPhone was first unveiled only 10 years ago! And what was once considered effective marketing simply no longer works.

A one communication channel fits all strategy simply doesn’t work. You can improve the student recruiting experience by allowing each individual to decide their personal preferences for email, social, print, voice, web and mobile experiences. This choice, known as ‘customer preference’, helps your brand nurture candidates and build a foundation for a better, mutually beneficial relationship.

There are still valid reasons for printing a beautiful view-book. High value purchases like a college education can be well positioned for an older audience (the parents of students) with a tangible, well produced brochure. However, an app friendly version of a catalog is a more contemporary choice for students looking to access information about your college on their smartphones. An app improves access to your brand and improves the entire ‘student journey’. And, although the focus is on GenZ, colleges should ensure they accommodate preferences of all generations and influencers such as parents, counselors, even grandparents.

Students voice their Communication Preferences

College Interactive recently surveyed hundreds of students to ask about their college communication preferences given the choices they have today and what they’d like to see if more options were available. The results may surprise you.

When asked how students primarily search for college today an overwhelming 77% responded a web search, 15% rely on their guidance counselors, 5% are already using Mobile apps, and 3% use a college placement service.

Survey Results for Primary College Search Method

Next, we asked how most colleges are currently communicating with them once they express an interest. An overwhelming 81% rely on email, 10% on traditional mail, 6% call students by phone, and 3% are using a messaging app.

Survey Results: How Do Colleges Communicate with You After Your Express Interest

These results are not surprising given that colleges are still relying on traditional methods of communication. Our last question however revealed that a mobile option would be a very attractive alternative if it was available to students. When asked if students could search for colleges, receive info from them, and communicate with them via a mobile app the overwhelming majority, 79%, said yes.

Survey Results: If students could search for colleges, receive info from them, and communicate with them via a mobile app the overwhelming majority, 79%, said yes.

There is a clear gap between the preference of today’s students recruits and colleges heavy reliance on one channel – email.

Modernizing the student recruitment approach

The student experience is ultimately the product of the interactions between prospects and your institution over the duration of the recruitment cycle. Doesn’t it make sense to use the most current tools and methods to deliver the best possible experience to candidates?

Institutions can benefit from shifting resources to give students the choice as to how, where, and when they interact with your institution. By doing so, the likelihood of these students becoming engaged in a conversation increases, and their loyalty to your school increases. And a high level of engagement and loyalty leads to applications, with the ultimate goal – enrollment.

Enhance your student recruitment strategy with mobile

Where do you start? The good news is that mobile app technology for college recruiting already exists. CiEngage is a search and recruitment platform that transforms the way you identify, attract, develop insight, and interact with prospective candidates – via a mobile app.

Modernize and enhance your recruitment strategy with CiEngage to access and attract new applicants at the top of the funnel. Drive brand awareness, campus visits, qualified applications, and increase yield of best fit candidates with in-app nurturing campaigns targeted at highest probability candidates based on demonstrated interest, and rich student-built profiles. Directly communicate with candidates using the CiConnect messaging app and CiChat portal for a personal experience that drives qualified enrollment.

With 79% of survey students saying that they would use a mobile app to search, engage with and communicate with colleges it’s time you gave CiEngage a look.

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