This post is the second in a series on institutions can create—and measure—engaging mobile apps

As I mentioned in my last post, simply having an app is not enough to keep your hyper-connected and mobile-savvy users engaged. In order to ensure the highest ROI, it’s important to spend some time thinking about your audiences to deliver the content that will compel them to take action. Here are four quick best practices for creating engaging apps:

1. Deliver a quality experience

If your student or prospect is disappointed in their app experience, you’ve lost them. That’s especially true if your user interface is glitchy, but it’s also true if a user just can’t find the desired information. There is a very low tolerance for frustration among the current generation of students when it comes to technology, and this is especially true for mobile apps.

The foundation for a quality experience for an app user is both reliable technology and relevant, timely and digestible information. But what is a quality app experience? To fully answer that question, you need to understand your audience.

Use surveys to find out what students and prospects want—and need—in a mobile app. Armed with that information, explore how your mobile app can improve their campus experience by building community connections, offering virtual tours, providing events schedules—or even just supplying transit maps. Your app should be the first place students go to get connected and get answers.

2. Compel daily interaction

The starting point for engagement is to create an “everyday” app that students can’t live without. And there’s a lot of competition out there for your students’ attention.

Apple reports more than 775,000 apps are available for the iPhone and iPad. Media research and ratings firm Nielsen says that as the number of smartphone apps has grown, the amount of time people spend on them has not. People may download dozens of applications on their mobile devices, but they regularly use just 15 to 20 of them.

If you design your app for engagement, students not only will download it— they’ll keep coming back. And such frequent, long-term usage is the truest indicator of the value of your app-based marketing and communications strategy.

3. Create an event-planning destination

Campus events—whether longtime traditions or new activities—are ideal content for an engaging app. At the core is a functional, up-to-date calendar, but creating a must-click event planning space on your app also requires offering news, photos and social media.

You want students—and alumni and parents—to think, “It’s homecoming weekend, the app will have what I need to know about what’s happening.”

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4. Act on your analytics

To keep students engaged, you must constantly look for ways to amp up your app, and then move at the speed of mobile to improve it.

The tools embedded in your app technology must let you see what’s working and what isn’t. And your app technology must allow you to act on that information by making frequent improvements—without waiting for IT.

For example, just two years after launching its app, Loyola Marymount University had updated it six times—adding new features and functionality with each release. The University of Alabama did even more fine-tuning, updating its app 11 times in the two years after it was launched.

Look for my final post next week on the Top Three Measures of App Success.

Want to learn more about Mosaic?  Visit www.mymosaic.com.

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