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Posted by Emma Mulder on 16 October 2017

How an integrated mobile strategy can help increase student enrolment through your Open Day app

In order to create a seamless mobile campus experience for their students, most universities now offer their own bespoke student apps. These apps provide students with information about their classes and timetables, help them navigate around campus and enable them to receive important notifications directly on their phone. The success of these so called campus apps all comes down to the fact that they serve a clear purpose and help simplify the life of the user - making them a necessity in every students life.

But what if the person you want to use your app isn’t a current student, but a prospective student – not currently using your university’s services? How can you motivate them to download your app if they haven’t even set foot on campus yet? And more importantly, how can your student app integrate with your broader digital strategy, supporting and encouraging  prospective student engagement, application, and enrolment?

The benefits of mobile apps in the university admissions journey

Open Day apps are slowly growing in popularity - and not without reason. Similar to a campus app, an Open Day App offers a clear benefit to its user. Prospective students who are visiting an Open Day can use their app to register, plan their visit, sign up for sessions and navigate their way around campus - providing them with a clear incentive to download and interact with your app (before and during their campus visit).

When used right, mobile apps can also offer a range of benefits to universities throughout the entire admissions process, including:

  • Direct engagement with students via push notifications
  • The ability to offer personalised content based on course/interests/behaviour
  • Increased applications and enrolments
  • Increased student satisfaction

However, most universities don’t seem to be using their Open Day apps to their full potential. Which means they're missing out on opportunities to engage with prospective students during critical moments in their application and enrolment journey. 

Where most university apps go wrong

University Open Day apps provide a high level of value to prospective students – for one day only! Too often they’re abandoned after the Open Day is complete, as universities fail to engage via the app afterwards and students either forget about it or delete the app from their phones.

Stopping communications at this key point in the admissions journey is a missed opportunity for universities to maintain a relationship with students who’re already using their app. If prospective students have downloaded and used your Open Day app it means they are interested and willing to engage with your institution – so why stop engaging with them as soon as they leave your campus?

Why would you not provide students with a solid reason to keep using your app and use it as a channel through which you can further develop and nurture those existing relationships - all the way up to enrolment?

From stand-alone apps to an integrated mobile strategy

In an era of app overload, it is more important than ever that universities develop a clear mobile strategy that will be successful not only in attracting their audience, but also in keeping them engaged. An Open Day app can be a valuable marketing tool in your university’s recruitment strategy - as it provides you with a direct line to prospective students, and serves a clear short-term purpose and benefit to its users, encouraging them to download your app in the first place.  Open_Day_Apps.jpg










However, it’s not enough to create a stand-alone app for a single point in the user journey. Instead, universities should create an integrated mobile experience that covers the entire student admissions journey, and offers opportunities for engagement during pivotal moments in the university selection process. This increases the chances of long-term engagement, prevents apps from becoming redundant, and increases the likelihood of long term usage.

Engaging students from Open Day to Fresher’s Week

UK consumers use an average of about 25 apps per month. However, the typical smartphone owner spends more than 88% of their app time on just five downloaded apps. This means that if you don’t give students a good enough reason to re-engage with your app after their Open Day visit, they are likely to abandon it - and with that, you will instantly lose an important marketing tool. 

A thorough knowledge of a prospective students’ decision-making journey can help you shape an effective mobile strategy – providing you with information on what type of content and information is required at each stage of the university selection journey.

This way you can ensure that your Open Day app will offer the content and functionality your audience is looking for – automatically increasing the chances they will continue to engage with your brand through your Open Day / Fresher's app.   

Below, we’ve put together an example student journey for a prospective student, along with the needs they may have at each stage:

Journey stage Key needs
Open Day

Open Day

Getting there
Deciding which sessions to attend
Signing up for sessions

Getting there
Deciding which sessions to attend
Signing up for sessions
Getting around

Application period

Application Period

Application support/useful information

Selecting a course
Application support/useful information
Keeping track of important deadlines
Managing the Clearing process



Preparing for arrival

Preparation for arrival
Accommodation information
Connecting with other new students

Fresher's Week

Fresher’s Week

Events and what’s on

Events and what's on 
Getting around
Access to support and guidance

Tips to get the most out of your Open Day App:

The best way to motivate your users to keep using your bespoke Fresher's app is by offering them relevant, personalised content which they can’t access through any other channels.

Below we’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started: 

  1. Have your prospects sign-up for mobile push notifications about important events and milestones that are relevant to their admissions and enrolment journey (e.g. Clearing, enrolment and application deadlines, Live Q&A’s or Information Evenings) – every time your prospects receive a notification they will be triggered to engage with your app.

  2. Share personalised content based on your prospects’ interests, the sessions they have attended and places they have visited on campus (e.g. Session specific FAQs, Student Testimonials, Downloadable Summary’s etc.) – by using your app as a channel to distribute personalised information you can offer targeted content that’s relevant to your users, encouraging them to keep coming back for more!

  3. Publish a list of short quizzes students can take to find out which Open Day sessions they should attend, which degree will be the best fit for them, which accommodation type best suits their needs, how they can get the best out of university life etc. – interactive quizzes are great way to collect student data and support prospective students in their decision-making.

  4. Use your app as a channel for real time support through which prospective students can speak to student ambassadors or connect with other prospective students – by offering direct access to peer support, you can remove barriers to engagement and encourage a sense of community.

  5. Share relevant information and tips on how to apply, including a list of available Clearing courses users can browse through and add to their favourites - by guiding your prospects through the clearing and application process you can make them feel welcome and supported and ultimately increase enrolment. 

  6. Once your prospective students have turned into enrolled students you can use your app to share an overview of all Fresher's week events and how to get around. Allow students to order their Fresher's wristband and download tickets onto their phone or provide them with exclusive campus discounts or access to university merchandising only available through the app! 

Need help?    

Do you need help setting up a mobile strategy for your university or do you want more tips and ideas on how to engage with prospective students during the most critical stages of their admissions and enrolment journey? Please get in touch or subscribe to our blog to get all our Education Marketing posts delivered to your inbox. 

Want to learn more about how to use inbound marketing and social media to effectively recruit students? Take a look at our student recruitment eBook


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