10 Ways to Market and Promote Your New Campus App

Submitted by on Thu, 08/13/15

Ten ideas for ways colleges and universities can market their app on campus.

Today’s blog is the university edition, watch for the enterprise edition coming soon.

Your campus app looks great and is ready to go live. But getting your app into the hands of users is just as important as the effort required to produce it. So, how do you get students, faculty and staff to download it and keep using it over time? Here are 10 winning strategies to get you started.

1. Recruit the marketing team and create a rollout plan
Your app rollout should be a planned, precise and coordinated effort. Set an official launch date and involve the marketing team in organizing, scheduling, and executing promotions leading up to the big day. Having a scheduled plan in place will sustain momentum and ensure consistent messaging.

2. Enlist student advocates
Before finalizing and rolling out the campus app, have students test the app and offer their feedback. These early testers often turn out to be great advertisers, helping spread the word and share positive reviews with other students.  Once the app is live, enlist students, staff, and volunteers involved in Residence Life and Orientation to get the word out to their residents or new students on campus.

3. Get the word out via social media
Build excitement and announce your when the app is live on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social channels your students engage with. Use a hashtag to organize the buzz. Continue the dialog with photos, screen shots, daily tips, or new feature announcements.

4. Take it offline with posters, banners, ads, and info cards
It’s old-fashioned but effective: Put large posters and banners in the dining hall, admissions office, or transit stop – anywhere students have downtime and turn to their phone. Place advertisements on campus shuttles. Shrink down your poster to create small info cards and place them in strategic locations, like reception counters in offices around campus

5. Create a QR code
QR codes provide a super quick way for students to download the app. Embed a link that drives them directly to your app’s page in the appropriate app store. Include the QR code on posters, advertisements, info cards, postcards, in the school newspaper, or on any other printed materials students will see.


6. Create promotional videos
Videos are a great way to show off a sense of humor and promote sharing, and they don’t need to be expensive. Engage student videographers in the process, or create one yourself. Notre Dame students created a one-minute video illustrating all of the ways a student might use the app: “When you need to get across campus in less than six minutes – there’s an app for that.” Colgate created an video to promote their app specifically to alumni. Meanwhile, Portland State University made this highly visual video outlining the various features of their app.

How can you spread the word about your new mobile app?

7. Target users early
Create modules just for New Student Orientation and request that students (and their parents!) download the app before they even arrive on campus. Include important information they need to get settled like checklists, event information, maps, social media and more. You can even create Persona verions of your app specifically for new, or even prospective students. By targeting students early, using the app will become routine.

8. Post a landing page and put it on your student portal
Create a landing page on your website dedicated to your mobile app and drive all communications here. Let users know all of the features and benefits the app will offer and include links to the app stores for direct downloads. Post app information within your student portal as well to help make sure everyone is aware the app exists and is ready to use.

9. Promote your app in person
Set up a table outside in the student center or dining hall with promotional materials and giveaways to generate interest. Give live demos and get students to download the app right there and then.

10. Announce new events and features with push notifications
Ensuring users continue to engage with the app is just as important as gaining initial traction, and push notifications are an excellent way to keep your users engaged. According to Localytics, those who use push notifications are about twice as likely to stay engaged with the app in the first few months than those who don’t. Push notifications can be used to alert users of important events, campus news, or emergencies. They can also be used to alert users to new features or modules within the app. For example, you can send a push notification to announce the availability of a new Homecoming module and with one tap, the user is taken straight to the page.

So don’t let all your hard work creating your app go to waste.  The most successful mobile app rollouts happen with strategic, varied and ongoing promotional campaigns to accompany them. Put on your marketing cap and have some fun and you’ll see your app’s popularity and downloads continue to grow.

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