Mobile User Retention: 3 Ways to Make Your Campus App ‘Sticky’

Submitted by on Tue, 08/11/15

Colleges and universities can take several steps to ensure users continue to benefit from, and engage with, their campus apps.

A mobile app is an important communication tool and information resource for college campuses, but it is of little worth if it doesn’t get used. Apps need to provide continuous value to their users through ongoing updates, relevant information and utility. According to Flurry Analytics, roughly 50 percent of apps lose half of their peak users in the first three months. On the other hand, those apps that survive the three-month period have much longer shelf lives overall. Read on for advice on how manage mobile user retention to ensure your app will remain “sticky” – i.e., continually used – over time.

1. Think function, not trendiness
Don’t try to create the “next big thing.” Apps that try to be too trendy tend to be short-lived. Although they might enjoy an initial flurry of activity, ultimately they give way to the next “next big thing.” Instead, the best campus apps emphasize function first. What are the top features or functions required by your users, especially when they’re on the go? Typically, the most frequently visited app modules on campuses include:

  • Registrar access (SIS)
  • Course information (LMS)
  • Real-time transit schedules
  • Up-to-date dining schedules
  • Indoor and outdoor maps
  • Availability of important resources like laundry or computer labs

In other words, sticky apps help students get things done.

Students use campus apps to get things done.
Students use campus apps to get things done.

2. Create real-time event modules
Most universities have a continuous schedule of new events, like New Student Orientation, Homecoming, Family Weekend, Commencement, and Reunions, to name only a few. A mobile app is a powerful tool for communicating with students and providing up to date information about events. And, it’s now easier than ever for non-technical staff to quickly create app modules for special events using tools like Kurogo Publisher.

Colgate_eventsColgate University has done a great job keeping its community informed of important events by creating real-time modules within its campus app. With just a brief training, the schools’ Communications Office began publishing apps for events like New Student Orientation, Homecoming, MLK Week, and a two week campus-wide sustainability initiative. Changes can be made on the fly with no app store resubmissions. Once each event is over, the module is removed. By including these modules as part of their existing campus mobile app, students know where to go for everything they need and keep coming back.

By focusing on special events and including real-time updates, Colgate has ensured that its app is always packed with actionable, relevant content that is an important part of campus life. The ability to make this content available through the app is key for making students and others aware of events and keeping them engaged. Dave Herringshaw, Colgate’s Digital Communications Specialist, says, “During an event, we get many more page views on the app than we ever did through our website.”

3. Use push notifications
Push notifications are also a great way to keep users engaged with your app. 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 or relevant events, deadlines, or news. Another effective use is to notify users of new modules or features 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.

This form of reaching out has dual benefits: It keeps the user engaged, meaning the app has a higher usage rate, and it also helps the individual stay on top of what’s happening on campus.

By providing relevant, timely and actionable information, schools’ campus apps can become a vital resource that truly enhances the overall campus experience.

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