How Mobile Messaging Is Used for Campus Communication

Submitted by on Wed, 02/04/15

Industries all over the world are harnessing the power of push notifications and mobile messaging to increase engagement with their customers.  Traffic, sports, flight information, retail and game updates are just a few of the increasingly popular uses of push notifications. If used correctly, notifications can substantially increase customer interaction and loyalty.

As the most connected generation of students arrives on campuses across the country, universities are a great setting for using push notifications and personalized messaging.  Many a university administrator has lamented that the fact that today’s students don’t read their email.  While email still plays an important role for sharing important information and documents, push notifications can provide another more immediate avenue for communicating and engaging with students.  In fact, students who enable push notifications have 50% higher engagement as measured by app launches.

When the founding team at Modo Labs was working on the MIT app, we implemented a number of ways to use this mobile app feature for campus communication. In the event of campus-wide emergencies (e.g. school closing due to snow, chemical spills, and campus shooting, etc.), the app users received push notification that provided up-to-date information on the campus emergency. In addition, specific app users could also be notified when a new homework assignment was posted on the school’s learning management system or when the shuttle bus was about 5 minutes away from the user’s preferred bus stop. The number of different use cases for using push notifications at a university abound.  Like at MIT, universities should be sending out broadcast messages to the entire community to notify students of emergencies and other timely critical information.  The recent Blizzard of 2015 in the northeastern United States is a great example where universities with the ability to send notifications were able to effectively communicate with the students, faculty, and staff about school closings.

Taken to the next level, messages can become more personalized, encourage engagement, and truly transform the university experience. For example, a student can receive notification that a class location has been moved, and with the tap of a button on their app, quickly find the new location and even a map or bus route to get there.  A student can receive notification that new homework has been posted and then quickly link to the assignment.  Imagine students receiving notifications when a library book is available or tuition is due.  Prospective students can be  notified of application deadlines, or seniors of commencement requirements.

The future holds even more possibilities as technology such as iBeacons allow notifications to be targeted to users in their exact mobile moment.  Users walking into a cafeteria could be notified of lunch specials or those driving into a parking garage could be directed to available spots.

Push notifications are an extremely effective way to engage with students.   Yet, there’s also no better way to alienate users, and even cause them to unsubscribe or delete your app, than to send irrelevant, disruptive messages.  That’s why the ability to personalize the message to a target audience is an important tool to help administrators strike a balance – to provide crucial information to the right audience at the right time.  When done correctly, student engagement and the entire university experience can truly be transformed.


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