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Why launching an app might not solve your student engagement challenge.

Woman's hands drawing a wireframe for a mobile app
Woman's hands drawing a wireframe: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“I know, let’s make an app”

A common request and let’s face it we can see why it comes up so much – to be in the palms of your target audience 24/7 to help them, help you, to help them, by helping you… you get the picture.

Alas, if only downloading an app into the ever-important smartphone was as easy as just providing it. Space comes at a premium. Facts. If you’re not using an app on a regular basis you will soon delete it.

In fact, around 80-90% of mobile apps launched in the app store are abandoned after one single use and 77% drop off after three days.

So before wasting thousands on developing an app to solve any aspect of your student engagement challenge, it’s probably worth thinking about whether you have something that important to offer that cannot possibly be reached through any other means. And by that, I mean social platforms.

Because, if you’re able to ‘go to where they are’, chances are they’ll meet you there. If students are able to strike up a conversation with customer services through their WhatsApp, Messenger, or preferred social DMs for example – that’s a good start.

Sure, you may then wish to take them through to site-specific content, provide links, integrate with these touch points… but if you’re starting off on your own patch rather than theirs, it can be a blocker to a good conversation.

You don’t have to go too far to see how Gen Z experience other aspects of their life to see they are used to minimal digital disruption; from ordering food through apps, travelling with Uber, purchasing through Instagram or accessing gigs through gaming sites. Reducing the number of clicks, is as important as realising the commitment to download your app is substantial.

We recently worked on identifying the right tool for a university’s residences team, who wanted to maximise the support they could offer to students in halls of residences, with the added challenge of reducing footfall in reception and other busy areas during the pandemic. Read more about the approach we took here.


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