May 2012 Lawlor Focus

Why Mobile Matters for Higher Education Marketers

In reporting the results of “The 2012 State of the Mobile Web in Higher Ed,” the survey administrator reflected, “What difference can a year make? When it comes to the mobile web in higher education, it seems that it’s all it took to switch gears and respond to the needs of an increasing mobile user population on campuses—and elsewhere.” While last year only 37% of surveyed colleges and universities provided a web solution adapted to the specific needs of their mobile users, this year 59% reported having a “mobile solution” in place. 

Several trend lines point to the rise in mobile users, devices, and connections:

  • 53% of cell phone owners now have smartphones, which works out to 46% of all American adults (Pew Internet).
  • 36% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. are now smartphone users, and 50.6% will be by 2014 (eMarketer). 
  • By 2015, more Americans will access the Internet through mobile devices than through PCs or other wireline devices (International Data Corporation). 
  • By 2016, the number of mobile Internet-connected devices will exceed the world’s projected population (Cisco). 
  • 86% of smartphone owners use their phones to access just-in-time information (Pew Internet).
  • 74% of smartphone owners use their phones to access location-based information (Pew Internet).
  • 40.8% of Americans read their email on their mobile devices (MailChimp).
  • 32% of mobile phone owners use their phones to access a social networking site (eMarketer).
  • 25.2% of mobile phone owners use their phones to watch videos (eMarketer).

These indicators also signal the importance of having digital marketing content that is easily accessible on mobile devices. The increase in mobile users, devices, and connections increases the expectation of being able to access mobile-optimized content. For college and university marketers and especially enrollment managers, this means that instead of thinking about the institution’s website as its main vehicle for digital content delivery, the mobile revolution requires taking a more integrated approach to the institution’s entire digital presence.

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The growth of the stealth market for college admissions and Generation C (as described by Brian Solis) was already highlighted in our Trends 2012 as a market force to be reckoned with this year, but the significant growth in the use of mobile has given this area of communication and engagement even more importance. 

The key to integrating the elements of your institution’s digital presence—whether via web, mobile, or social platforms—is having an overarching content strategy. Our digital content specialist Brendan Mayer recently attended Confab: The Content Strategy Conference, and this week on our blog he’s publishing his takeaway advice for higher education marketers. 

His content strategy tip that’s arguably most relevant to mobile optimization? Implement and practice a philosophy of COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere). If colleges and universities focus on creating their “owned” content, then they can subsequently increase their reach, connections, and engagement by distributing that content via multiple channels and gaining “earned” visibility via others sharing the content.

In the news

The Washington Post highlighted the results of the 2012 Millennial Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, which indicated a “growing tide of young Americans is drifting away from the religions of their childhood—and most of them are ending up in no religion at all.” While only 11% of Millennials were religiously unaffiliated in childhood, 25% currently identify as unaffiliated.

Did you know?

71% of Americans in the Baby Boomer generation have helped their adult children pay for college tuition or loans, and 55% have allowed them to move home and live rent-free.

Source: Ameriprise Financial