Every education institution is aware of the explosive growth in usage of mobile phones.
Successful on-line alumni engagement must give priority to the mobile experience.
To illustrate my point, Stratista cite that LinkedIn had at the end of 2016 an average of 63 million unique visiting members via mobile. These accounted for 59 percent of all unique visiting members.
The conclusion would seem clear: Education institutions need to invest primarily in mobile – right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Despite the undeniable trend towards mobile, I believe there is a danger for alumni offices that focus too heavily on mobile.
I recently came across a school that was engaging alumni purely via a native mobile app.
The problem they encountered was that their alumni engagement efforts were shifting from trying to get their alumni to register and engage on the platform, to simply getting their alumni to download their native mobile app.
In fact if you look at institutions offering only a native mobile app – you will see terrible download rates. It is common to see literally 10-50 downloads in total. (All the information is made available by both Google and Apple for their respective apps.)
I believe an alumni engagement strategy needs to be more nuanced.
The first stage is to encourage your alumni to opt-in. The focus here needs to be on ease of use. The alum needs to be able to register using your alumni website and your alumni app. And by your alumni app I mean a simple mobile responsive site that does not require any special downloading.
I have written previously on the importance of making the user experience of your alumni truly easy.
Your initial alumni engagement strategy must be device agnostic and easy for every alum to use.
The second stage is for those alumni who have already opted-in, to be encouraged over time to download your native alumni app. This is important as with ‘push notifications’ you can encourage alumni to increase their activity and engagement.
The two stages must be sequential if you are to avoid making a significant mistake.
So to summarize. Alumni Website or Alumni App, which should come first?
Well I believe you need both and critically in the right order to truly maximize your alumni engagement.
Let’s embrace mobile, but do so in addition to our web offering.
I would welcome your thoughts.