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15 Reasons Why You Need to Think Mobile for Your 2018 Admissions Funnel

We’ve been hearing about the shift to mobile for years now, but are university admission professionals really taking it to heart? Whether or not you’re glued to your own phone, you can’t get through a bus ride, grocery store checkout line or family dinner without someone pulling out their smartphone. When it comes to teens and young adults, usage rates are through the roof.

It’s clear mobile is the future of online marketing for higher education – and not just a slow-loading, scaled-down version of your main site. On mobile, the need for speed can’t be ignored.

Here are 15 reasons why you need to think mobile first to give your school an edge in recruitment for the 2018 academic year.

  1. 50% of Web Traffic Is Now on Mobile
    The stats may vary depending who you ask, but all are clear that over 50% of web traffic now comes from mobile devices. That means your site which was designed for computers just won’t work any more. Too many universities think being “responsive” is sufficient but the user experience on a mobile phone just isn’t good enough.
  2. Slow Websites Make Prospects Jump Ship
    The thing is, no matter how great you think your site is, prospects aren’t waiting around an extra few seconds for it to load. When page load time increases from one second to 10 seconds, the chances of viewers deserting it grows 123%. Check our your analytics and see how your mobile bounce rate compares to your site’s overall bounce rate.
  3. Stand Out From Competitors
    Despite the mobile stats, American universities tend to be behind the times when it comes to compatibility. The average US university site takes 10 seconds to load on a smartphone. If you can beat that time, you’ll increase your chances of visitors staying on your site, instead of heading to the next college’s.
  4. The Majority of Teens Are On Mobile
    Millennials bear the brunt of jokes about being glued to smartphones, but Gen Z is hot on their heels. Over 75% of American teens own a smartphone (compared to 83% and 82% of millennials and Gen Xers, respectively). If you want to reach 16 to 18 year olds while they’re college shopping, you need to think mobile first.
  5. Your Students Won’t Wait for Your Site
    If adults won’t wait around, you can bet that teens won’t. After just three seconds of waiting for a page to load, 53% of people will abandon a site. And with an average attention span of eight seconds for Gen Z, your target demographic will be gone well before you offer a campus visit.
  6. Your Future Students Are On Their Phone for Hours a Day
    No, it’s not just your kid – young adults ages 16-30 spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on their phones. That means that more likely than not, if they’re browsing college sites, they’re doing it by phone.
  7. AMP Pages Use Way Less Data
    Prospects may be viewing your site from a wifi connection, but if they’re not connected to a reliable local network, mobile optimization makes a big difference in your page load times. Whether it’s patchy coffee shop wifi or a data plan capped at far too few megabytes per month for Gen Z, an accelerated mobile page, or AMP, means your page load time will drop and your chances of visitors sticking around will grow. On average, AMP pages use just 10% of the amount of data.
  8. 82% of Students Checked Out Websites on Mobile Before Applying
    If you’ve put more energy into your desktop site betting that prospects will view it on a desktop instead of a mobile device, guess again. Our stats show that the vast majority of prospective students looked at your university’s site on a mobile device before putting in an application. That means your mobile site needs to function as least as well as the full-size version.
  9. Even From Home, Teens Are Getting Online on Mobile
    You can put away any assumptions that teens will switch to a laptop or desktop computer after school’s over or only use their phones for keeping in touch with friends while they’re on the go. Older generations may leave the phone to charge when they get home, but studies show that teens keep using their mobile devices from home, meaning they’re using their devices for serious research.
  10. Students Are Using Video to Make Their Decisions
    Research shows that 81% of students watched college videos while researching schools. Nobody likes buffering or videos that don’t fit their screens, so keep mobile in mind when you create video for prospective students.
  11. Target Your Site to the Family Data Plan’s Bottom Line
    If your students aren’t on unlimited data plans, an optimized mobile site will use far less data than traditional desktop pages. That big beautiful landscape image of your campus just doesn’t load quickly or look good on a phone screen. An AMP will load speedily and look better on your prospective students’ devices. Whoever’s paying the phone bills will thank you.
  12. By Next Year, 80% of Global Traffic Will Be Mobile
    Mobile may have penetrated the American marketing pretty well, but outside the country, mobile is even more important. It’s estimated that nearly 80% of global traffic will be mobile by 2018. If you’re trying to reach prospects beyond the nation’s borders, you need to think about how people are accessing your site internationally.
  13. For International Students, Mobile is Even Bigger Business
    Want to reach out to international students? Forget desktop– for students in some regions, mobile is the only way they get online. Smartphone adaptation has caught on globally even faster than in the States. In India, for example, 79% of web traffic is mobile, while in Malaysia, 95% of internet users get online by smartphone.
  14. If Your Site Is Slow in the US, Wait Until You Try It Overseas
    Okay, so not all countries have slower internet than the US. In fact, the US lags far behind dozens of countries worldwide. But while prospective students in South Korea or Sweden may see your page load faster than students in South Dakota, if you’re targeting students in areas like China or India, you’ll want to ensure you have a data-friendly site that loads quickly for students in regions with slower internet.
  15. If You Trust the US News Rankings, Try the Mobile Speed Rankings
    You know where your school stands in major college rankings like the US News rankings, but where does it stand in terms of mobile speed? Our mobile speed rankings look at which American universities and colleges come out on top for mobile speed and usability.

Check out the university mobile speed rankings and get your free report on how to improve your own school’s usability on mobile devices today.

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Alec Campbell

Head of Student Recruitment Marketing at Hop Online
Alec's aspirations of becoming a stock market trader were side-tracked at The Wharton School by the dot-com boom. He has since worked for a few internet companies as well as a digital marketing consultant. His international student recruitment project with the University of Delaware earned a CASE District II award in 2012.

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