Understanding Mobile Device User Behavior - A Survey and Report
Higher Education Marketing

Understanding Mobile Device User Behavior – A Survey and Report

Date posted: April 29, 2014

Marketing through mobile devices to prospective students is of growing importance to the higher ed marketer.

If you haven’t been convinced of this yet you should take a look at this recently released “Mobile Behavior Report” from ExactTarget. It reports on a slightly more general population than the typical college student, (470 people, who were a bit older, and richer), but it’s still pretty close to our demographic, especially if you factor in the continuing ed, graduate program seeker and lifelong learner crowd.  The study analyzed their mobile usage over a one month period and then collected and reported on their mobile use preferences and perceptions.

I have highlighted some of the main findings below and included a few images from the report. Check out the full details at the link above.

  • When defining  mobile, the majority of people are thinking  a single device; specifically their smart phone. 54% associated mobile with just smartphone, with only 14% including tablets and e-readers in the mobile category. Favorite activities are email and texting.

  •  85% of the survey said mobile devices were a central part of everyday life, (90% for those aged 18-24). Smartphone usage averaged 3.3 hours a day. Tablet averaged 3.1 hours.

hours on mobile and tablet

  • Tablets are largely seen as an in-home device that lend themselves to cross device usage, used more typically for passive activities like watching tv, videos, movies, or reading.  Favourite activities are email and searching.

activities on mobile

  • 54% said mobile optimized websites don’t give enough information. Those who opted in for email or text messages from a site felt they received more value.  

Generally speaking the survey respondents expressed disappointment in how they consume and experience mobile content. It seems to me that the mobile user is out ahead of higher ed marketers on this point. The challenge and opportunity for a college or university to create a really great mobile site and to seriously distinguish themselves from their competition now lies right in front of us. Just like when responsive sites first took off in higher ed, the mobile experience is the new horizon, that if done well can separate a high quality website experience from the average.

opinions on mobile

  • Only 53% of the survey respondents said they liked or followed a brand on social media in the past 6 months.  And 46% of people said brands don’t provide meaningful content on social media.

This opinion really lays down the gauntlet to higher ed marketers to dig in and produce some really great content and then get it out there to our audience through social media.  If only half of our potential marketplace is actively expanding their likes and followers on social media then higher ed lead generation is in big trouble. But then again this general dissatisfaction with content on social media might explain the rather disturbing trend in overall declining lead quantity and quality over the last couple of years!

We’d love to hear how you feel about the results reported in this report. Do you feel you are in the right half of the market,  producing a high quality mobile experience and directing meaningful content on social media? If you are, what is the secret to your success?

For further discussion about student recruitment in the mobile environment be sure to see our upcoming presentation entitled Student Recruitment for the Mobile Generation at the National Association of Career Colleges Conference in April. Slides for the presentation will be posted here, shortly after the conference. Be sure to come back for the full details.