Developing a Mobile-First Student Recruitment Campaign

Topics: Digital Media, Higher Ed Marketing

Posted by: Marketing

The vast majority of potential college students spend a significant amount of time on their smartphones, making mobile marketing a vital part of your enrollment efforts. Learn how to create a successful mobile-first student recruitment campaign.

MSSmedia Mobile Activities




Modern mobile technology offers many different options for advertising to consumers, especially younger generations. These include promotions via text message and push notification, in-app targeting, search and display ads on mobile websites, location based marketing, QR codes, and personalized ad campaigns.



The trend has been that mobile was winning. It’s now won.” 



Mobile Advertising Tactics for Student Recruitment Campaigns


Promotions via Text Messages and Notifications 

Advertisements can be sent to mobile phone users through text messages (both SMS and MMS) and push notifications. While SMS messages are limited to 160 characters of text only, MMS messages can include a variety of media (videos, pictures, audio clips, GIFs etc.) and up to 1600 characters of text. Most cell phones produced today can send and receive MMS messages.


Some Exciting SMS Messaging Stats:

  • On average, SMS messages have a 98% open rate, and are read within 3 minutes.
  • SMS messages can be delivered to almost any mobile phone, and can be accessed without a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.
  • As of 2021, there were over 7.1 billion unique mobile phone subscribers worldwide.


Push notifications look similar to SMS messages, but they’re delivered by specific mobile applications only to those users who have the app in question installed.


In-App Targeting

Mobile applications (or apps) are software platforms developed specifically for use on mobile devices. There were 37 billion mobile app downloads in the first quarter of 2022 alone! Mobile in-app targeting uses advertising or notifications within an app to reach the app’s users. This allows marketers to reach audiences with specific interests or demographic markers. In-app targeting can also be location specific if mobile geofencing is applied.


+ See 5 social media marketing strategies to increase college enrollment.


Search and Display Ads on Mobile Websites

Mobile search and display ads utilize mobile internet browsers to reach users. Search engine advertising allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine's sponsored links. These links appear at the top of the results list when someone searches for a keyword that is related to the advertiser’s business offering. Display ads utilize static images, GIFs, or video. These banner advertisements are served to the audience of your choice on the search engine’s web pages.




Location-Based Marketing (Geofencing & Geotargeting)

Geofencing allows messages to be broadcast to all mobile users in a specified geographical area (or geofence). Advertisements and promotions can be sent via text message or displayed within a variety of apps when a user’s mobile phone data indicates that they’ve entered the virtual boundary line. 


MSS Media, Inc.’s geofencing platform can deliver mobile ads to over 100,000 apps, desktop publishers, and CTV/OTT publishers, including Pandora, Weather Channel, ESPN, and CNBC. 




Geotargeted advertising campaigns target defined audiences in precise locations with campaign messaging. The granular specificity marketers can apply to this endeavor diminishes wasted ad spend significantly. After all, using location and audience specific advertisements ensures that the digital impressions you’re paying for reach precisely the candidates you’re pursuing. 


+ Use location targeting to increase college enrollment.


QR Codes

QR codes are a type of barcode that contains more information than conventional barcodes. They can be placed on a variety of physical media (postcards, newspapers, magazines, signage, packaging, etc.). Viewers can scan QR codes using their mobile phone and are then directed to an internet landing page, website, or app download link, or are given other important information (such as a company’s email address). QR code scanning apps come pre-installed on most smartphones.


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Personalized Ad Campaigns 

Between GPS-based location data and the user information provided by many apps, mobile marketing offers wide scope for personalized ad campaigns. Customized marketing efforts are well known to be highly effective in increasing engagement when set up properly. 

In addition to targeting users by location, marketers can select specific audiences by a variety of demographic or behavioral attributes. Ads and other mobile communications can be personalized in a variety of ways, including addressing a user by name, sending messages at the most appropriate times, and addressing events that are currently happening in the local area.


Mobile Advertising Channels for Student Recruitment Campaigns

The best mobile advertising channels today are Google/YouTube (for search, display and video ads), Bing (for search and display ads), and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter). For a college audience, Google/YouTube and emerging social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat are particularly relevant.


Social Media Usage infographic crop





Although Gen Z and millennial audiences spend a lot of time on social media, when they’re ready to purchase, they go to Google. On average, there are 5.6 billion search queries per day on Google. And by the time the search query leads to you, the buyers have intent. So don't forget to include a Google strategy in your digital plans. 



YouTube is the second most visited website worldwide, with more than one billion monthly users who collectively watch more than one billion hours of videos each day. This is a platform businesses should not ignore, and is a great channel to provide awareness and drive leads at a lower price.


Social Media

Most social media platforms allow businesses to purchase and place paid advertisements. There’s a reason why social advertising revenues reached $41.5 billion in 2020 - it works! Approximately 30% of internet users say they find new products and brands through paid social ads. 


+ Learn more about the social media habits of college students. 


Mobile-First Student Recruitment Campaigns - Putting It All Together

From formatting your website properly for mobile viewing, to adding QR codes to your traditional marketing media, to setting up a mobile ad campaign, there are many options for mobile marketing. Before rushing in, it’s important to consider your goals, the preferences and behaviors of your target audience, and the resources you have at your disposal. If you have a clear picture of where you’re starting from, where you would like to go, and the best way to reach your target, your efforts will be more successful. 


Marketing Worksheets




If you’re looking for an experienced mobile marketing partner to optimize your student recruitment campaign efforts, we’ve got you covered. We provide clients with creative digital media management and optimization services that provide real results, relevant to your specific business goals. Acquire an impressive return on investment by displaying mobile ads when, where, and how they are most relevant to your target market. 




See our complete guide: Recruiting Students – A Marketing Plan to Increase College Enrollment.




Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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