The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 month ago

You Need an App: Why a Website Isn’t Enough


The good news is that you do not need any coding knowledge at all to create a digital place that students have near-constant access to that also makes them feel connected to the university community.

Here’s why you need an app.

In this episode, we interview Jamie Giblett, Sales Manager at Digistorm North America, about the many reasons an app plays such a vital role in retaining current students and keeping alumni connected.

Join us as we discuss:

- How an app reflects your institution’s voice

- The most compelling things to put on your app

- Why students love self-personalization

- First steps in getting started building your app

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

You are listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show willtackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, don'tor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centeredaround where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's getinto the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer Podcast, brought to youby Kaylor solutions and thing patented. Again. We try to bring you each weekpeople that we admire, that we feel that are bringing value to theHigher Ed Marketing Community, and today is no different. Someone that both BartonI are familiar with Jamie giblet from digit storm, and they have mobile APPSfor higher education that a lot of people are talking about once they are familiarwith it. Yeah, Troy, I've really enjoyed getting to know Jamie.We met last year in the middle of the pandemic and we'll go into thestory a little bit more on the on the conversation, but Jamie has becomea friend and we have done some work together. So just to kind ofbe full, fully transparent with everyone, but I really invited him to comeon to talk about the idea of using mobile APPs in Higher Ed Marketing.We do talk about their APP a little bit, but it's more along thelines of how apps can work and how marketers can use them. I'll behonest, I have probably sold away from apps over the past five or tenyears just because I really didn't think that they were necessary, especially if youhad a mobile friendly website. But talking to Jamie and learning more about howapps work today and also how affordable they are, from when I had experiencedthirteen years ago when we did a custom AP for one of our clients,it really changed my mind and I really started to think through from a marketingstandpoint of how this tool could be used in the broader sense of a lotof a lot more of a marketing plan. So I'm really excited to talk toJamie about that and to kind of hear his perspective. Thank you,Bart. Let's bring Jamie into the conversation. Is My pleasure to welcome Jamie Gibletinto the conversation and I must warn everyone that he has a very thickColorado accent. Welcome to the conversation, Jamie. Thank you, troy.And also thank you, bought, for having me. And yes, Icannot hide my Colorado accent. It always me wherever I got and I wasactually just joking that someone was was driving me sign that I had a niceItalian accent and nice accent from Alabama. Said today it's Colorado, but ifyou can't pick it, originally from Australia. Thank you. And if you wouldtell us a little bit more about you and also, did you stormand your roll there? Absolutely. So don't give me too much for totalk about myself, because I do like to talk and talking about myself onmy favorite topics. But I've been with digi storm, we're software developing comingthat was born in Australia for about five years and then at the start oflast year had the opportunity to fly over to this great nation and set upan office in Denver, Colorado, and to the Colorado and accent. Forbetter or worse, that just happened to be timed with one of the weirdesttimes, and I'm modern history, with the pandemic. So the first eightin months in this wonderful country have been unusual, but it's been unusual everyoneeverywhere in the world so there's no no difference. I guess here in theUS everyone's been dealing with it, but finally now out on the conference circuitand getting to meet a bunch of amazing people out on the road and circlingback, though. I'm the sales manager here for digi storm in North America. So I saw I talked about myself and then startlement conferences. So thanksfor the question. A try. That's why we have you here in telleveryone what did your storm does Fab. So we're literally in the in themiddle of celebrating our ten year anniversary and... much so that I even gotsenter ten year anniversary little gift pack myself. So we've been making software force schoolsand education institutions, colleges universities, for ten years and we specialize increating beautiful mobile communication APPs that are uniquely positioned to help build community, aidin retention, aid in attraction and also engage with alumni when it comes tohire red institutions. Well, thanks, Jamie. This has been great.I I know that you and I met. I think I met the other guysthat digit storm. First we had a common connection on linkedin another schooland in the Pacific Rim that I knew the marketer of, and he's like, Oh, you've got to meet these guys at digit storm. As amatter of fact, they're trying to set up a shop and North America andin the United States and they're thinking about Boston, they're thinking about, youknow, all these different places and and so once, once you kind oflanded, you and I had a chance to kind of start to get toknow each other, and so we got to meet face face last year,earlier this year, I guess, at the Abah Conference in Orlando, whichis one of the first conferences that actually went back to you in person.So we spent a few days together. Troy was there as well, andso we all got to know each a little each other a little bit better. And I know one of the things that I have had over the courseof my career with with high reed marketing is just how many schools came upto me and said, Hey, do you think we ought to do amobile APP? And you know, that's been going on for, from mypoint of view, probably twelve years. People have been asking me that andabout twelve years ago I had a school do that and I said yeah,let's figure that out and we spent way too much money and way too muchtime on a custom map and that really gave me just this bad taste ofmy mouth. And and I mean we delivered it. It was it wasa good product, but I just felt like there was just so much moreto it than what there needed to be. And then when I met you andyou started show me your product, douct that I was just just fellin love with it again and realized that not only the fact that you kindof you take care of everything on the back end, but also you've gotkind of a content management system for the for the APP, that really theschools can manage on their own, and that really fascinated me. So maybewe can just have a little bit of a conversation. Just tell me alittle bit about how you see apps playing into, you know, let's keepit to the higher ed space, but just how do you see that playinginto the education experience for for students, especially those students that are on campus? Absolutely, and thanks for reminding me about the journey to come into thispodcast today, because I was at a conference last week and someone asks mehow I ended up there and I said I met this wonderful gentleman, butKayla, and then I'll had you meet him. I'm like you just seemedto pop into my life. I can remember and it's is to the stories. I didn't you and you just gave it. So thank you. EverythingClick back into place. They're so great question. I think in terms ofbeing able to connect with your community, and I'm sorry, sorry, froma student perspectives and not from the college is perspective, feeling connected to thecommunity that you're in is something that is really important. I think pre covidwe all knew that. You know, having a connected community was super importantand it was important for retention, whether Your College, university or another educationinstitution. But in this current post pandemic world, I think understanding the importanceof community is is just even even more at the front of mine. Sofor me there's there's plenty of wonderful things that an APP can do, andnot just a digittal map. As by mentioned, he worked on an APP, a custom map himself, just over a decade ago. So we're notthe only providers out there. But the thing that I think it's most importantabout an APP is it being a reflection of what your community is about isbeing about your your brand, about your voice in a in a college oruniversity, setting and fostering that sense of... That AIDS in retention,AIDS in creating evangelist out of your students so that they wanted to rave aboutyour institution because they feel so connected through a device that, you know,ninety five percent of the time, is either in their pocket or within ourarms reach. I think that would be the key, the key thing forimproving that experience for a student. It's just making them feel part of thecommunity, no matter what's going on in the outside. Well, with apandemic or no pandemic, that can really facilitate that. Yeah, that wasone of the things that I think, you know, as you and Igot to know each other and as I started learning more about apps and andkind of the modern version of them, you know because, like I said, ten years twelve years ago, that was a different flavor. But Ithink one of the things that I realized and came to realize is that manytimes these apps are you know, we talked about hired marketing and so manytimes, and Nate Simpson from the gates foundation a couple weeks ago was kindof reminding us of everybody kind of markets to these students and once they getthere they're just kind of like, well, we're done marketing to them and wemove on. And I thought that was really an astute observation and Ithink that sometimes as marketers we think about okay, well, we really havea responsibility to market kind of all the way from when there's a suspect ora prospect through inquiry to APP and then accepted and then and then we getinto the deposited and then matriculated. Well then we go through the years ofschool. We've still got to do some kind of marketing to kind of helpthem understand that, hey, I made a really good decision, I'm herefor a reason and I'm going to come back after first semester freshman year.I'm going to come back after freshman year and I've realized that. I thinkthat the APPs really do a lot for retention. Is that kind of whatyou're finding some of your schools are realizing? Absolutely, and you've hit the nailon the head that the conversation doesn't stop after that application. It's beenimproved and we've collected some some money to enroll a student if the conversation endsthere, there is a big risk but that that particular student is going tobecome disconnected and disengaged. So you've yeah, you've absolutely now it. With say, with talking about retention. The best admission strategy is always going tobe undermined by attrition if we're not looking after our student body and and keepingour existing numbers healthy. And that's why, I think I've said this, saidthis previously, we don't stop selling to our student buddy, to ourconstitution chance, once they're in the door. We continue to Oh my good Lord, I am just a popular person today. I'm so sorry, anotherprogram bringing on my device. Sorry, I did silence my main dem adviceand someone's ringing me on a different one. So, yes, retention is somethingthat I've found, especially working with the high rate institutions here in theUnited States. So that they were looking for is a tool to aid inthat retention and keeping the conversation going once students have been admitted through the door. So that has been a huge bit of impact that I think we've beenable to help facilitate, and I say we as in did you storm andkayless solutions through our interactions with with with some institutions here in the United States. So yeah, a hundred percent recension. So tell me, what are someof the features that you know someone would expect to find it an APP? I mean there's probably a lot of schools that are listening here. They'veeither considered it or they've they've tried it or they've seen other schools do it. And I mean there's there's a lot of different things that can be onan APP. What do you guys find is the most compelling for colleges anduniversities? So bringing to get often it's bringing together the work that the collegeor university is already doing. So most colleges and universities have some form ofblog or news feed that they're talking about activities that are happening around campus.All this is what one of our lum is doing at the moment. Thosesorts of inspiring, engaging story. So we're not looking to reinvent that orfor US institutions that double handle that information. So we'll bring in to the APPthe the news news feed that's already been used with that blog feed.So the benefit, though, is of...

...having on an APP is the usercan see which articles that have read and haven't read rather than jumping on thewebsite that chief I've read everything here. I'm not sure comes through. Categorizeand it would let you know how there's three articles in alumni relations that youhaven't read and then you read it and let you know there's any two.So it's a huge one. Another one is bringing through the calendar. Sosometimes it can be a little difficult to find that calendar of what's happening,whether it's the campus wide calendar or something a little more niche. So justone section of the campus we bring together one or multiple calendars that are filterableinto the APP. Super Popular Amongst the institutions that we're working with you isjust to have that one place for an updated, real time calendar. Andthen beyond that in smart integrations. So before we talked about two integrations beingthe blog and calendar. I don't talk about smart integrations until I start talkingabout integration of the college management system. So we've we've been doing some workwith popular here in the US to pull through key information from the the popularplatform into the APP natively, so users don't need to log on to theweb platform or log on to the popular platform they can get there to dois their information from populate and directly through their branded campus APP. Those threethings probably the top three tiers and then, mixed from that, things like notices, push notices, so being able to send, I'm sensitive, informationto remind your alumni they've got that reunion event coming up this weekend and thenthere's a giving activity happening to start for it. And then reminding perspective studentsthat applications are closing in three weeks time, or just sending out something to letprospective, current or alumni students know that you're still thinking about them andthat you have some sort of message for them. That's something it's been areal, I guess, game changes for the institutions that we're working with sofar. Yeah, one of the features that I really like is, youknow, if you've got all these different news events or even information about likesports or different activities. You know there's obviously a lot of student activities anddepending on the size of your institution, you might have a lot of alittle, but being able to go into the APP and then be able tochoose, Hey, I want to be notified or I want information about thesethings that are of interest to me. So, you know, if I'mreally not that keen on, you know, knowing when the the crew club isgoing to be rowing on the river, I don't have to click on thatone. But if I'm interested in knowing when the football team is goingto do something or even when the next play is going to be, Ican. I can go into the APP and customize that setting so that that'sthe information that comes to me. So I think that's a great way toengage with parents, even alumni. Obviously they can get the feeds about alumniperspective, students can get the feeds about perspective students and current students can stayup on the clubs and activities that they're most interested in. So I reallylike the fact that your platform really provides just the ability to customize, notonly from the school standpoint, on the back end, because I know thatyou have different levels of engagement in your schools. Can Choose to buy theCMS integration or the or the student portal information integration or they can do differentcustomization parts, but you also allow that in the hands of the users,to which I think is so, so critical. Now I think that youknow, we've talked a lot of other guests about personalization and about making surethat Gen Z and and the upcoming Gin Alpha really understand. But this iswhat I love looking with you, because you are able to articulate the cue, beaches and benefits of my app better than I am. That is exactlyit's so true, and that that self personalization that a user can have isto stop something that we jot really called death by candy crush push edification.So if anyone has ever been it's really...

...candy crush and if you don't playit for half a moment, it will send you a notification and then anotherone and then another one, to the point where you delete brandy crush fromyour phone. So the idea of self personalization is to bus point. IfI don't if I don't want know when the rowing clubs getting up at fourin the morning to go for a row, I can just turn off anything todo with the rowing club and that's I okay. I just want pushnotifications about basketball, track and field, what's happening with psychology, and I'malso interested in what's happening with the social mixes. So there the four thingsI'm going to get pushed entifications on and emergencies, I'll still get emergencies.We don't want to be able to turn emergency notifications off, but yeah,I can cureate my own experience so I don't have death by candy crush notificationsand want to delete the APP from my phone. Right, right point right. I know that there's a lot of APPs out on the market and Iknow that and I tchoys going to ask another question here in a second,but I just wanted to kind of let everybody know that I was amazed atsome of the ways that the way digit storm is is very sensitive, Iwould say too smaller schools. I know that. If I'm not correct,please correct me, but I believe in Australia you guys kind of started withthe with the private schools, kind of the K twelves and and I knowthat there are a lot of them, are called colleges in Australia, butfor us here in the United States and North America we would see them moreas private schools and a lot of times private schools are smaller. Then you'dhave public schools. I really appreciate that digit storm kind of has carried thatover to the way that they handle their higher ed market with their APP,because there's very competitive pricing. We're not going to get into it today onthe on the show, but that's something that if you are a small school, I know I've got several clients that I've kind of introduced Jamie to thatour schools that are under three hundred students, and they've they've really been a mazethat they could actually reach the shelf to do an APP through digit stormand I really appreciate that because sometimes one of the most popular blogs on myon my website is marketing on a small shoe string budget, and I wouldsay that, you know, the the APP that digit storm can provide cancertainly, you know, fit within that. But I would also say that,you know, if you haven't considered an APP, whether it's digit ormor somebody else, certainly take a look at that because I do think it'sgoing to play in well to to retention and some of your other efforts aswell. So, Jamie, for those who aren't that don't have an APPand they're considering it, what would be the one, the first or secondthing that you would advise them to do? Word to look into or what's thefirst step. Yeah, absolutely, and often when I speak to institutionsthat that, and I say institutions because as bought set at first, IGuess Niche was k twelve independent schools and it's Ray. We built the veryfirst APP for a school in Australia ten years ago, which is why it'sa ten year universary of building apps and software for schools. But often whenI'll speak to a college, university or school and then not a hundred percentshort than it did an APP, it's because they say hey, I justread my website and it's mobile responsive, and I'm like, you know what, right, I am sorry, happy that you a website is mobile responsiveand I know, but you build some free, pretty nice mobile responsive website, which is awesome because if you don't have a mobile responsive website in thisday and age, you're you're really not treating more than sixty percent of yourtraffic the right way. So like, Hey, look at works on Mobile. Why do why do I need an APP? And you know why?I totally get that. It's great because having a mobile responsive website means thatwhen we link to things on your website from the APP, they're going tolook great in the APP, which is which is awesome. So that's whyI love when people have a great website. But the key thing is is beingable to reach out to people and engage them in a time sensitive manner. That's probably the number one thing that's different from having a real time calendaron your website and having facebook and instagram posts and having posts on your blog. It relies on the user to go...

...and check those things out, whereasif you've got an APP and it doesn't come from digistorm, it comes fromyour college with your branding. It will pop up on the users lock screensaying basketball training this evening has been moved to seven PM and it will showup on my phone actively, rather than me having to go to the website, navigate to the athletics page. Is Basketball still on, or check thedreaded email, which maybe I check once every couple of days, if youknow my personal email, if I'm being totally honest. So yeah, it'sthat active engagement with time sensitive information that tends to be the Aha moment formost people that are of course. Yeah, and the fact that there's no costto send out a push so for orready doing SMS. Great, great, you doing SMS. That's an active way to reach your audience, butyou'll be paying a per sms or her bulk by of SMS cost, pushnotifications costume nothing other than the cost of the APP, which is part mentioned. We're pretty reasonable. There would clients and normally taken aback in a goodway. That I oh, is that it? I'm like, I'm cleaneverything. So yes, so, yeah, no cost to send out those activeengagements with your perspective current alarm. Even faculty. We've got I'm notsure if I'm meant to mention instruction. If you download the man of universityAPP, there's some public stuff and then they've got a faculty section where theyhave some videos on training some of their new faculty on how to use systemsat Manor University, of which I thought was cool. I hadn't seen thatbefore. They made some custom vimeo videos that we integrated into the APP fortheir faculty. So you can also talk with your faculty by the APP.The great question. Thank for Jamie. As we wind up the episode,is there a topic of the APP or something that you would like to leavewith everyone that we didn't inquire about or we haven't discussed the the power ofthe two of you being greater what you do. You've kind of covered allthose key points and, like I said before, that wasn't in jest,but it's really good at articulating what the APP is is really useful for inhigher ed I think the last piece of like to leave people with is youdo not need any coding knowledge at all. If html scares you, have exmail scares you. If any of that does, or even if itdoesn't, working with us, we look after all of the development, allof the design and we give you a beautiful, intuitive content management system tosend out those push notifications. If you can send an email, you canbe a guru at sending push notifications by your own APP. And probably thelast thing I'd love to leave people and we need to make these episodes longerbecause it's been a little too much fun to be wrapping it up now,but I can second last thought there. But yeah, thanks for having meon. It's been a it's been a pleasure and I'd love to chat toanyone out there in podcast land that's, you know, halfway interested in like, Jeez, I hadn't thought about an APP. Would love to chat toyou or encourage you to talk to Detroy or to Bart. They can alsopoint you in the right direction, even if it's not did you stom butthink about an APP in your ecosystem, for sure. Thank you, Gami, and we appreciate that. But if someone would like to contact you directly, what's the best way for them to do so? Yeah, come andhang out in Colorado with me. I'm usually on the ski slopes in winter, so you can find me there or hiking. So come find me outhiking. If that sounds too hard, which is fair enough, you cangrab me on Linkedin. It's Linkedin and I'm Jamie Giblet, Jamie GIB ltt. If you don't want to find me on Linkedin, you'd rather just emailme. Then you put whis want to grab a pain and paper. It'sit's the same thing. Jamie Dot giblet GIB ltt at. Did you STORMCOM? You can go to my website. Do you stim my calm or andI'm sorry, sorry that my phone ring earlier. Two zero, six,four, three, five nine five, and there will the different ways tocontact me. Kind think of another one right now, but hey, ifI do all I'll be shut let button for I know, and they canget that out to you well. Three is a charming thank you so much, Jamie. You're always a pleasure to... to and I look forward tothe next conference we get to see one another face to face. Likewise,try free chate you for having me own bond. Thank you, as always, a pleasure to chat with both of you today. Yep, thank youaren't do you have any closing comments? Yeah, I would just go backto kind of a lot of things we've talked about. I mean, youknow, we're talking about APPS, we're talking about mobile APPS. You andwhether it's an apple, whether Samsung, android, there's all kinds of optionsin the things that you can look at and look for are ways that youcan enhance not only your recruitment but just your you know, this can beused for development, it can be used for retention. There's no limit tohow your school can use it because, especially, like we talked about,being able to segment and have the audience be able to choose their experience,a lot of applications, you know, pardon the Pun, for this typeof tool in your tool chest and I would really encourage you to kind oflook at this and and I know that a lot of schools might shy awayfrom it because they think, oh, an APP would cost a lot ofmoney. Well, you know, don't shy away from it because, Imean I like I said earlier, this is something that's reachable on a lowershelf for smaller schools and I know, I think it could really make abig difference for some of the smaller schools that we work with as well aslarge schools. I mean, you know, you might be a larger school andsay, Hey, you know, we have an APP. We hada homegrown one, the developer left. It's hard to keep up to date, whatever that might be. Maybe it's time to kind of grow up andfind a firm that can help you with that and manage that on your behalf. And and so just because we're talking about smaller schools, it's not tosay that, you know, digit storm certainly can handle larger schools as well. So it's kind of what I would say. Just make sure you cantake a look at it and again, if you have questions, let usknow, and Jamie's always available as well. Thank you. Bard. The HighEd Marketer podcast is brought to you by two companies, KBA solution.Sparts company that provides marketing strategy and branding advice and work to hire Ed Marketers, and thin patented, a Marketing Execution Company specializing in printing, mailing anddigital advertising. On behalf of both Bart and I, thank you for joiningus. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that younever miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.If you're listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quickrating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcastdeserves. Until next time,.

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