The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 year 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 Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle 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 centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer Podcast, brought to you by Kaylor solutions and thing patented. Again. We try to bring you each week people that we admire, that we feel that are bringing value to the Higher Ed Marketing Community, and today is no different. Someone that both Barton I are familiar with Jamie giblet from digit storm, and they have mobile APPS for higher education that a lot of people are talking about once they are familiar with 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 the story a little bit more on the on the conversation, but Jamie has become a friend and we have done some work together. So just to kind of be full, fully transparent with everyone, but I really invited him to come on 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 the lines of how apps can work and how marketers can use them. I'll be honest, I have probably sold away from apps over the past five or ten years just because I really didn't think that they were necessary, especially if you had a mobile friendly website. But talking to Jamie and learning more about how apps work today and also how affordable they are, from when I had experienced thirteen 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 marketing standpoint of how this tool could be used in the broader sense of a lot of a lot more of a marketing plan. So I'm really excited to talk to Jamie 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 Giblet into the conversation and I must warn everyone that he has a very thick Colorado accent. Welcome to the conversation, Jamie. Thank you, troy. And also thank you, bought, for having me. And yes, I cannot hide my Colorado accent. It always me wherever I got and I was actually just joking that someone was was driving me sign that I had a nice Italian accent and nice accent from Alabama. Said today it's Colorado, but if you can't pick it, originally from Australia. Thank you. And if you would tell us a little bit more about you and also, did you storm and your roll there? Absolutely. So don't give me too much for to talk about myself, because I do like to talk and talking about myself on my favorite topics. But I've been with digi storm, we're software developing coming that was born in Australia for about five years and then at the start of last year had the opportunity to fly over to this great nation and set up an office in Denver, Colorado, and to the Colorado and accent. For better or worse, that just happened to be timed with one of the weirdest times, and I'm modern history, with the pandemic. So the first eight in months in this wonderful country have been unusual, but it's been unusual everyone everywhere in the world so there's no no difference. I guess here in the US everyone's been dealing with it, but finally now out on the conference circuit and getting to meet a bunch of amazing people out on the road and circling back, 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 thanks for the question. A try. That's why we have you here in tell everyone what did your storm does Fab. So we're literally in the in the middle of celebrating our ten year anniversary and... much so that I even got senter ten year anniversary little gift pack myself. So we've been making software force schools and education institutions, colleges universities, for ten years and we specialize in creating beautiful mobile communication APPs that are uniquely positioned to help build community, aid in retention, aid in attraction and also engage with alumni when it comes to hire red institutions. Well, thanks, Jamie. This has been great. I I know that you and I met. I think I met the other guys that digit storm. First we had a common connection on linkedin another school and 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 a matter of fact, they're trying to set up a shop and North America and in the United States and they're thinking about Boston, they're thinking about, you know, all these different places and and so once, once you kind of landed, you and I had a chance to kind of start to get to know each other, and so we got to meet face face last year, earlier this year, I guess, at the Abah Conference in Orlando, which is 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, and so 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 course of my career with with high reed marketing is just how many schools came up to me and said, Hey, do you think we ought to do a mobile APP? And you know, that's been going on for, from my point of view, probably twelve years. People have been asking me that and about 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 much time on a custom map and that really gave me just this bad taste of my mouth. And and I mean we delivered it. It was it was a good product, but I just felt like there was just so much more to it than what there needed to be. And then when I met you and you started show me your product, douct that I was just just fell in love with it again and realized that not only the fact that you kind of you take care of everything on the back end, but also you've got kind of a content management system for the for the APP, that really the schools can manage on their own, and that really fascinated me. So maybe we can just have a little bit of a conversation. Just tell me a little bit about how you see apps playing into, you know, let's keep it to the higher ed space, but just how do you see that playing into 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 this podcast today, because I was at a conference last week and someone asks me how I ended up there and I said I met this wonderful gentleman, but Kayla, and then I'll had you meet him. I'm like you just seemed to 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. Everything Click back into place. They're so great question. I think in terms of being able to connect with your community, and I'm sorry, sorry, from a student perspectives and not from the college is perspective, feeling connected to the community that you're in is something that is really important. I think pre covid we all knew that. You know, having a connected community was super important and it was important for retention, whether Your College, university or another education institution. But in this current post pandemic world, I think understanding the importance of community is is just even even more at the front of mine. So for me there's there's plenty of wonderful things that an APP can do, and not just a digittal map. As by mentioned, he worked on an APP, a custom map himself, just over a decade ago. So we're not the only providers out there. But the thing that I think it's most important about an APP is it being a reflection of what your community is about is being about your your brand, about your voice in a in a college or university, setting and fostering that sense of... That AIDS in retention, AIDS in creating evangelist out of your students so that they wanted to rave about your 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 our arms reach. I think that would be the key, the key thing for improving that experience for a student. It's just making them feel part of the community, no matter what's going on in the outside. Well, with a pandemic or no pandemic, that can really facilitate that. Yeah, that was one of the things that I think, you know, as you and I got to know each other and as I started learning more about apps and and kind of the modern version of them, you know because, like I said, ten years twelve years ago, that was a different flavor. But I think one of the things that I realized and came to realize is that many times these apps are you know, we talked about hired marketing and so many times, and Nate Simpson from the gates foundation a couple weeks ago was kind of reminding us of everybody kind of markets to these students and once they get there they're just kind of like, well, we're done marketing to them and we move on. And I thought that was really an astute observation and I think that sometimes as marketers we think about okay, well, we really have a responsibility to market kind of all the way from when there's a suspect or a prospect through inquiry to APP and then accepted and then and then we get into the deposited and then matriculated. Well then we go through the years of school. We've still got to do some kind of marketing to kind of help them understand that, hey, I made a really good decision, I'm here for 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 think that the APPs really do a lot for retention. Is that kind of what you're finding some of your schools are realizing? Absolutely, and you've hit the nail on the head that the conversation doesn't stop after that application. It's been improved and we've collected some some money to enroll a student if the conversation ends there, there is a big risk but that that particular student is going to become 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 to be undermined by attrition if we're not looking after our student body and and keeping our existing numbers healthy. And that's why, I think I've said this, said this previously, we don't stop selling to our student buddy, to our constitution 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, another program bringing on my device. Sorry, I did silence my main dem advice and someone's ringing me on a different one. So, yes, retention is something that I've found, especially working with the high rate institutions here in the United States. So that they were looking for is a tool to aid in that 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 been able to help facilitate, and I say we as in did you storm and kayless 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 some of 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've either 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 on an APP. What do you guys find is the most compelling for colleges and universities? So bringing to get often it's bringing together the work that the college or university is already doing. So most colleges and universities have some form of blog 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. Those sorts of inspiring, engaging story. So we're not looking to reinvent that or for US institutions that double handle that information. So we'll bring in to the APP the 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 user can see which articles that have read and haven't read rather than jumping on the website that chief I've read everything here. I'm not sure comes through. Categorize and it would let you know how there's three articles in alumni relations that you haven'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. So sometimes 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 just one section of the campus we bring together one or multiple calendars that are filterable into the APP. Super Popular Amongst the institutions that we're working with you is just to have that one place for an updated, real time calendar. And then beyond that in smart integrations. So before we talked about two integrations being the blog and calendar. I don't talk about smart integrations until I start talking about integration of the college management system. So we've we've been doing some work with popular here in the US to pull through key information from the the popular platform into the APP natively, so users don't need to log on to the web platform or log on to the popular platform they can get there to do is their information from populate and directly through their branded campus APP. Those three things probably the top three tiers and then, mixed from that, things like notices, push notices, so being able to send, I'm sensitive, information to remind your alumni they've got that reunion event coming up this weekend and then there's a giving activity happening to start for it. And then reminding perspective students that applications are closing in three weeks time, or just sending out something to let prospective, current or alumni students know that you're still thinking about them and that you have some sort of message for them. That's something it's been a real, I guess, game changes for the institutions that we're working with so far. Yeah, one of the features that I really like is, you know, if you've got all these different news events or even information about like sports or different activities. You know there's obviously a lot of student activities and depending on the size of your institution, you might have a lot of a little, but being able to go into the APP and then be able to choose, Hey, I want to be notified or I want information about these things that are of interest to me. So, you know, if I'm really not that keen on, you know, knowing when the the crew club is going to be rowing on the river, I don't have to click on that one. But if I'm interested in knowing when the football team is going to do something or even when the next play is going to be, I can. I can go into the APP and customize that setting so that that's the information that comes to me. So I think that's a great way to engage with parents, even alumni. Obviously they can get the feeds about alumni perspective, students can get the feeds about perspective students and current students can stay up on the clubs and activities that they're most interested in. So I really like the fact that your platform really provides just the ability to customize, not only from the school standpoint, on the back end, because I know that you have different levels of engagement in your schools. Can Choose to buy the CMS integration or the or the student portal information integration or they can do different customization parts, but you also allow that in the hands of the users, to which I think is so, so critical. Now I think that you know, we've talked a lot of other guests about personalization and about making sure that Gen Z and and the upcoming Gin Alpha really understand. But this is what 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 exactly it's so true, and that that self personalization that a user can have is to 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 play it for half a moment, it will send you a notification and then another one and then another one, to the point where you delete brandy crush from your phone. So the idea of self personalization is to bus point. If I don't if I don't want know when the rowing clubs getting up at four in the morning to go for a row, I can just turn off anything to do with the rowing club and that's I okay. I just want push notifications about basketball, track and field, what's happening with psychology, and I'm also interested in what's happening with the social mixes. So there the four things I'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 notifications and 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 I know 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 at some of the ways that the way digit storm is is very sensitive, I would 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 with the with the private schools, kind of the K twelves and and I know that there are a lot of them, are called colleges in Australia, but for us here in the United States and North America we would see them more as private schools and a lot of times private schools are smaller. Then you'd have public schools. I really appreciate that digit storm kind of has carried that over 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 on the 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 that our schools that are under three hundred students, and they've they've really been a maze that they could actually reach the shelf to do an APP through digit storm and I really appreciate that because sometimes one of the most popular blogs on my on my website is marketing on a small shoe string budget, and I would say that, you know, the the APP that digit storm can provide can certainly, you know, fit within that. But I would also say that, you know, if you haven't considered an APP, whether it's digit orm or somebody else, certainly take a look at that because I do think it's going to play in well to to retention and some of your other efforts as well. So, Jamie, for those who aren't that don't have an APP and they're considering it, what would be the one, the first or second thing that you would advise them to do? Word to look into or what's the first step. Yeah, absolutely, and often when I speak to institutions that that, and I say institutions because as bought set at first, I Guess Niche was k twelve independent schools and it's Ray. We built the very first APP for a school in Australia ten years ago, which is why it's a ten year universary of building apps and software for schools. But often when I'll speak to a college, university or school and then not a hundred percent short than it did an APP, it's because they say hey, I just read 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 responsive and 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 this day and age, you're you're really not treating more than sixty percent of your traffic 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 that when we link to things on your website from the APP, they're going to look great in the APP, which is which is awesome. So that's why I love when people have a great website. But the key thing is is being able 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 calendar on 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, whereas if you've got an APP and it doesn't come from digistorm, it comes from your college with your branding. It will pop up on the users lock screen saying basketball training this evening has been moved to seven PM and it will show up on my phone actively, rather than me having to go to the website, navigate to the athletics page. Is Basketball still on, or check the dreaded email, which maybe I check once every couple of days, if you know my personal email, if I'm being totally honest. So yeah, it's that active engagement with time sensitive information that tends to be the Aha moment for most people that are of course. Yeah, and the fact that there's no cost to send out a push so for orready doing SMS. Great, great, you doing SMS. That's an active way to reach your audience, but you'll be paying a per sms or her bulk by of SMS cost, push notifications 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 good way. That I oh, is that it? I'm like, I'm clean everything. So yes, so, yeah, no cost to send out those active engagements with your perspective current alarm. Even faculty. We've got I'm not sure if I'm meant to mention instruction. If you download the man of university APP, there's some public stuff and then they've got a faculty section where they have some videos on training some of their new faculty on how to use systems at Manor University, of which I thought was cool. I hadn't seen that before. They made some custom vimeo videos that we integrated into the APP for their 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 leave with everyone that we didn't inquire about or we haven't discussed the the power of the two of you being greater what you do. You've kind of covered all those 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 in higher ed I think the last piece of like to leave people with is you do not need any coding knowledge at all. If html scares you, have ex mail scares you. If any of that does, or even if it doesn't, working with us, we look after all of the development, all of the design and we give you a beautiful, intuitive content management system to send out those push notifications. If you can send an email, you can be a guru at sending push notifications by your own APP. And probably the last thing I'd love to leave people and we need to make these episodes longer because 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 me on. It's been a it's been a pleasure and I'd love to chat to anyone 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 to you or encourage you to talk to Detroy or to Bart. They can also point you in the right direction, even if it's not did you stom but think 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 and hang 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 out hiking. If that sounds too hard, which is fair enough, you can grab 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 email me. Then you put whis want to grab a pain and paper. It's it'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 and I'm sorry, sorry that my phone ring earlier. Two zero, six, four, three, five nine five, and there will the different ways to contact me. Kind think of another one right now, but hey, if I do all I'll be shut let button for I know, and they can get 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 to the 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 you aren't do you have any closing comments? Yeah, I would just go back to kind of a lot of things we've talked about. I mean, you know, we're talking about APPS, we're talking about mobile APPS. You and whether it's an apple, whether Samsung, android, there's all kinds of options in the things that you can look at and look for are ways that you can enhance not only your recruitment but just your you know, this can be used for development, it can be used for retention. There's no limit to how 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 type of tool in your tool chest and I would really encourage you to kind of look at this and and I know that a lot of schools might shy away from it because they think, oh, an APP would cost a lot of money. Well, you know, don't shy away from it because, I mean I like I said earlier, this is something that's reachable on a lower shelf for smaller schools and I know, I think it could really make a big difference for some of the smaller schools that we work with as well as large schools. I mean, you know, you might be a larger school and say, Hey, you know, we have an APP. We had a 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 and find 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 to say 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 can take a look at it and again, if you have questions, let us know, and Jamie's always available as well. Thank you. Bard. The High Ed 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 and digital advertising. On behalf of both Bart and I, thank you for joining us. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never 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 quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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