Marketing and Promoting Your Mobile App


  • Kate Hash, University of North Carolina
  • Marieanne Quiroz, Cal State Northridge

Marketing your app to users is just as important as developing it. Learn best practices for maximizing adoption of your app.

Kate:  our app is a true partnership with our students.

  • Development and platform management is in my office
  • Students are responsible for all the content.

Timeline of CarolinaGO

  • Launched in 2014 as
  • Native app went live October, 2014
  • 13,000 total downloads
  • We did brochures and QR codes

Why does the app exist?

  • One stop shopping for students:  LMS, Bus finders, gym / dining schedules, events
  • We were missing was an “anchor store” like a shopping center
  • What pain points are we solving/can we solve?  Peoplesoft mobile could serve as the anchor

Summer 2015

  • Peoplesoft mobile soft launch in mid-June
  • Redesign launched in early August
  • Quietly promoting app to new students
  • Promotion to new students via engagement with orientation leaders, signage at laptop distribution
  • The big bang August 14:  tweet, article in the Daily Tar Heel.
  • No real action…until:  formal notice to ALL students.  This gave us 8,000 new downloads.

Coming Soon

  • Extensive in-person outreach:  Fall Fest, Student Government, Greek Organizations
  • Push Notifications
  • First Year Student Summer Orientations:  mobile device setup room, communications designed for parents, educated orientation staff
  • Bus Ads

Key Lessons Learned

  • Tie promo efforts to positive app changes
  • ID pain points, fix them, advertise them
  • Work closely with students to understand how to reach them
  • Partner with other departments and collaborators
  • We do lots of in-person events

Marieanne:  Marketing & Promoting Your App

  • We have no permanent funding for marketing our app
  • We have a Portal/Mobile App Committee, which has representation from most areas on campus.
  • Our Student Marketing & Communications team is in our Outreach and Communications department; we have in-house writers and graphic designers.
  • We do a number of surveys:  annual IT survey, 1st time freshmen and 1st time transfers, feedback button on the app.
  • Focus groups:  push notification, CSUN mobile app; analytics, observations
  • Developed strategic marketing / communications plan:  content students want vs. what the university feels they need; develop timelines for additional content and develop marketing plans that correspond.
  • Our students love YouTube videos!  We produce these instead of how-to written materials…nobody reads those.
  • We have a “CSUN Navigators” program the first few days of class, where we have tents set up across campus, manned by people who help guide students (including how to download and use the app).
  • We do a lot of promotion during New Student Orientation
  • We do portal announcements and push notifications (there’s a “My Announcements” pagelet in the portal.  Students want deadline information, ticketing info
  • We also push the app in our prospective students portal (Hobsons); we also use our digital screens which are across campus and free for us to advertise on.

Future Marketing Efforts

  • KCSN Radio
  • More function-based marketing
  • Continued and expanded outreach to prospective students
  • Outreach to new students
  • Expanded use of analytics and data analysis
  • Expanded use of push notifications
  • Email campaign with use of updated videos


  • Have you used Social Media to promote your apps?  KATE:  we tweet things out, but more often we forward things to our Social Media Director for further outreach.  MARIEANNE:  yes, we do use a number of Social Media networks, and involve our Advancement team in a big way as well.
  • Where do recommendations from your governance group go?  MARIEANNE:  primarily IT and SM&C make the recommendations, and we review things.
  • Is there anything you wish the central department would know / should do?  KATE:  projects coming out of IT are generally not glamorous, so we’ve spent a lot of time working with our social media director and collaborating with other areas.  Knowing where your app is at the moment is super-important.  MARIEANNE:  we work collaboratively with our partners in Advancement and with branding & communications.


By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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