School Apps

5 Strategies to Increase Your School App Engagement

March 29, 2020

When you're introducing a new communication channel to your business, it's likely that you'll notice a giant spike in interest upon launch, followed by a slump once the excitement decreases – the same thing can happen with app launches. Research shows that 1 in 5 users delete an app after their first use! 

If you have a school app that you use to communicate with parents, it's imperative that you implement best-practice procedures to ensure parents keep interacting your app. Here are five strategies that will help with your user retention and long-term engagement.


1. Provide an amazing user experience

This goes without saying, but in order for parents to use your app frequently, you either have to force them to use it or make them love it so much they return time and again. Guess which one is more effective?

Having a well-designed, high quality app is your best bet to getting parents onside — fast. In the words of Brian Reed, front end developer and musician: "Everything is designed. Few things are designed well." To provide the best possible user experience, there are a two crucial steps your school must take when designing your app:


2. Plan your app launch marketing

Building the app is only one part of the process. An effective launch is another crucial component. That's why it's important to strategically plan your marketing well in advance of your go-live. The best marketing tactics either provide a clear benefit to users, or address a common pain-point. Gather your key stakeholders together and lock down your messaging.

Are the parents at your school time-poor? Speak to the app's time saving abilities. Are they bogged down with too many communication methods? Highlight how the app helps you to narrow down all your channels into one. Do they miss key pieces of information because their child doesn't pass it along? Provide details about how the app provides instant notifications straight from your school to their phone.

Be clear about the benefits of downloading the app and show your school community how the app adds value to their experience with your school. Once you have your benefit clearly articulated, convey that message across your website, social media channels and email with a clear call-to-action to download the app.


School apps can really benefit your community.

Find out more in our guide, 5 Ways to Make an Impact With A School App


3. Include the app in your welcome process

When a new family joins your school community, you have an opportunity to introduce them to the app straight away. By including key information about the benefits and community inclusion provided by your school's app, you'll get a fresh batch of sign-ups every enrolment period. 

To get them started, add a handout to their onboarding documentation with clear instructions that show your school how to download the app. You could also create an informative video that walks parents through key features of their app. For some members of your school community, the idea of an app may not be enticing, however the idea of a hand-held and interactive calendar containing all of your school’s events could be the feature that gets them across the line.

A creative example that we've seen is St Andrew's Catholic College who personified their Schoolbox + Digistorm App, naming it AndIE. The school has also created an informative help portal and parent guides to quickly onboard new users. 



4. Keep your content fresh and exclusive

Exclusivity can be a strong driver for parents to download and use your school app. Whether it’s a Notice, Newsletter or another piece of content, commit to posting it only through the app and get the rest of your team onboard to do the same. This lets your school community know that your app is the only way to access the information they need. Not only will you spike interest, you will also give parents peace of mind knowing that they

When you have an event or announcement, publish photos on your school’s app first. Make a habit of rewarding your school’s app users with early access to news and photos and you’ll find your downloads and usage is likely to increase as a result.


5. Use push notifications strategically

Users are constantly trying to free up space on their phone, and the first thing to go is apps that have 'gone quiet'. If a user has no motivation to open up the app, eventually it will be forgotten about and finally deleted. A good way to keep users opening and engaging with your app is by sending out relevant and timely push notifications

A push notification is the little message that appears on your phone that comes directly from an app. They usually give you a quick update about some kind of app activity and can be viewed even when the user doesn't have the app open. 


Not sure whether your school should invest in an app or an SMS platform?

Check out our guide, Push notifications: Are they still effective? 


By being strategic (not spammy!) with your push notifications, you can encourage parents to open up your app again and again. Quickly get the message out about game cancellations, event reminders, pupil-free days, newsletter uploads and more, while also providing instantaneous value to your users.


In summary

Apps can be an incredibly valuable way for parents to engage with your school. Still not sure if a school app is right for you? Find out how Ambrose Treacy College streamlined communication and connected their community with their Digistorm App.


Watch the Ambrose Treacy College case study


If your school doesn’t have an app and would like to learn more about the Digistorm App, contact us today.