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Princeton Partners Research Finds Majority of Colleges and Universities Failing to Make the Grade With Their Mobile Presence, Missing Significant Opportunity to Drive Student Enrollment

Analysis of 200 Schools Demonstrates Large Gap in Higher Education's Ability to Engage Young Tech-Savvy Audiences Through Their Mobile Devices

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Most colleges and universities would benefit from a refresher course in "Mass Media 101," based on their failure to communicate effectively with their primary target audience – young, tech-savvy teens and young adults – through their mobile devices, including smart phones and hand-held tablets.


According to an in-depth analysis of 200 public and private schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, more than 70% of those institutions were lacking a mobile presence entirely, and nearly 50% of schools with a mobile presence were deficient in significant ways, either in terms of technology, mobile content or both.

Higher education's apparent failure to capture the attention of their primary target audiences through mobile devices represents a significant opportunity for those schools that understand the magnitude of mobile technology adoption by teens and young adults, and that invest in the resources necessary to communicate effectively with those audiences through their mobile devices, according to Princeton Partners.

The Princeton Partners research suggests that schools have not adjusted to the rapid adoption rate of mobile devices, which industry analysts say is growing eight times faster than adoption of the Internet in the 1990s and early 2000s. This communication gap is validated by research from Pew Research and Google that shows:

  • 85% of cell phone users aged 18 – 29 use their phones to go online; and 50% of that group goes online mostly using their phone, rather than a desktop or laptop device, and
  • 61% of all cell phone users say they were unlikely to ever return to a website if they had trouble viewing it on their mobile device.

Dr. Jeanne Oswald, former Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education who serves as an industry advisor to Princeton Partners, noted, "The rapid increase in use of mobile devices has left many schools ill-equipped to address the needs of what marketers now call 'constantly connected consumers.' This societal shift to mobile communication is being driven in large measure by teens and young adults, which is apparent to educators and parents who are witnessing first-hand the cultural and behavioral impact of smart phones and other hand-held electronic devices."

Princeton Partners' research identified two notable shortcomings in the mobile strategy of schools, including:

  • Direct replication, in whole or part, of the content, design and navigation from the school's PC-based website onto the school's mobile device applications, which fails to acknowledge the significant differences in how mobile users consume and share information.
  • Failure to create "mobile responsive" technology solutions that can automatically adjust to individual browser and device differences to provide a positive user experience, and can ensure that mobile content is properly coded to optimize search engine rankings and leverage a school's investments in search engine marketing.  

According to Dr. Oswald, "An effective mobile capability can validate that a school is technologically savvy. As potential students comparatively shop and learn online, institutions of higher learning can enhance brand perception and market engagement by communicating effectively with teens and young adults through their mobile devices."

About Princeton Partners

Founded in 1965, Princeton Partners ( provides strategic brand marketing services designed to achieve tangible business results. The firm has expertise in several B2B and B2C categories, including higher education, and has represented a number of well-respected colleges and universities.

Contact: Gordon G. Andrew

(609) 987-0200


Read more news from Princeton Partners.

SOURCE Princeton Partners

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