The Keys to Student Engagement: 5 Tips of Promoting the Handshake App from the winner of the Mobile App Challenge

Jeanette Sha

December 14, 2021

In the month of November, Handshake hosted a Mobile App Challenge – a friendly competition in which our partner institutions in the UK encouraged their students to download the app and thus increase their student engagement with the services they offer. Over the course of 2 weeks, we managed to have a total of 2695 new app downloads from our partner universities and a lot of positive feedback about student engagement! A big thank you to all participating partners for your amazing work! 

We interviewed the winner of the competition, Careers Technologist Gary Elliott at the University of Central Lancashire. Here are some best practices of student engagement that Gary shared with other peer institutions on how to best promote the Handshake app and communicate effectively to students. 

  1. Promoting the Handshake App Alongside an Event

UCLAN promoted the Handshake App Competition by integrating it into its November Fest Careers Fair Event promotion, in which four careers fairs were running simultaneously throughout November. There were almost 3500 hits to the page about the Careers Fairs and the App Competition was very prominent on this page. Gary made sure there was a very clear call to action throughout the page, such as QR Codes and URLs which took students directly to the App download pages on their respective app stores so they can start to engage with the Careers Services at UCLAN. 

  1. Visibility on Campus 

The App Competition was featured in all the traditional print promotion for the Careers Fairs and was visible on busy areas throughout the campus on UCLAN – from the sides of buildings to the bollard covers along the sides of roads. The QR codes were again present, so are the incentivising prizes in large prints: “Win a £100 Amazon Voucher!” Since students were back on campus, digital promotion alone is not enough. Physical promotion and visibility in busy places are important to get the messages across. 

  1. Handshake Targeted Emails 

Email is still one of the top methods of communication with students. Gary and UCLAN promoted the App Competition very regularly to all current students using the Handshake email template for the competition and the Careers Fairs Event was also promoted regularly as well via another custom email. 

Here’s a reminder on how to send Targeted Emails and this is a link to the Mobile email template we created to get your students to download the app.  

  1. Communication from the University Accounts  

UCLAN also promoted to all students and academic staff via their VLE because the email doesn’t come from Careers but directly from the University themselves which provokes more interest. The Careers Services team also managed to get the main University Social Media channels to pick up and run posts relating to the fairs and app competition, so there’s an extra layer of authority that students often pay attention to. 

  1. Student Ambassadors with Unique URLs 

Something innovative UCLAN did was to run a parallel competition for Student Ambassadors (and other eligible staff) where each entrant was given a unique URL to promote the fair and app competition. They were told that the entrant with the most click through rates to their unique promotional link would be the winner. Gary mentioned that you can use UTMs on Bitly to achieve this and track the results. 

We hope you find these helpful! You may also like to check out this blog post for some best practices shared by the winning US partner universities from the US Mobile App competition.