College-oriented magazines boost response rate with app

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College-oriented magazines boost response rate with app
College-oriented magazines boost response rate with app

Client: Townsend

Agency: Moblico 

Objective: Revitalize response and engagement to direct mail aimed at college-bound students. 

Townsend Communications publishes magazines sent to the homes of high school juniors and seniors, aimed at helping colleges recruit incoming students. It also runs, a site which leads students through a short quiz that recommends majors and matches them 
with colleges. 

However, after 35 years of publishing the magazines, responses, as measured by reply cards, have dropped off, says Bill Gaier, VP of Business Development. Ten years ago, mailings resulted in 150,000 replies; last year brought a mere 15,000. 

STRATEGY: Townsend contracted with Moblico to add QR codes to the magazines and launch an app for iPhone and Android models, combining many of the features of with interactive features designed to encourage engagement. The app was made available free on the website and the Apple App Store through the end of February, in time for the March launch. 

"We're taking this 2D marketing and we're bringing it to life for the students," says Gaier.

The codes also helped improve accuracy of response measurement when reporting ROI to colleges. 

"They were telling us, 'We're not getting response anymore,' but we know we're driving students to their websites. With this app, we are going to be able to measure that," Gaier says. "It was getting us back into the measurable results market."

RESULTS: Even before launch, the app created excitement and buy-in at colleges, says Gaier. About 75% of the colleges Townsend sold on the app had not been in the magazine in the last few years.

It's difficult to compare engagement rates given the drop-off trend in replies, says Gaier, but he notes the mobile app immediately showed an effect on traffic to 

Mobile traffic on the site rose from 7% in February to 10% the following month, when the app launched. Through May 27, 32% of students accessing through a 
mobile device viewed a school profile page, while 29% checked out a deal. 

Feedback from schools shows that engagement through the app leads to better interaction with student prospects earlier in their college searches, Gaier says.

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