What is 5G? And what does it mean for higher ed mobile marketing?

Simply put, 5G is the next generation of mobile internet access. It means more bandwidth, more speed and a better experience on our mobile devices wherever we go.

It also represents a lot of opportunities for enrollment marketers.

Here are five ways to consider leaning into the 5G revolution to enhance the effectiveness of your mobile marketing strategy.

1. High-Def Video

Until recently, resolution has been a concern in mobile marketing. High definition has been ideal for desktops and mobile devices connected to WiFi for years, but mobile networks have struggled to deliver a quality experience.

  • How often have you been away from WiFi, tried to watch high-def video on a smartphone and couldn’t enjoy it because it was too pixelated?
  • Or your browsing was interrupted by a video ad that doesn’t work and can’t even load because it’s too much data at once?

High Def Has Been Best Suited for WiFi

Not wanting to inflict this pain on your audience, you’ve probably not wanted to invest too much of your marketing budget in video that’s geared toward mobile consumption. 

High definition videos you’ve produced may have been for more traditional use, like a promotional video a parent might watch while doing research at home, maybe.

You may have felt less confident producing something that has to work well on mobile, like a video ad linked to a QR code on a poster at the bus stop.

5G Will Turn High Def Into Everyday Def, Everywhere

As more of us get our hands on 5G devices to utilize the new 5G network, however, that’s going to change.

First off, you won’t have to worry that your videos won’t load properly or won’t look good on mobile anymore. 5G expands the network bandwidth so much that even high-def video will load as clearly and easily as still images.

Second, 5G will end the era in which we think of high-def video as anything special. High-definition video is already possible with today’s average device, making even DIY video high quality. Once 5G networks deliver them flawlessly, high-def will truly be the norm.

“[T]his is an opportunity for marketers to create value by investing in video production if they haven’t already. This doesn’t have to mean hiring an expensive firm to produce high-quality ads; DIY-produced video content often does just as well, as large companies like Walmart and Google have shown … all you need is the strong, creative marketing team that you already have — and a phone to record some video.” – Jackson Kushner, Khoros

2. Animation

Animated infographics and stories can be a great way to present information, such as:

  • Outcomes for graduates
  • Steps to filling out the FAFSA
  • Featured program highlights
  • Featured clubs and organizations
  • Freshman survival tips
  • Athletic team stats

5G should give us all the confidence to go for broke with a project like this. 

If you were sharing this on Instagram, for example, the safe bet used to be presenting the information as a static infographic as well as an animated one, just in case the animation didn’t work properly.

In a 5G world, that won’t be necessary. If a user has the signal to access Instagram at all, they will have no trouble playing the animation. 

There are other benefits of animation, too. 

  • You may be able to engage your graphic design faculty and turn something like this into a student-led project. 
  • Also, as long as we’re still in a pandemic, the COVID-friendly production process is a bonus. 

3. Interactive Video

More bandwidth means more opportunity for flawless interactivity in mobile marketing, too.

A few examples of interactive video that won’t depend on WiFi to work well include:

  • Live video – Both the broadcaster and viewers can be anywhere and expect smooth, real-time interaction via the comments.
  • Video chat – Prospects responding to ads that connect them directly to a student ambassador or admission counselor can expect flawless face-to-face interaction.
  • Virtual events – When promoting a virtual presentation geared toward prospective families, you can be confident presenting and fielding questions from any location.

5G will also enable us to get a little more advanced with video ad personalization, a concept that’s difficult to pull off on a 4G network because of the amount of data required.

These days, personalized video is much more within reach.

“Video ads will even be able to change their storylines in mid-flow in response to a viewer’s responses, making it more customized to consumers’ individual preferences and needs, which in turn will push up engagement rates.” – Martin Salo, Chief Product Officer and Co-founder at Realeyes

Imagine producing one ad that starts with a general message about your school, but in 60 seconds’ time, it morphs into one that puts the viewer into their very own story guided by their academic, athletic and/or other extracurricular interests.

Now imagine this “choose your adventure” ad performing as well in the parking lot of a rural grocery store as it does on a desktop computer in a home office.

That’s the kind of experience 5G will deliver.

4. Enhanced AR/VR

In 2020, I wrote about ways augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were going to be utilized in college marketing in the future.

5G is a big part of what’s going to take these novelty technologies and turn them into everyday apps. Imagine a network that supports fluid experiences like:

  • Virtual athletics events through VR headsets, allowing your recruiters to put student athletes in the game.
  • Viewing future buildings on campus through a smartphone screen with an AR app.
  • Simulated learning experiences that involve manipulating virtual objects (sculpting clay, medical dummies, chemicals, etc.).
  • A virtual tour guide you can hear and see through your smartphone, perhaps through simple Google Cardboard headsets.

The sky’s the limit with these technologies when they are no longer dependent on a WiFi signal and can be utilized from any 5G mobile device just about everywhere.

5. Geo-Targeting

5G is going to take location-based mobile marketing up a notch. Several notches, in fact.

Enrollment marketers should take a cue from brick-and-mortar retailers using this technology to drive interest in their products and services:

“5G will improve advertisers ability to pinpoint the location of users and will allow them to target them more effectively. The retail industry will be one of the first to reap the benefits of ever more precise geo-targeting. When shoppers enter a department store, a coupon, discount code, or marketing material could be delivered straight to their smartphone.” – Elad Natanson, Forbes

Think of your campus the same way retailers think about a storefront. With greater precision in geo-targeting, you’ll be able to:

  • Hit phones with a link to a welcome video the moment their owners set foot on campus.
  • Automatically send visitors a promotional video about athletics as they approach an event venue.
  • On visit days, send short videos about living on campus as they approach the dorms, about meals as they approach the dining hall, etc.

5G is improving mobile marketing for everyone. The time for higher ed to get on board is now.

This is an exciting time for enrollment marketers. 

Though many of these ideas for reaching prospects in creative ways are already possible, many of them haven’t taken off yet due to the limitations of 4G networks.

But as more prospects carry around 5G-capable phones (such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 or the iPhone 12, which came out in March and October of 2020, respectively), we’ll be able to try out more ideas with confidence that they’ll reliably create incredible pre-enrollment experiences.

So how about we start brainstorming some new mobile marketing strategies for your school?

Looking forward to seeing what we can come up with together!


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