Methods of education are always evolving. Remember counting beads? That was the most popular educational toy when I was growing up.
Nowadays, mobile applications are emerging as new learning tools for children, teenagers and adults alike. Learning is no longer confined to the four walls of the classroom. Our generation is undergoing an educational revolution with conventional learning methods slowly moving to the backdrop as tablets and mobile phones materialize in classrooms across the world.
With over 80,000 educational apps in the App Store alone, experts estimate that by 2017 the learning-games industry will be worth a whopping $2.3 billion, up 53% from 2012. That makes the sector coined as “edutainment” one of the fastest growing segments within the mobile gaming economy.
Many app developers are looking to impose on this hype, especially at the beginning of the school year. But for an educational app to really succeed, an inherent consideration in its development should be its target audience. A defined audience segmentation is important for every kind of app so as to maximize distribution and marketing effectivity.
For educational apps, it is what will make or break the app’s success. The reason behind this logic is simple- when it comes to education, everyone is quick to judge, from teachers and parents to teens.
Developers need to hone in on the user’s cognitive skills, attention span, social competence and life experience. This affects almost every element within an educational app- from the app’s flow, difficulty levels and social features to its monetization strategies. In the hopes to level the playing field for educational app developers, we’ve outlined the target profiles for educational apps.
The Classroom (From Kindergarten to College)
In the last few years, technology has become key in classroom teachings. With the launch of Google Classroom in 2014 and its recent upgrades in anticipation of this school year, educators are determinedly implementing digital tools to enhance their learning methods.
As utilizing apps in the classroom is still relatively a new practice, developers who identify an educational need should jump on the opportunity to collaborate with educational institutions to satisfy it. Many progressive teachers are looking for apps to enhance their classroom management, supplement lesson plans or facilitate teamwork amongst the students. Cooperating with educators will improve the app’s content and performance as well as provide the app with a predefined user base. With the classroom as a target audience, developers can contribute to the educational system whilst also securing their app’s success.
The Preschoolers & Their Parents
The preschool niche within educational apps is rapidly growing as parents will gladly fork over money to buy apps that will entertain and simultaneously educate their young ones. While this niche seems like a no-brainer to succeed in, developing for preschoolers can prove tricky. This is because the app needs to appeal to both parents and kids; developers need to consider both audience segments in their app’s development, marketing and monetization strategy.
To enchant children with your app, make sure to include fun, colorful animation- think big bright buttons and a friendly mascot. Adding narration or sound effects is a great way to educate and engage kids in the app as well.
To appeal to parents, educational preschool apps must promote constant interaction so children remain engaged within the app. Parents won’t mind paying for a great app with good ratings as long as they can preview “a lite version” so they can see what they’re spending their money on. However, serving ads will only turn them off from your app as they will interrupt their child’s play. Unless your app is strictly local in scope, make sure to support various languages as parents won’t bother installing an educational app for their young one in a foreign language. Further, provide a personalized experience by sending parents a weekly email with a summary of their child’s progress! Positive reinforcement and rewards will also keep both parents and child happy with your app.
This target audience has immense potential with an estimated 92% of teens constantly online during their daily activities. Experts believe that the future of mobile is in this demographic’s hands. Even in developing countries, teenagers are leveraging their mobile phones to socialize with friends and gain consumer information.
An educational app needs to look and feel “cool” to attract teenagers. Edgy, strong graphics and a catchy app title will do the trick. But the best way for any app to appeal to teenagers is through dominant social features. Teens are obsessed with social sharing, on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram etc. Implementing this feature will not only enhance this target audience’s experience in your app but will also assist your user acquisition efforts. Positioning your app as educational and fun with a strong social channel will help it gain traction from this young audience. They also love competing with friends, meeting new people with similar interests and are most likely to respond to app recommendations from other friends through Facebook and Twitter.
Further, another feature that will keep your educational app popular amongst the youngsters and help it receive positive reviews, is a feedback channel. Generation Z is very opinionated and responsive. Direct this loquacious energy towards something constructive- what would they like to see on your app, what would they change, etc. Developers can replace review requests with practical questions that will ultimately achieve even more than a positive rating- because when teens feel like their opinion matters, they will return the courtesy and remain loyal.
The adult audience for an educational app has different segments. Developers designing an app for adults need to understand the different levels of experience within this target audience. In the U.S. for example, one in six adults lack basic literacy proficiency and ⅓ of adults can’t solve elementary math problems. Educational apps targeting adults must consider learning disabilities or illiteracy and ensure the learning methods can be scaled for all.
Most adult learners are motivated to brush up on a skill or learn new ones but will always prefer to do it for free. For some, educational apps are their only chance at a free education. Hence, for this target audience, it is recommended to launch a freemium app with mobile advertisements (preferably reward-based!).
To appeal to adults, educational apps should have an intuitive design and interface as well as a short tutorial on how to navigate within the app. Adults catch on quickly but can also get frustrated if not provided with some guidance. Further, educational apps for adults should provide progress reports after gameplay or lessons. Grown-ups like to perceive tangible results, and track their development. Progress reports motivate them to keep up the good work and will enhance user retention too!
“Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
For mobile app developers, identifying an app target audience is especially important. In fact, it is the foundation for their app’s design, flow and features as well as the app’s marketing and monetization strategy. Creating an app without a particular audience in mind is like setting out to sea on a ship with no navigation device. You might know your destination but you certainly don’t know how to get there.
In the case of educational apps specifically, developers must have a strong grasp on their selected target audience as this type of app has such a wide spectrum of possible users. Your app can’t teach everything to everyone. Actually, as app marketplaces become more crowded and congested, users are more drawn to apps that satisfy one specific need perfectly. Apps that aim to teach and engage must know how to nurture knowledge in their choice of audience. Your educational app’s first step to success is therefore in identifying its audience!
Is there an audience segment you think we left out? Do you know any educational apps who target on-point? Let us know in the comments below!