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Playbook: Improving Recruitment In the Mobile World


This Mobile Playbook provides practical guidance on how to ensure you stay relevant to both prospective and existing students via mobile apps. It provides rec- ommendations on the most important …

This Mobile Playbook provides practical guidance on how to ensure you stay relevant to both prospective and existing students via mobile apps. It provides rec- ommendations on the most important factors to con- sider and showcases best practices as you develop and launch a successful mobile strategy.

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  • 1. Playbook: Improving R ecruitment In The M obile WorldPlaybook for Higher Education
  • 2. MOBILE APPS HAVE BECOME MISSION CRITICALA recent survey by TeleNav Inc. found that 40% of iPhone users would rather give up their toothbrushes for aweek, than their mobile devices. So it’s no surprise to hear comments like this from students who have neverknown a world without mobile devices: “I can choose my bank based on their mobile app… Why shouldn’t I be able to choose a college the same way?”That’s just what they’re attempting to do: 48% of students said 92% of students indicated that mobile access improved technology is an important their view of the school factor in college selection eCampus News CDW-GClearly, a mobile presence has become a litmus test for many students. So it’s no longer a “nice addition,” but a“must have” in order for your school to be considered a legitimate option.Simply making your current website accessible to mobile browsers isn’t enough. According to Flurry Analytics,students spend more time using apps than browsing the Web. And there is evidence from CEM4Mobile Solutionsthat native apps keep users more engaged than mobile browsers, perhaps as a result of their interactive userinterface and mobile features like location services, cameras, etc. Yet 63% 48% of institutions have of university officers ranked NO discernible mobile apps as effective mobile strategy recruitment tools National Study of Undergraduate Noel-Levitz Students and Information Technology, continued on next pageBlackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 1
  • 3. It’s Time to Close the “App-Gap”The disparity between student expectations and schoolpriorities means many schools are losing more than pro-spective applicants. They are also missing the opportu- “Students want to attend institutions thatnity to develop personal connections with current stu- are engaging in using the tools of theirdents, parents, alumni, donors and athletics fans. With age... As a student, why would I want toan app at their fingertips, all of these groups could have attend a university that doesn’t seema simple and personalized resource available whenever interested in mobile...? We’re ultimatelythey need it. talking about an institution’s identity,What You’ll Learn from this Playbook its image, its perceived relevance--andThis Mobile Playbook provides practical guidance on perhaps its survival.”how to ensure you stay relevant to both prospective — Tim Flood, education mobile technology and innovation consultantand existing students via mobile apps. It provides rec-ommendations on the most important factors to con-sider and showcases best practices as you develop andlaunch a successful mobile strategy.1. GETTING STARTED To adequately prepare a mobile Prospective Students — In addition to specifics on ad- strategy, there are number of key mission requirements and extracurricular activities, they questions that need to be an- also want to get a “feel” for what it’s like to be a stu- swered. These provide a founda- dent on your campus. Interactive campus tours, photo tion on which to build all the sup- albums, and event calendars will be important to them. porting elements that ensure user Parents of Prospective Students — These are key “influ-satisfaction and successfully reaching your goals. encers” who will have similar interests to their children. However, they probably desire more substance about top-Who are your audiences? ics like academics, tuition, financial aid, and campus life.As you begin developing an app, you may feel pressureto launch whatever can be thrown together quickly be- Current Students — Recruitment overlaps with the re-cause “having something is better than nothing.” Even tention of students you already have. But in addition tothough there is an urgency to offer some sort of mobile basic university information, this group has a need forpresence, a poorly designed app reflects negatively on more “transactional” content and practical tools; accessyour school—turning away new applicants and disheart- to e-learning portals, grades, class registration, trans-ening and disappointing even die-hard supporters. portation schedules, menus for campus food venues, and maps/directions. In short, they want tools to makeSo, take the time to assess your audience. Who are the daily campus life as simple and efficient as possible.users that you want to attract and engage? These caninclude: continued on next pageBlackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 2
  • 4. Athletic Fans — This segment includes students and What are your school’s most attractive andoutside supporters. They need access to game sched- desirable features?ules and updated team news. These are the selling propositions that differentiateAlumni & Donors — In addition to general university, your school from competitive institutions. Obviously,athletics, and academic news, these groups will want they need to be showcased as prominently as possible.access to their alumni portals in order to keep in touch There’s no limit to what makes you unique, but here arewith local groups and future alumni events. some suggestions to consider:Thorough examination of your intended audiences and Historic campuswhat is required to meet their expectations gives your Prominent faculty or academic programsapp a better chance of keeping them engaged and pro- Innovative uses of teaching/learning technologyducing the desired results. Plus, identifying all of your in- Diversity of student populationtended app users will help solidify internal support and Availability of financial aid/scholarshipsestablish productive partnerships across teams within Mentoring or partnership opportunities with outsideyour university. businesses/research facilities Successful sports programs Affiliation with research/training facilities Easy access to well known cultural and entertain- ment venueResults of 2011 Harper College Student Survey“I would like to use my smart/mobile device for:” Grades My Schedule Blackboard Harper e-mail Course schedule Registration Maps Bookstore Harper events Print on campus Billing Class response system Library book renewal Harper news Cafeteria menu Transportation Print allocation Hawk radio 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 Number of StudentsBlackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 3
  • 5. 2. LAYING A SOLID FOUNDATIONBuilding an app that will have widespread appeal to your Create an Advisory Panel to Keepentire community is a collaborative effort. However, de- Stakeholders Engagedpartmental agendas and “silos” of functionality tend to A collaborative environment makes it much easier todelay progress. Individual apps per department, for ex- gain access to all the necessary resources, which comeample, are usually limited in scope and frequently com- from a variety of stakeholders. So include all the partici-pete for attention in app store confusing potential users. pants as part of an ongoing advisory group throughoutThey also lack brand consistency and quality control. the development process.A collaborative approach among departments increases This group also serves two important purposes:the likelihood that broader institutional goals will be metand that your brand identity will be strengthened wher- 1) It maintains a high level of engagement, supportever your app is available for download. and cooperation from partners throughout the app lifecycle.Integrate Institutional Goals to Strengthen 2) Stakeholders provide expertise about reaching theirInternal Support desired audiences on an ongoing basis, which facili-During the planning and development stages, make it tates continual monitoring, assessing and improvingclear how your app will support institutional priorities. app performance and functionalityAside from developing a meaningful app, this approach Representatives of on-campus constituents may include:will also gain the attention and support of top-level academics, admissions, advancement, athletics, directorsstakeholders. of campus life/activities, IT, and marketing. Giving theseAdditionally, institutional goals almost always require stakeholders an active role and an opportunity to con-participation from multiple departments, such as admis- tribute to the project’s success ultimately benefits every-sions, IT and marketing working together to streamline one’s interests.the admissions process. So highlighting how the app You may also choose to include student representativeswill support a given initiative helps garner support and as well as outside content providers not already coveredfunding, as well as needed cooperation from a range of by the key on-campus groups.key stakeholders. continued on next page THE IMPORTANCE OF EXECUTIVE BUY-IN In the 2011 edition of Mobile IT in Higher Education, the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) notes responses such as: “We would be more likely to join such a collaboration when the issue becomes more of a university priority and would more likely join on the back end of such initiatives, when the framework and development are in place and successful.” The earlier that stakeholders can be persuaded to overcome such hesitation and provide their support, the more successful the initiative is likely to be. So a carefully crafted strategy that focuses on the benefits to the institution and aligns with executive level priorities is essential.Blackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 4
  • 6. Showcase Successes of Other InstitutionsNothing promotes momentum, collaboration, and actionlike examples of others’ successes. Your own research orpersonal connections may provide plenty of examples,but here are additional samples of the positive resultsachieved by several institutions: Northern Arizona University POTENTIAL ROI OF INTERACTIVE NAU increased applications from mobile CAMPUS TOURS devices by 100% within six months of imple-menting the admissions page into their app, NAU Mobile. Not everyone is able to make in-person campus visits. As a result, an interactive campus tour is an Harper College important element of your recruitment efforts. eCampus News has projected a valuable potential Harper’s app was part of a strategic plan to return on investment for interactive maps that in- increase engagement with working students, clude features such as 360-degree views, video andretention, and graduation rates. Early numbers show that location descriptions (all features that can be madethey are expected to surpass their goal by 375%. available on a mobile app). Loyola University Chicago Estimated Applicant Value After introducing an Alumni Portal into their $30,000 – avg. value of enrolled student app, LUC saw visits from mobile devices x 20% – avg. acceptance rateskyrocket 500%. $ 6,000 Loyola Marymount University Estimated Tour Value With LMU’s app at the center of their new $ 6,000 – est. applicant value recruitment strategy, they increased appli- x 20% – rate of students takingcations by 15% the very next year. in-person campus tour $ 1,200 Estimated Value Per Map View $ 1,200 – value of each student visit x 5% – rate of visiting students influenced by viewing $60 interactive map With a modest 1,000 views every 30 days, an interactive campus map is estimated to be worth $60,000 per month.Blackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 5
  • 7. 3. USE A “CONTENT FIRST” APPROACHContent is king! From weather reports to financial re- elements most effectively, it is important to leverage theports, different users have different needs, interests and features and capabilities a mobile app provides. Here areexpectations. Following these content recommenda- a few examples of fresh and interesting ways to presenttions will attract users and help make your app an indis- your strongest selling points:pensible part of their daily routines. Beautiful campus – Provide virtual tours with images and videos of notable events that take place at thatFocus on Your Audiences’ particular location.Needs and Interests Prominent faculty or academic programs – IncludeThe key to improving recruitment and engaging stu- video testimonials or multimedia examples of the re- lated achievements/breakthroughs.dents, alumni and donors is providing content thatspeaks directly to their interests. That is one of the rea- Diversity of student population – Dedicate photo albums, video streams, or news feeds to various stu-sons it is so important to have “experts” from key cam- dent groups and world organizations.pus constituencies providing insights into their desired Availability of financial aid/scholarships – Optimizeaudiences’ expectations. online applications to make them easy to completeAs you develop content, keep in mind that there is a sub- directly from your app.stantial difference between the aspirational information Mentoring opportunities with outside businesses –desired by prospective applicants (e.g., a life-changing Provide student video testimonialsexperience, meeting new friends, being inspired by Successful sports programs – Include news, scores, video highlights, and photo albums to showcasewonderful new professors) and transactional content their wins.for current students and faculty (registering for classes, Affiliation with research/training facilities & accessinstructor office hours, exam schedules, access to digital to cultural and entertainment venues – Create inter-learning platforms). active map showing locations, proximity to campus.Creatively Showcase Your School’s In addition to these desirable attributes, be sure to in-Differentiators for Prospective Applicants clude “service” modules that address daily details of campus life, such as transportation schedules, directo-The Getting Started section of this Playbook included a ries and maps (with capabilities for directions), links todiscussion about the characteristics that set your school online learning platforms, etc.apart from competitive institutions. To showcase these THE UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON “GOES THE DISTANCE” WITH ITS APP The University of Dayton sent iPads to high school guidance counselors that were preloaded with their University of Dayton Undergraduate Viewbook app. The app provides access to videos, live twitter feeds, and slide shows - all highlighting their student life - as well as information about their academic programs and a direct link to UD’s online application. As a result of their presence in the App Store, UD’s app has been downloaded across 20 countries worldwide.Blackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 6
  • 8. 4. MOVING FORWARDLet Go of Cautious HesitationIn closing, it is worth repeating the importance of tim-ing and momentum. As has been pointed out in othersections of this Playbook, this is particularly importantfor colleges and universities that are used to an exhaus-tive, methodical and measured approach to most un- BEWARE OFdertakings. But technology, especially mobile, moves at “DEATH BY COMMITTEE”a much faster pace. The truth is that the most efficientand productive approach strikes a balance between de- Decisions in the academic environment can beliberation and “swiftly forging ahead.” made through a lengthy deliberative process: form a committee, assess the problem, form aIn fact, in its Mobile IT in Higher Education, 2011 report, sub-committee, gather solutions, assess theirthe EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) viability, submit findings to the full committeerecommends… for approval, etc. This may be appropriate Be intentional—but flexible—with strategy. Different for policy and pedagogy, but mobile development strategies have relative strengths and technology moves at a much faster pace. weaknesses, and the technologies and tools are rap- Education, mobile technology, and idly evolving. A deliberate strategy is valuable, but so innovation consultant Tim Flood has said, is having the flexibility to pursue different approach- es based on specific needs. “(Institutions) want to ‘think it through’So as you review the recommendations in this Playbook, first… but they tend to get frozen inkeep in mind that ongoing development and change are their own impulse to have a campusinherent in the mobile world. But by continually tweak- dialog… To have mobile, you haveing and refining the various elements of your strategy, to be mobile and that means in theyou will learn what is important to your constituents and way you decide and implement.”ultimately improve your mobile recruitment. Because mobile technology is constantly evolving and changing, it’s important to recognize that collaboration does not have to be accompanied by hesitation. As Flood points out, when it comes to mobile technology, being timely is as important as being thorough.Blackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 7
  • 9. 5. ABOUT BLACKBOARDTo learn more, or if you have any additional questions or concerns that have not been addressed in this MobilityPlaybook, contact us at bit.ly/bbmobile-contact.About Blackboard MobileBlackboard Mobile, a division of Blackboard Inc., is dedicated to providing innovative mobile solutions to educationalinstitutions around the world. Blackboard Mobile has partnered with hundreds of institutions to enrich teaching andlearning and life outside the classroom. Based in San Francisco, the Blackboard Mobile team currently delivers twomobile solutions: Blackboard Mobile Learn, bringing interactive teaching and learning to mobile devices, and BlackboardMobile Central, providing on-demand access to essential campus information.blackboardconnect.com • 650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW 6th Floor Washington, DC 20001 • 1.800.424.9299, ext. 4Copyright © 1997-2012. Blackboard Inc. All rights reserved. Blackboard, the Blackboard logo, BbWorld, Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Transact, Blackboard Connect, BlackboardMobile, Blackboard Collaborate, the Blackboard Outcomes System, Behind the Blackboard, and Connect-ED are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blackboard Inc. or itssubsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. Blackboard products may be covered by one or more of the following U.S. patents: 7,493,396, 7,558,853, 7,816,878.Blackboard Mobiletm Improving Recruitment In The Mobile World 8