To build a force ready for complex, multi-domain threats, the military needs to connect with 17- to 24-year-old digital natives. Research from Glassdoor finds 79 percent of job seekers are likely to use social media in their next job search.

These jobseekers increasingly expect a purpose-driven, personalized experience, which means the military needs to be ready to engage recruits in wide-ranging, yet meaningful ways.

Ten months ago, I retired from the Navy after serving as a recruiter and a director for onboarding. Now, I serve as a test engineer at Accenture Federal Services. Here’s what I’ve learned about marketing and advertising that I wish I knew before I transitioned from the service.

  1. Look for a marketing and advertising partner focused on human-centric insights

Finding the right marketing and advertising partner is the first step in moving military recruiting into a modernized posture, ensuring it meets mission while enabling front-line recruiters to do their best work consistently and cost-effectively.

The best marketing agencies are continuously mastering marketing technologies. But at the end of the day, campaigns need to resonate with human experiences. Only certain agencies successfully bring out the human side in marketing.

Agencies that succeed at human-centered marketing know that it often requires data-driven insights. For example, Harry Román-Torres, Head of Strategy for Droga5, recently acquired by Accenture, used data to develop multi-channel, personalized journeys for pain-relief brand Biofreeze.

According to Adweek, the company “utilized data … to deliver exercise-specific content—such as running-focused ads for those who had just completed a jog—and target [customers] 24 hours after their workout in a campaign centered around delayed onset muscle soreness.” The campaign earned Droga5 a 2020 Media Plan of the Year award for “Best Use of Insights.”

The military can get the most out of an agency by engaging in ways where the marketing agency may gather human-centered insights that drive real behavioral changes for customers and recruits.

  1. Foster an analytics-driven mindset to collaborate and drive results 

Collaboration and transparency build trust between a recruiting organization and its agency partner. Data-driven decision-making strengthens the partnership, speeding the time it takes to find the most cost-effective ways to hire the right force.

When I was a recruiter, I remember being asked to set up a billboard for an outreach campaign. I thought to myself, “I’m a recruiter – doesn’t someone else have the expertise to do this, right?"

To effectively collaborate, recruiters and marketers need data and analytics to craft authentic brand experiences that resonate with target audiences. Analytics reveals the motivators of high-value recruits who possess the highest likelihood to join.

When I was recruiting, analyzing data used to take months. And by the time data arrived in reports, it already had aged. Now, real-time dashboards and reports, from data and analytics and AI, surface human-centered insights faster.

For a continuously shifting market, recruiters and marketers utilizing data have better capability to predict:

  • Propensity-to-enlist (for specific geographics, locations, and populations)
  • Potential hires for specific roles
  • Factors that strengthen diversity

Emerging technologies can streamline the data “handoffs” between the recruitment and marketing teams. I remember placing warm to hot leads from my recruiting events into a marketing database only to see them go stale. Platform tools, AI, and process automation trigger real-time notifications, recommendations, and workflows that unite marketers and recruiters in delivering a seamless recruitment experience.

In-depth data elevates recruiting efforts. Without the right data, recruiters and marketers cannot engage in substantive discourse and truly understand all the factors that influence the recruiting cycle.

  1. Use data to orient goals and optimize strategic decisions 

Recruiting organizations and their agency partners should use data to orient their strategic decisions, priorities, and progress towards goals.

When I served as a recruiter, I had very little direct contact with the marketing team, and only partial glimpses into how plans actually played out.

Marketing partners need to be willing to share their data to truly unpack campaign performance. Marketers can use data to build profiles of successful campaigns – blueprints for cultivating high-quality leads and experiences that attract top talent. CRM tools, like Salesforce, illuminate what campaign and recruiting activities are working.

Data and analytics also help optimize operations, answering questions like:

  • How many appointments lead to interviews?
  • how many interviews lead to qualified interviews?
  • How many marketing touchpoints end in a signed contract?
Accelerating recruitment marketing success

Human-centered insights enable agencies to invest in and connect with the recruits they need. Analytics then ultimately protects return on investment.

For instance, a division chief petty officer may have metrics that indicate an outreach effort is underperforming. Closer inspection, however, may show the campaign is actually successful in a specific geography or with certain demographics.

My recent experience has shown me that applying human-centered insights to campaigns can increase lead validity. When recruiters and marketers feel more engaged in each other’s activities the true magic happens. The best and the brightest who have the propensity to serve are able to find their calling.

Alex Zimmerle Jr.

Associate, Accenture Federal Services – Salesforce Test Engineering

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