Thoughts on creating a smarter class of software for alumni relations

Happy Birthday, CounterMarch!

We're celebrating a big milestone this week - our tenth birthday! Being in the business of alumni relations means I nurture a little nostalgic streak, so enjoy a little back story to preface what's up next for us.

Advancing the profession through sponsorships

Today's advancement professionals know that they have to keep learning in order to be the best they can possibly be. We're helping them do so by sponsoring two great educational programs.

Advancement Live webinar series

Advancement Live is a webinar series featuring important and current topics on advancement in higher ed. With a new set of faces each week and a lively exchange of ideas, you're sure to learn something new every week. Since launching in June 2013, advancement live has hosted conversations on crowdfunding, mobile giving, volunteer management, homecoming, young alumni, career services, and personal branding. Relevant, topical, and important -- and only an hour of your time.

We're proud to sponsor Advancement Live, which is on air most Tuesdays at 1pm Eastern time. Please join us!

CASE District II

Advancement professionals from the mid-Atlantic region gather annually to learn and share their expertise, case studies, and war stories. This conference is a valuable forum for idea exchange and networking, and leaves attendees even more energized when they head back to their respective campuses.

We are proud to announce that we're once again silver sponsors of this conference, providing a much-needed presentation library for attendees and speakers alike. We received many grateful email messages in response to this service last year and didn't hesitate a second to provide it this year.

In addition to our sponsorship, company founder Steve Rittler will be presenting jointly with two of our clients. Our friends at the University of Delaware (a staff member and alumna) will assist in a presentation on "Alumni Weekend through the eyes of an alum" - an experiential review of one of the key events in our annual cycle from initial contact to post-event survey as told by an alum who hasn't been back in a while. Our friends from the George Washington University will be heading up the talk "It's not about the app. It's about getting things done.", a presentation on project management, prioritization, and collaboration specifically with regard to mobile app projects. Both talks will reflect our expertise in both technology and alumni relations, and we hope you have the opportunity to attend.

A sincere thank you to the organizing committee for welcoming us on board for 2014.

Cornell Reunion 2013 Mobile Apps

Reunions and mobile apps are naturally complimentary, especially if the Reunion is large and the constituency diverse. Such was the case with Cornell Reunion 2013.

For the past two years Cornell had been using a mobile web "app" that had schedule information, maps, general content, and shuttle schedules - all the things you'd generally want at your fingertips. This year, the Reunion team wanted to take the next step and add a few things they thought would be helpful and interesting to make the app more useful and enjoyable, even maybe a little bit intriguing. Our primary objectives were twofold: better integrate the app with registration data and make sure it fits in with whatever is going on around the alum/user at the time.

So we started with a clean sheet, raided prior work for inspiration, piled on new ideas, and whittled it down to this:

  • all the stuff that was in there before
  • PLUS your personal schedule (pulled live from registration)
  • PLUS who's coming and who's here (also pulled live)
  • PLUS alerts and notifications
  • PLUS photo sharing
  • PLUS a combined social stream

Oh, and so we can prove that this was a wise investment, track everything! And because we're sticklers for casting a broad net, release the app for iPhone, iPod, iPad (both sizes), as many Android devices as we can, AND a mobile web client for everyone else.

The results far exceeded expectations. Cornell Reunion 2013 attracted roughly 6200 people, of whom 5400 were "eligible" app users (registered adult constituent).

The home screen features an announcement pod, the location and name of your next scheduled event, and a constantly-refreshing image rotator populated by Reunion attendees. You're one touch away from more event information or the camera - both useful and fun!
This is the kind of feedback we received :-)

Very cool! Why? It's user friendly, overall tastefully designed, efficient, and outstanding!!! I love it!

By the numbers

Statistic

Number

What does this indicate

App installs

1322

1050 (iOS)
272 (Android)

Installs (not necessarily logged-in/usage). Mobile web clients (obviously) not included.

iOS:Android

4:1

Cornellians <3 Apple.

Unique users

950

Number of people who used the app whether checked in or not.

Unique devices

1169

A count of hardware or browser environments ever logged in to the mobile app. Some people registered multiple devices.

Percent of adult attendees using the app

17.2%

5411 registered and checked in adults. 931 confirmed app users.

Photos shared

378

Loved this feature.

API Requests

225,506

Number of calls to the server from the mobile app.

Most frequent API request

/photos (83134)

Makes sense. We poll this on the home screen and on the photo gallery page.

Touches

39,887

A count of taps in the app. Basically every user interaction except exposing the navigation tray.

Most popular touch

My Schedule (5120)

More popular than the home screen 4136)

Holding true to what we've seen from every other event app release, folks didn't really start downloading it until they showed up:

Can I see more screenshots?

Of course! We posted a bunch (phone and tablet sizes) on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Sorry, but access to the app is restricted to Reunion attendees only. Ping Steve for a demo anytime!

What's up for Reunion 2014?

Great question! We're kicking around these ideas:

  • all the stuff that is in there now
  • PLUS LinkedIn integration (who says Reunion isn't also business time?)
  • PLUS Twitter integration (tweet from within the app)
  • PLUS contact info updates (why send them elsewhere?)
  • PLUS mapping integration (awesome top secret use case)
  • PLUS private messaging

A successful project always breeds more ideas - and we're excited to add more to this app so that future Reunion attendees get the most out of their campus experience.

Building a new GW Alumni mobile application

We are excited to announce that we have signed an agreement to build an integrated mobile application for alumni and friends of The George Washington University.

GW's new app will use our robust mobile core to drive a simple, user friendly utility designed to put the most useful and actionable content in the hands of GW's 250,000+ alumni. This app will ship in native form for the most popular platforms and also be made available as a mobile web app for all others. To support ongoing updates and program assessment, comprehensive administrative and reporting tools will be provided.

This app also takes on the challenging task of integrating with the alumni database in real time. By doing so, the app will provide the most up-to-date alumni directory, event calendar, and benefit information to the end user. We have a number of social features in mind to make the app useful and interactive whether you're back on campus or simply checking in from your couch. This certainly won't be a "launch it once and forget about it" app!

We're delighted to work with our newest client and look forward to rolling out the new app in time for Alumni Weekend, September 26-28 2013.