Background

The UNLV Alumni mobile app was awarded the PRSA Pinnacle Award in Interactive Communications and the CASE District VII Silver Award for Alumni Relations in 2012.

The UNLV Alumni Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1964 serving more than 120,000 alumni across the U.S. Its purpose is to engage alumni in the life of the university and build goodwill among UNLV’s alumni and friends.

Research

Informal primary research (focus groups, individual interviews) conducted by the association’s marketing firm – R+W Partners – revealed alumni dissatisfaction and disengagement with the university and reports that they did not know how to be more involved. A formal primary survey was sent via e-mail to all alumni to gauge the level of satisfaction and interest in membership in the association. A similar survey was sent via e-mail to “dues-paying” members. The survey revealed 33% of general alumni reported being knowledgeable about the Alumni Association’s programs and services, while members reported an overall satisfaction rate of 66%.

Great app. Easy to find member benefits and never have to worry about forgetting my membership card again.

PGH_native, Reviewer - Apple Store

Planning

The overall strategy of the mobile app was to provide a new and trendy method of interacting with our alumni in ways that benefited them. Planning began Sept. 2011. Bouchard worked with an advertising firm, the app developer – Mindgrub, and database administrator to develop the concept. This app was one of the very first in the country to be developed by an alumni association.

Features for the mobile app were selected from a few key factors:

  • Ease of interaction of current interactive online features (for example – the alumni website allowed users to login and directly interact with their record)
  • Support of the Alumni Association’s membership program
  • Support of the Alumni Association’s events program
  • Feedback from alumni

Objectives of the UNLV Alumni Mobile App were to:

  • Communicate that the association had turned over a new leaf and had modernized
  • Inform alumni of the association’s benefit features
  • Provide event/activity information and provide a method to get more engaged
  • The project goal was to have 5,000 downloads of the mobile and engage 300 individuals every week from within the app

Audience

  • General alumni (90,000+ at the time of launch)
  • Alumni who were UNLVIP members (2,500+)

Implementation

After nine months of development and testing, the mobile app was launched Nov. 2012. Alumni were invited to download the app with the following tactics:

  • Series of e-blasts announcing the mobile app
  • Print newsletter advertisement
  • Billboard at a prominent location near McCarran International Airport
  • Advertisement in Desert Companion, a widely read magazine of KNPR Public Radio Station
  • Online advertisements with Greenspun Media Group on their websites for the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Weekly, VEGAS INC, Vegas3Go, and more
  • Signage at events
  • Discounted event registration with member e-card presented at check-in

In the app, the association engaged alumni in the following ways:

  • Push notifications with an action prompt such as “Sign up today for the Homecoming Dinner. Tickets going fast!”
  • Detailed information regarding membership benefits
  • Map of membership benefits and ability to navigate the user to that location
  • Display member e-card and photo
  • Update profile and address information
  • View events calendar and add to calendar
  • Search the alumni directory
  • Join or renew membership
  • Search or submit class notes
  • View Twitter feed and retweet
  • Listen to the UNLV fight song
  • Learn more about membership
  • View/post jobs and resumes
  • Contact the association

Evaluation

Nine months after the initial launch of the mobile app, alumni and members surveyed using the same instrument from before the launch of the mobile app. Alumni reported growth in knowledge of the Alumni Association’s programs and services and members reported an increase in satisfaction.

The association also saw an increase in members by 13% over the first nine months. Event registrations and attendance also increased by roughly 15%. The mobile app was downloaded more than 6,000 times and engaged an average of 500 individuals every week.

Anecdotally, their offices received many positive comments regarding the mobile app. Members frequently use their member e-card at events. Content within the app was updated regularly so that it keeps current with the association’s programs.

In addition, the association’s increased presence in the community with billboards, print and web advertisements, and print communication. Campus administration speaks proudly of the mobile app and the change in access to more information about the association, the university, and alumni.

UNLV received messages from other universities such as UCLA and UPenn to share best practices and reports that industry leaders hold the UNLV Alumni mobile app as a model of a well-developed, full-featured app and a great example for other associations to follow.

The mobile app was completely rebuilt in 2018 on the Essenza’s MobileUp platform and relaunched. Download the current UNLV Alumni mobile app.