First we had "the year of mobile" (2010, 2011 AND 2012, I believe) when marketers’ imaginations ran wild at the potential of mobile and started to predict when it would become the preeminent online channel.

Then we had "mobile first", when they decided we had to be designing experiences first for mobile, then adapting them for desktop.

Then came "not mobile first, just mobile", when we realised that mobile first was, frankly, rather a nonsense.    

So where are we now?

"Just mobile" doesn't quite seem to cut it when we consider the entire customer or candidate life cycle, but where does mobile stand when it comes to designing and implementing in the marketing space? Is that the right place for it to be? And, most importantly, what can we take from that into recruitment?

For years, marketers have struggled to identify the best way to harness mobile. Now, just as the industry seems to have settled on a series of best practices with responsive design, the goal posts seem to have shifted as mobile enters the fastest period of evolution since the iPhone was launched in 2007.

Mobile: A strategic point of view

Currently, a trend towards responsive design has lead us towards a thinking based on taking a website and making it smaller and repackaging it to ensure that desktop features can be accessed across the full range of devices.

While this ensures the functional presence of a website across all of a user's devices, it doesn't take account of the features that make mobile a powerful channel in its own right and does not constitute a mobile strategy which looks to understand where mobile fits and how it can add value as a channel in its own right. It all feels rather like mobile is being "dealt with" rather than embraced from a strategic point of view. 

Until we account for the fact that mobile can offer something different to a desktop and, more importantly, that users now make a conscious choice to browse on mobile, rather than their hand being forced by location, we will continue failing to make the most of it as a platform.
This leads to idea that the next iteration of mobile design and planning needs should account for designing single experiences tailored to each channel. These need to combine to form a unified digital proposition. (We can work out a catchier strapline later on.) 

It doesn't need to be now, and it doesn't need to be universal, but it needs to be on the whiteboard, with the rest of the post sits.

Business and mobile

A look at the product marketing industry shows us that brands and businesses that have been successful in mobile adoption are using it as a channel distinct from desktop. Not only that, but they are tailoring their propositions around the benefits that it offers too.

Take the banking industry as an example, where the ability to develop the most convenient mobile app is currently dictating the market and playing a large part in the rise of "fintech". Why? Because the connection between device and user allows for a simplicity of experience that a desktop never can.

In an industry where customer engagement and customer service are so famously fraught, mobile offers a go between from business to consumer that makes the process as smooth as possible.
There is 

a wider issue here: a common theme across our industry about the learnings we take from the consumer marketing field and the influence that it has on the way people are interacting with technology.

What we are seeing, and will continue to see, is a fundamental shift in the way users engage with their mobile device and the trust that they place in it. All driven by the service they are provided with from the consumer industry.

Understand the mind-set

This is not to say that we suddenly need to revert to building standalone mobile websites as distinct propositions from desktop careers sites. But, we do need to understand the mind-set of the user more clearly.

In simple terms, we don't just use mobiles because we are "on the go" any more. We use them because they offer a simplicity and immediacy that a desktop cannot. However, this doesn't mean that we should be filling the homepage of our mobile site with jobs simply because this is the quickest route to conversion, it means we need to be thinking, in detail, about where mobile sits in our candidate life cycle. We need to ask how we can be tailoring the specific features of the platform and start using mobile as a channel in its own right to enhance our ability to connect with the candidate.

Becoming unique

This is where it becomes important to consider how we are approaching our role as recruitment marketers. The preeminent challenge we face is how to cut through the cluttered content space online, to make our employer brand heard. This essentially comes down to looking at how we are presenting particular information to those who we need to see it. This is, fairly obviously, a traditional marketing challenge. But from a recruitment point of view we also need to think about our own unique brand of conversion. The application.

“Unique” is a key word here, unlike our cousins in the consumer space, a large part of our work is around conversion optimisation and ensuring that the right people are applying for the right jobs. This will often mean reducing the number of applications coming through. This means that the importance of making the right connection, with the right candidate is even greater, requiring an even more tailored solution. But how do we ensure that the right candidates are getting the information we want them to have?


The answer is through value. The same solution as the bank trying to simplify their processes for customers.

We need to cut through online noise with a proposition which goes some way to answering their questions and enhancing their experience. To do this we need to understand how best to present them with the information that they need to make the decision that we want them to. How we do that depends on how we are looking to move users gradually through each particular stage of the recruitment marketing candidate funnel, meaning our digital experience needs to be set up to add value at every stage.

Where mobile sits in the lifecycle will change from business to business and audience to audience but that doesn't mean we can't be planning for it.  In a world where the 1% changes we make to our attraction strategy can have major implications for the user journey and the ability of candidates to get the information they need in order to make the decision we want them to. 

To do that, there is an argument that brands should ensure each touch point delivers a tailored experience, not simply from a visual point of view, but as part of a value proposition. Like the bank, did desktop banking work OK? Of course it did, in fact it revolutionised the way the banking industry worked far more than mobile ever could. But, mobile offers certain features which make the experience even slicker, it adds user value as a channel in its own right, not just because you can take the desktop experience and make it smaller. 
Personalisation: Manage all of your accounts behind one simple 4-digit login.
Mobility: Manage them anywhere.

Simplicity: Manage them without opening a browser window, or login on.
The industry has begun to recognise that when a user becomes mobile, their needs become very different.

Planning for mobility is key.

Google Analytics

So how do we go about adding value to candidates? A quick look at Google analytics shows me that 35% of all traffic to AIA careers sites comes from a mobile device, this ranges from around 55% through to around 15% depending on the audience. But it is still a significant segment of an audience for whom the user journey could perhaps be optimised further through specific, strategic mobile planning. The need for such planning becomes clearer without need to dive too much deeper in to the data.

The percentage of users visiting our sites for the first time is 43% higher on a desktop, suggesting mobile plays a distinct role in the enhancement of brand perceptions for a significant proportion of candidates, but is not, for most part, seen as a device by which a user wants to be introduced to a brand.

In addition, session duration is 35% higher on a desktop that on a mobile device, meaning that we have much less time to get the right information in front of people. Furthermore, just 46% of our mobile users are using the keyword search bars versus 82% on a desktop.  On their own these statistics aren't ground-breaking, what they show us is that we are dealing not only with a different audience - different people, but with people using our sites in fundamentally different ways.

Mobile experience

Our mobile experience should reflect that. That might be leading with a piece of short form content about roles in their particular location, or making data capture a priority so that we can get back to them when they have more time to browse. Perhaps they have passed a store, or seen some outdoor advertising and have questions? Lead with FAQs, or even better, design an experience which allows them to quickly "ask us a question".

This is a simple, generic example but it shows the value that mobile should add and could extend to solutions as complex as using a candidate’s proximity and browsing history to deliver a completely tailored experience across each device on which they access a careers site.

The idea is that by using mobile to its fullest, we elongate the opportunity we have to add value to a candidate’s job search in the timeliest and most convenient manner, we are taking less of a gamble with our user experience. There's never going to be a hard and fast rule as to how this works, it is, fundamentally, another element of your content distribution strategy.

It will always be about drilling down in to the data and understanding not just your users’ behaviours but also the action you want from them on mobile. Is it brand awareness? Content consumption?  Application? Etc...  

As with any other element of content delivery, this means your mobile strategy needs to be iterative, and fluid to meet the changing demands of the user. It's from here that the problem probably arose in the first place, we can't plan for everything, so we end up planning for nothing rather than looking at how we can make small improvements. 

Brands that truly manage to cut through the cluttered content space, and guide their candidates through each stage of recruitment marketing inbound funnel effectively, will be those who use all of the tools open to them to ensure that their content reaches candidates at the right time and in the right format.

Be there, be useful and be quick

To truly do this, simple responsive web design is insufficient as a mobile strategy.

As marketers and strategists, we need to ensure we are providing the data and insight that inform how we should be presenting candidates with information at particular stages of their lifecycle. We need to be able to show we can feed this in to design and planning to ensure that we produce mobile solutions that allow us to do just that as efficiently as possible. Whilst also creating strategies that account for the users’ decision to choose mobile, and design for mobility. 

Our proposition to candidates should be, to coin Google's mantra, be there, be useful and be quick. Distinct mobile experiences have the potential to ensure that we cover each of these bases.

Digital Strategist

As a Digital Strategist at AIA Worldwide, Stuart is responsible for developing clients’ digital footprint and identifying opportunities for use of digital innovation as part of their overarching talent resourcing strategy. Stuart has been with AIA for three and a half years, and brings with him a wealth of experience in digital marketing, content strategy, UX, SEM and social media strategy. Stuart focuses on creating optimised candidate experiences that drive engagement and inspire candidates to take action.