December 08, 2003

Recruiting an Army of One to One

Nice article on Army recruiters and datamining recruits.

Recruiting an Army of One to One

Uncle Sam has been busy lately. A renewed sense of patriotism, along with a $200,000 multimedia-advertising budget, resulted in more than 730,000 enlistment leads for the U.S. Army in 2002. This is great news for the armed forces, but created a challenge in how to turn those leads into actual soldiers.

The U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) recruits about 120,000 soldiers annually into the Army and the Army Reserve. It staffs approximately 6,400 recruiters in about 1,600 offices in the U.S. and overseas. Recruiters are assigned leads based on their geographic proximity to a candidate. They didn't know who would be most likely to enlist, however, so they had to sift through all leads with the same amount of effort. With such a large lead list, they ran the risk of not contacting those more likely to enlist. To streamline time and resources, the recruiting office prioritized its list by mining its database to determine the quality of each lead. The staff could then contact the most valuable leads first.

According to Major Tom Liuzzo, who spearheaded the project, when prospects respond to Army advertising, the information they provide is stored in a central database. This data includes a candidate's age, gender and the form of media that led him or her to respond (television ad, Internet, etc.). Using data mining tools from SPSS (which competes with SAS and Oracle), the USAREC analyzes the lead data to discern who are the best prospects, and contacts them first. A combination of certain attributes will make a person more likely to enlist, says Captain Tom Bartow, who also worked on the project.

Uncovering key selling points
While data mining assists in streamlining the recruitment process, the USAREC is also examining how these candidates become recruiting prospects in the first place. The group analyzes the media that drive prospects to its Web site as well as where they navigate once they arrive. It also studies which Web pages are most popular and how long users visit each page. "Armed with that information, we can focus our efforts on certain pages we know people are going to frequent more than others and have key advertising there," says Bartow. "Ultimately what we want to have them do is fill out a business reply card, become leads and ultimately contract [to enlist]."

So far, Liuzzo says the program has drastically improved operations. "For every 100 leads we used to get, we would have to work all 100 to get four [enlistment] contracts," he says. "Now we have to work 20 to get three." In addition, operational efficiency is improved. "We have significantly reduced the workload of the recruiter," adds Bartow. "He still has a responsibility to contact all the leads, but now he can prioritize based on the information he has: Which ones are most likely to contract and he can shift his effort accordingly."

Because of the success of the most valuable recruit program, USAREC is planning to expand its focus to direct mail campaigns to communicate more effectively with most valuable prospects. This is especially important since the department receives most recruitment leads through direct mail efforts.

Enterprise-wide improvements
Improved efficiencies also help the Army in other facets of operation, such as combat. "We're always looking for ways to gain efficiencies and send recruiters back to the field," says Liuzzo. "Every soldier or officer we take out to be a recruiter is somebody we don't have available to defend on the front lines if called for."

Recruiting an Army of One to One

Posted by Craig at December 8, 2003 07:00 PM