Email Marketing Meets Recruiting at Farmers Insurance

Dec 30, 2014

secretary-338561_1280When it comes to acquiring quality candidates, working in an industry notorious for being dull doesn’t help your case. Although we beg to differ on the boring factor at Farmers Insurance, the outside industry perception can get between us and top talent. However, when you have agents who span 21 states and are looking to expand, this can’t slow you down.

Companies in industries like healthcare or accounting might be able to empathize with us: it’s tough to compete with the hot industries in today’s job market. To tackle this image hurdle, our recruiting department has focused efforts on reaching passive candidates, offering upward mobility, and the chance to accelerate career growth. Today, 71 percent of employees are on the job market and 35 percent of them change jobs every five years, so targeting talent before they’ve jumped ship is crucial.

Ending the Numbers Game

Reaching these passive candidates is easier said than done. Between tracking them down and engaging with them, it’s tough to move the needle when someone isn’t actively seeking a new position. To combat this, we’ve found inspiration in the unlikeliest of places: email marketing. While email outreach in recruiting isn’t exactly a secret, recruiters today seem to overlook its potential for fostering engagement.

We used to go about email recruiting all wrong with generic formats and blast messages and, needless to say, it didn’t work. We found it was impossible to get the attention of passive candidates, making meaningful conversations few and far between. Without paying each prospective hire the individual attention they deserved, our emails almost always stayed unopened and unresponded. Just like in marketing, generic emails can force recruiters to rely on a numbers game, sending out emails in bulk and crossing fingers — with little to no control over the responses.

Channeling Marketing Techniques

To shed our inefficient email process and start anew, we developed an entirely new strategy for recruiting by channeling the targeted email practices we’ve seen in the marketing industry. Now, our email outreach first and foremost prioritizes personalization. The secret: we use specific keywords and phrases to capture the attention of our readers. First, we spend time on industry keywords, ensuring that we’re referencing the job seeker’s current position, area of expertise, and potential opportunities at Farmers. Then, we move on to job transition phrases, detailing how (and why) exactly candidates can make the leap to insurance. Finally, if there’s an event-based hook, like the holidays or unique weather in the job seeker’s region, we’re careful to include references in our initial outreach notes.

Let’s say we’re going after a candidate, and his resume indicates that he works in finance and is passionate about football. With our improved strategy, we can tailor emails to both his industry and a real-life event, like Super Bowl weekend, and we can even insert anecdotes about our familiarity with his industry or the winners of the latest football game. This way, our recipients know that each email is crafted by hand, not by a machine — and, in our experience, they’re much more likely to respond. Why? There’s a real person on the other end of the chain, and that’s what successful recruiting requires.

Since adopting this new and improved strategy around email recruiting, we’ve seen a major improvement in the quality of candidates we’ve hired. While people are definitely familiar with spam email marketing, it’s the personal component of our outreach efforts that has yielded the most fruitful relationships. It takes a great deal of time, care, and effort to craft the perfect note, and sometimes, it won’t yield any results. But, so far, many of our candidates have expressed how much they appreciate a custom, personalized email while being targeted — and that’s something that keeps us striving for even more thoughtful recruiting practices. As our email-based strategy continues to bring in quality candidates, we’re proud to be building a team of dedicated employees who value engagement as much as we do.

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