A Google search on “recruitment and marketing” produces 169 million results. The rising interest in marketing is fueled, in part, by the labor shortages we are experiencing in certain industries and in certain regions of the country, and the unemployment rate here in Minnesota is under 4 percent. The same old ways are no longer providing the talent pipelines they did during the recession and prior, leaving recruiters needing new approaches.
Beyond the labor market, this convergence may also be a result of the natural evolution of talent acquisition as the profession matures and seeks more effective ways to invest budgets. And, the availability of new technology is opening up new opportunities.
By and large, this is technology that marketers have been using for years and offers a whole new world for talent acquisition. The technology revolves around audience targeting — identifying and delivering messages to the most qualified and potentially receptive prospects — and there are a variety of tactics that are used to deploy the technology and connect with these audiences.
Call it stalker advertising, Big Brother, or what you will. Our movements/behaviors around the web are being tracked and recorded, and tell a lot about who we are: what sites we frequent, what keywords we are searching on, the kind of newsletters we receive, what we are buying, our household income, and if we have recently searched for red high-top Reeboks (anyone remember the 1980s?). In many cases this activity makes it clear what field/profession we are employed in.
Marketers use this information to deliver their ad campaigns to the most relevant audience who have the most likelihood of being interested in their proposition and becoming a customer. If you have been researching the Ford Fusion on the Web, you are not so much going to be targeted for Lexus and Infiniti ads. However, as you travel around the web, you may very likely be delivered ads for the Chevy Malibu, the Toyota Camry, or the Honda Accord.
Recruiters now have the same luxury. If someone is visiting sites like AccountingToday.com, the website of the National Society of Accountants, and Googling “CPA salary,” that person is, with a high degree of probability, an accountant. Employers can market to this audience — one that is exhibiting behaviors which gives clear signs they are your target market. The same holds true for engineers, Web developers, marketing managers, nurses, and many other professionals. In addition to the key behaviors that identify your desired audience, if you wish to require they are exhibiting job seeker behavior, you can do that. Or, you can target both audiences — active and passive — simultaneously.
Now that this information is available and accessible to employers, there are a number of tactics you can deploy to deliver audience targeted marketing campaigns.
Digital display (online banners) is one of the primary and most common tactics for targeting an audience. You can do this on individual websites (think large publishers and media companies — a USA Today or CNN for example) or across many websites via the “exchange.” The latter allows you to buy the audience and then deliver your message to those targets as they travel around hundreds of the top sites on the web. Your ad might reach your audience on espn.com, weatherchannel.com, yahoo.com, or WebMD.com. The site is secondary, the audience, primary.
Display advertising not only drives immediate traffic to your career site, but it has a secondary benefit — it drives candidates to you in the days following viewing of the ad. According to comScore: Display increases brand searches up to 38 percent after only four weeks of exposure.
Email marketing to those matching your talent profile is another tactic and a powerful one. Marketing managers, in large numbers, cite email as No. 1 for ROI. Email is the No. 1 activity on mobile and has the advantage of being accessible from any device. It’s also cited as the top method that consumers want to receive marketing messages they have interest in. And, a quality list can drive big numbers. Averages vary according to industry and other factors. Open rates range from 3 percent at the low end to 20-25 percent with the best-performing emails. If you send an email to 50,000 targets and your campaign gets a 10 percent open rate, it will be opened by 5 thousand recipients. If 15 percent of those take action (a common standard), that will land 750 interested candidates on your career site.
Search. The major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) also offer ways to deliver your ad to potential prospects through search engine marketing (SEM)/paid AdWords. The programs are not restricted to the obvious job seeker terms. While you can get your opportunities in front of active candidates, you can also deliver your ad against dozens, if not hundreds, of terms employed candidates are searching as part of their jobs and/or related to professional interest. For example, if someone is searching “CPA exam” or “nursing continuing education” you can deliver your ad against that search. It’s the same if someone searches the names of your competitors.
Kyle Harris, director of human resources at Village Automotive Group, recently launched a search engine marketing program for talent acquisition and is seeing a noticeable spike in web traffic and candidates. It launched a search program a month and a half ago, she says, and in that time it has driven over 375 prospects to its website. “We are noticing the uptick in traffic and are seeing more candidates than we have in some time,” Harris says.
Search Retargeting. This is a strong complement to SEM. While Google is the No. 1 site in the U.S. and world, only 4 percent of time spent on the Internet is on this site and the other search engines. These sites are used to go other places and you can be in those places when your audiences goes there. Search retargeting allows you to target people on the keywords they search and then reach them on the sites they are spending 96 percent of their time.
Other Marketer Tactics for Recruitment
Beyond the above, there are a few additional tactics that are commonplace among marketers but not yet prevalent in recruiting. Of greatest note are geo-fencing and dayparting.
Geo-fencing is a tactic that marketers have been using for years to reach potential customers near their store location. They set up a “fence,” a radius, within which they can deliver mobile display ads to smartphones and tablets. This allows them to reach an audience nearby that lives and/or works in the area and otherwise might now know they are so close to the web viewer. The ads are delivered within the most-visited sites on the web and within ad-enabled apps.
Recruiters can use geo-fencing to place their ads at and around workplaces — corporate campuses, bank branches, hospitals, etc. — or they can target schools and universities, even specific buildings on campus. This is a great opportunity to get a company’s brand and opportunities to a targeted location, even far-flung ones, and drive traffic to their career page.
Kelsey Lang, head of talent acquisition at Korn Ferry, used geo fencing at a previous employer. She was finding it challenging to attract talent, going up against some large companies close to a facility she was recruiting for. “The geo-fencing campaign,” she says, “made a noticeable impact and proved to make a difference when many of the other approaches I was trying were not.”
Dayparting is an advertising approach that delivers digital display ad campaigns on the web at strategic times. Restaurants, for example, employ dayparting to run their campaign prior to and around the lunch hour, and may do the same from, say, 4-6 p.m. to attract diners at a time when they are in decision mode (and perhaps hungry and more able to be influenced).
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There is something interesting about tablets: the time in the day they are most used is from 6-10 p.m. This makes sense as this is when a typical professional has leisure time compared to 2 p.m. when at work. This time is also a prime window to present career opportunities that they might explore when they would be unlikely to, or certainly not as thoroughly, during the course of their work day. Combine dayparting with audience targeting and you are not only getting the right audience but getting to them at the best time to get results.
A partner at a leading financial services company used dayparting when he was recruiting in a previous role at a Fortune 500 company.
He delivered campaigns between 6-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. “This tactic delivered very high view and response rates and delivered a steady stream of talent who otherwise may never have known about the opportunity,” he says.
As marketing and recruiting grow closer together, many, if not all, of these tactics will grow from being barely on the radar of recruiters to commonplace. As you look closer at audience targeting, talk with your marketing team if you have one. It may already be employing these approaches or otherwise be able to shed light on what could work for you. Another good resource will be the top media companies in your market — those who are working with hundreds of advertisers of all different varieties. They will likely already have a track record on most of these programs, if not for recruitment, for a number of other industries from which you can apply best practices.
In the final analysis, recruiters and marketers all want the same thing: getting the most relevant messages and opportunities to the most receptive and qualified audience who then take the most desired action.
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