7 easy ways to get started in recruitment marketing

Last Updated: 19/08/2020

Talent teams often find it difficult to get marketing support; it’s part of the reason they spend so much on recruitment agencies.

But there’s a lot of marketing that your recruitment team can do on its own, without help from a specialist.

Marketing can seem like a dark art to the uninitiated, but actually, tools such as social platforms and CRMs are simple, highly intuitive, and often free to use.

Sometimes, marketing is simply a case of shifting your way of thinking, or adopting different KPIs.

This article explains out the seven easiest ways to get started in recruitment marketing, to bring professionals into your talent pipeline, and reduce your dependence on agency fees.

1. Conduct a persona mapping exercise for desired candidates

  •  Time: no fixed limit, but I’d suggest a breakout morning for 3-4 team members, and a further half-day for one person to organize and present your findings
  • Cost: £20 on coffee and pastries

A smart sway for recruiters to get into a marketing mindset is to conduct a persona mapping exercise.

Talent teams normally work with what marketers would call ‘segments’: very broad categories of people based on only one or two characteristics such as their core competency, or desired salary.

Personas help you target more accurately the people you really want to reach.

This article on Pyments.com gives a very succinct explanation of the difference between the two. In a nutshell: personas…

..get to the “why” behind the purchase.

They help you achieve this by zeroing in on narrower audience characteristics, based on preferences which might include things like:

  • desire to learn Python (a coding language)
  • seeking an employer who supports environmental or social causes
  • loves playing 5-a-side football after work.

Personas are better for talent, because candidates motivated solely by salary and competencies are, most likely, already in a recruiter’s database.

Personas, on the other hand, help you build an audience of professionals who are naturally interested in your employer brand values.

This will allow you to earn their attention before they start looking for work, and capture their data for your own recruitment CRM.

2. Share social media channels with marketing

  •  Time: a few minutes to set up; 1 hour a week ongoing
  • Cost: free, up to £80 per month

Your marketing team might say they don’t have time to help with recruitment – or, they may not want talent content getting in the way of their own campaigning.

These objections are understandable, but they should be easy to overcome.

For a marketing team that wants to retain control of their social media channels, a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite allows all scheduled content to be in one place.

There is a ‘message approvals’ function, to prevent individuals posting without the permission of a platform owner. But at £520 a month, this seems overkill.

Far simpler and cheaper to agree that recruitment content will be scheduled 48-72 hours in advance, say, so that the social media manager can curate the feed and move things around if need be. This should also promote dialogue and collaboration – a wise objective in any case.

You probably shouldn’t have multiple people sharing a single user profile on the free version of Hootsuite, as it’s not in the spirit of their terms of use.

But £80/month buys you up to 3 user profiles – a snip, given the importance of social media content in recruitment.

As recruitment expert Catherine Maskell said, during Chapter 2’s talent debate…

3. Survey your colleagues, and add new marketing channels

  •  Time: half-day surveying your colleagues; maintenance time variable, but could be as little as an hour a week
  • Cost: channel-dependent, but some are free

Whilst LinkedIn is the classic recruitment channel, the majority of professionals don’t use it. The platform only has 23% of all working age professionals signed up. Filter out the 1.7m users who work ‘staffing or recruiting’, and you’re left with a very narrow talent pool.

Another problem with LinkedIn is that many people only use it when they’re seeking a job.

If you want to nurture an audience of aspiring professionals, you need to the places they hang out online, and earn their attention with content that makes sense in that environment.

From Tinder to TikTok, there are dozens of social media platforms. There are also many non-social media channels, with particular audience characteristics that might tie in with your talent acquisition strategy.

To choose the right ones, survey your colleagues and ask where they spend their time online. Chances are, your ideal candidates are in the same places.

In one of our recent Talent-Ed podcasts, Tom Portingale, who heads up recruitment marketing at Nationwide, suggested that if you’re recruiting in a highly-specialised area such as…

‘…audit, or risk and compliance, then you might want to work with your media team to get coverage in the Chartered Institute of Auditor’s publication, or on their website’.

Granted, media placements take budget – albeit with good prospect of strong ROI.

But most social media feeds only take a few minutes to set up, and are free to use.

At least if you test and trial new channels, you can collect audience insights which might help make a case for budgets when needed.

4. Advertise to your customers

  •  Time: 4-5 days planning and data administration; approx. 1 day/month campaign management
  • Cost: dependent on budget but we’d suggest £500 as a trail campaign

Many people don’t know this, but you can upload email lists to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook/Instagram.

If the email address matches a social media account, you can then pay to serve ads to that user.

This isn’t as creepy as it sounds; rather than stalking the user round the internet, or spamming their inbox, they’ll simply see occasional ads crop up in their social feeds.

You only pay if they click. If they don’t click, LinkedIn has introduced safeguards to prevent individuals repeatedly seeing the same content.

Upfront investment with this option is high-ish.

Useful results emerge at the £500 mark for campaign budgets, and the ad platforms, whilst intuitive, take a bit of practice. You will also need to think about where the ad sends the customer; a custom landing page may not be a bad idea.

But the real value of this kind of marketing may not be in the short-term results, but in the discovery exercise.

Your marketing team should able to pull a list of data that has engaged with marketing three times, say, in the last year. You may even be able to zoom in closer – to education level, wealth, hobbies and interests. It depends on the nature of your business.

By advertising only to known audiences, that are already most invested in your brand, your upfront cost may be offset by the relative ease of pulling those people into your talent funnel.

Then, you can figure out who they are, add them to your recruitment database, and nurture them for free.

5. Tap into your hidden creative talent

  •  Time: a few minutes a day, ongoing
  • Cost: free

During our first Talent-Ed podcast, Collinson’s Corey Archard said that…

…for far too long we’ve given a lot of credence to high production value, where it’s been polished or over-produced. It just loses a little bit of that human connection.

No wonder, then, that many talent teams are now relying on their own employees to create employer branding content.

This lends a couple of advantages.

 

One: it’s practically free – so you won’t end up stuck in meetings to get started.

Two: it unhooks you from stock imagery. Most careers site imagery clearly communicates that this office has people sitting round tables, and little else. A socially-savvy employee, meanwhile, make take photos of some creative work they’re proud of, or at an after-work social event or 5-a-side game, or something funny.

Some businesses’ talent teams have done ‘social takeovers’ – owning the company’s channels for a week, for instance. How much effort you put into curating the content is up to you.

What’s important is that you don’t allow fear of a lack of control to impede you from making progress.

Granted: a socially-savvy employee might become de-facto face of your Instagram feed one week – and next week, jump ship for your nearest competitor. That doesn’t really matter.

Social content is there one day and forgotten the next. The long-term benefit will be in the impression of your company as one with an open culture, that celebrates talent and shows off what it’s got to offer. That will help you nurture your talent pipeline over time.

6. Run a marketing CRM in parallel to your ATS

  •  Time: 2-3 hours choosing a platform, half-day developer time, approx. 1 day data administration
  • Cost: often free to get started

Your ATS already claims it has a CRM function, but the CRM functionality of most talent software simply isn’t good enough for any marketing purposes.

Fortunately, running two systems in parallel is actually a tiny effort.

The average ATS system won’t have:

  • Forms – easy lead-generation forms which you can add to your website to capture user data
  • Chat – to allow site users to get quick answers, and also to capture their data
  • Lead tracking – so you know which marketing channel drove your user to make contact
  • Landing page functionality – so you can quickly add a new webpage if, say, you’re recruiting for a particular function or role.

These features sound technical, but they’re not.

They’re basic tools used by every modern marketer, and designed to be used with little or no development support (you may need 5-10 mins dev time to install the system, but once that’s done, you can manage it yourself).

Better yet, they’re often free.

Something like the free version of HubSpot will charge you for landing page functionality, but not for the other three features mentioned above.

It will also allow you to:

  • store up to 1,000 data
  • send segment your audience into different lists
  • track each data’s progress from a lead, to a prospect, to an employee
  • export and import data between the CRM and your other software
  • send 2,000 emails a month

Many employers will wish to market more than 1,000 professionals at a time, but if you’re just starting out, a free tool allows you to practice recruitment CRM with no investment, and see if you want to progress to something more advanced.

You might consider trialing this for only one skill set, one office location, or for a particular campaign. You can then nurture that small sample of data, alongside your existing strategy, and see what you can achieve.

This can run parallel to existing recruitment marketing software you already have in place, with no friction, so you shouldn’t need to have meetings internally to get started, or collaborate with any other department.

The data can also be easily imported/exported between your ATS and CRM; it would also be possible to set up an API connection so that data flows freely between them. Ask your developer to explain if you’re unsure, or ask a marketer to show you round their existing marketing CRM. They have their nuances, but most operate in similar ways.

Remember: talent pools may be nurtured months or years before a hire is made – or even before a role becomes available.

If you start using the right software now, by the time it’s time to hire, there’s a strong chance you’ll already know who the most engaged candidates are.

7. Reporting

  •  Time: around a half-day each month
  • Cost: free

Few professionals leap at the opportunity of more reporting, which is understandable.

But the reality is that talent acquisition, and recruitment marketing, run on different KPIs.

An aspiring professional may first engage with your employer brand over a year before they apply for a role – and end up making an application at zero direct cost to your business. That makes ‘cost per hire’ and ‘time to hire’ seem rather less useful.

To make additional reporting manageable and useful, you need to identify simple, but meaningful metrics to measure on a regular basis

Most marketing teams keep monthly rolling records of their site traffic (using Google Analytics), social media presences, and other channels. It’s possible your own marketers have an existing reporting framework which you can borrow or repurpose.

Over a year or two, trends will emerge, and you’ll become able to measure the impact of these marketing on KPIs such as cost/time to hire.

This should make it far easier to make a case internally for budget, and to decide whether to scale up, pare back, or redirect your recruitment marketing efforts.

You’ll become able make informed conclusions such as the relationship between increased social media content/traffic to your careers site, and numbers of inbound job applications.

I’d suggest allocating a few hours each month, to a deep-dive into all your marketing data, analyzing the shifting trends, and making sure every stakeholder in your talent team is kept up to date on progress.

It may take several months of reporting for clear trends to emerge, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll gather evidence of your surest pathways to success.

Beyond the brand

You often hear ‘employer branding’ used as a byword for recruitment marketing.

Really, branding is just the start; marketing is the process of getting that brand in front of the right people, and bringing them into your talent funnel.

Some marketing is expensive and complicated, but I hope this article has shown how much you can do with how little effort. The time needed to implement these measures would only add up to about 3 days a month ongoing (and perhaps 3 days in one-off setup processes).

A recruitment team of three to four people could probably absorb these efforts without hiring additional staff – if they’re dedicated enough to succeed. Since these steps are all free or extremely low-cost, there’s also no need to get caught up in internal sign-off procedures.

Nor does everything have to happen at once.

These efforts will be more productive if they’re all connected, but items 1-5 in this article can also confer standalone benefits.

The most important thing is to choose something which you can sustain over a 6-12 month trial, with reporting in place, and test whether it’s increasing the number of candidates in your talent funnel.

The importance of making these steps, now, cannot be underestimated.

Whilst you may currently be short on budget, your business still needs to acquire the talent needed to stay competitive and drive growth.

The easiest way to cut costs will be to reduce the use of recruitment agencies – but this is only possible if you can offset part of their service with an equally effective in-house operation.

Marketing isn’t a tap you can just switch on; it will take time to build an audience and enamour professionals to your employer brand.

The answer is to make simple, affordable steps, which can build brand awareness, capture data, help you discover a formula that works, and empower your talent team to recruit under its own steam.

About Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is the first talent advertising agency: empowering in-house talent teams to attract the best people, without dependence on agencies.

We:

  1. audit your social presence and career site, establish how effective it is, and present a detailed report how how to optimise and grow.
  2. attract the right people, with a content strategy tailored to your employee persona, and using the latest tech and marketing methodology to build talent pools around your employer brand.
  3. acquire the best candidates, by providing onsite support for your talent acquisition team.

With the right tools and strategy, we aim reduce your cost of talent to below 9.5%.

And by keeping it within your business, you gain the skills, know-how and tools needed to keep attracting the best talent to your employer brand.

Visit Chapter 2 to find out more.

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