Acquiring Lists for a Recruitment Email Marketing Campaign

For months now, we’ve been listening to the buzz surrounding email marketing as an advertising method. And while privacy advocates protest the endless spam that Internet users are inundated with daily, projections by Jupiter Media Metrix predict that spending on this advertising format will reach $9.6 billion in 2006. Email marketing has been both branded as a curse and praised as the next marketing revolution, allowing advertisers to instantly send messages to millions of potential customers at a relatively low cost. In a recent ERE article by Scott Weston, Permission Marketing for Recruiters: Building a Targeted List, Mr. Weston points out that the major benefit to recruiters of gaining permission to contact people by email is that it allows them to easily build and maintain relationships with potential candidates. Mr. Weston focuses on how to build your own database of contacts through the use of job agents, networking, and capturing information at hiring events. Using their databases, recruiters can then focus on developing relationships with these contacts through email communications. But another way recruiters can implement email marketing into their hiring strategy is to rent a list from a vendor. This tactic lets recruiters skip the step of gaining permission to contact potential candidates via email and move directly to establishing relationships with list members. Also, recruiters who have already begun to develop a database can rent lists as a way of adding to their current databases. By renting appropriate lists to execute email marketing campaigns, recruiters can target individuals based on experience, industry, and location. The key is to find quality lists that are tailored to your hiring needs. The result of doing thorough research and analysis upfront is that you’ll have more control over who receives your messages ó an attractive aspect, especially when you consider how many unqualified responses you receive through other means, such as job postings. Plus, what could be better than delivering your message directly to the desktops of professionals with the skills and qualifications that you’re seeking? With email marketing, you don’t have to hope that your target audience sees your classified advertisement in the newspaper or clicks through a banner advertisement to arrive at your corporate employment website. Tips for Choosing Appropriate Lists Here are several tips to help you develop a successful email campaign and reach your target audience:

  1. Determine if there’s an available email list that meets your hiring needs. There are numerous brokers out there who will try to sell you a list with hundreds of thousands of addresses. As most recruiters know, bigger isn’t necessarily better ó especially when you’re trying to reach people with particular skill sets and experience. Question vendors who try to sell you large lists but can’t provide specifics about the individuals in their databases. If the vendors don’t have demographic information about their subscription base available, then chances are their lists are not targeted or well-maintained and won’t have any impact on your recruitment efforts.
  2. Match filters to the goals of your campaign. Start by identifying an email list that’s specific to an industry or profession. Then, you can drill down further based on the filtering offered by the vendor. For example, once you’ve located a list that matches your target industry, find out if the list allows you to purchase only the email addresses of subscribers residing within the geographic location that you’re recruiting from.
  3. Review the list holder’s opt-in/opt-out policy. Most reputable list vendors establish their lists through opt-in, not opt-out, measures. The opt-in method requires that users subscribe voluntarily to the list. A confirmation is usually sent immediately following the subscriber’s initial request. Often, the subscriber then has to acknowledge the confirmation before being added to the list, a process that safeguards against accidental subscriptions or those made in error. The opt-out process, on the other hand, is a bit suspect and is currently being examined by lawmakers as infringing upon users’ privacy. In the opt-out process, email addresses are obtained by the vendor and added to the list without prior consent. Vendors get away with this, at least for now, because all communication they send includes directions for opting out, which makes it appear voluntary. This practice, however, is considered spamming by many. Avoid lists that are compiled in this fashion ó using them could even be detrimental to your organization’s reputation as an employer.
  4. Request samples of the messages users typically receive. You wouldn’t advertise in a trade journal if you weren’t familiar with the quality of the publication, so expect the same when you rent an email list. Ask the vendor to see several sample emails that subscribers have received recently. If you have any question about the quality or appropriateness of the sample messages, keep looking for other lists.

Sample Sources As mentioned earlier, you’re likely to have better success with lists managed by industry-specific publications and associations, rather than mass email list retailers. Often, publication and association lists are representative of the organization’s subscription base, a highly desirable audience usually comprised of passive job seekers. Additionally, these vendors tend to follow strict opt-in policies that ensure subscribers want to receive messages via email containing information and opportunities specific to their industry. For example:

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  • offers a Power E-mail program that includes state and specialty filtering options. The database has approximately 100,000 nurses who have registered with to receive messages about employment opportunities matching their skills and experience.
  • INFOCUS manages a list for the National Association of Social Workers. Like, the NASW allows advertisers to target recipients by state. Message content is not limited to employment ó users also receive messages regarding everything from books and educational opportunities to credit card and insurance offers. The association does review each message before it’s distributed and reserves the right to refuse any advertisement.
  • Some lists are so specialized that further targeting options are not necessary. For example, both the Indiana CPA Society and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs offer email lists that represent society members who have opted-in to receive messages related to professional and business opportunities. Like the NASW, these associations review all messages before approving the order.

Identifying sources for lists can be challenging. Keep in mind that some lists are maintained by an outside list management company, so information may not appear on the corresponding organization’s rate card or website. Often a quick call to the organization’s marketing department can provide you with the correct contact for renting an email list. You can also search for email list rental opportunities through SRDS Media Solutions Online by accessing its Direct Marketing List Source. The database provides information about all direct marketing opportunities and is searchable by location (domestic, Canadian, or international) and type. Following those selections, you can then choose to have only sources with email list opportunities returned. Developing Your Message Once you’ve obtained an email list appropriate for your target audience, you’ll need to develop a message that engages recipients and motivates them to respond to your announcement. You can use email to market an opening, a campus visit, or a hiring event, or even to provide information about your organization and ask for permission to send additional emails regarding future opportunities. To ensure success, don’t send a lengthy email that includes minute details. Most people skim email, accessing links for details once their interest has been captured. Instead, provide enough information to generate interest, and link users to your employment website for more information. Better yet, ask them to contact you for details. Finally, capitalize on one of email marketing’s best attributes ó its networking nature. Include copy that encourages users to send the message on to friends and colleagues who might also be interested in your announcement. While you’ll relinquish some control over who views your message, you’re more likely to benefit from the referrals, particularly if you’ve chosen your list and crafted your message carefully.

Kendra Van Nostran is the director of Peer Group US, a division of CKR Interactive that is devoted exclusively to employee communications research, employer value proposition development and employer brand consulting. She helps clients use primary and secondary research to solve a broad range of recruitment and retention issues.


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