Don’t Lose Your Prospects, Retarget Them

After spending thousands of dollars building a polished website, integrating it with all the leading social networks, and freshening it regularly with compelling content, it can be discouraging to see dozens, if not hundreds or, worse, thousands of visitors depart without submitting a resume or requesting client information.

E-commerce marketers are all too familiar with this phenomenon. Shopping cart abandonment is the window shopping of the Internet, prompting online sellers to spend countless hours and many dollars finessing landing pages and developing programs to convert more of these looky loos into buyers.

It’s no different on corporate career sites where a visitor will demonstrate interest by spending time clicking into two, three or more pages before leaving without submitting an application. Because they get so many applications anyway, corporate recruiters may be able to dismiss these employment voyeurs, believing, often mistakenly, that the candidate has selected out of the process.

For search and staffing firms, losing candidates or, especially, not getting a client inquiry, is a serious matter. As the hunt for talent gets harder, losing a potential candidate you’ve enticed to your site is disappointing. Losing a new client lead may well mean your competitor gets that business.

Fortunately, from the world of e-commerce, comes your second chance. Ad-retargeting lets you target your departed visitors with a message designed just for them. These programs are relatively inexpensive and effective. A comScore study found retargeting to be an especially effective method of driving visitors to a website; and not just incrementally, but by a dramatic 726%.

Conversion rates, other studies have found, increase by 10-30%; the average is 26%.

The program works by serving up ads to your former visitors according to rules you set. For instance, you may decide you want to reach only individuals who visited a certain number of pages or who visited only specific pages. The potential criteria for targeting can be quite extensive. You also need a compelling display ad that will get served up to your targeted individuals. And, of course, a budget, which can be as little as a few hundred dollars.

Because recruiters have only just begun using retargeting to reconnect with site visitors, most of the data about effectiveness comes from e-commerce marketing. The few recruiting-specific metrics that do exist are impressive, even if they do come from retargeting vendors: ReTargeter says IT trainer and staffing firm cPrime had a 60% increase in page views and an even greater increase in time spent on the site; another company saw nearly a three-fold increase in click-through rates from those ads. AdRoll, one of the largest retargeting firms, points to its own success in hiring more than 100 workers when it opened its Dublin office two years ago.

Don’t let the paucity of the data dissuade you. As CMO.com’s Senior & Strategic Editor Giselle Abramovich wrote, “There’s no question about it: Retargeted ads can influence conversion.”

What’s involved? AdRoll’s Lauren Vaccarello, vice president of marketing, explained that the process is simple enough that any recruitment agency owner can launch a program quickly.

  1. Start by placing a tag (code) on the relevant parts of your website. The retargeting marketer, in this case AdRoll, supplies the code.
  2. You segment your visitors, selecting to whom ads will be served. If you only tagged a single page on your site, then that becomes your audience segment.
  3. Next you track your conversions. If you consider completing a “Get More Information” form a conversion, i.e. a new client lead, then you would tag your “Thank You” page.
  4. You then create a campaign, set your ad spend, upload your creative, and your campaign is launched.

Facebook infographicOne of the more successful sites for a recruitment retargeting campaign is Facebook. Ever since the social network allowed advertisers to target their website visitors, marketers have flocked to the retargeting program. In May 2013, Facebook opened its News Feed to these retargeted ads, and the results have been nothing short of impressive.

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Facebook Exchange, or FBX as it is commonly called, has a click-through rate several times higher than retargeted ads on the web, and, because it’s a flat rate pricing, the cost per click is well below what the web offers.

AdRoll‘s analysis of the performance of News Feed ads shows they have a click-through-rate 21 times higher than a run of the web retargeting ad and cost 79% less per click. These ads, because they act like a user post in some ways, can become viral, at least to the original users FB friends, resulting, potentially, in a wealth of new referrals.

Google offers a retargeting (it calls it remarketing) program that is do-it-yourself. And Twitter is offering a retargeting program. It’s program is called Tailored Audiences.

What’s the downside to ad retargeting? Cost is always a factor. Then there’s the work. As simple as the vendors make them, you need to have a strategy not only to know who you want to target, but how to get them to return. Simply running an ad that says, essentially, please come back won’t cut it. Clients can be enticed back with whitepapers, insightful offers, testimonials, or similar inducements. Your strategy may also be more fundamental than trying to entice a lead. Branding and name awareness can be potent goals in themselves.

Developing the creative can also be a challenge, though most of the vendors will provide the service or at least a referral.

Finally, the biggest downside to ad retargeting, is that it won’t work for users on mobile devices. Yet.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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