Integrating the Internet Into Your Recruitment Plan, Part 2

As discussed in Part 1 of this article series, the successful integration of the Internet into a recruitment marketing plan relies on two phases: planning and execution. Once you have completed the planning phase, it’s time for the execution phase, which includes tracking the success of your efforts, to begin. The execution of Internet marketing tactics includes three steps: 1) developing campaign components, 2) crafting your message specifically for the Internet and 3) tracking effectiveness. 1. Develop all of the components required for your Internet sourcing strategies. Let’s say you’ve chosen to incorporate the Internet into your employee referral program promotion plans. Possible components for this promotion include a mini website that details your ERP guidelines and hosts the forms necessary for participation, email updates sent to staff regarding who has participated in the program and what they’ve won, and an e-mail program that keeps potential candidates aware of your organization’s opportunities. You’ll probably need to work with your marketing and IT departments, or advertising agency, to create the mini website and develop the content of your email marketing program. If your recruitment marketing plan lists a banner campaign that will be used to drive traffic to your employment website, you’ll need to have the banner artwork created and determine which targeting filters you want to use for banner delivery. All of your Internet artwork should reflect the look and feel of the creative you’ve developed for other media campaigns. 2. Craft messages that are appropriate for the Internet. To effectively market your organization’s employer brand, extend the messages you convey through other media to the Internet. Consistency of message is key to strengthening your employer brand among potential candidates. You’ll achieve this by acknowledging how Internet communication differs from other media and crafting your messages based on this understanding so that they are effective in speaking to your audience. As most people are aware, Internet users are more apt to “skim” online information than to read every line. This is why the content of most Web pages is relatively short, relying on formats such as bulleted text to quickly convey important points of information. Make sure that any Web pages you create for your recruitment programs follow this format. If you have to present lengthy or detailed information, such as ERP regulations and policies, provide a link to a PDF file or Microsoft Word document. Email is similar, in that users have a tendency to skim the information quickly to determine if it’s a message that want or need to reply to. Develop email messages that are engaging, but to the point. If you have an employment opportunity to highlight, include information right away that would motivate the recipient to investigate the opportunity further. Emphasizing a unique benefit, such as flexible schedules, is a great way to grab the attention of potential candidates. Be sure to include copy that encourages recipients to forward the email on to friends or colleagues. This is among the most cost-effective ways to increase the reach of Internet communications. There’s another aspect of email usage that you’ll want to keep in mind when executing your campaign: Because of the high incidence of both spam and computer viruses spread via email, users are wary of receiving emails from unknown addresses. While it’s tempting to create generic email addresses, such as hiringinfo@xyzcompany.com, you may risk having a large percentage of recipients deleting your emails before they’ve even been read. To combat this effect, encourage your staff to participate in the distribution process as much as possible. An email message from a friend or colleague is far more likely to be read than one arriving from a general email address. If you have to distribute emails from a single address, have your IT department establish another personal address that varies slightly from your current address (kendra@davidgroup.com versus kvan@davidgroup.com, for instance). This will allow you to keep distribution messages separate from your regular email address, while still sending them from a personal address. 3. Track and measure the effectiveness of your online efforts. Tracking is one of the most important steps in your process. Not only will it help you evaluate the effectiveness of your online efforts, it will also lead directly back to your next planning phase. Use tracking data to fine-tune your programs and increase the amount of money you spend on the tactics that performed the best. Unless you have a sophisticated applicant tracking system in place, it may be a bit of a challenge to track how well your Internet recruitment efforts are faring. However, there is information that you can gather to help evaluate the effectiveness of your programs regardless. Vendors should provide impression and clickthrough rates for any banner campaigns and sponsorships that you’ve purchased. If their reports don’t include clickthrough percentages ó an indicator of the effectiveness of your creative ó simply divide the number of clickthroughs your creative received by the number of impressions delivered. Since most of your online efforts should be driving users to your employment site, your IT department or Internet Service Provider should have data regarding where employment site visitors are coming from. Gather this information in order to evaluate which sources delivered the most visitors to your site. Or, if you’ve hosted hiring events, make sure the surveys that attendees fill out include questions about how they heard about your company and if they’ve ever visited your employment website. Once you’ve compiled your tracking information, determine which Internet sources and strategies yielded the best results for your organization. Then, return to the planning phase armed with this data to revise your recruitment plans. Include those strategies that proved the most effective, as well as some online recruitment methods that you haven’t yet tried, and start the cycle over again. With each cycle you should be able to successively increase your online exposure and better reach your target audience. That, after all, is the promise of a comprehensive recruitment plan that has successfully integrated the Internet.

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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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