A few days ago I was talking with a client who had, like most of us, spent a lot of time and money developing a recruiting website. She had put together a very functional site with up-to-date job listings and excellent information about the products and services the organization was delivering. The site had interactivity, an online profiler, and even offered some streaming audio content.
This is the kind of recruiting website that makes the reviews of good sites and attracts a lot of compliments. That’s how it came to my attention. Unfortunately, she could not provide any information about who was accessing the site or how they were using it. Increasingly, I see that recruiters have instituted a “half” website and have forgotten to include the other half, which is to track the statistics about the site that will give them feedback to make improvements.
More and more organizations are realizing that tracking the e-metrics around their recruiting site is what is critical to building a more effective site. E-metrics are the results of looking at the data about the visitors who come to your website. By examining the behavior of your visitors, you can fine-tune the site to keep candidates engaged longer, reading information, or navigating to other parts of the site where you can continuously market to them and “sell” them on the opportunities you have.
This is not really much different in concept from what we have been trying to do with print advertisements and direct (junk) mail. There are all sorts of tools, albeit crude compared to what can be done with the Internet, to track what happens to a piece of direct mail or an ad in a magazine. There are department codes to tell which magazine an ad came from and there are more subtle tools such as slightly different ads with different prices in alternate issues of the same magazine to see which price attracts more orders. Well-done recruiting ads also carried codes and we often asked candidates where they saw an advertisement for a position so we could place more ads in the same place.
E-metrics just makes this process very easy. Let’s take a look at some things you can learn from collecting e-metrics.
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At a basic level, whether you know it or not, you are collecting information about how many people are coming to your recruiting website every day and who they are. Your corporate servers are recording each “hit” and with it the Internet address of the person who accessed the site. If you have some tracking software, something almost every organization’s marketing or IT department has, you can analyze that traffic. You can collect information about which pages of the website are most frequently accessed and how long the average person stays on a particular page. You can see which job listings were actually looked at and which ones were bypassed. And, you can build a profile of the “typical” user of your site. With minimal effort, you can determine what industry they are in, what time they access the site, and whether they go just to a particular place or browse around. You can see what day of the week generates the most number of applicants and whether changing some basic information makes any difference to the number of responses you get. With this information you can, obviously, make many changes to the site that will enhance it and make it more attractive.
Knowing when traffic is at its height may make it easier to time when updates get posted to the site. You can even find software that monitors for particular web addresses (URLs) and then triggers a message to be sent whenever that URL is encountered. At a more sophisticated level, you can install a “cookie” on the site of the person who accesses your site so that you will recognize them when they return. By doing this you can direct them to things they have not seen or suggest opportunities to them based on what they looked at the last time they came to your site. Sites like MySpace, CYWorld, and Facebook follow their users’ every move. They track each section of the site for activity and modify the site daily. While this may be too much for a recruiting website, the idea of knowing what candidates do, when they do it, and for how long are important pieces of information. By tracking visitors, you can provide information and activities that will build relationships with potential candidates.
The downside is that this has to be done on a regular basis or little will be gained. With incremental changes, you can build a site that is incredibly effective.
Collecting and using this kind of information gives you a competitive advantage and yet also presents some potential ethical issues. Do you disclose that you are gathering this information? Do you send messages to candidates even if they haven’t asked you to send them anything? What is your responsibility to the candidate, if any, around their use of your website? I will write further about these issues in upcoming articles.