Many practitioners, “industry experts,” and vendors believe that recruiters need to think more like marketers, and nowhere is this more critical than when emailing passive candidates who may not even be seeking new jobs.
Happily employed passive talent generally isn’t paying attention to the work your organization is doing or why your job opportunity might be great for their career. That’s exactly why you need to think about your outreach to these people the way marketers think about reaching out to potential customers. For example, little tweaks to the way you approach these candidates can make a big difference when it comes to gaining the attention of top passive talent and convincing them to open and respond to your mails.
Here are actionable outreach tips from 10 all-star email marketers on how recruiters and hiring managers can increase response rates and scale their recruiting email marketing programs.
- Test Subject Lines
“Consider this,” says NOTICE. agency founder Nicholas Kinports, who has worked with brands like Porsche, Red Bull, and SAP. “Most emails today are opened on mobile devices, meaning a recruiter has 30-45 characters to break through [to a candidate.]. Overcoming such a massive challenge requires both creativity and a data-driven approach. Recruiters should consider writing several subject line types and then testing each for days or weeks at a time to understand which generates a better response. Newer innovations like using emojis in subject lines may also help emails stand out.”
- Balance Scale & Personalization
“Marketers know that to drive the right amount of pipeline/business, there has to be the right balance between scale and personalization,” said Adena DeMonte, head of marketing for Reflektive, the agile performance management platform. “Tools like Outreach enable marketing and sales professionals to reach a large number of prospects with semi-personalized emails, and I can see this being equally effective in recruiting. Additionally, drip campaigns that target a prospect with a series of emails over the course of a few weeks are more effective then a one-time touch, as long as they provide relevant information each time. If you’re recruiting for a specific company, each email can focus on a different exciting aspect of the business, always closing with the ask for a brief phone call. In many ways recruiting and B2B marketing are alike – you must entice the prospect or potential candidate enough to get them on the phone.”
- Ask a Question
“Public relations is heavily based on pitching to passive and unresponsive media professionals, and the tactic that I’ve gotten the highest return on is asking a simple question,” said Nicole Silver, PR & digital marketing specialist at TrustedPros, a source for finding and hiring contractors for home improvement projects. “No fancy stories, no lengthy informative paragraphs – just a simple question: Would you be interested in X? This question should always be followed by an explanation of why it’s important for them to know about your brand. My response rate has been about 70%, which is huge, given that it used to be roughly 5%. The issue is that people lose sight of simple communication. Ask people if they are interested! Anything less is dehumanizing, and the reader is sure to skip over it.”
- Write Shorter Emails
Keep emails shorter, said Ishveen Anand, recognized Forbes 30 under 30 influencer and founder of the sport sponsorship marketplace OpenSponsorship. “Many of the emails I get are way too long to consume in the two seconds that I spend reading over cold correspondence [mails from people or companies I haven’t had contact with before].”
- Accurately Represent the Sender’s Identity and Objective
“Use your name as the sender of the email; don’t use email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Isaac Hammelburger, former recruiter and current senior SEM strategist at the marketing agency Webb Mason. “Be short and to the point. Don’t be ambiguous in your emails. Give the receiver a sense of urgency. Let them know that the offer is time sensitive and they need to take action.”
- Always Be Striving to Improve Timeliness and Relevance
“The keys to email marketing, whether it’s for promotion, engagement and retention, or recruiting, are timeliness and relevance,” said Adam Davis, the CMO of ThingThing, who has more than 17 years of experience in email marketing.
In addition, Davis said, be sure to do your research on LinkedIn. If a potential candidate just got promoted or recently started somewhere new, they are probably not looking for a change right now. Alternatively, if a candidate has been in the same role for a few years now without advancing, the timing could be perfect.
“In the case of recruiting,” Davis continued. “I’d say the real winner, though, is relevance. Even if the person isn’t looking right now, the perfect job opportunity will grab their attention. So make sure it’s relevant to their interests. I receive countless offers from recruiters for more junior roles, offering half my salary or having a very narrow focus area. People want to grow and advance. Take into account where they are in their career and what their path looks like. Is what you have to offer a logical next step for them? If not, don’t send it.”
- Personalize Their Career Path
“Recruiters should make sure to craft personalized emails that reflect the recipient’s experience and likely next career move,” said Erika Heald, chief content officer for Arment Dietrich, Inc., a public relations and communications firm. “If you send an email that gets the person’s name wrong or is pitching them a job they progressed beyond five years ago, you’ve just lost a potentially valuable candidate and referral resource. Also, make sure the email is focused on the candidate. What’s in it for them? Why should they take the time to chat with you versus someone else?”
- Understand the Role of Email as Part of Your Broader Recruitment Marketing Strategy
“Recruiting is like most marketing avenues,” said Mike McRitchie, independent career and small business strategist. “You can mine boatloads of prospects, but when it comes to a specific position you’re trying to fill, available candidates who fit the profile who are actively looking for work are a tough match.”
McRitchie says that the key to building relationships with promising candidates is to connect with them on a regular basis so that you are on their radar. This will serve you both when you have a promising opportunity, or when they are ready to start looking for a new role. He recommends using an email marketing services such as aWeber or Constant Contact may be the right fit when coupled with engaging content. Content can include industry highlights, insider tips, and upcoming opportunities.
“It shouldn’t be a boilerplate newsletter that they look at and just click past,” McRitchie said. “It should be written by you and show off your personality. That way they’re looking forward to it in their email box. And if they look forward to your emails then they are also likely to think of you when they’re ready to make that next job change. That is how you get the best of the best and set yourself apart from the average recruiter.”
- Don’t Assume – Use Data to Dictate Messaging
Advising subscribers on positions that are relevant to their expertise is crucial, according to Chris Byrne, CEO of SensorPro, the digital marketing automation platform used by the NFL, WD40, IHG and several recruiting firms.
Messages that are evidence-based get better results, Byrne said. Asking yourself what evidence you have to support your thinking about your marketing strategy is a great way to challenge, learn and then tailor your campaign.
“For example,” Byrne continued, “a large corporate client of one of our recruiters loved this idea and decided to challenge the populist thinking within the firm that a free gym membership was the top job perk [for candidates]. They used the integrated survey platform to gather actual evidence from subscribers and then messaged them with the email marketing tool. They deployed a dynamic message tuned to how they were thinking. Turns out some of that populist thinking was true, but not universally. Many valued flexible PTO over a gym membership, so the company changed the messaging to reflect what these folks were thinking, which resulted in an uptick in quality applicants.”
Also, Byrne believes that recruiters should make sure their emails are responsive. “It’s very likely that the email will be opened on an iPhone so designing the email so that it works regardless of device is no longer important, it’s the first thing they need to take care of.”
- Consider Implementing a Retargeting Program
“Many recruiters I know already do a reasonably good job of driving traffic to their website’s job listings, but one thing I have not seen any of them do yet is to employ retargeting or remarketing tactics to pursue candidates who left their site,” said Jeff Kear, chief marketing officer of Planning Pod, an online startup that provides event management software. Previously Kear ran his own marketing agency in Denver for a decade, working with recruiters to help them with their marketing.
“Retargeting and remarketing are used by tons of companies to keep their brand, products and services in front of traffic that has bounced from their website,” Kear said. “It is extremely effective in driving customers back to the site to take action. Most jobseekers who first visit a site may not be ready to apply or may have just been browsing, so using retargeting ads to pull them back to the site to apply can be a very effective tactic in recapturing that traffic and those applicants.”
Inciting the right person to express interest in your opportunities at the right time is a marketing challenge. By following these tips you can scale – and improve the efficiency of – your recruiting email outreach campaigns.
Have any processes you’d like to add? Tweet @MightyRecruiter and we’ll consider adding your expertise to the article.
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