What’s next for recruitment marketing? Think ‘data.’

Michael Drayer
March 21 ․ 10 min read

We are at an interesting crossroads for recruitment marketing (and all digital marketing, for that matter), with fresh approaches to proven tactics and strategies rising among talent teams, powered by deep data insights, automation, and amazing creative. The future of recruitment marketing will be marked by significant growth, genuine curiosity, and a more integrated strategy that encompasses the entire talent journey.

Throughout the talent funnel, we are seeing a notable evolution in data-driven media strategy. Recruitment marketing-savvy companies understand it’s not just a question of one channel or tactic, but rather a true ad tech approach that leverages omnichannel data to drive desired outcomes. Talent acquisition teams that understand this — as well as the link between recruitment marketing ROI and business outcomes, and evolving data privacy regulations — will stay ahead of the competition and win more talent.

A greater focus on your ad tech ecosystem will mean asking questions such as:

  • What is our programmatic active jobseeker strategy with sponsored jobs? 
  • What are we using to influence passive audiences? Data-driven, targeted display? Search Engine Marketing? 
  • Is there an automated remarketing / nurturing layer to our strategy?
  • And, if all of the above, is it distributed across a unified platform, with unified data, that optimizes across each channel?
  • What channels are playing a part in a person’s journey to become an applicant, and in what sequence? What is influencing our jobseeker interest versus driving conversion?
  • Beyond conversion, what are we doing to automatically prequalify applicants?
  • What metrics can we use to determine success at different points of the candidate journey? Do we have an intuitive, down-funnel view of this?
  • Which brand elements and messages are resonating the most? 

All teams, of course, are looking for new ways to optimize resources and tighten budgets without losing traction with talent or diminishing results. Which is why, as a talent leader, you should ask yourself those previous questions.

Talent teams are demonstrating a clear shift toward growth in their approach to recruitment marketing. Many teams are moving from efficient to agile, and some are taking it a step further by becoming more proactive. But that’s not the end of the journey. We can and should aim for a more predictive approach. One that leverages data to predict when recruiting and associated marketing will need to ramp or taper, or to gauge right-fit with an organization, allowing talent teams to truly target the best talent for their companies and roles at the right time, while optimizing spend. 

Data will allow us to get there. And not just through ads, but by employing the entire recruitment marketing ecosystem.

The link between recruitment marketing ROI and business goals 

Today, many Symphony Talent clients are focusing on deeper insights into the talent journey, including time to apply and time to fill. These recruitment marketing metrics are not only helpful for workforce planning, but they also contribute to greater business objectives and financial targets. 

High recruitment marketing ROI that results in high-quality employees hired and retained within the company faster, positively contributes to the company’s bottom line. Finding, connecting, qualifying, and hiring the right talent for your organization – and filling that open position in an effective amount of time – has numerous benefits, including less productivity downtime through vacancy, greater resource allocation, improved team engagement, and more.  

Although there might have been a perceived divide between talent teams and the core business performance in the past, that silo is quickly breaking down. We’re seeing more talent teams earning a seat at the table, and offering rich talent data that supports growth and retention. That data is linking directly to the company’s financial stability in terms of reduced time-to-fill positions, employee productivity, and reduced turnover. 

Traditional advertising cost metrics remain important considerations. Cost-per-impression, cost-per-click, cost-per-apply and, ultimately, cost-per-hire, have historically been key indicators of the success of a marketing strategy. They should always be a factor in your approach. However, optimizing purely for low cost, at the expense of time to fill, ultimately hurts more than it helps. Sacrificing time-to-fill positions leads to higher cost-per-vacancy, which results in lost revenue. 

Think about that potentially across thousands of hires per year, and the financial impact can be dramatic.

Data privacy and an impending end to third-party cookies

There’s a delicate balance between protecting data privacy and finding ways to use that personal information to inform business decisions and recruitment practices. As an industry, we have already seen and adapted to data privacy legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which leveled up the way we collect, use, and store personal information. 

Looking ahead, Google has announced plans to phase out third-party cookies on its browser by the end of 2024, which will have a major impact on recruitment marketing. According to Google, the goal of this shift is to give “people more transparency and greater control over how their data is used.” This means recruitment teams will need to shift away from third-party cookie usage in favor of first-party data as a means of targeting talent and tracking digital marketing performance.

Cookies are essentially small files that store personal information and digital activity to improve the visitor experience. A third-party cookie can be generated from any domain and is often associated with advertisements, enabling companies to serve relevant ads to individuals based on cookie information. A first-party cookie is created on a specific site that an individual directly visits and can be used to personalize their experience and track activity across pages. While these two types of cookies are similar, the primary difference is the intention behind their creation and the distribution of that data.

It’s important to understand the new rules surrounding data privacy to ensure that your approach and recruitment tech stack are equipped to work with these evolving requirements and potential limitations. At Symphony Talent, we continually monitor data privacy updates to ensure our solutions – and, in turn, our clients’ solutions – are always in compliance with the latest rules and regulations. 

3 actions you can take now 

While there’s a lot happening in the world of recruitment marketing right now, much more is coming. So what can you do now to prepare? 

  1. Review your current data privacy policies and tactics. 
  2. Be proactive in reducing (or eliminating) your reliance on third-party cookie data for your recruitment campaigns. At Symphony Talent, we use first-party cookie data, which means your campaigns won’t miss a beat, regardless of when Google implements their official deprecation of third-party cookies. 
  3. Review your existing media strategy and start asking questions to dig a little deeper into what the data is telling you … or identify the questions that you can’t answer due to gaps in your data.

The future of recruitment marketing is data-driven, so assessing your current data landscape is essential to stay ahead. If you’re not sure where to start or you need some support, we’d be happy to help. You can set up some time with one of our experts here