Author: Adrian Cernat, CEO and co-founder SmartDreamers
So much recruitment activity happens online these days that it can be tough to recall the eras in which it didn’t. Still, if anyone reading this has been to a job fair (either as a recruiter or a job seeker) in the past few years, you at least have a sense of what in-person employer branding push looks like. The world looks very different from behind a booth decked out with corporate logos and recruitment-centric pamphlets: you can see not just how many people stop at your table, but how many even slow down to look, or seem to consider stopping and talking. Of the ones that do stop, you can often tell—from both their conversation and their body language—how likely they are to actually apply, how genuine their interest is, and what their concerns about your company might be.
It might seem like there’s no way to replicate that experience of being able to closely observe applicant behavior when you’re recruiting digitally. That might be true, but Google Analytics can get you pretty darn close. It can help you understand the behavior of web users who are interacting with your content and engaging with your employer brand by offering a wealth of mission critical data. In this way, it can be tremendous asset for recruiters who know how to make the most of it.
Where Do Your Applicants Come From?
At this point you might be wondering how, exactly, Google Analytics can make your life easier as a recruiter. Well, for starters, it can help you to figure out where your web traffic is actually coming from. This might not sound like a big deal, but consider a few scenarios: you’re running a recruitment advertising campaign aimed at millennial front-end programmers. You’re placing ads through Facebook and Google Ads, and what you find through Google Analytics is that a large percentage of the users who follow the ad’s CTA back to your website are doing so from a mobile phone. If you already provide a mobile friendly application flow, you might not have to do very much with this knowledge (though you might consider making a foray into mobile-only channels like Snapchat). But, if you’re not offering a mobile-friendly job application, your analytics gives you a compelling reason to do so—i.e. that potential applicants are reaching you via smartphones and you might do well to prioritize their applicant experience.
Or, let’s say that in the same basic situation, you notice that while you are getting a lot of traffic to your career pages, a surprising amount of it comes from organic searches, rather than paid ads. This obviously means that you’ve generated some employer brand gravity—which will be extremely useful for attracting passive candidates in the future—but it also might suggest that your paid ads aren’t working as effectively as intended, and it might be time to rethink elements of your strategy. Likewise, you might notice that people are spending a long time on your career site without applying—suggesting that you might need to simplify your user experience.
Getting a little bit deeper into the weeds, recruitment marketers can also use Google Analytics to track their conversions and analyze their applicant funnel in a more granular manner. This will usually start with embedded UTM codes in the landing pages on your website that signify a successful conversion, typically the “thank you” page that follows a successfully submitted job application or the equivalent page for someone who has just signed up for your email recruitment newsletter or otherwise taken a step to formally enter your applicant funnel. With these codes in place, you can begin to visualize the journey that each candidate takes through your application process. This means that you can pinpoint each application to a specific campaign or CTA. Beyond that, you can track whether they reached your site through email, social media, organic search, etc.
More than just giving you the ability to measure the effectiveness of individual ad campaigns (which, on sites like Facebook, you really ought to be able to do natively), this helps you to understand the variety of factors that affect your overall conversion rates. You can, for instance, use this data to establish a baseline average for how well a typical piece of content should convert leads, and track the variations across different platforms. In doing so, you might find that your email subscribers are more likely than average to click on CTAs, but less likely to follow through to actual applications. In this case, you can take steps to optimize your email content to better direct users towards applying.
Turning Insights into ROI
All of the insights that recruiters glean from Google Analytics can be valuable to future efforts, but there’s still an open question about putting theory into practice with regard to this data. I.e., how do you integrate this data into your recruitment marketing efforts in such a way as to improve your ROI? As a best practice, it’s probably worth making sure that whenever you dive into your tracking data, you do so with a particular question or KPI in mind. This way, you can examine the information in a structured way that leads you to actionable conclusions, like reorganizing your ad buys to focus on higher-performing channels or reworking your video content to lower your attrition rates.
By taking a more structured approach to the use of this tool, you can integrate it more easily into your recruitment marketing efforts more broadly. As long as these two functions (analyzing your employer branding and actually implementing it) are connected, Google Analytics can be a recruiter’s best friend, helping you to perfect your targeting, better understand applicant behavior, set schedules and budgets more optimally for your ads, etc. In this way, you can improve not just your conversion rate, but the efficiency of all of your employer branding activity. Better still, when it comes time to justify your recruitment marketing budget, you’ll have the numbers to prove your ROI right there in front of you.
Adrian Cernat is the CEO and founder of SmartDreamers (www.smartdreamers.com), a recruitment marketing automation platform that helps companies engage with candidates across the web, powering up their employer brands and building brand gravity in the process. SmartDreamers was founded in 2014 and currently operates in Europe, the US and the APAC region.