Combining Outbound & Inbound Marketing Strategies in Recruitment Marketing

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The world of recruitment has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. While the onus used to be on recruitment teams to find and reach out to talent, today both candidates and employers play an active role in the hiring process.

In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of job seekers begin their job search through Google, which means the candidate experience starts long before a recruiter initiates contact. With this in mind, the most successful recruitment marketing efforts build credibility from the outset and target specific talent. That is, they use inbound and outbound marketing tactics to get results.

Inbound vs. outbound marketing

Outbound marketing in recruitment uses conventional marketing and sales strategies to search for and identify candidates and contact them with an offer – typically a job opportunity. Most traditional recruitment agencies run the gamut of outbound marketing methods like cold calling, job ads, outreach on social media and unsolicited emails.

Conversely, inbound marketing uses various tactics like content marketing, social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) to establish employer brand visibility and trust. The strength of inbound marketing lies in getting candidates’ attention in non-invasive ways and encouraging them to think about your business.

The theory of inbound marketing in recruitment

Inbound marketing works on the premise that a customer’s journey begins long before he or she makes a critical decision. It assumes that there is a critical discovery and research phase – coined the zero moment of truth (ZMOT) by Google – in which a brand has the opportunity to get in front of and win over the customer. Inbound marketing tactics aim to draw in potential customers through valuable, relevant content at every touchpoint.

In the realm of recruitment, the ZMOT is the stage at which a candidate seeks to learn more about job opportunities, or about a specific company. In most cases, this happens via

search engines, blogs, social media and websites and can take days, months or even years.

The candidate’s journey can be split into three stages:

  1. Awareness: Potential candidates become aware of your employer brand and may or may not be interested in new job opportunities. According to LinkedIn, 52% of candidates seek out a company's website and social media to learn more about an employer.
  1. Consideration: Potential candidates actively consider your company as a possible future employer and may be monitoring job opportunities.
  1. Decision: Potential candidates apply for a job, or take action such as reaching out to the company’s talent acquisition team.

An effective inbound marketing strategy attracts, engages and solves problems for candidates at every stage of their journey. It is also:

  • Cost-effective: Inbound marketing-dominated organisations see a 61% lower cost per lead than organisations that predominantly use outbound marketing tactics.
  • Long-term: Where outbound marketing efforts might be tied to a specific role or hiring campaign, inbound marketing is about building positive brand perception over time.
  • Helpful in growing your talent pool: Establishing your employer brand can vastly increase the number of people interested in your company as a potential employer.
  • The gift that keeps on giving: Once your inbound marketing strategy is underway, it will continue to attract and engage new candidates whether you have a relevant position open or not. And when a position does become available, you’re more likely to have people lining up to apply.

So, is outbound recruitment marketing dead?

While inbound marketing is essential in a world where candidates have more power than ever and the war for talent is fierce, it’s not always effective in driving candidates to make a decision.

That’s where having an outbound recruitment marketing strategy can help by targeting specific candidates and going the last mile. The main functions of outbound marketing are to:

  • Convert prospects into hires: While inbound marketing casts a wide net to build up the talent pool, outbound strategies can be used to draw candidates further down the funnel.
  • Target specific candidates: If you’re hiring for a position that requires very specific skills or experience, outbound marketing tactics can be used to hone in on and connect with the right candidates.
  • Build personal relationships: An outbound approach provides the opportunity to build one-on-one relationships and even bypass the awareness stage of a candidate’s journey and jump right to the application.

So rather than thinking of outbound marketing as a ‘plan B’ recruitment method, consider it a supplement to your inbound marketing strategy that can help refine your talent pool and nudge candidates closer to a decision.

Developing a holistic recruitment marketing strategy

The goal of any recruitment marketing strategy is to continually attract high-quality talent, build your talent pools, and, ultimately, fill open positions. Inbound and outbound recruitment marketing strategies work in tandem to build employer brand credibility and trust, and establish a two-way conversation with candidates.

There also exists a symbiotic relationship between inbound and outbound marketing. Building employer brand awareness through inbound marketing leads candidates to be more receptive to outbound marketing techniques such as direct contact from a recruiter. At the same time, outbound tactics help transform the wide net of talent brought in through inbound marketing into one-on-one candidate relationships.

As with any successful marketing strategy, determining the optimal mix of inbound and outbound recruitment tactics comes down to testing and learning. Trial different methodologies, invite feedback from candidates and track key recruitment metrics to continually refine your approach.

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