Leveraging Conversational Marketing for Lead Generation in Recruitment

Leveraging Conversational Marketing for Lead Generation in Recruitment

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We live in an age where the customer is king. With the click of a button or a ‘Hey Siri’, virtually anything can be delivered, discovered, automated or completed in a matter of seconds.

Technology has the potential to offer unprecedented convenience and personalisation. So why is it that 60% of job seekers – the customers of the recruitment world – say they’ve had a negative candidate experience?

The reality is that many organisations today are struggling to keep up. Recruitment teams that fail to recognise modern candidates’ expectations and provide convenient, personalised experiences are quickly falling by the wayside.

But there is a solution – a way to give candidates the information they want, when they want it, and generate valuable leads in the process.

That solution is called conversational marketing.

What is conversational marketing?

At its core, conversational marketing is the act of having personalised, one-on-one conversations with customers in real-time. Although it can apply to any technology, the term is typically used to refer to conversations via chatbot, mobile messaging or live chat.

Instead of making people go through lead capture forms or sending an email and waiting days for a response, conversational marketing uses automated messaging to engage with people and capture leads on the spot.

Conversational marketing tools are used to guide leads to relevant content that can answer their questions or suggest solutions. They can also nurture those leads by qualifying who they are and delivering further relevant content over time. This is one of the key differences between conversational marketing and traditional marketing.

Proponents of conversational marketing say it’s the fastest way to move customers through the marketing or sales funnel thanks to its ability to provide information and solve problems in real-time. The goal is to provide information and build authentic relationships quickly – something that would normally take a salesperson or marketer days or even weeks.

The 5 tenets of conversational marketing

 The term ‘conversational marketing’ was coined by Dave Gerhardt, CEO at Drift, a sales and marketing platform designed to help businesses talk to their ideal customers when the customer wants to engage. Gerhardt says conversational marketing should be:

  1. Immediate. Thanks to messaging technology, people no longer have to wait to get the information they need.
  1. Scalable. Chatbots and automated messaging systems make it possible for small teams to have one-on-one conversations at scale and capture leads 24/7.
  1. Engagement-focused. Inbound and outbound tactics should be used to qualify and capture leads.
  1. Personalised. Before a conversation starts, experiences and messages can be personalised based on inputs and user data.
  1. Insight-driven. User actions provide insights into which tactics are working and which aren’t.

What are the benefits of conversational marketing in recruitment?

Let’s say a candidate sees an online job ad and wants to know how much they could earn in the role. By clicking through to a chatbot or live chat window, they could not only find out the typical salary for the role in seconds, but also be prompted to take part in a pre-screening sequence. If qualified, they could complete an application form or be prompted to leave their details for a call-back from a recruiter.

This is just one of many examples that demonstrate how conversational marketing can not only improve the candidate experience but also be used as a powerful lead generation tool.

Broadly speaking, there are several ways in which conversational marketing helps qualify and capture leads in recruitment:

1. You can create relationships with talent quickly.

With conversational marketing tools, a job ad or careers website doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can start a conversation, answer questions and build relationships in minutes, with little-to-no manual input.

2. You can learn more about your talent pools.

Traditional lead forms can collect some information, but they’re not great at providing context. Conversations can show you why a candidate came to your job ad or careers site, what their biggest pain points are, and what they’re looking for from your company.

3. You can capture leads 24/7.

Because you don’t need someone to be ‘manning the phones’, you can use chatbots and messaging tools to capture leads at any time of day.

4. You can retarget and convert more leads.

You can set up conversational marketing tools to target pre-qualified candidates when a relevant new position is open.

What are the drawbacks?

Like any marketing approach, there are some challenges of conversational marketing in recruitment:

1. A lack of ‘humanness’.

Most people quickly recognise that chatbots and messaging tools aren’t humans. It can be difficult to strike the right balance between automation and real conversations.

2. Issues with the technology.

Because people speak, type and text in different ways, it’s extremely difficult to program a messaging app to understand every variation.

3. Lack of uptake in the sector.

Although conversational marketing is widespread in sectors like customer service, it’s a relatively new concept in recruitment. Getting the technology right so it provides genuine value will be key to driving acceptance by candidates.

Case study: Chatbots for recruiting

Talent management experience platform Phenom analysed more than 20 million chatbot interactions in its report Chatbots for Recruiting: 2020 Benchmarks and found that chatbots converted more applicants and nearly doubled the number of candidate leads compared to traditional recruitment methods.

Key findings include:

Chatbots on career sites convert more candidates than those without:

  • 95% more job seekers become leads
  • 40% more job seekers complete an application
  • 13% more job seekers click apply on a job requisition

The most common topics candidates ask chatbots:

  • Apply and application status
  • Benefits and compensation
  • Job search

The report found that chatbots played a significant role in candidate lead generation in multiple sectors. In one use case, a healthcare company experienced a 1,142% increase in candidate leads in the first 30 days.

How recruitment teams are using conversational marketing

Here’s how some organisations are paving the way for the conversational marketing in recruitment:


US organisation Sutherland built its own chatbot, Tasha, for candidates during their initial screening stages. Candidates can interact with Tasha through text, email or a dialogue box, where she answers questions, prompts candidates to return to the job application if they stray from it, and even schedule an interview.

Tasha also provides feedback about the candidate experience. If the candidate abandons the application process, Tasha finds out why and sends this information back to the recruiter.

First Future

First Future, a B2B online English tutoring company in China, was dealing with multiple third-party recruiters and job boards and a recruitment process that was expensive and ineffective.

The company hired recruitment advertising business Applichat to create an automated conversational marketing funnel based in Messenger where candidates could learn more about a job, answer pre-qualifying questions, complete an application form and request a call-back.

The hiring campaign reduced hiring costs by 50% and increased interview attendance by 150%. Candidates from the bot were also twice as likely to get hired than through traditional recruitment methods.


L’Oreal invested in chatbot ‘Mya’ to screen potential candidates. The tool uses AI and NLP to ask candidates questions, verify their eligibility, and answer queries about the company. Based on this information, it shares an update with recruiters on the ‘best-fit’ and ‘non-fit’ candidate pools.

Over a seven-month period, Mya processed more than 13,000 candidates and reduced a 45-minute interview process to between four and five minutes.

Conversational marketing for recruitment: Final thoughts

Conversational marketing certainly has a role to play in providing a convenient and personalised candidate experience. That said, the technology is not without its challenges, and human interaction isn’t going to become obsolete from the lead generation process any time soon.

With this in mind, a combination of human and automated conversational marketing will likely work best: use tools to answer questions and prompt candidates to take action, while having humans at the ready to nurture leads.

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