Captain’s Table November 2020 – From Shortlist – Thursday 26 November 2020 11:30am

The next evolution of recruitment marketing will see company websites play a much bigger role, and face-to-face events become a strategic goldmine as pandemic restrictions ease, specialists say.

“Often when we’re speaking to recruitment agencies, we hear comments that clients already have relationships with recruitment agencies, so why does marketing matter?” says Prominence managing director Chris South.

But, “what we’re finding is, [recruiters] with a really strong brand still have clients – employers – that are looking for new or different agencies to work with,” South told a Captain’s Table recruitment owners forum hosted by Navigator Consulting this week.

Employers will frequently shop around for new suppliers if they’ve spotted underperformers on their recruitment panel, or suddenly have an international role they need to fill but perceive their suppliers to be locally focused, he says by way of example.

And good quality candidates – particularly contractors – are also actively searching for agencies that are demonstrably specialists in a specific area, and “not necessarily just going to job boards and hitting ‘apply'”, says South.

These behaviours underscore a need to consider other marketing activities, he says. “We’re not just talking about having to post lots of content on social media and say, ‘hey, I’m in accounting’.”

Other ways for recruiters to raise their profile as influencers in the areas they operate in include sponsoring events and online webinars and getting involved with industry associations, he says.

Marketing success hinges on company sites and trust

A renewed focus on company websites as “the centre of marketing activity” is needed, to ensure social media activity ultimately drives audiences to recruiters’ own domains, South says.

While LinkedIn’s dominance as a marketing channel remains unchanged to an extent, it “isn’t what it used to be”.

“It’s great having a really strong LinkedIn page with 20,000 followers, but that’s not going to help your Google marketing, because you can’t drive [traffic] from your Google ads to LinkedIn.”

Both South and business growth consultant Greg Roworth say many recruitment agencies’ company websites are similar (listing their range of services and what ‘value’ they add), but they don’t demonstrate the trustworthiness of the company.

Verified customer reviews and phone numbers are crucial elements for a recruitment company website, but South says these elements are often overlooked.

Website visitors are already viewing other companies’ sites, he says, so “the role of the site is to get that user to have enough trust to take action and make a phone call or send an email or something of that nature”.

‘Face-to-face’ to make a comeback, with caveats

Roworth says there is a shift back towards face-to-face events and interactions, but “people will be a lot more selective about which events they go to”.

Looking ahead, it’s important to consider whether prospective clients will be less inclined to accept in-person meeting requests, as many have realised how much time they save by conducting virtual meetings, says South.

“That’s going to be problem for recruitment agencies and recruiters.”

Before everyone “starts getting back into the flow of things”, recruiters should now start looking at events they could host or sponsor to gain a marketing advantage, South says.

Conventions for business meetings are changing, but “there is still going to be an absolute demand for in-person events”, he adds.

“People want to see people again, and they want those human connections.”

Having been in New Zealand during its lockdown period, South has observed this strong appetite for physical gatherings in the recruitment and technology sectors since COVID restrictions have eased.

Attendance at these events “has been through the roof, so much that they couldn’t get any more people into the rooms”.