How Every Recruiter can Improve their Lead Generation Strategy
What happens when personalization isn’t enough to generate new leads?
I recently sat down with Judy Olbyrch (Lead Generation Unleashed) to share my tips on boosting engagement, the current state of lead generation for recruiters and how to build a better strategy for talent acquisition.
Challenges and Successes
1. What are some of the biggest challenges you’re seeing right now in lead generation for your business?
There are actually three distinct problems we have. So we do want, obviously, trying to hire internal staff takes up some time in terms of making sure we find the right person. Candidate generation for our clients is another thing that we focus on. And then also, obviously, we need business in terms of clients to place those candidates that we find. So in the recruitment space it typically, when you’re isolating it down, there’s two distinct generation activities, candidate and client.
So the internal is a different sell because I have to put on the co-founder hat and actually sell my own company and why to work for a small startup versus trying to position a bigger client and their name brand and et cetera.
2. What’s working for Elevano now?
I love the concept of personalization. I think that is the minimum bar that lead generation should be held to. And for me what personalization means is that you’ve taken the time to
look at a profile. But also that to me is where people are stopping and I think the context of the person and the profile that you’ve actually been viewing is the overriding decision point for. So when we’re reaching out to candidates that’s the response because not only did we, let’s say, look for a specific type of engineer, but we understood the context of their engineering and what they might be looking for. And the same thing when we’re actually going out and prospecting and creating contact outreaches. It’s really understanding the context of the problem they’re solving. It’s doing a little bit more research, not just looking at a LinkedIn profile going, “Right. Manager, industry X, I’m going to message them this template that looks like it’s really authentic but it’s pretty much a generic template.”
And it might be a generic template, but then you have to have different templates for different situations. Right? So, you know, you don’t use a hammer as a flyswatter type analogy. So you’ve got to know the tool at the time. So I think context overrides personalization by encompassing it. But also being a measure of what tool you’re pulling out for the lead generation purpose. They understand that you understand the context of their job, their industry, their particular need. And it think that’s what resonates past just the, “Here’s some buzzwords of personalization that might be appealing.”
How to Boost Engagement for Your Business
3. So it’s all about doing the research, taking that extra time?
You know, it’s funny. I actually just call it we need to do research internally. I applied the term context because I think it differentiates it from personalization. But I really think the biggest problem is everyone is so pressed for quantity of messages going out that everyone is going, “Okay, close enough.” Right? So if you’re looking at, let’s say, the bell curve they’re like, “Well, it’s actually more like an 80% area I can be successful under.” And I think the misconception is, yes, you may possibly message 80 people that could possibly be fits because you don’t know maybe coulda-woulda-shouldas. But the time and effort it takes to go through and put the person in whatever product you’re using, in your tracking system, whatever CRM you’re using, that’s all overhead. You know, following up, all that stuff takes time. Whereas if it’s a little bit smaller area you’re going after, let’s say you’re going after 50% of the people you could go after, but you’ve done a little bit more research. When they get the message they’re aware, it’s obviously. I mean there are things that you can do to make it obvious that you understand the problem they’re looking to solve potentially. And I think that’s when you get response rates.
So I look at social media the same way. Everyone creates a ton of social media and it looks great. And you might even get a lot of likes, which is fantastic. But in reality if you don’t get engagement of the right kind, it doesn’t matter. Like it’s all just for fun and you feel good about it. But if you’re not getting engagement from your email marketing campaigns or your social media, I mean, what’s the point? And it doesn’t necessarily mean, you know, you’re not targeting the right people. I mean, engagement is hard, we can’t force people to engage. But people like to engage based on knowing you can solve problems for them.
4. What does engagement mean for you and your team?
In our candidate outreach, we get close to 85% open rates. And our response rate ranges anywhere from 30 to like 65% candidate-response rate. So a lot of times we get candidates that will respond out saying, “Appreciate the reach-out, just not looking.” Or some other caveat, but that’s engagement to me. It’s the most valuable thing that I look for in any outreach program, any medium, is the engagement back. Open rates are beautiful, at least I know it’s not going into the abyss, but it’s the engagement back, yes or no. And then really the next step is what do you do with the lead nurturing? You’ve got to know what secondary plan you have in place to nurture the no so that the same work you’ve done will possible turn into a yes six months, a year. Versus going and doing net new work. And, internally, whether it’s on the candidate or the contacts, I’m a big fan of I don’t want new records. Stop finding new people. Our system has 100,000 contacts, we don’t need anymore. You need to find out how you get something from the work already done. Because it saves you a trip to LinkedIn, fifteen other sites, digging into Crunchbase, and a host of research that it’s all overhead to time. It’s all ROI to me.
5. What’s your strategy for the candidates who aren’t looking for jobs at the moment?
I actually set up a bit of a test for the team in the sense that, when it comes to candidate generation, I want us to go back through the system and only work within our own system for any new candidates that we’re looking to engage with. And basically my thought is is if we’ve captured, let’s say, 60% of the available engineers in one particular discipline, how much more time does it take to get the other 30%, 40% or whatever that number might be. And then you obviously have to establish an engagement with them to even know if they’re a viable candidate for you. Same thing with the contact side, right? Contact does not need services now. A no is fine. I’m a big fan of the no. That no means, it doesn’t mean I’m not buying services. It just means, at this point in time, I either don’t have budget, inclination, I don’t have a need. And I think that’s where a lot of people, when they see the no, they go, “Well, I’m going to put this in the bin and then I’m never coming back to it.” And I think what we do, what we focus on, is we take the nos and we come back and we try a different angle. Because obviously they engaged, and that’s the big signal to us.
Trends in Lead Generation: Embracing Social Media
6. What trends are you seeing in lead generation?
We’ve been testing out an Instagram strategy. We’d done very little on Instagram. And part of the reason was I never liked the concept of re-sharing content. You know, I don’t mind re-sharing a piece of content if I think it’s interesting, if I think it brings value based on my views, I’ll like it. But we really wanted to create our own IP and we took a pretty long time to figure out what IP we want to create and what angle that IP needs to be. And then, now that we’ve actually begun that path, we’ve actually used Instagram as one of the areas we’ve been testing to see how you. You know, there’s a billion-plus people on Instagram, it’s worldwide. So
obviously the audience, necessarily, isn’t exactly what you need. But the strategy we’ve taken on Instagram is we figured if we can attract an audience and it’s within a community that we have an interest in so we can kind of get engagement within a very defined community, even though we can’t segregate users, we might be able to have somebody who sees our content that potentially causes a third person down the road to see the content that we do need. And it’s a little bit of the message in the bottle type of outlook. We already have the IP, we’ve already made the content. Putting it on Instagram, creating the engagement, somebody
might see that message and think that what we’re doing is different or they might need the service, et cetera. But it’s such a big audience. I think everyone’s super focused on LinkedIn. And I think LinkedIn is fantastic, but I think, you know, when you have a billion people on Instagram and over two billion on Facebook, you’re within two degrees of the whole world. I mean, you literally are one person sharing your thoughts with another and you might be within a marketer space or individual’s thought that you never would have even thought about.
7. How is advertising on social media different?
Social media has become the new radio and TV advertising. I think lead generation as a concept, it’s evolving. There’s a lot of thoughts around the sales funnel, click funnel strategies. I mean, there’s everything around the world being created. And think it’s all to try to automate and have leads come inbound. And I think the radio, radio advertising, was pretty effective when it started. TV advertising was effective. But I think the interesting thing that differentiates social media from radio and TV is you can market within a very thin segment of the population around the specific subject you want to engage on. And you can display expertise around that subject and that engagement. So it becomes a very specific station on cable that will have X amount of users attracted to it, but those people will really like what you’re saying and will help promote your cause, your voice, et cetera.
8. Is there anything that hasn’t worked in your strategy?
We test a lot. We test copy on our campaigns. We have marketing tools in the background to track AV testing. So I’m a big fan of, you need to see what’s working. We change subject lines, all the standard stuff. Short copy, long copy, highly-customized one-off copy, I mean we track it all. The biggest thing that we noticed that didn’t work for us is, especially on the candidate side, a lot of times there’s pay-per-click job boards. And it didn’t work for us or our model because it takes control of our messaging away from us and it makes it like a radio broadcast, where it’s like one size fits all.
We noticed that yes, we do get some engagement. But we’d much rather control, and we’d much rather spend that ad dollar in a different way, and control our audience, the engagement. And kind of move towards our own community. So I think, you know, when you look at all the avenues where you get traffic, most of them you’re building your home on rented land. And that’s a scary proposition because you’re at the mercy of Google’s traffic and LinkedIn’s traffic. But if I can engage people and I can get them to be part of my community, whatever the platform is, then I also now have set up a direct relationship to my audience. And that’s kind of how we’ve taken a lot of the ad dollars that we were using on different pay-per-click sites and we’ve kind of funnelled it into pushing people onto our own engaged platform to be a little bit higher, hopefully, ROI over the long term for us.
9. How do you use copywriting in your recruiting strategy?
I think our copywriting, on email, is super important. Social media copywriting has to be clever. But again, because it’s so short-lived and the media itself allows a little bit of forgiveness for having some artistic liberties to what you’re posting. I think email copy is where we spend a lot of time. Because we know it’s still traditional, people have expectations. I can’t write the word ‘without’ as just ‘w/o’ on email like I can on Twitter. I’ve got to spell it out. It’s not just the letter ‘u’ for you, you have to spell it out. So I think if you’re trying to cut through a lot of competing emails then you have to spend some time on the copywriting side, the creativity side, because creativity will win out. We’ve got a team of three or four people that work on different social media and content initiatives for us. It’s because we started amping up the amount of copy we wanted. The team itself (of recruiters), we don’t write, we’re not writers. So it’s hard to incorporate all of that stuff in while still expecting them to do their day job. That’s why we’ve built up a dedicated team for marketing.
Start Building a Better Lead Generation Strategy Right Now
You’ve just learned how small changes in your processes and mindset can get you better results in your lead generation strategy. Let’s recap some of the adjustments you can start making today:
- Personalized messages need more context
- Embrace the ‘no’s’
- Test, test and test again
- Do you want a job board to speak for you?
- Copywriting matters, and every platform needs its own copy
There you have it. Now, go and get more leads for your business today!