What is inbound marketing and how can it benefit recruitment agencies?
Learn about the different types of inbound marketing methods that recruitment agencies can utilise.
Discover how inbound marketing not only focuses on clients but candidates as well.
Part 1 Inbound and Recruitment
Part 2 How They Work Together
Part 3 What About Your Agency?
Through our experience working with recruitment agencies, we’ve amassed knowledge and expertise of how recruitment industries are run and the key success factors that come with that kind of enterprise.
As the recruitment landscape changes, as a marketing agency for recruitment, we need to have our finger on the pulse of the recruitment industry. In fact, if you Google “recruitment industry trends”, you’ll find that Digital Media Stream’s blog post on that very topic is ranking at the top of Google.
Currently, the recruitment industry, like many others, is seeing a rapid rate of change through factors such as technology and culture shifts. For example, the use of social media has had a sizeable effect on the way that recruitment industries communicate with potential clients and candidates.
Through this specialisation, we’ve found that there are a number of compatible factors between inbound marketing and recruitment. So, here, we’re going to discuss exactly what inbound is and how it relates to the recruitment industry.
If you’re unfamiliar with inbound and outbound marketing, this might go over your head a little. So, before we get into inbound marketing and how it’s the exact strategy you’ve been looking for to grow your recruitment agency, let’s get everyone on the same page about what inbound actually is.
Rather than trying to first describe what inbound is, it can sometimes be easier to look at what inbound isn’t. Let’s take a look at how we might define outbound marketing…
Outbound, when compared with inbound, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s generally considered to be the more traditional method of marketing that looks to obstruct potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series and cold calling. It is costly and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing.
In comparison, inbound marketing is everything that outbound isn’t. It involves presenting yourself as a company that clients and candidates want to interact with, but only when the time is right for them.
HubSpot (whom we’ll talk about later) is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. They explain inbound marketing as:
“a method of attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow a business that provides value and builds trust. As technology shifts, inbound guides an approach to doing business in a human and helpful way. Inbound is a better way to market, a better way to sell, and a better way to serve your customers. Because when good-for-the-customer means good-for-the-business, your company can grow better over the long term”.
HubSpot categorises inbound marketing in three stages; Attract, Engage & Delight.
How does this work for recruitment specifically?
Attract: It’s all about showing potential clients and candidates they can trust you to help them solve their problems. If you can’t demonstrate that, you’ll never attract them to become valuable leads. As a recruiter, if you don’t get this stage right, you’ll have no one to engage with.
Engage: Keep in touch with those you’re most focused on and track how much time people are spending with your content. Nurture your leads into becoming clients and candidates with more valuable content. Now, you’ve attracted potential candidates and clients, how are you moving them on to becoming more than just ‘potential’?
Delight: Make your sales process as pleasant as possible for your clients and candidates so they become evangelists for your agency and recommend you to their own network. Once you’ve sealed the deal with your candidates and clients, is that the end of your relationship? Absolutely not! You want to keep that relationship alive and well through the delight stage of inbound marketing.
All right, so we’ve defined inbound marketing but does it actually work? How can waiting for clients and candidates to interact with you be an effective strategy? I hear you saying “but I need clients now!”.
That’s a fair point and some sceptics would have you believe that by adopting an inbound methodology into your recruitment agency, you’re planning for the long term, taking care of tomorrow before you’ve secured today.
This doesn’t have to be the case at all. Yes, going inbound is a long-term strategy and will slowly give your business more authority when it comes to organically taking-over the digital recruitment landscape. This does not mean that you can’t expect to see results in lead generation in the short term.
In fact, one of the main reasons for the rise in the use of inbound marketing tactics is its proven effectiveness in growing businesses.
I’m sure, if you’ve been in the recruitment game for any length of time, you’ll be somewhat aware of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It’s a major shift in the way that the recruitment industry has operated in recent years.
You might have noticed that outbound, and the processes that come with that kind of strategy, aren’t geared up for the new age of data protection through the latest GDPR. When it comes to contacting companies through outbound marketing methods, you might be safe under the ‘legitimate interest’ ruling. This states that, as a business, if you can document your claim that you have a legitimate interest in processing another business’ data, you are able to do so under the GDPR.
You are, however, not permitted to contact individuals under the same legislation. As a recruiter, you are able to store consumer (candidate) data under GDPR’s legitimate interest ruling but, if you were to contact that candidate, you would then need to choose a reason for doing so under the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations).
What inbound can do is provide candidates with a reason to give their consent to contact you through their consumption of your content. Simply, if you can provide candidates with content on your website behind a form that asks them to give their explicit consent to be contacted by you, you have permission to get in touch with them.
Essentially, setting your marketing practices up the inbound way ensures you aren’t falling foul of the regulations, along with the other benefits of inbound for recruitment agencies that were detailed earlier on.
Recruitment has historically been seen as an outbound industry. If you were to ask a layman to think about what a recruiter looks like, they might think of someone sitting in an office, cold-calling candidates whether or not they are active or passive. Today, as we both know, this couldn’t be further from the truth - especially considering the privacy and data regulations mentioned in the previous section.
One of the main principles of inbound marketing is that your team doesn’t engage with a candidate or a client until they are ready to be approached. This is one of the reasons that inbound marketing works so well with the recruitment industry. A passive candidate is identified by this very definition - they aren’t ready to be approached over a career move or a new role at this present moment. They need to be nurtured until they come around.
With inbound marketing, recruiters are able to do this very thing. You can entice a passive candidate with creative and dynamic content that relates to their current circumstance and move them along in their journey to the point at which they are looking to move careers or roles.
Inbound is the perfect marketing strategy for a recruitment agency who have something to offer their candidates and clients. If this sounds like you, you definitely need to consider going inbound.
For inbound marketing to work at its best, you need to have something to offer people. Fortunately, good recruiters are constantly generating content to inspire and engage their candidates.
Through well-utilised tools, such as LinkedIn articles, that help to demonstrate expertise and value, recruiters are able to collate a wealth of content to offer to potential clients and candidates. This is the key to inbound marketing. This is what you have to offer your customers and it’s why recruitment works so well in an inbound setting.
Your agency might even be producing blog content on your website. Did you know that this is a form of inbound marketing? By creating content that organically ranks online, you generate traffic to your site and display your expertise to a wider audience.
If you aren’t currently creating content, be it video or written, no need to worry. Content creation can be as easy as writing a few short paragraphs or speaking for a few minutes a day. As long as you can prove to people that what you say or write is worth something, they’ll consume it. And this is where you have them.
“If you’re good at something, never do it for free” is an often-quoted phrase. This is exactly the mindset of inbound marketing. However, it doesn’t mean you should charge a premium for the content you create. For a recruitment agency, leads are worth their weight in gold and this is the fortune you are looking to amass with inbound marketing. By ‘gating’ your content - maybe an eBook or a video - behind a form, you essentially demand your website visitors fork over their contact information as payment for consuming your content.
If you’ve gone about inbound in the right way, you’ll have provided them with content in the past for free and they’ll be able to trust that this piece of information is worth providing their details for. Once they decide to opt-in, guess what… you’ve generated a lead to whom you can begin to build a trusting relationship and flex your recruitment muscles too.
Do this a thousand times over and you’ll have an engaged database of candidates and clients whom you can call upon to generate business for your agency.
Have confidence that the service you’re offering is one that active candidates, and clients alike, will seek out.
Inbound only works if you have faith in the process and in yourself. You need to make sure you, as an agency, have your house in order before you think clients and candidates will see you as a business they want to approach to have their problems solved.
Having the right mindset for inbound is one of the most important aspects of making sure your implementation of the new strategy is successful. Many a time, businesses go ahead with the idea of becoming an inbound-focused company but their thoughts quickly turn to desperation through outbound activities.
You need to be confident that you have something to offer. If you can’t say that about your recruitment agency, then why would your customers ever believe in you? Having something to offer is paramount in any business but it only becomes more important when going inbound.
By becoming the type of company that customers can’t help but interact with is what inbound is all about. Offering content that demonstrates your value and overall worth to clients and candidates will set you in their minds as the only agency they want to consider.
The key here is not to go into inbound with an outbound mindset. Recruitment has traditionally been seen as an outbound industry so, it can be hard for some recruiters, who usually operate in an outbound way, to adapt to a new methodology. However, if you’re looking to grow your business the right way, going inbound is the best thing that will happen to your agency.
We’ve defined what inbound is but what does it actually look like? There can be a number of misconceptions around what constitutes as inbound marketing. So, let’s take a look at the different aspects of what makes up a complete and comprehensive inbound marketing strategy and how that relates to recruitment.
Social Media: Let’s be frank - if you aren’t utilising social media in your recruitment agency, you’re severely falling behind the competition. As a recruiter, you need to place yourself in the same vicinity as your potential candidates. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are your battlegrounds where you can grab the attention of millions of candidates and clients alike. How does social media relate to inbound marketing?
SEO: Inbound is built around content - I think we mentioned that - and one of the main reasons you might create content for your website is so it can be found on search engines. When you optimise your website’s pages so they can be more easily found on these platforms, this is called SEO (search engine optimisation), and it’s an integral aspect of inbound marketing. As opposed to the more outbound method of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, which sees you renting space on the top of Google's search results pages, generating content the inbound way (through blogs and pillar/landing pages) is a brilliant way to get your site seen organically. You can target your content at certain keywords that you want to rank highly for and find yourself ‘owning’ the top spot on Google’s results page, rather than forking out a monthly fee to ‘rent’ space there.
Lead Nurturing: As mentioned before, if you set your inbound processes up correctly, you are able to nurture your new leads along the ‘buyer’s journey’ to becoming a candidate or a client. Those who aren’t ready to engage with you right now might otherwise slip through the net when you focus on ‘hot leads’ initially. With inbound marketing, your agency is able to automatically keep leads engaged and alert to what you have to offer them right up until they are ready to interact fully with you as a recruiter.
At the end of the day, any competent recruiter will have their primary focus on placing their candidates in appropriate roles. Why become a recruiter if you don’t delight in having a hand in launching someone’s dream career?
So, let’s assume you really do have your candidates’ best interests at heart… does your agency show that?
It’s all well and good thinking that you’re placing a focus on your customers but that ideology needs to permeate throughout your entire organisation - not least in your marketing strategy. Your strategy should be shouted from the rooftops of your agency by demonstrating your commitment to your clients and candidates. As mentioned, the entire concept of inbound revolves around your customers and making them feel a bond of trust between themselves and your business.
The adoption of inbound marketing in a recruitment setting sees you build a relationship with your engaged database of clients and candidates. When you’re providing them with content that they find valuable and placing an emphasis on their needs, rather than your own, you become an organisation they want to interact with and one that aligns itself with a solution to their problems.
Clients and candidates will soon see you as a go-to agency to solve their placement or application issues and that content you thought was helping them will come back around to help you.
As mentioned, a good recruiter will place a focus on their clients and candidates and this is why inbound is so suited to the recruitment industry.
We touched on HubSpot - as they are the leading inbound experts - but we couldn’t mention inbound marketing without talking in more depth about the company that’s become synonymous with the phrase. Take it from an inbound agency that HubSpot’s sales and marketing suite is the best in the business. Simply put, when it comes to inbound, there’s no one better than HubSpot.
With HubSpot’s comprehensive suite of marketing and sales tools, you can transform the way your processes affect business growth. HubSpot allows you to link together your blogging strategy, CTAs, offers, emails, social media and more, meaning your campaigns aren’t left by the wayside and you’re using everything at your disposal to promote your valuable content.
If you’re thinking of going inbound - and we definitely think you should! - you can’t look past a HubSpot agency. With the power of the world’s leading inbound experts behind you and the focused attention an agency can provide you, a HubSpot Agency Partner is just the thing to grow your business the inbound way.
If you’re a recruiter and you’re thinking of growing your business in a world where you need to prove yourself to your potential customers, look no further than inbound marketing.
Inbound sets you up as an organisation that puts your clients and candidates first, meaning they feel valued every time they interact with you. When they feel valued, they’re more likely to come back to your business when they have a problem they need solving.
Clients and candidates have so much choice these days, as I’m sure you’ve already realised by the increased competition in recruitment recently. You need to narrow their choice down to you. The way you do that is by creating content that makes them loyal consumers of your brand. When they’re ready to be closed, you’re in prime position to capitalise on that as you’ve already built up a relationship with them.
So, recruiters, are you convinced by inbound?