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I'm the "old guy" in our company.

When I got started in marketing decades back, it was completely different than it is today. And in many ways, so was the staffing industry!

Two decades ago, there was no LinkedIn, no massive online resume databases to tap. The number one source for recruiting candidates was the classified ads run in the Sunday paper. Skill-marketing candidates meant sending out a weekly "hot list" via fax. And executive recruiters had their little black books, which was their "competitive advantage" in accessing professional talent.

But some things seem to never change. Twenty years ago, staffing services were sold through cold calling, drop-by calls (armed with donuts and brochures) and networking events. And for many staffing firms, these are still the primary methods of selling today.

In recent years, however, the rate of change – in staffing, marketing, and technology – has begun accelerating. Dramatically.

And the pace is only going to pick up.

This article will help you manage the changes that are here already – as well as ones that are coming soon – by building a modern marketing strategy.

First up?

Your Website: The Foundation of Your Marketing

Fact: More people will visit your website this year than you talk to on the phone in your lifetime.

Let that sink in for a minute. Whether you realize it or not, your website has truly become the foundation of your presence to most of your candidates and, to a large extent, your clients. So, is yours a powerful, dynamic platform for sales and recruiting – or is it little more than an online brochure?

The Modern Staffing Website: Factors to Consider

If you want to build a website that attracts, engages and drives both employers and job seekers to take action, here are some of the features your site should include. And if you want more detailed information on any of these elements, you can watch our full on-demand webinar here or download our free eBook: Staffing Websites – Strategies for 2020 and Beyond.

Information architecture. Information architecture is all about getting website visitors – your clients, prospects, candidates and temporary employees – where they want to go on your website as efficiently as possible (remember, visitors don't only land on your home page). The more clicks it takes people to find what they need, the more they're just going to disappear.

Conversion paths. When you design your site, think of how you will drive action from visitors:

  • get a job seeker to apply
  • spur a prospect to request a workforce consultation
  • convince a passive candidate to complete a form to opt into your talent community
  • entice an employer to pick up the phone and place an order

One of the primary goals of your website is to generate a response: to make sure visitors take some sort of action to engage with you before they leave. As you're planning each site page, think through those conversion paths – the steps each type of visitor should take when they land on a web page, find the information they need, and then (ideally) perform the action you want them to take – so you're not losing people.

Speaking of which, the number-one place that staffing companies lose people is in the application process. To make yours more "leak-proof," consider:

  • Is it easy for your candidates to apply from any device? (Your experience should be seamless – whether they're using their desktop or a mobile device.)
  • How many fields do they have to fill in? (Completion rates drop precipitously after just a few fields.)
  • How many clicks does it take to apply to a job? (Hint: the goal is one!)

Scannable copy. Websites that still use long, keyword-stuffed copy on the homepage for SEO purposes have terrible bounce rates. Why? Because people are turned off by what they see! Most website visitors will only skim your copy; they won't read every paragraph. So, make sure that copy on high-level entry pages is scannable (i.e., the headlines and subheads tell your story).

This doesn't mean your pages can't have detailed body copy; they can. But you should use subheads, accordions and other tools intelligently, so when an individual is scrolling on a computer (or more likely on their phone), they're getting the major points of the story. Then, if they decide they want more information, they can drill deeper.

Dynamic content. Your business is continually changing. New people come to work through you or to be hired by your clients. You also regularly add new clients. With each new project or placement, you get new success stories to tell, new testimonials and fresh online reviews. New people join your team, and you may even change or add new services.

Your website should be as dynamic as your business! Modern staffing websites offer tools to curate and display dynamic content (things like testimonials, top talent profiles, your latest blog posts), so your site is always fresh and always presenting your business in the best way possible.

Google for Jobs optimization. Google for Jobs is the first thing people see when they search for a job on Google. If you want Google to display your jobs in that little box at the top of their results page, your website code must be optimized with something called structured data or schema markup. This data helps Google understand and display the information in your job postings.

Automated talent re-engagement. Does your site allow candidates who apply to your jobs to automatically receive updates when you have new opportunities that meet their criteria? When building a new website, include functionality that puts talent re-engagement on autopilot. This way, your company and jobs stay top-of-mind with candidates without you even lifting a finger.

Visitor tracking. While IP (Internet Protocol) address software tracking is not perfect (at least not yet), consider adding technology to your site that tracks the address of each visitor to your website. On the client side, this tech can very often tell you what company an individual works for. If you're trying to target large or midsize employers, visitor tracking provides information about who's landed on your website – which can be extremely valuable for sales prospecting.

Mobile optimization. Just a few years ago, responsive websites (i.e., ones where content adjusts to fit the screen it's displayed on) were the latest and greatest. Today, your website must be more than just responsive; it has to be completely optimized to provide the best possible experience for any user, on any device. People use their computers differently than their smartphones. As a result, the best staffing websites are designed with unique features and functionality designed to maximize conversion on desktop and mobile devices.

ADA compliance. With litigation on the rise and first-time fines of up to $75,000, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and related legislation and guidelines, is a huge concern for any staffing firm. If your site is like most, people with visual impairment and/or other disabilities may have a tough time viewing content and searching your jobs (either on their own or with the assistance of other technology) because of the design.

By making your staffing website ADA compliant and more inclusive, you will get more talent applying to your jobs, and protect yourself from lawsuits.

SEO. So much has changed with SEO in recent years, we could write a book just on this topic (actually we have…and we'll be updating it for 2020 later this year). It's no secret that search engines give preferential treatment (i.e., higher rankings in search results) to websites and other content that adheres to their guidelines. Technical SEO strategies and tactics ensure your site meets the algorithms' expectations. That way, search engine spiders can find, interpret and correctly serve up your content to users.

What should you be doing? Instead of keyword stuffing dense blocks of prose, or trying to rank #1 for "staffing agencies in [your market]," take a more holistic approach in 2020:

  • Consider search intent (i.e., what users are looking for when using a search engine). To rank well, your content must provide answers to the questions clients and candidates are asking in search: "What are the highest paying production jobs near me?" "How can I get my software integration done quicker?" When your content answers your ideal audience's questions, Google rewards you with higher rankings – and more organic traffic.
  • Page zero results. Featured snippets display at the top of Google search results (above organic listings), in a spot known as "Position 0." They answer specific queries without the user ever leaving Google so they can lead to a TON more organic traffic for your website. To earn one, think: "If a user is not going to even click a single link, how do I answer their question right in the search engine results page?" Here are a few ways to try to earn this coveted spot:
    • Write valuable content people want to read.
    • Choose a specific question and dedicate your content to answering it.
    • Form questions with your keyword strings (see the examples in the bullet above).
    • Scrutinize "People also ask" for clues as to how to word your content.
    • Use H1, H2 and H3 tags, so your content is correctly indexed by search engines.
  • Optimize your jobs and firm for Google.
    • Google for Jobs - use schema markup to ensure Google correctly indexes all the content in your job postings. Better yet, use a career portal software product that does this for you... like ours!
    • Google My Business profile - for every single one of your locations! This feature levels the playing field for small businesses, so take advantage of the opportunity by making sure your profile is complete.
  • Technical SEO. It still matters! Although exact match keywords aren't as relevant as they once were, you should still optimize your URLs, headlines and H-tags throughout your content. Backlinks are still important, too, but they need to be from sites that are reliable and get good traffic. For staffing and recruiting firms, .org sites (e.g., universities, trade schools, professional associations) are a great option for building backlinks to your site.

SEO is one of those fields that's become so specialized it's smart business to hire an expert to do the behind-the-scenes work you need. By hiring or outsourcing to an SEO specialist, your content will rank well in the organic searches your ideal employers and job seekers are conducting.

Want to learn more?

This Lunch with Haley webinar: Staffing SEO – Strategies to Dominate Your Market explains where SEO is headed and shares actionable SEO tips you can start implementing today.

Job Advertising

"Post and pray" – manually posting jobs on sites where you have an annual contract and relying on gut instincts to decide which jobs to promote – doesn't work anymore. It frequently results in Job A yielding too many resumes (and a glut of candidates with no jobs for them), while Jobs B, C and D receive zero applications.

Modern job advertising strategies leverage:

  • Performance-based advertising – shifting spend to sites that deliver the highest-quality applications
  • Centralized analytics – using a dashboard (either in your career portal or programmatic software) to analyze what's going on with your jobs: views, application counts, application source, conversion rates and more 
  • Automated job distribution – no more manual sharing (thank goodness!)
  • A/B testing – systematically testing the impact of changing job titles, job descriptions and other parameters to optimize the number, quality and cost of applications you receive
  • Programmatic advertising – using rules-based bidding and application caps to even out job application "feast or famine," spend intelligently and optimize your results

Want to learn more?

This Lunch with Haley webinar: Understanding Programmatic Ad Buying provides an introduction to programmatic advertising for staffing and recruiting firms.

  • Variable spend based on needs – moving away from annual contracts in favor of more flexible spending to address your firm's changing job advertising needs
  • Employment branding – not only being seen as a great place to work, but leveraging your clients' reputation in your advertising to attract high-quality candidates
  • Reputation management – proactively managing what candidates say about their experience working through your agency, and leveraging positive reviews and testimonials in your job advertising
  • Integrating video into job postings – more job boards and programmatic partners are now accepting video, allowing you to give potential candidates a better feel for your recruiters, as well as the job, location and culture

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Just a few years ago, PPC was largely about:

  1. Buying searches in Google AdWords based on the keywords users typed into the search engine.
  2. Boosting content on Facebook to get it in front of more people.

These days, PPC is much more sophisticated. While keyword targeting is still important, maximizing the effectiveness of a PPC campaign is about much more than lowering cost-per-click. Here are a few new tactics to add to your mix:

  • Integrating Search AND Display advertising. In addition to showing up in search results, you also want to be displaying ads on Google's Display Network of more than 2 million partner websites.
  • Dynamic content and retargeting. With dynamic retargeting, content in the ads that "follows" users around the internet can now be adjusted based on what a user searches for, as well as other parameters such as their location, job title or content they consumed on your website.
  • Behavioral targeting. This tactic allows you to serve more relevant ads based on how people use social media, which sites they visit, and the things they like/follow, engage with, and show interest in online.
  • Cost per conversion. While awareness campaigns are still important (especially if you're entering new markets or adding new services), most PPC is about driving response. Instead of just measuring cost-per-click, determine how much it costs to get your target audience to take a specific action (e.g., fill out a form); then test ads systematically to drive down your cost-per-conversion.

Social Media

Old-school social media goals were all about:

  • Maximizing followers and likes
  • Pushing content to people – manually sharing posts to your social accounts
  • Organic content distribution – getting content to show up in followers' news feeds without paid promotion

With so much "noise" and competition for attention on social media these days, however, your firm must set new strategic goals to maximize the value of social:

  • Maintaining engagement and driving action right from social. Instead of just adding to the noise, think about the purpose of each post. Is it building your value proposition? Strengthening your positioning? Reaching the right people with the right message? Driving response?
  • Personal branding. Instead of merely developing a company brand, help your recruiters and account managers build their brand on accounts. As they make connections and share their expertise, your reach will increase exponentially.

Want to learn more?

Check out our free eBook, "Tapping Social Media's Superpowers – a Game Plan for Staffing and Recruiting Firms."

  • Content amplification. To get the information you're sharing on social to more people, get more team members (even your temporary associates!) involved in the process. We're launching a new product in the near future, NetSocial, to automate content amplification and maximize your impact on social media.
  • Thumb-stopping visuals. The battle for people's attention is much like the war for talent: it's getting harder and harder to win! You need great graphics, compelling images and more video in your content mix, so people consume and share your content.
  • Leveraging groups and communities. Joining and posting jobs is no longer enough. You need to participate, monitor conversations, network and drive conversions on the right groups and communities on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Generating Sales Leads

Cold calls, drop-ins, MPC (Most Placeable Candidates) calls?

  • Segmentation: Thinking about your customers based on industry size, location, vertical market, type of decision-maker and more – then making sure your outreach is appropriate based on how they view and use your services.
  • AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action – using this model to guide your marketing efforts and integrate them with your sales processes.
  • Integrated direct marketing: Multistep, multichannel campaigns that nurture relationships with prospects over weeks, months or even years – so when their current vendor makes a mistake or misses an opportunity, you're primed to step in.
  • Account-based marketing (ABM): Investing in customized integrated direct-marketing campaigns to target individual decision-makers within large accounts.
  • Content and inbound marketing: Breaking through the clutter with more relevant, more engaging, higher-value content to attract more visitors to your site and drive more conversions.
  • Cross-channel branding: Using the same language, color palette, imagery style and messaging across platforms to present a cohesive brand and story.
  • Turning your website into a platform for lead generation: Give employers multiple ways to connect with you. Such as the ability to download educational and persuasive information that warms sales leads; then hear from you once they've engaged with your website (e.g., via remarketing, follow up emails, etc.).

Want to learn more?

Download our FREE Essential Guide to Staffing Sales Lead Generation.

Recruitment Marketing

Just a few years ago, recruitment marketing was virtually non-existent; it consisted of little more than running job posts. Thanks to a healthy economy, intense competition for talent, and an explosion of technology, recruitment marketing has evolved into an essential business strategy for all staffing and recruiting firms.

What should you be doing? Develop a strategy to:

  • Optimize your career portal, maximizing the number of qualified candidates who apply to your jobs.
  • Actively manage your job advertising using the strategies outlined in the Job Advertising section of this article.
  • Leverage social media for recruiting, creating distinct strategies for both active and passive job seekers.
  • Build a strong employment brand and online reputation to ensure potential candidates have a positive perception of your firm and understand everything you can do for them.

A modern recruitment marketing strategy optimizes each of these pillars – career portal, job advertising, social recruiting and employment branding – to drive more candidates to your company and generate more referrals and qualified applications.

Want to learn more?

  • Download the FREE Smart Recruiting Checklist, packed with more than 190 ideas to improve your recruiting strategy.
  • Watch our Lunch with Haley webinar: 4 Pillars of Recruitment Marketing, in which we cover practical, cost-effective ways to attract talent, build your employment brand, and get more people to apply to your jobs!

Final Thoughts

Staffing, marketing and technology have all come a long, long way in the past 20 years. And bigger, faster changes are on the horizon. While nobody can predict the future, investing in a modern marketing strategy – one that's effective, affordable and customized to achieve your goals – is essential to ensuring the continued success of your agency for years to come.

We're here to help! Whether you choose to use the free resources in this article, or you're ready to talk about your marketing, our experts are just a click or a call (888.696.2900) away.

Take the next step

Let our team help guide your marketing strategy this year.