Account-based marketing (ABM) is fast becoming a popular strategy in the B2B marketing world, primarily due to its ability to significantly drive ROI. Research from Demand base, ITSMA, and ABM Leadership Alliance reveals that 45% of the surveyed B2B marketers have doubled their ROI. An organization can retain its competitive edge with good talent, and ABM gives organizations the tools to attract the best people

What is account-based marketing?

Also known as key account marketing, ABM refers to a one-on-one business approach wherein a marketing team treats an individual prospect as its very own market. As opposed to inbound marketing, which leads to the mass generation of leads, ABM involves the creation of personalized content specific to the account

ABM offers several benefits:

  • Dedicated marketing campaigns leading to targeted messaging
  • An efficient and optimized business approach
  • Fortifies relationships with existing clients
  • Aligns sales and marketing team goals
  • Better customer experience

In the context of recruiting, ABM involves attracting, nurturing, and hiring top talent by building and communicating the hiring organization’s brand value and employee value proposition (EVP). The idea is to engage high-quality individuals who aren’t ready to apply right away and build a relationship with them for the future

Today’s candidates are like consumers

Nowadays, candidates are savvier, better informed, and more particular. They place great value on the “image” of an organization on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. They look up Glassdoor reviews and search for news articles about the organization they intend to apply to. Concepts like “company culture” and “brand image” are important for them. They research a company much like they research before making a major purchasing decision. 75% of job seekers research a company’s reputation and employer brand value before applying!

Thus, such candidates need to be engaged with and marketed to, on a consistent basis. Companies can no longer push open roles by posting on job boards and hope to get the best talent. This is particularly important because an organization’s recruitment marketing strategy has the potential to impact the overall direction of the business in the long run

Account-based recruitment marketing: the new entrant

The evolution of recruitment marketing has seen several strategies—job boards, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine marketing (SEM), social selling, content marketing, and inbound marketing. The newest kid on the block is Account-Based Recruitment Marketing (ABRM), which combines popular trends such as customer-centrism, employer branding, analytics, and automation to create the perfect strategy for long-term relationship building

An analogy that is often used to explain the difference between ABM and traditional marketing is that the former is like using a spear to catch fish, whereas the latter is similar to using a net. Thus, the ABM model appears as a flipped sales funnel. Instead of casting one’s efforts wide and shallow, one goes narrow and in-depth

Source: SuperOffice

ABRM may be defined as the process of finding, attracting, engaging with, and nurturing high-quality candidates via marketing strategies and tactics

Each recruitment marketing strategy has four main goals:

  1. Raise awareness about your brand and open positions
  2. Attract potential candidates to your organization
  3. Convince them to consider your organization as a potential employer
  4. Drive top talent to your open positions

This strategy has emerged as a result of the current situation in the recruitment space. A “war for talent” has broken out since demand far outstrips supply. Although the strategy entered the HR industry as a buzzword, it has since then transformed into a must-have recruiting strategy for any organization of repute

In an ABRM model,

  • An organization targets a few key accounts or talent pools which have the highest probability of converting into leads down the sales funnel
  • Marketing helps the recruitment team, which needs to fill open positions, to determine which companies have talent that is most likely to be converted from lead to hire
  • Then, a strategy is created to target only these leads. Traditional marketing tactics may be used—paid postings, PPC, social ads, SEM, out-of-home/outdoor advertising—but the targeting parameters are greatly narrowed to a sort of laser focus on the identified leads

ABRM hinges on the assumption that business decisions are not made in isolation by individuals, but by a group of individuals spanning various functions. This is particularly true for larger organizations (1,000+ employees) that are hiring in several departments or complex B2B deals where 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the customer base. ABRM platforms and tools can allow access to these groups of decision-makers instantly and simultaneously

An ABM approach is often employed by recruitment agencies during known hiring periods (e.g. new year, mid-year financial year) to nurture existing relationships with candidates or clients or obtain new clients. Targeted display advertising is combined with sales-driven account management for best results

For example, a large bank hires a great number of people each year. To use the ABRM approach, the bank would first identify the names of particular competitors or universities that they want to recruit from. Next, the bank would send personalized content like ads, articles, and employer-branded videos to target accounts based on their IP numbers. The benefit of such targeting is that the bank gets responses from the target accounts, which may belong to people not on job boards or not actively looking for a job

Account-based recruitment marketing is NOT poaching

Some people may consider ABRM a form of strategic poaching. Talent poaching involves practices wherein a company hires an employee from a competing company for open roles that require certain experience and knowledge

However, recruitment marketing is a proactive approach to hiring. It is a strategy which allows a company to make its culture visible and attractive to high-quality talent, even when it does not have available positions

“ABRM is a pull rather than push strategy”

How is account-based recruitment marketing done?

An ABRM strategy usually consists of the following broad steps:

  1. Finding target companies & universities
  2. Targeted branding
  3. Creating relationships
  4. Recruiting efficiently

1. Finding Target Companies/Universities

An ABRM campaign begins with identifying the type of candidates one wants to target using various strategies, such as LinkedIn analytics, people analytics, and social sourcing. HR professionals define an ideal candidate persona to adjust marketing strategies towards people they want to recruit

Defining the ideal candidate persona

To define one’s ideal candidate persona, one needs to compile detailed information about the candidate—bio, personality, skills, job search behavior, job search channels, motivations & frustrations, influencers, and resources used by the person

A clearly-defined candidate persona ensures that recruitment marketing strategies are attracting the right people, thus enabling greater engagement with marketing content and improving the candidate experience. It also reduces one’s cost-to-hire and speeds up to one’s time-to-hire and time-to-fill. By recruiting people who are more likely to be a better fit for the organization, recruitment marketing ensures greater employee satisfaction

candidate persona definition

Source: TalentLyft

  • Identifying similar and competing companies

Recruiting teams can use people analytics to identify companies or universities from which one consistently converts leads. It also demonstrates how those leads have been performing in the recruiting organization. LinkedIn data analytics is another quick way to determine which companies or institutions one is getting talent from. Such reports display how talent flows to and from the recruiting organization, company-wise. These companies are not necessary competitors—they may simply be organizations with a similar culture. It is particularly important to identify companies with a similar recruitment tech stack. This helps seek out candidates (developers) who are already familiar with the software and may be more interested in moving because the recruiting organization uses the technology they’re interested in. Thus, a developer’s programming skills are more valuable than his/her knowledge of the recruiting organization’s domain

  • Social Sourcing/Employee Referrals

Another method of finding one’s target candidates is called Social Sourcing. It involves using one’s employee network to get introductions to potential candidates who could be a good fit for the recruiting organization. Passive talent is more likely to consider job opportunities if they were approached by somebody they trust, thus social sourcing has tremendous value in finding high-quality people

Also, 78% of employees have reported that gaining information about opportunities from someone inside the recruiting organization is more influential when deciding where to apply. The average employee has around 150 contacts on social media platforms. If a company has a hundred employees, that alone accounts for a pool of 15,000 contacts and possible candidates

In fact, employee referrals account for 40% of all hires, despite only 7% of candidates applying—the highest applicant to hire conversion rate. These statistics demonstrate the value of employee referrals in finding the best candidates

  • Personalized referral requests work better!

Instead of a generic “don’t forget to refer” team email, it is better to send personalized notes to drive greater engagement. The more customized the email is, the higher the chances of receiving the referrals one wants. HR professionals need to find the sweet spot between bespoke referral requests and boilerplate emails

  • Narrowing the search

To filter the best-fit candidates from the huge pool generated by the strategies mentioned previously, Adam’s equity theory can be applied. According to this theory, when a fair balance is achieved between an employee’s inputs and an employee’s outputs, it helps forge a strong bond with the employee and consequently raises employee satisfaction and retention

The theory assumes that employees become demotivated when they feel that their inputs (skills, enthusiasm, hard work) are greater than their outputs (salary, benefits, recognition). This dissatisfaction is expressed in various ways, such as reduced productivity or even attrition. The equity theory does not only depend on the input-to-output ratio but also on comparison with one’s peer group

The equity theory can be harnessed to identify companies or institutes over which the recruiting organization can offer better outputs—salary, benefits, job satisfaction, and so on. By determining where the target companies are falling short and highlighting how the recruiting organization can fill those gaps, the list of potential candidates can be condensed

Also, narrowing the search using the equity theory is a good way to discover potential candidates who can be lured with the promise of greater employee happiness. A focus on employee wellness is one of the latest HR tech trends, wherein HR professionals utilize data gathered from software platforms to prevent burnout and increase employee retention

A better job offer does not necessarily mean more money—it could be other benefits like flexible working hours, continuing educational opportunities, recognition, growth opportunities, and so on

2. Targeted Branding

Once the talent pool is built, it is time to create a hyper-focused content marketing strategy to engage and nurture them. In order to convert greater numbers of high-quality applicants, it is important to measure the performance of each element of the recruiting strategy

  • Using ABM tools to track recruitment metrics

Modern recruitment marketing platforms like Engagio, DemandBase, and LeanData make it easy to track every step of the candidate journey and recruitment marketing plan. If the budget permits, recruiting teams can employ such ABM tools that offer well-designed reports and interactive dashboards with recruiting and hiring metrics. Even on a small budget, a lot can be done using Google Analytics and Excel sheets!

Important hiring metrics such as cost-per-hire, time-to-hire, applicants-per job, website visitors-to-applicant, applicants-to-hire, and applicants-per-source must be accurately measured and analyzed to determine future hiring and recruitment strategies

Such metrics offer significant insights into:

  • Where the best candidates and hires are coming from
  • How to shorten one’s time-to-hire
  • How to reduce one’s cost-per-hire
  • Who the best recruiter is

Even a user-friendly application form can be used to mine valuable data about the types of job-seekers landing on one’s career web page. Recruitment marketing software can then be used to adjust the form to match one’s target candidates, which makes it more likely to get top talent

Social recruiting isn’t just about placing targeted job ads on social media platforms. By developing a strategic social recruitment plan, one can access a huge talent pool consisting of both active and passive candidates. LinkedIn has been found to be the most-used channel for recruitment efforts, followed by Facebook and Instagram

  • LinkedIn Marketing

LinkedIn can be used to effectively target potential candidates using the insights gleaned from analyzing recruitment metrics. LinkedIn offers various targeting options to show paid ads to target candidates. Paid marketing services and LinkedIn for B2B lead generation can be used to discover the best-fit candidates

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool is useful for narrowing one’s pool by filtering for parameters like company size, position, revenue, and keywords. LinkedIn advertising is then employed to send customized ads to the target candidates

  • Facebook Recruiting

Facebook represents an enormous talent pool because it is the largest social media site in the world. It is also a great way to reach out to passive candidates by presenting oneself as a potential employer whose culture fits their interests and preferences. Apart from posting job ads, Facebook recruiting is an ideal platform to encourage high-quality candidates to consider new opportunities

Also, Facebook enables measuring of user engagement with its posts, which allows one to track and fine-tune one’s recruitment efforts over time

3. Creating Relationships

Timely communication of relevant, compelling and focused content helps build trusting relationships with candidates until they are ready to switch jobs or openings become available. Here, it is necessary to remember that cultivating healthy relationships takes time and does not happen overnight. When creating content, authenticity is extremely important

Nowadays, recruiting teams are using social media extensively to find job candidate leads, especially millennial’s, and get the best prospects on board. Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiter Nation Survey showed that recruiters believed that the top three investments for growing an employer brand are social media (47%), company career websites (21%), and marketing and advertising (12%)

  • Career site team blogging

It is not enough to post available job openings on one’s career web page to engage high-quality candidates. Using recruitment marketing tools, one can create team blogs wherein the employer’s brand, culture, values, current projects, fun events, or interesting facts are described. Insights on industry trends are also considered valuable information by candidates. To drive greater engagement, visitors can be asked to comment, like, or share the content

  • Talent networking

Asking candidates to join one’s talent network instead of simply asking them to apply for open positions is a good way to create a talent pool. High-quality candidates may be interested in the employer, but may not be ready to make the switch yet. These people can be kept engaged with email campaigns until they become job applicants

  • Email recruiting campaigns

Recruitment marketing platforms can be used to send personal, automated emails containing relevant and attractive information about company updates, job opportunities, industry trends, how-to guides, and tips and tricks to find jobs. These emails can be sent to candidates who are the best fit for roles that are most difficult to fill

  • Candidate relationship management

The most powerful way to convert passive and active candidates into job applicants is via candidate relationship management (CRM) tools. It is also the best way to optimize the candidate experience. CRM tools help build, strengthen, and maintain relationships with candidates from one’s talent pool

4. Efficient recruiting

An enormous volume of data is generated during a recruitment marketing campaign, which includes spreadsheets, emails, calendars, and other documents. An applicant tracking system (ATS) helps organize and manage this data in three ways:

  • Centralizing information

The recruiting team can stay on top of all recruitment processes when all the information is localized in a single place. Recruiting tasks like sourcing, job posting, scheduling, and collaboration are made easier by consolidating them in a single tool

A centralized database prevents duplication of work and ensures that candidates are not inadvertently lost

  • Automating tasks and standardizing data

Hiring workflows and candidate relationship management protocols can be standardized and improved, whereas day-to-day, repetitive tasks like screening resumes and posting job ads can be automated. This helps decrease time-to-hire

Employers can create a pleasant applicant experience by automating email communications to be sent at every step of the application process

ATS software can also be configured to send alerts when a potential candidate applies to a job. Thus, the recruiting team can react faster and improve the candidate experience, making it more likely for talent to accept job offers

  • Tracking data

An ATS is usually built with a reporting functionality that enables the recruiting team to have a bird’s eye view of the hiring process and measure the success of the recruitment marketing strategy. Apart from tracking and improving hiring metrics, the recruiting team can also gain key takeaways from the insights generated

Key Takeaway

Account-based recruitment marketing is here to stay

In recent years, the discipline of marketing has rapidly evolved, especially due to advances in analytics and automation. Recruitment marketing has taken a leaf out of the book of large consumer brands, adopting their marketing tactics to attract top talent and forge strong relationships with them. One starts with data to understand and reach out to the candidate, uses creative storytelling to make the job role and organization attractive, and emphasizes the human connection throughout. Thus, recruiting is increasingly beginning to look like marketing

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