Content marketing for recruitment - a complete guide to planning successful content
What is content marketing?
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Marketers have been using content marketing strategies, techniques and plans to attract better qualified customers for years. As technology has developed and audiences have become over-saturated by traditional outbound forms of marketing, content marketing and inbound strategies have become an essential part of any marketer’s toolkit.
Definition: inbound vs outbound marketing
Outbound marketing used to be plain old ‘marketing’. The basic idea is that organisations direct their adverts to an audience regardless of whether they like it or not. Examples include magazine ads, television commercials, cold calling and digital display ads. Inbound, on the other hand, is a relatively new approach that focusses on pulling customers in by creating relevant and useful content and putting it where people are searching.
How’s content marketing relevant for recruiting?
The value of content marketing for attracting business is proven, but what about for attracting high-quality candidates? Can great content help recruiters hire the right people? In short, yes. Otherwise this would be a much shorter blog post.
Changing jobs is difficult and stressful. It’s rife with rejection, doubt and uncertainty. The more you can allay these fears and make people excited about working for you, the higher the likelihood that you will attract the right candidates that fit your company.
We need to start thinking of jobseekers as consumers – they do their research upfront, visiting multiple online resources before applying for a role and they expect to be able to find content that educates them about your business. They want to know if you share their values and aspirations, and if you’re the right company to support them in their vision for the future. In fact, 75% of jobseekers say that disagreeing with or not knowing a company’s values would be a deal breaker.
Your content makes you stand out. It differentiates you from your competition and helps jobseekers work out whether your company is right for them. By telling your story in a consistent, clear and engaging way across multiple digital channels, you’re helping candidates make positive, informed decisions; taking away some of the stress and uncertainty about applying for a new job; and attracting more of the right candidates for your role.
In this guide, we’ll take you through how to build your own content marketing plan for your recruitment campaigns. Download your free content marketing for recruitment planning template and follow the steps below to start engaging those standout candidates.
Step 1: Build personas
A persona is a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” Marketers, designers and product specialists use personas to help segment audiences and to create messages, websites and products that meet the specific needs of their target audience.
You won’t reach developers and marketers with the same types of content. As a recruiter, you can use personas to help you define your ideal candidates and create engaging, targeted content that resonates with the candidates you’re trying to attract.
Personas should be detailed and distinct. You need enough personas to cover most of your jobseekers but not so many that you lose the specificity or distinctness that sets that persona apart from the rest.
On a practical note, you also need to consider how you will manage these personas. Too many and you will struggle to create enough content to appeal to each group. Keep things simple and manageable to start with and prioritise your most urgent recruiting needs. You can always expand or add more detail later.
Here are some of the things you should include in your personas:
- Job title and details about the role
- Goals and challenges
- What does their average day look like?
- Motivation for changing/not changing roles
- Trusted resources
Use our free Jobseeker Personas Template to help you define your ideal jobseekers, build your target audience and generate conversions from your content.
Step 2: Run a content audit
A content audit is a full inventory of all the content available on your website or other places online – think online magazines, news articles and blogs. Chances are, you already have great recruitment content available that can be re-used or re-purposed.
Firstly, pull together a list of all the content that you currently have available. Then go through this and categorise it by the stage in the jobseeker’s journey and persona. Log the type of content and its format e.g. blog post, text only or blog post, infographic.
Once you’ve catalogued your content, you can start collecting performance data for each piece of content. Google analytics will be able to give you a lot of this detail, as will your marketing platform or CRM. Track the number of shares, sessions and conversions for each page. Now, you can start using your past content successes to drive your content planning.
Step 3: Map your content ideas
Now you know who you’re targeting and the types of content that have performed well in the past, you can start exploring new ideas for your recruitment content marketing.
Work backwards from your personas to create content that your ideal candidates would enjoy. Write all of your ideas on post it notes, then group into your personas and map the content out across the jobseeker journey. It will be easy to see if you have gaps in your plans – are you missing content for a particular persona or stage?
This always works better as a team activity. Involve current employees to help you understand and prioritise the content that will resonate with potential jobseekers and ask for support from your colleagues in marketing – they’ll be familiar with this process and will be able to help you refine your ideas into practical, engaging formats.
Once you have your content mapped out, you can start matching your subject ideas to content types. There are dozens of different formats that you can choose from for your content. Match your subject to the format that will highlight your message best and will engage your target audience. Look back at your content review to find out which formats work best for your audiences.
Here are some content types to get you started:
- Case studies
- White papers
- Company news
Step 4: Put these ideas into a content plan
It might sound like a cliché but writing down your goals is proven to help you achieve them. People who very vividly describe their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t. Formalising your content ideas into a recruitment content plan will help you deliver against your strategy, stay organised and track your performance.
Firstly, download our free content planning template. The first sheet is where you outline and plan your upcoming content. The second sheet, called ‘Options Set Up’, is where you can populate your content plan fields. Here’s how to do this:
- Fill the personas table with your jobseeker personas
- Add any additional content formats that you’re planning to use to the Format table
- Set up your content locations in the locations table. These are the channels where you are planning to distribute your content. They can be owned (i.e. your brand’s website and social media) earned (i.e. a guest blog post on an industry site) or paid (i.e. paid advertising).
If you need any help populating these tables, this article will help you.
Now you can easily go in and populate your content plan. Once it’s full, sort by content type and make sure you have a range of formats. Not only will this provide an array of engaging content types for your target jobseekers, it will help you make sure that your content plan is manageable and achievable. If every piece of content you have planned is a video, then you’ll need a ton of resource and probably a ton of cash to deliver this.
Go through and prioritise your content by planning in dates for delivery. Make sure you consider:
- How often you need to create new content – is once a week achievable? Would fortnightly make it more manageable? It doesn’t really matter what you choose, but you need to be able to stick to this.
- The time needed to create each piece of content
- The impact you expect the piece of content to have on your goals
- Seasonality and peak times throughout the year
- Other department plans that might impact your ability to deliver this
- Do you need approval for your content before it goes live?
Schedule your content for the next three months – any other ideas that aren’t used during this time can stay on the planner ready for future campaigns. Now you’ve got your content scheduled, it’s time to start creating!
There are plenty of options for creating content. If you have the resource, you can write it in house. If not, then there are great professional copywriters available. Prices range from £35 to £100 per 500 words, depending on the writer’s specialism and experience.
However you choose to tackle your content marketing plan, be realistic and give yourself plenty of time for at least 2 rounds of revisions plus approval from the powers that be. And make sure you stick to your schedule.
Step 5: Plan for success
What do you need to know to work out if your campaign has been successful? With digital content, tracking performance has never been so easy – you can track every click and every conversion back to your original campaign.
Use Google’s Link Builder to create bespoke, trackable links for any promotional activity you run. This way, you will be able to see exactly how many link clicks you get through to your content within Google Analytics as well as which campaigns have created the most goal conversions (assuming you have goals set up in analytics) so you have complete visibility.
Chat to your IT team if you need any help setting this up or monitoring your campaigns – they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. The important thing is to have all of this tracking live before you launch your campaigns so you can see exactly how your content marketing performs from the start.
Stand out from your competition
Relevant, useful and compelling content will set you apart from your competition and help the right people find you. Apply proven content marketing techniques to your recruitment campaigns by following the tips above and you’ll attract better qualified, more engaged candidates and empower them to make positive, informed decisions. Happy candidates, happy hiring managers, happy you. All down to some great content. Simple.