Innovate, Test, Measure: How the Best Employer Branding Comes from Taking a Chance

November 16, 2021 • 4 min read

Innovate, Test, Measure: How the Best Employer Branding Comes from Taking a Chance

Lauren Saunders

Lauren Saunders

Keeping your messaging fresh, authentic and impactful is one of the focal – and most challenging – aspects of employer branding. Many companies get so stuck on thinking about ROI that they’re hesitant to go for anything that isn’t already tried and tested, but if we never try anything new, we’re never going to do anything differently! The only way to evolve is by testing and learning.

Right now at LinkedIn, we’re working on what we can do to be more innovative with our EB, with the intention of creating content that’s agile, adaptable and relevant to our candidates’ needs. What we know without question is that audiences respond to authenticity. Learning how to identify your target audience and the kinds of messages they respond to is step one in testing and scaling your EB strategy. Then, it’s time to develop some authentic content and keep measuring the results of your approach. 

Keep it simple

This is my biggest tip when it comes to creating authentic content. The more we dive in and try to overly curate it, the more we tend to sound corporate, and that detracts from authenticity. Feature real people and let them talk candidly.

Additionally, if we’re too vanilla and only giving the top headlines at all times, it looks like we’re not telling the full story. Show the reality, the challenges faced in a role, perhaps the real-world problems existing employees are facing and how your company is helping them navigate those. The pandemic sadly has provided us many examples.

It’s essential to make sure we’re showing the full spectrum of employee experience, because encouraging candidates to opt out if the role or company culture is not right for them is just as much an objective of EB as attracting those interested.

Identify your audiences and the messages that hit home for them

Most importantly, you need to be as detailed as you can. This means really defining your needs and what you’re trying to achieve as well as the personas of those you want to reach. From there, it’s about mapping where that talent lives and what’s important to them.

Companies often talk about what they feel is so great about working for them, instead of focusing on the candidate’s point of view. You should be tapping into the candidate’s mindset and telling them what they want to hear. This will vary by so many different factors, like seniority, location, role type, etc. So while you must never let go of being authentic to your values and overall brand messaging, remember to always be strategic and targeted with what you’re looking to share with a specific audience, and why.

Innovating our EB approach at LinkedIn

Right now, we’re testing a couple of different approaches to our branding. Firstly, we’re looking at new types of content for campaigns to see where we achieve the most value. It’s a version of A/B testing, but we’re doing it with both images and video, different targeting parameters and different types of advertising.

Our other focus is on being data-driven with content enhancements across all channels. We want to update and refresh information on a reasonably frequent cadence to make sure that we’re continuing to meet our audience’s needs. We know that candidates’ needs change, so it’s important to be agile and adaptable.

In light of the world we’re living in at the moment, I don’t think we’re alone in zoning in on creating great virtual experiences for candidates with online events, video, automation and gamification initiatives that provide interactivity and connection between candidates and hiring managers or recruiters.

Measure as you go

At LinkedIn, we use all the usual suspects in terms of metrics: impressions, click-through rates, influenced hires and so on. But what we also introduce relativity by measuring against the total addressable market we’re reaching out to. For example, if the total addressable market for the campaign (i.e. candidates who have the profile we want) is only 100 people and we gain 850 impressions, we can ascertain that we’re doing quite well in reaching our target market, particularly with paid media. However, if we just looked at those 850 impressions in isolation, we may see it’s a decent volume, but we wouldn’t have a gauge on exactly how good it is.

Over time, we’ve added information to our metrics dashboard that helps consolidate the various measurements we’re using. This means we now know that the average CTR for a particular audience tends to be X, and a really well-performing (or not-so-well performing) campaign will jump out at us. 

Finally, it’s important to make sure that the metrics you’re focusing on are aligned to the goals of the campaign. It’s no good measuring influence hires, for instance, if it’s not a direct to role recruiting marketing campaign. You’re not driving someone to a requisition, and therefore, the expectation that that’s going to have a strong influence on hires is probably not right. You’d be better served here measuring impressions and reach.

How do we keep it fresh?

That’s the million-dollar question! Above all, you should continue to optimize. Don’t just do the same thing over and over again. It’s critical to keep setting goals and constantly assess your performance to make sure you’re working out where to stop, start or continue. Try all reasonable ideas and if something isn’t working, be prepared to quickly pivot and invest somewhere else.

And don’t hold back from trying something you’ve done before, just with a different flavor to it. The candidate market changes all the time. It might not have worked exactly as it was done before, but with a slightly different spin in this new time, it may well resonate better.

Be bold and always have the guts to try. Otherwise, you’ll never know the extent of the success you may find.

About the author: Lauren manages a talented team of project/program managers and specialists who bring the LinkedIn vision to life and help recruit the most qualified, and diverse candidates that help to build on the rich company culture. She is passionate about separating Employee Branding from transactional recruiting, as she strongly believes that at its foundation, EB is innovative and creative.