I went to college with marketing in mind. I applied to go to college as a business major. I would become a marketer and write jingles about chips and childhood. Easy enough, I thought. I’m creative. I can do this.
In addition to a lot of extra curricular yet mandatory BS, my first business class was a 6 week introduction to the major; a class the administration required for every incoming freshman, it walked you through each element of a business from operations to finance and teamed you up with people from each major to run a test business. Now, I had enough fun in college not to remember everything I was taught in that course, but I do remember thinking “this is it?”
See, after working retail from the day I turned 16 until I walked into my freshman study that first day, I was already doing real marketing. T-shirts, flyers, even layouts of the floor were part of our strategy, one handed down by the marketers at our headquarters. I knew about the numbers and what it meant to be the best in the region. I knew how to drive results when numbers were down. This class however, to me, was not marketing. I quickly abandoned the marketing degree for a communications degree that gave me the chance to understand advertising, not this weird version of business the marketing degree was trying to sell.
I was mad that those marketing classes weren’t about results. They didn’t talk about lead gen and operating under a budget but rather taught the future of marketing with one eye on the rear view. The courses were built around studying historical marketing trends and completely arbitrary situations that wouldn’t occur in real life. We didn’t purchase media. We didn’t track leads. We didn’t do marketing.
Delivering on Demand
With that said, I was never taught how to be a demand generation marketer. I just fell into the role. My first real lesson as a demand generation marketer began when I started working for Camille. Camille was a Silicon Valley all-star. A member of the founding marketing team at Netflix and a few other startups, she was the definition of a mission-oriented marketer. From the day she walked in, I admired her approach – focused on results, not following the book. Startup, of course, should imply that we had little to no budget. We had even less time between every hair-brained idea our CEO pitched and trying to follow leads to make connections and increase sign ups.
Her strategy was simple – test everything, measure it, then do what works. Her first, and most common questions, was usually – “what do the numbers say?” Slowly but surely, the question became a motto and a guide as I made marketing decisions. I learned to iterate rather than go with my gut and it started to work.
It’s even harder to figure out the dashboards and metrics you need to effectively track that, include variables and understanding seasonality – all things I learned in my next true demand generation marketing role at Care.com. I was responsible for understanding how TV drove leads and brand awareness, two pretty soft metrics considering I was moving out of a social media role where I (and everyone else in the field) could still get away with saying “but we have followers!” Some of you are still operating under that model, I might add, but the leadership in this company taught me that followers weren’t good enough. Eyes don’t drive downloads and if we’re going to make a monetary investment in a channel we, as marketers, need to track specific results. It’s all fine and dandy to go viral but if they never remember who it came from, it’s a million views wasted.
They pushed for more tracking, more attribution and more time in Excel than I had ever spent but it was a game changer. One that has stuck with me in every role since then.
Throwback Thursday: Recruiting’s Road To Marketing
The recruitment industry has gone through a similar transformation in recent years. We’ve evolved from a no attribution to a… well, it depends on you. Let’s focus on the job ads first, since they’re the primary marketing channel of recruiters with jobs.
We’re going back. Not all the way back to the first job ad but back to the first digital job ad. At the time, because the internet was just becoming a thing and ads were still living in the newspaper, advertisers could get away with charging by character. That’s how the newspaper did it, of course – charging per letter to make more advertising dollars. They were being commissioned for those words. Today, we’d cringe at the idea. That’s what the internet is for, of course. A bunch of words we don’t even need. But back then, that’s how you spread the word on jobs so that’s what you had to do, PLI (pre-LinkedIn, of course).
The digital ad made a big splash at conception driving all types of applies and clicks. It blew people’s minds that this many people could see and were applying to a job. I wish I had been in that first meeting where they realized “whoa… this actually works.” Then, slowly but surely, the job boards killed the newspapers and their model in favor of something that could scale for the new migration to the digital methods.
They proved scale and attraction – two things that will catch the attention of any half decent recruiter or marketer. It was all about finding the most candidates, or at least it was at the time. This was a period when we didn’t talk about jobs going unnoticed because for the first time, jobs were a commodity and one that recruiters were buying and trading for as a currency. It made a lot of people a lot of money so everyone wanted to do it. Duh.
Then there were so many boards competing at so many price points, recruiters started to test attribution. They needed to recognize the true source of hire and they started to find better quality elsewhere. It doesn’t make sense to pay for a click when the click isn’t qualified.
Recruiters began to recognize that volume doesn’t necessarily mean qualified applicants and the more volume, the more time wasted by their team. 400 applies wasn’t impressive any more – it was a stumbling block. One that slowed down recruiter effectiveness.
So, they demanded better and now we have Pay-Per- Application. Because when it all comes down to it, it’s not about getting any candidate – it’s about getting the right one. And if we can’t track a hire back to a source, why would we pay for it in the first place? Pay-Per-Applicant solves two sides of the problem with online advertising. One, it solves for trying to give value to an impression.
Lesson: there’s little to no volume in impressions unless they’re at big scale. The other is that it gives us direct attribution models we can use on our teams to establish the effectiveness of all of the channels, not just the boards. So why are you still paying for impressions when you don’t need eyes at all? Why are you letting people sell you on marketing speak? Wisen up, folks.
Editor’s Note: So, full disclosure – this post is sponsored. I actually had no idea pay-per-application existed before I met with their team and figured out they’re breaking the job board mold. If you’re tired of paying for impressions and clicks that don’t amount to much, visit Jobs2Careers.com/employers.