How Both Employer Branding and Marketing Are Increasingly Measuring ROI

August 20, 2018

Employer Branding ROI

“What gets measured, gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

The chief reason why people consider a career move is knowledge of the culture and values of the company they’re thinking of joining. At the same time, the biggest obstacle to making a job change is not having this knowledge, according to LinkedIn Global Talent Trends research. 

That’s where Employer Branding comes in. Companies are increasingly investing in Employer Branding to communicate with potential employees. The goal of these efforts is to attract the right people to apply, join, and enjoy long, productive careers at the organization. 

Yet only 13% of companies say they measure the ROI of their Employer Branding activities, according to Universum’s 2020 Outlook Research: The Employer Brand Misalignment. That stat must sound familiar to the traditional Marketing Department, which also struggles to measure the ROI of its efforts.

It’s just one of many similarities between the HR/Talent Acquisition team’s efforts to attract employees and Marketing’s efforts to attract customers. Ultimately, a partnership between Marketing and HR/Talent Acquisition on Employer Branding can mean benefits for both.   

Here’s how. 

Like Marketing, Employer Branding is experiencing a growing shift away from vanity metrics. In traditional marketing, vanity metrics include traffic and impressions. In Employer Branding, vanity metrics include applicant numbers and job views. Success is as much about getting the wrong people to “opt out” as getting the right candidates to “opt in” to working for you.

No recruiter wants hundreds of irrelevant applications, just as no sales person wants hundreds of low-quality leads to sift through. A software developer might view a job or click on an update, but those actions alone provide incomplete insight into the return on your investment in Employer Branding. 

Another similarity between Employer Branding and Marketing is a growing embrace of long-term metrics. In Employer Branding, the HR/Talent Acquisition teams can't stop measuring the impact once an employee has been hired — that’s because their experience with your company as a place to work is still getting started. If you stop tracking the ROI at that point, you’re stopping halfway through. It would be like giving a 5-star rating to your Lyft driver in the middle of your trip or tipping your waiter before your main course is served.

Let’s compare this long-term outlook by Employer Branding to a typical Marketing metric: quality of leads. Increasingly, the Marketing Department is tracking those leads through the sales process and beyond. Not only is Marketing tracking if a lead becomes a customer; it’s tracking just how valuable that customer is with metrics such as customer lifetime value. Did the marketing-sourced lead spend more with you than the average customer over time? Were they more likely to become a testimonial or more likely to refer others to you?  

Leading organizations think of Employer Branding as Employee Experience. This holistic, long-term view encompasses market engagement with their brand as an employer, to when candidates become employees, to when they exit, to when they may ‘boomerang’ or return to you. 

Here's how tracking the ROI of Employer Branding across the full employee lifecycle looks:

Marketers can help throughout this lifecycle by providing additional metrics and expertise to evaluate success with the Talent Pool. Relevant marketing metrics that Employer Branding can borrow include content engagement and reach, and benchmarking against best-in-class organizations. Marketers can also help HR/Talent Acquisition teams attribution approaches and metrics.

Taking this partnership between Marketing and HR one step further is looking at revenue as the ROI of a successful Employer Branding strategy. Richard Branson’s Virgin Media famously focused on this.  

Virgin Media, which sells broadband, TV and mobile packages to British and Irish consumers, was able to quantify the cost of their poor candidate experience at $5.4 million. They calculated this based on 6% of rejected candidates cancelling their monthly Virgin Media broadband/TV/mobile subscription, after they completed the interview process. Their goal was to turn this around completely. They are working to create a new $7 million revenue stream by turning candidates into Virgin Media customers. 

Tying Employer Branding activities to revenue should sound familiar to Marketers. It’s in line with ongoing discussions about turning Marketing into a profit center rather than a cost center. Perhaps tracking return on investment in Employer Branding and Marketing is not so different after all.

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