Recruitment Marketing ROI:
The Definitive
Guide to Growth

How Leading Companies are Adapting and Growing Their Market Share
450% During the Recession
Digital Marketing Directors, Recruitment Industry Professionals, CXOs & VPs
20 minutes


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From The Editor,

As you know, this year hasn’t been like any other. In light of the pandemic, the recruitment industry has been rocked by changing realities. Tough decisions are being made, including laying off employees and enduring deep profit losses. A recent survey on the impact of COVID-19 found only 13% of staffing companies are doing better than this time last year.

With that in mind, it’s never been more important to invest in your marketing and sales initiatives. Fuelling new growth aligned with the realities of your company's P&L is everybody’s number 1 priority. But a lot of the old strategies aren’t working anymore.

From our conversations with you, we’ve learned a few things about how your priorities, strategies, and tactics have changed rapidly in the last 6 months. And with it, the need to adapt quickly to changing ways of doing business. We happen to know a few things about what works and what doesn’t in the current climate. This guide will provide you some key insights to help your business make sense of uncertain times and come out stronger.

Stay safe,
The Wildfire Digital Team.


Should we downgrade our marketing budgets with our expenditure cuts?
In an economic downturn it may seem logical to cut marketing to survive, and many companies are doing just that. 4 in 10 companies we spoke to were cutting their budgets. When staffing company executives were asked why their marketing expenditures were cut in response to the pandemic, the number 1 reason was overwhelmingly:
"Our marketing does not drive profitable ROI."
So then, what are the key strategies being employed by high-growth companies vs no-growth companies? Enabling them to grow profitably despite the current business environment?
Companies that advertise aggressively during past recessions had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise.
(Source: Wharton School)
Aggressive advertisers obtained 4.5x the market share gain of competitors who cut back on marketing during a recession.
(Source: Center for Research and Development)


Overcome Dept Silos, Empower Teams, & Solve Problems Faster
Scores of organizations evaluate their growth expenditures around assigning a marketing budget, and seeing if their revenue increased by a greater amount in a quarterly or yearly review.

But at every level from start-ups to Fortune500’s, high-growth companies differentiate themselves by aligning sales and marketing teams around these shared KPI’s.

As a result, teams are empowered to continually improve, achieving positive ROI on their growth marketing budgets.
Aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.
(Source: Forrester Research)
B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period
(Source: Sirius Decisions)

end-to-end conversion ratio

"How well are we converting prospects into accounts and candidates as an organization?"
This top-line KPI measures the last stage of the prospect’s journey as a ratio against the initial market touchpoints. Modern organizations evaluate this metric to gauge alignment between sales and marketing. Inconsistency is usually an indicator of issues along the pipeline and generally requires further analysis with more specific metrics.

Length of Sales Cycle

"How long does it take for us to convert a candidate or account?"
Shortening the length of the prospect-to-account cycle is a direct function of marketing and sales alignment in 2020. This high-level KPI demonstrates whether marketing is delivering the best possible prospects, and sales is effectively using marketing assets and data to convert accounts. Deeper insights related to this KPI require mapping out the logical steps in the prospect’s journey. The two functions can then work together to improve any underperforming stages.

MQL to Opportunity Ratio

"Are leads generated by marketing qualified opportunities?"
MQL to Opportunity ratio indicates whether marketing understands the definition of a good lead, and if they are targeting the correct prospects. Cross-functionality across marketing and sales is paramount for the continual improvement of this KPI.

MQL Definition: An MQL is a Marketing Qualified Lead; this is a lead that has expressed interest in your interest in your service and meets the criteria for being a potential client. It is often a website visitor who has reached a certain score in a lead tracking software (Marketo, Pardot, Incendium) by completing actions such as downloading a whitepaper and visiting certain web pages. These are quality leads as far as Marketing is able to tell without having sales qualify them. Tracking how activity drives MQLs helps us to focus on quality, rather than looking at just traffic numbers which may not be doing anything for the business. 

Opportunity To Account Ratio

"How many qualified opportunities are turning into converted accounts or candidates?"
At the other half of the prospect’s journey, this metric shows whether sales is engaging and closing qualified leads effectively. High-growth organizations view this metric along with MQL to Opp to ensure alignment and growth. If either is not performing their functions, growth expenditures will naturally have negative returns.

Revenue Diversity

"How diversified are our client and candidate acquisition channels? Are we at the whim of a pandemic or a platform algorithm change?"
This measures the productivity of your lead generation operation. Modern organizations employ hundreds of prospect sources including web, direct, virtual events, email, calls, advertising, and more. By analyzing what channels are performing well vs underachieving, teams can determine whether marketing is being effective, or sales is unwittingly prioritizing certain channels.

Percentage of content used by sales

"How well are marketing and sales working together to help our prospects at every stage?"
Many organizations have their marketers filling content buckets while lacking a true business objective. High-performing companies deploy content along every step of the prospect’s journey to provide personalized solutions and build a stronger relationship. This strongly affects conversion rates and stage cycles along every step while increasing account value. There are important insights to be gleaned here regarding marketing’s ability to create personalized content and how sales deploys it.
With the advent of the internet, nearly 70% of the sales cycle happens before sales is even in contact with the prospect...
(Source: Forrester Research)
Associations from Gartner to Hubspot agree, content drives conversions and value throughout the buying journey!
Yet traditional sales reps never use up to 90% of marketing content.
(Source: American Marketing Association)

Revenue Per Account

"Is the initial value and lifetime value of our candidates and accounts rising?"
With the other KPI’s performing well, marketing should continuously bring higher-value leads that convert into more clients, for more value, and more often. Monitoring the average revenue per account will give a top-down view of exactly how marketing and sales operate cross-functionally to improve their relevant sub-metrics, driving profitable ROI and growth.
So the real question is, how does your company become a profitable growth machine with cross-functional teams, aligned around shared KPI’s, consistently delivering a great customer experience?

your 4 step strategy for growth

How your company can achieve these results profitably: Map, Track, Align, Improve

Mapping the prospect’s Journey

Mapping out your client and candidate journeys at every step between marketing and sales is incredibly important. Yet many companies have not taken this important step.

According to Brent Adamson, VP at Gartner, the organizations that will succeed going forward are those that simplify the buying process, and it’s on marketing and sales teams to take prospects by the hand and guide them through. Robert Howard, Founder of ClearBrick says identifying your customer touchpoints is a critical first step for any customer experience initiative.

The mapping process helps companies have a wonderful customer experience:
- Guide prospects properly at each step.
- Convert more talented candidates into placement, and more prospects into clients.
- Ensure consistent service with touchpoints meant for each step of the prospect’s journey, resulting in happier customers.
- Identify key areas for improvement.

In addition, mapping your prospect’s journey is the first step in accountability for sales and marketing, and making goals easier to achieve by breaking everything down into small, trackable steps.
Wildfire Digital Tip: High-performing companies assume the role of the wise sage across departments, guiding prospects through the buying process and anticipating all issues a prospect may have.
Buying Process Map

Tracking the Steps

After mapping your client and candidate journeys, tracking & measuring is what enables improvements along the prospect’s journey. Without tracking/streamlining your prospect-to-revenue process, it becomes impossible to identify where bottlenecks are.

For example, in two surveys of global B2B marketing decisions makers conducted by Forrester:

said they are using buyers' journeys as the basis for their marketing planning.

cited their use of data and analytics to guide marketing decisions as one of their department's top 5 weaknesses.

Whether a whiteboard, a basic spreadsheet, or an intricate CRM to track activities, ensure your team has the best tools to accomplish their goals and share in ownership of the whole customer experience across all channels.

Wildfire Digital Tip: Your business development representatives are just one channel among many to your prospects!
Proportion of Buyers Who Used Sales Reps VS Website to Complete a Job
Buying behaviors have evolved over the years with digital. Research from Gartner shows in some cases, prospective clients are spending less than 5% of the buying process talking to a representative. Thus, it’s more important than ever for companies to have well-crafted and on-brand messaging across sales and marketing to create a frictionless "buying" experience.

See how our staffing partners deploy Incendium to Maxmise ROI

align Your Company

Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment
James C. Collins and Jerry Porras
Building Your Company's Vision
Harvard Business Review
Sales and marketing teams should be best friends. But we’ve observed across many staffing companies, there is a lack of respect for their counterparts functions with break-downs in communication. This is an unfortunate circumstance of them pulling in different directions; marketing is directed to drive more unfiltered traffic for less, and sales teams work on small subset of warm leads acquired through traditional mediums.
Neither have ownership of the customer experience (CX), and leaders are hard-pressed to identify how to deploy their budgets in a modern, ROI-positive manner. In the current business environment, this is a sure-fire recipe for failure.
Your marketing messaging and your sales messaging really should be aligned so they speak with a single voice and do not risk confusing the buyer, particularly at the sensitive juncture in the buying journey when the buyer moves from online research to contacting a human sales rep.
Peter Strohkorb
Author of
"Smartketing: Sell Smarter, Not Harder"
International Sales Acceleration Specialist,
Peter Strohkorb Advisory

Armed with the insights garnered from the previous steps, the journey can be evaluated properly by leaders, marketing and sales alike for alignment and improvement. For example, one way of many is to use the graphic below identifying six possible stages of a buyer’s journey. What sales and marketing activities happen to engage the prospect across channels at each stage?

Alignment across in-person and digital channels is critical for helping your candidates and clients in the ways they actually make a decision in 2020. With the two functions aligning around the correct KPI’s and working in tandem to improve the customer experience for each stage, the stats will speak for themselves.

Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates.
(Source: MarketingProfs)
Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes had an average of 10% more of their sales people on quota.
(Source: CSO Insights)

Improve Your Prospect Experience For Scale & ROI

Create Hyper-Personalized Experiences Ensure Visibility & Engagement Across Touchpoints

Customers are now smarter, more connected, more informed, more influenced and influential socially, and less likely to respond to campaign-bait. Marketing has to create content people actually want."
Tim Barker,
Chief Product Officer,
According to Forrester AND Gartner, prospects may be anywhere from 65-95% of the way through their journey before they decide to speak to a representative.

So ultimately, the onus is for your company to create engaging and hyper-personalized experiences for your prospects, ensuring your company is first choice. Content is the foundation of those efforts at every stage.

Creating Hyper-Personalized Engagement With Information & Content

Having mapped out the client and candidate journeys, Sales and Marketing teams need to sit down and decide what are the content needs at each stage.

For example:
What content are target audiences looking for which intersects with something a recruitment company can be an authority on, but is even before they have a need for one.
- What content will they look for and need at the start of the journey to find a job or a recruitment company to work with.

- As they interact with your brand, what can be used to convince them to work with you and not your competitors.

- After they have made an enquiry, what content can they be served to help warm them further for the sales team?

- What content would be useful to create for the sales team to use in their conversations with prospects.
Wildfire Digital Tip: Digital content should be produced to serve the prospect’s needs at each part of the journey, then be provided across marketing and sales channels as part of a cohesive strategy. This drives fulfilled teams, happy customers, and significant returns on investment!

Growing Visibility & Engagement With Your Candidates & Clients

Whether it’s candidates or clients, your prospects are searching for your solution. But is your message reaching them to engage, and are you even visible? At a core level, this is where your website technologies, content, search, and remarketing strategies need to integrate with your content marketing and sales functions.

In terms of amplifying your content, below are some examples of the many questions your empowered and aligned teams should be asking as they employ a strategy.

Strategy Questions

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. What is your strategy for being searchable with your content?
96% of mobile search is done through Google. Are you viewable in your prospect’s medium?
Live Chat has a 92% consumer satisfaction rate. Is there a chatting solution to answer queries from candidates and large accounts alike?
Phone/Video Call
Do your prospects have a low-friction way of booking time with an expert?
Is your site even visible to your audience? If your prospects can’t find you, your company may as well not open for business!
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. What is your strategy for being searchable with your content?
96% of mobile search is done through Google. Are you viewable in your prospect’s medium?
Live Chat has a 92% consumer satisfaction rate. Is there a chatting solution to answer queries from candidates and large accounts alike?
Phone / Zoom
Do your prospects have a low-friction way of booking time with an expert?
Is your site even visible to your audience? If your prospects can’t find you, your company may as well not open for business!

Proper content marketing is an investment strategy with high returns

Every piece of content is seen as an investment by high-growth organizations. Your videos, articles, whitepapers and more are each a different type of investment. Just like stocks, bonds or a piece of property, some pay a small dividend each year and some are high-growth investments. While a whitepaper may be created and amplified to a targeted list of 500 C-Level decision-makers, a landing page targeting candidates may be used to generate thousands of visits per month. Provided you invest with the proper diversification of assets and strategy, your company can enjoy compound growth returns on their investments (ROI).

Remember: Content marketing isn’t about creating content for the sake of it, it’s about engaging prospective candidates and clients! Ensure your content creation calendar is strategic, just like any element of marketing. Aim for brand impact, purpose, and quality!

Here’s a checklist of what form your content can take:

- Articles
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Cheat Sheets
- Checklists
- Ebooks
- Email
- Infographics
- Kits
- Large Definitive Guides
- Podcasts
- Reference Guides
- Slideshares
- Surveys
- Templates
- Videos
- Visual Content
- Webinars
- Whitepapers
- Workbooks


Budgeting Profitably For Growth
Every staffing executive’s challenge is to have the courage to allocate more than the average company to marketing.

By making these few key adjustments, your company can create the client and candidate experience machine that can grow and scale.

In this section, we’ll review how top-performing companies evaluate their marketing budgets for growth.

The Universal Formula for Growth

The following formula is almost universally applicable to any business:
Every staffing executive’s challenge is to have the courage to allocate more than the average firm to marketing. By making these key adjustments, your business can create a client and candidate experience that can grow and scale. In this section, we’ll review how top-performing companies evaluate their growth marketing budgets. In order for their firm to grow, executives understand they need to generate more clients or quality candidates, maximize earnings per account, and to have the same accounts return more often. This is a universal truth for all businesses.
The 10% Factor
This strategy is called the 10% factor. This concept is an economic plan created by Edwards Deming. He realized the only way to grow a business is to invest in the acquisition of customers.

Let’s say this is the current status of your company:

It would be a reasonable assumption to make that if your company can get 100 accounts, they can acquire 110 accounts, resulting in a 10% increase in revenue.

But what would increasing each of these 3 values by 10% result in for your company?

Ultimately, a 33% growth rate in revenue is a result of making small adjustments in these three key areas. The reality is, companies that are investing in their marketing grow. Those that do not are struggling and are at the mercy of the market. The research is clear across the staffing industry, and all industries as a whole. The most successful companies invest 10% of their revenue in marketing, fueling profitable growth.

Wildfire Digital Tip: Smart executives in the 17% of staffing companies experiencing growth in 2020 know marketing is their winning differentiator across these values.
Client Pipeline
This is the most obvious one. Marketing builds awareness, and nurtures your prospects to the next step in the pipeline. Marketing needs to drive quality, warm leads to the sales team and provide the sales team with content throughout the process to help maximise the number of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) which turn into fee paying Clients. 

Client Value
Businesses are always evaluating multiple potential partners to do business with and it is not just price which they are looking at. You can charge more for  a superior product; marketing presents your product and convinces your target audience of the benefits they will reap from that superior product. 

Recruitment is not as fast moving as ecom of course; you can’t just fire out an offer email to your customer list and expect 20% of them to hire another staff member just because you dropped the fee 10%. But Marketing is still vitally important in frequency; accounts will make another hire in the future, and contacts will move to another business and need to hire there. Nurturing contacts and accounts will ensure you are the company they go to when that requirement comes up.

Your purpose as a company is to provide outstanding candidates to your clients, and great placements for your job-seekers. We may be biased, but we’re pretty good at helping staffing companies accomplish their missions.
Book Your Strategy Session


2020 2021 line graph, surviving, dying, thriving. Your Company here.
The impact of COVID-19 on staffing and recruitment companies can’t be understated, but opportunity remains. Missions have changed from presenting the company and finding customers, to representing customers and being found. While there are many challenges, 30% of staffing professionals report their business doing better than or as well as last year.

We know aligning marketing and sales for positive growth is a tough job-after all. Wildfire Digital has been helping recruitment companies achieve their missions for many years now. We also know there’s many different ways to enact this strategy depending on your current state of affairs. Remember — keep your prospect’s challenges, goals and concerns at the top of your mind, along with those of your teams. Over time while enacting this strategy, you’ll soon find your company profitably generating more high-quality candidates and clients.


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