Using e-mail marketing for recruiting

by Karen J. Bannan

Publication: BtoB Magazine
March 18, 2010

Building owners looking for ways to save taxes may find that the answer is as easy as 1-2-3.

E-mail marketing isn’t just for selling your brand or your products. It can also be used successfully to market your company to potential job candidates, something Kelly Sego, marketing communications coordinator for nursing at Clarian Healthcare Systems, discovered.

Clarian Healthcare Systems is a multihospital organization located in Indianapolis. As in many other locations across the U.S., finding nursing candidates in that area is a highly competitive endeavor, which is why the organization has a dedicated nursing recruitment department separate from human resources. Over the years Clarion Healthcare Systems has tried a variety of recruiting methods including TV spots and billboard ads, trade shows, radio outreach, direct mail and print. However, as the economy lagged and the demand for skilled nurses grew, the company realized it needed to try something different.

Although the company had always used e-mail to some degree, about 18 months ago Sego decided to increase and improve Clarian’s e-mail marketing efforts. Her tactic: an e-mail newsletter with links to videos.

“Video is an effective way to tell a story, showcase our current nurses and start a conversation with prospects,” Sego said. “Plus, the younger generation of nurses is already very familiar with video. I think they are very used to relying on video as part of the education process, so video combined with e-mail just seemed like the best way to go.”

Before she could send out a single e-mail, however, Sego needed to build Clarian Healthcare System’s database up from the 300 to 400 names she had. She advertised on employment Web sites and started making more of an effort to gather e-mails at trade shows, national conferences, training seminars and nursing school job fairs. The list soon ballooned to more than 5,000 names, all of whom signed up explicitly to receive the organization’s e-newsletter, which is sent using e-mail marketing services from Delivra in conjunction with Cantaloupe’s VideoHere video delivery method.

Forward-to-a-friend was another key element to the list’s explosive growth, Sego said. “We’ve got people who like what they see so much that they’ll send it to five or six of their friends,” she said. “The viral aspect is definitely helping.”

So is the content, she added. Since nursing is so competitive, Sego needed a way to convince people that her medical system was a better place to work than other local or national hospitals. She did so by talking to current employees, asking them to create video case studies about what it’s like to work at Clarian. In the beginning, videos were longer—between two minutes and five minutes. Sego posted the videos on YouTube and linked to them in the e-mail newsletter. Using analytics from Delivra, Sego quickly saw that she lost viewers after about two minutes, so today, none of the videos is longer than that, she said.

From a content perspective, the vignettes showed how the organization’s “nurse heroes” move about their daily tasks. “It’s a great opportunity for people to see behind the scenes. Since we’re not using actors—we’re using real employees—candidates can see what their lives would be like as our employees,” Sego said. For example, a recent video followed a new recruit on her first day on the job at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

Originally, Sego had a goal to put out a new video every six to eight weeks. Today, however, with budget restrictions, that goal has been scaled back to six videos in 2010, all of which will be posted to YouTube and linked to within the monthly e-mail newsletters. The results have been very strong, she said.

“Our vacancy rate—how many openings we have—is the lowest it’s been in five years,” she said. “It’s down to 1.7%, which is very low. Vacancy in ’08 was 5%. The national average is between 8% and 10%. We can’t say that [the video e-mail newsletters] are the only reason that the rate is so low, but it’s definitely one of the primary reasons—since we’re reaching out directly to people who are interested in us. We’re not just blasting people. We’re targeting better and making the interactions more meaningful.”

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