Pros and Cons of Each Digital Marketing Channel for Recruiters

Daniel Sandoval
January 30, 2020

As a recruiter, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to digital marketing channels you can leverage to drive business results.

The channels best suited to your agency depend on your goals, both short and long term, as well as your digital landscape – company/personal brand awareness, competition, etc.

You need to put and keep your business in front of potential clients while building credibility that you can provide them with the talent to meet their business needs.

At the same time, you need to attract quality candidates so that you can fulfill your clients’ staffing requirements.

From experience, most recruiters are more interested in generating consistent client enquiries while highly specialised agencies can have more of a focus towards driving qualified candidate leads ; for example, medical or scientific candidates.

Below I’ve broken down every reasonable digital channel available to you as a recruitment agency, and given you some food for thought as to the pros and cons of each so you can build a marketing mix that meets your business goals.

Organic Search – SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a term that encapsulates all actions taken so that your website and blog get the greatest exposure on search results.

You want your company’s web assets to be at the top of the search results for search terms that relate to your niche. A focus on local SEO will ensure any clients/candidates searching locally will become aware of your brand and that you can help.

SEO is constantly evolving due to search engines’ propensity to constantly tweak their algorithms. This is done to better meet the needs of internet users; providing them with the highest quality and most relevant info as possible.

SEO is a double-edged-sword. The same tactics employed to push your site up the rankings will also serve to represent your business well with user-focused design and content.


Pros of SEO:

1. It’s free

Sure, there may be a cost with implementing the necessary actions to achieve a top spot in the search engines or engaging with an external provider. However, once there, each click to your website or blog that comes via organic search results is free. Keep in mind that the top 3 search results in Google get over 75% of all clicks while the top 5 results drives 67.5% of all clicks.

2. Builds authority

Holding the top spots in the search results means that Google has crawled your site using its meticulous algorithm and deemed that your webpage is better-suited for answering its users queries than those of your competition. This goes a long way with building authority in the eyes of prospective clients and candidates.

3. Targeted

No one is searching “hire executive assistant sydney” to check out the weather. They have identified a need and are actively searching for a solution.

If you’re site is appearing in the top results for a relevant keyword, the users landing on your site will be very targeted. It likely means that someone searched for recruiting services in your area and found your website. You’re more likely to close someone that is actively searching for your services than someone who stumbles upon your business via social media for example.

Cons of SEO:

1. Takes time

If your website is currently not ranking well, it will take time to get it to the top of the search results for your valuable keywords and search terms.

Although there is no way of knowing exactly how long this process can take, a good SEO agency should be able to get you ranking within 3 or 4 months for long-tailed search terms while high-volume terms may take longer.

How long can vary based on the strength of the competition in your area and your website’s on-page and off-page factors.

SEO is best for: driving long-term and consistent results

Whether you’re more focused on getting clients or candidates, SEO is something all recruitment agencies should be doing at some level.

Search traffic is the highest-converting traffic available and organic search is widely considered the most valuable source of search traffic. It’s foundational in delivering consistent qualified traffic that grows businesses.

The beauty of SEO is you can be patient – small efforts compounded over time will still move the needle (to an extent). To move it faster and further consider dedicating further resources or partnering up with an agency who specialise in recruitment SEO.

For some quick tips on how to improve your recruitment agencies’ organic search exposure – see our blog “ 19 SEO Tips Every Recruitment Agency Needs To Follow ”.

Paid Search: Search Engine Marketing (SEM/PPC)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or PPC (Pay Per Click) refers to paid advertising implemented on search engine platforms. Both Google and Bing let you setup targeted ad campaigns which will immediately put your site in front of users searching the terms you deem most valuable to your business and charge you each time they’re clicked on.

The price charged per click depends on the keyword/search term and how much competition is bidding for it. There are limited paid positions available and the more competition, the higher the cost-per-click (CPC). A good agency will be able to bring the CPC down over time and drive better results month-on-month.

Pros of SEM:

1. Immediate results

With paid search ads you can drive traffic, leads and revenue from day one. As soon as you activate your campaign, your site will have immediate exposure for highly-qualified search terms relevant to your recruitment agency and target clients/candidates.

2. Immediate feedback

Not only do your ads immediately appear to search engine users but you also get your first feedback regarding the effectiveness of these ads – allowing you to adjust your digital strategy to gain much more effective results and higher returns.

If searchers find your ads appealing, they will click through to your landing page. If they consume your content and initiate communication with you for your services, then you are on the right track.

If your campaign isn’t performing, you can determine what’s not working, make tweaks and correct it so that you can start to attract clients and/or candidates.

3. Measurable

Running ads on search engine platforms gives you the ability to track and measure your cost-per-click and conversions.

By measuring your ad’s CPC and conversion rate performance, you can strategically optimise your campaign to provide you with the most profitable results. For example, you can adjust your ad budget to get your ad in front of a wider audience for a higher click-through rate and drive more conversions to your site.

Cons of SEM:

1. Costly

You have to pay for every single click. To make matters worse, Google only allows upto 8 paid search text ads per page, and if your competitors are investing heavily into paid ads, the average cost-per-click can be expensive.

A way to manage this is by continually optimising your SEM campaigns to keep them as efficient and effective as possible. This will deliver a strong quality score (Google Ad’s relevance metric) and reward you with lower costs-per-click over time allowing you to drive a bigger result without the bigger spend.

2. When it stops, it stops

Unlike SEO where your efforts will be felt well into the future, once you turn off your PPC campaigns the tap runs dry. No more traffic. No more leads. No more revenue.

SEM is best for: driving immediate results

If you need to move the needle fast, SEM may be the answer.

Social Media

There are many social media platforms and choosing to have an active presence on all may not be the best strategy for your recruitment agency.

It’s often best to identify one or two platforms that are effective for your business and double down on those. Though, there are tools that allow you to schedule social posts for multiple social media platforms that work well and save a lot of time.

When considering which social platform is best, I would look at your agency, your goals and your audience.

On the client side, LinkedIn and Facebook are likely the most important to be actively managing your presence on.

There is also the importance of distinguishing between ‘organic social’ and ‘paid social’.

Organic social activities include simply posting and sharing valuable content with your followers on the social media platform. For example, publishing content about a vacant job, and receiving likes, shares and comments on it. Here, zero costs have been spent.

Paid social can include ‘boosting’ an organic post – such as in the above example – to increase its reach or running dedicated lead generation campaigns using the pay-per-impression/click/lead model. Paid Social Ads are a cost-effective way to advertise your business and uses the same PPC (pay-per-click) payment model. With paid social, you’ll be able to create a social media strategy optimised to reach and engage with your niche target audience, and pay only when a user takes a particular action you want.

Pros of Social Media:

1. Build your brand

If you’re creating content consistently that is driving engagement, you have a solid brand on your hands that will work to educate potential prospects on your business and put you in a much better position to maximise any paid marketing spends.

2. Allows for hyper-local targeting

Most social platforms have evolved to the point where anyone can target anyone, anywhere via paid ads. Demographics and other data can be applied to make your targeting even more focused; allowing you to put highly contextual messages in front of your different target audience.

3. Can be free

Although it requires significant time and effort, using social media organically without paying for ads can yield business results. This strategy is best applied to emerging social platforms as they’re inclined to provide a much higher organic reach vs more established platforms who monetise this exposure (looking at you Facebook).

4. You can gain useful insights

Statistics and metrics obtained from your social media accounts can help you better tailor your marketing message. The analytics that social media platforms provide can offer very detailed statistics about your audience’s demographics and interests; allowing you to delve deeper into what makes your followers tick while tweaking your messaging to accommodate.

5. The existence of LinkedIn

I don’t need to tell any recruiters how valuable LinkedIn can be in sourcing candidates but it can also be hugely valuable in driving new clients. Paid LinkedIn ads allow you to put a specific message in front of a specific audience – i.e. HR managers in Melbourne – and when used correctly, can drive serious growth!

Cons of Social Media:

1. The newsfeed cycle is short

Putting in the effort to create an interesting article for your audience with the appropriate visual media to go along with it, only to watch that posts fade into the bottomless pit that is the social media newsfeed can be disappointing. Organic content tends to not stick around for too long and without a great deal of engagement from users, it can vanish into obscurity before it has the chance to leave the desired impact.

2. Takes time

Social media is best for brand building but the fact that you will need to build authority and attract followers that are focused on the field of recruiting can take time. If you offer value to your niche, you should be able to create a network of professionals that are keen on interacting with you and your content.

Social media is best for: building an audience & lead generation via paid ads.

Organic social and paid social both hold value for recruitment agencies in that they will allow to build your brand, nurture your existing audience, and driving leads via paid ads. We would recommend

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to build brand equity and allows you to communicate with your audience directly.

Sharing valuable, educational and actionable content with your email database plays a part in building credibility and keeping your agency top-of-mind so when a need arises, you’re their first and last thought.

In an ideal world, you would have a minimum of two email marketing strategies; one for building authority in your niche for prospective clients/candidates to drive new business and one for nurturing existing clients/candidates in an effort to push repeat/referral business.

Pros of Email Marketing:

1. Gives you control over your content

Being able to directly communicate with your audience via email allows you to send out the content you deem fit for your audience. This differs from the other types of digital marketing where you have to abide by the requirements and standards of the platforms you will be using.

2. Ability to track metrics

Software providers offer services called ‘auto-responders’ that allow you to maintain and manage large email lists that can offer you endless possibilities in tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your mailings.

You can determine what percentage of users open your emails, what percentage clicks through to your landing page, and a host of other useful information that will help you best tailor your message and increase conversions.

3. Personalise your messages

Being able to personalise each email with a users name can have a big impact on conversion. In fact, a 2017 study found that 80% of people indicated they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalisation. 90% indicated they find personalisation appealing.

Cons of Email Marketing:

1. Open rates can be low

Most people subscribe to several newsletters and receive communication from many sources.

Achieving good open rates takes a lot of effort in making sure you’re consistently sharing valuable content.

Email marketing is for: established recruitment agencies with existing email lists.

If you have an existing email list of previous candidates, placements and clients you can segment it and share relevant blog posts to build brand, send company news updates, or flat our ask for business.

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channels

Choosing the right digital marketing channel/s can have a great impact on the performance of your recruitment website, conversion rate and overall ROI.

Here’s what we’ve gathered:


SEO is best for driving long-term and consistent results.

Whether you’re more focused on getting clients or candidates, SEO is something all recruitment agencies should be implementing on their website at some level.

Search traffic is the highest-converting traffic available and organic search is widely considered the most valuable source of search traffic. It’s foundational in delivering consistent qualified traffic that grows businesses.

The beauty of SEO is that you can be patient – small efforts compounded over time will still move the needle. However, to get the needle moving faster and further, consider dedicating further resources or partnering up with an agency who specialises in recruitment SEO.

On the other end, SEM is best for driving immediate results and can therefore also move the needle faster. A way to manage this is by continually optimising your SEM campaigns to keep them as efficient and effective.

This will deliver a strong quality score (Google Ad’s relevance metric) and reward you with a lower CPC over time; allowing you to drive a bigger result without the bigger spend.

If you’re looking to generate leads cost-effectively while building a large audience, we suggest investing time (or money) into social media.

Organic social and paid social both hold value for recruitment agencies in that they will allow you to build your brand, nurture your existing audience, and driving leads via paid ads.

However, paid social allows you to take a more targeted approach by promoting your services or job ads to particular demographics – placing your brand in front of a higher-quality audience that are more likely to convert.

Finally, using email marketing can help you find qualified leads for your hiring campaign.

It allows you to engage new clients and candidates effectively, create a sense of authority in the industry by demonstrating your expertise, as well as retain professional connections with past clients and candidates.

You will therefore stay top of mind and relevant, so that when a subscriber is looking to move positions, they are far more likely to contact the recruiter who has kept in touch with them over the years.

Now that you know the pros and cons of investing in and using digital marketing to build your recruitment brand, you would also know that the pros far outweigh the cons.

But choosing the right channels to come up with the best digital marketing strategy is not always easy.

Contact Digital Assembly
to discuss your recruitment agencies marketing goals today.