There are plenty of articles that tell you what to track when tracking your recruitment marketing efforts, but there are few that tell you HOW to track it and how difficult it can be to do it correctly.
Articles (like this one) will tell you some of the important key performance indicators (KPIs), such as the following:
- Source of hire
- Social Engagement
- Time to Acceptance
- Employee Referrals
- Cost per Hire
However, if you try to track these KPIs, you will quickly see how hard it can be to do it right.
Tracking sources may seem like a simple thing, but accurately tracking source codes in the real world is a significantly challenging and multifaceted story.
- How many pieces of technology touch my recruitment marketing efforts? Do you even know?
- Have I ever tested what happens when I cross from one technology to another as it relates to source tracking?
If you have a hard time keeping track of all the different touchpoints and technology in your recruitment marketing stack, you likely haven’t tested that stack from end to end.
So, why does it matter to fully understand what your stack looks like and to test it for source code tracking?
Let’s take a quick look at a relatively straight forward example of how tracking source codes from a job seeker’s journey can go awry in what would appear at first to be a simple scenario:
Assume for a moment that I’m a job seeker looking for a software engineering job near me (around San Francisco). I’m going to start my search for a job on Google by searching for ‘Software Engineer San Francisco’.
If you are lucky (and your ATS/Career Site is set up correctly), your job shows as one of the top jobs in Google For Jobs. I click the link for your job, and then I click “Apply on LinkedIn” (meaning that LinkedIn served your job up potentially in addition to your ATS/Career Site).
I’m taken to LinkedIn where I notice that the job looks interesting and I click ‘Apply’. Now, even in this simple scenario, a lot of different things can happen based on how your job is being advertised on LinkedIn.
- If it’s a sponsored job and you have configured ‘Quick Apply’ on LinkedIn, I could go straight into a recruiter’s mailbox on LinkedIn—bypassing the ATS and any tracking you ‘think’ you might have setup.
- Or maybe LinkedIn serves up a link to your career page where the job description lives on your careers site (not on the ATS).
I click apply again from your careers site job description page, and I’m passed to the ATS, but your careers site isn’t set up to pass UTM or source codes to the ATS (which is common), so all tracking is lost.
Simple you say, we can fix that.
We’ll just set all our traffic for jobs to go to the ATS—not quite so simple really. Once you implement that quick fix, all your traffic from an SEO perspective will rout to somewhere that often cannot be indexed by Google. Now, your recruitment marketing efforts are hampered by inappropriate technology.
Of course, all of this assumes that your tagging and source code tracking was passed correctly to LinkedIn to start within your original ‘Apply’ URL (likely by your job board distributor, aggregator or programmatic vendor).
What To Do
Hopefully, you can see how even in the simplest of cases, tracking source codes becomes complex rather quickly. You can also see that you have to be diligent in not only ensuring that you are adding UTM tracking codes and source codes to all your media that you are running (all jobs that you push to job boards, email campaigns you send, posts on social media, etc.), but that you need to be just as vigilant in testing that everything is set up and working correctly.
Your ATS is often the biggest challenge in tracking your recruitment marketing efforts. If you’re diligent, you have already set up source codes in your ATS to track your recruitment marketing efforts. However, none of that matters if your ATS is not configured correctly.
- Have you set your ATS configuration to pass source codes in the URL?
- If your ATS allows users to change the source code if it’s passed by URL, have you disabled that functionality?
If you haven’t correctly configured these two crucial tracking methodologies, likely all your source code tracking is meaningless as a user can simply ‘change’ what the actual source of their submission was. You’ll have no idea whether that candidate actually saw your advertisement on LinkedIn or if they simply picked the first thing they found on the list (a survey showed that 80% of candidates pick a wrong source code when asked during the application process).
Setting Up Your Source Code Tracking
When source code tracking is done correctly, you can track your ROI and what is happening across media, websites, and candidates. However, proper tracking and analytics take careful planning, persistent execution, and relentless testing.
- It often needs to start with a source code audit where you examine all the source codes that you currently have in your ATS and determine what is being used. Then double-check that you have correctly configured your ATS to utilize passed in source codes (and that you have turned off the ability for candidates to change their source).
- You then need to look across your technology stack to ensure that you control and maintain tracking across them. This means testing all the various scenarios that applicant journeys come through.
- Do you have a separate career site and search from your ATS? if so, your career site needs to allow the passing of UTM and source codes to your ATS.
- Do you have a CRM or job board distribution? They must be set up to pass not only the correct UTM parameters but also the correct source code in the correct URL format.
- Finally, look at all your communications and ensure that you have included the correct URL tracking for all your links.
We often build clients a custom URL builder tool to help create and track all these disparate elements, which simplifies the creation and tracking of these complex links.
Once you have source code tracking setup and passing correctly, you should be able to see exactly how many candidates are coming from LinkedIn (and other sources). If your traffic suddenly drops for a source, the tracking has likely gone off the rails somewhere in your technology stack. It’s time to retest and troubleshoot where in your technology stack things have gone wrong.
Hopefully, by now, you understand the complexity involved with managing and setting up source codes so that they can be tracked. It’s not a one and done process. It’s something that you need to be constantly checking and testing, or a minor change by any of your technology vendors can break your tracking efforts.
Need help in auditing or managing your source code tracking? We can help.
Posted by John Cotton
John Cotton is a Recruitment Technology & Analytics Strategist at Recruitics. He is a brand-savvy technologist who empowers organizations with insightful solutions that drive business success, endeavoring to create exceptional user experiences and journeys by converging technology with marketing. His passion is leveraging and combining media, analysis, cutting-edge technologies, creativity, and design to deliver innovative concepts and applications that improve marketing funnels, increase ROI, and exceed business expectations and objectives.LinkedIn