Could your Talent Acquisition teams capture a similar amount of value from its recruiting events?
The answer is: unless you track recruiting events correctly, you’ll never know.
Calculating the ROI of any business action is, in theory, pretty straightforward:
In practice, however, it is tricky to put a number on the value created by an event, mostly because we don’t always plan in advance the kind of information we need for reporting further down the line.
So as a result, we struggle to understand – and demonstrate- the tangible impact of all types of events on the talent acquisition process, be they massive sponsored celebrations, or intimate employee fireside chats.
Why it’s so important to track recruiting events
Just because an event was a smashing success on the surface, doesn’t mean it had an overall positive impact on hiring. We tend to focus more on those apparent indicators of success- a full auditorium, a fun atmosphere- and less on whether we’ve captured the full value of the event.
The problem is, an event can be successful but still not have the positive impact we expect from it. What could that look like?
- You get all your energy invested in creating the perfect fun, relaxed, informative event, but don’t capture enough information to properly follow up with candidates.
- You advertise your event broadly and ensure that you’ll have a full house, yet you only attract bad fits and don’t contribute to growing the pipeline.
- You allocate budget between different types of event depending on how expensive they are, and not on how much impact they will have on your pipeline.
- You generate a lot of excitement and interest in your event on social media, but then neglect to use that excitement after the event, and you just let the conversation die.
Tracking events prevents these situations from happening, but most importantly, it helps to calculate the return on investment on your events.
The strategic benefit of understanding the ROI of events is having a better grasp on what drives it up or down. For example, you’ll know after while if it is easier to boost attendance by promoting the registration page more widely, or by nurturing existing registrants with more information on the event.
What to track
The type of metrics to track usually depends on the results you are looking for. A company briefing on campus, for example, generally aims at increasing employer brand awareness with students, while an invite-only cocktail hour would focus on nurturing high-value executive hires.
It’s worth asking yourself a few things before going forward with the planning of the event:
- Who are you targeting?
- What is the specific goal of the event when it comes to hiring targets?
- What does a successful event look like?
Decide what data you want to collect, and how that data will live in your system, early in the process. This will ensure you don’t miss an important window to collect data from candidates, like the event registration or the satisfaction survey, for example.
It will also make it easier to exploit that data later; you don’t want to be typing rows and rows of handwritten names and email addresses after the event, or keeping track of random business cards on your desk.
How to plan for event tracking
One of the most important steps is planning the technical aspect of data collection in advance. Will an online registration form feed directly into your CRM? Or will you have tablets or paper records on the day of?
You will also need to know in advance what information fields to collect depending on what you want to track down the line, like the level of seniority of the candidate, or how they first learned about the company.
Here are a few examples of the tasks that you need to map out in parallel with your event planning, in order to make sure you’ll have all the data you need further down the line.
ROI and Event attribution
When data collection and tracking are done right, you can add events to an “attribution model”, and figure out exactly how much they contribute to hiring a great candidate.
An “attribution model” is a framework used in marketing and sales to determine how much each touchpoint with a customer contributes to making a sale. For recruiting, these touchpoints would be the different steps in your candidate journey.
There are different types of attribution models. A “First touch” model says that the first touch point in a candidate journey is wholly responsible for that candidate being hired. Therefore, you’d calculate the ROI in that model using the following formula:
Event ROI = (Sum of value of candidates closed where the first touchpoint was the event – Cost of Event) / Cost of Event
A “Last-touch” model works on the opposite assumption: basically, it assumes that the last touchpoint was the most influential in the decision made by the candidate.
You can build a more sophisticated “Multi-touch” attribution model if you want to give different weights to different steps in the candidate journey; Segment has a great intro to multi-touch attribution here.
NB: the way you calculate “Value of Candidates closed” doesn’t really matter. It could simply be the number of candidates who apply or get hired, or it could be their annual salary, or any other value that correlates with a successful hire.
What matters is that you calculate that value in the same way for every event. In the end, you want to be able to say: for every X amount of money spent on this event, we got Y number of candidates, applicants, or hires.
Attribution models and ROI calculations don’t need to be overly sophisticated to be useful. And the trickiest part is not the model or the math behind the ROI, it’s actually collecting the right data and organizing it efficiently.
When planning an event, make sure to plan for tracking that event as well- it will save a lot of hassle down the road, and help you consistently deliver on your hiring targets.