Talent Acquisition

How Recruiters Can Master Email Marketing

Emails – love them or loathe them, they are very effective for recruitment marketing, for reaching both clients and candidates.

What are the elements of a successful email marketing strategy? We spoke to Tamsin Fox-Davies, Senior Development Manager at Constant Contact and you could listen to the chat below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Why is email marketing still important?

I think of it as the powerhouse of your digital marketing. So, social media and different social media channels now get more buzz, but at the end of the day, people spend most time, most often, in their email inbox. So, that’s where you can hit them. I have an exercise that I often do when I’m speaking to small business audiences, and I’ll ask people to put their hand up if they’ve used Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn that day. Somewhere between a third to two thirds of people might put their hand up. And I say, “Okay, right. Now put your hand up if you’ve used Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest for your business today.” And fewer people put their hand up. It depends on how tech-savvy the audience is. And then I say, “Okay, who has used email for their business today?” And everybody puts their hand up unless they’re those obstinate people that will never put their hands up for anything. That’s really the easiest way to show the prevalence that email still has in our business culture. It’s just the fact that you can actually get to people when you want to. There’s even some interesting statistics that show the extent to which people will go on to make a purchase from an organisation if they’ve received an email from them, but they didn’t even open the email. Just that fact of showing up consistently in front of people is a benefit in itself.

Are emails more trusted than social media?

I don’t know that it’s a case of more trusted, because we all get spam emails or things that we think might be spam and then we look at them suspiciously and delete them right away unless you are my mother who has ended up with some viruses at odd times, but now she knows to ask me, which is an improvement. I don’t think it’s a case of trust. I think it’s a case of what you expect that medium to do. So, for example, we are very pro opt-in email. We absolutely do not believe in spam and in fact if you’ve bought a mailing list, you cannot use it with Constant Contact. So, what I think is a benefit of opted-in email communications is that people have actually put their hand up and said, “Yes, I do want to hear from this organisation on these subjects” because, you know, a proper email opt-in tells you what you’re actually going to get. People then expect it and they accept it as well. If the expectation has been set appropriately and their expectation’s been met, they’re getting what they want out of it. I think with LinkedIn messages, it’s not the medium, but it’s the way people use them.

I find that a lot of the LinkedIn messages that I get are out-of-the-blue from people I’ve never heard of, I’m going to delete that unless it’s really funny, normally. And I’ve only had a couple of those ever, ones that have been really humorous and I’ve actually thought, “You know what, I’m going to look a little bit deeper into this.” But yeah, same with Twitter direct messages. I think it’s great now that you can actually – it’s made easier for you to DM people who aren’t necessarily following you because there is always that problem where you’d get someone saying DM me and you’d be like, “I can’t because you’re not following me.” But I can see people are already starting to abuse that which is out-of-the-blue sales messages. So, it’s not the medium, it’s how you use it.

How do you create an email subject line that gets people clicking?

What a lot of people don’t realise is that the only purpose of a subject line is to get your email opened, right? So, think about that. It’s the only purpose. It’s not to necessarily provide education in itself. Its only job is to get that email opened. And most people don’t look at them in that way at all. Now, saying that, if I get an email from you and it says, “Free Chocolate” in the subject line, there sure as hell better be some free chocolate in there or I’m coming for you, basically. So, you don’t want to be misleading about it. You want to make sure that it’s giving people a flavour of why they should actually open that newsletter and there’s a few key rules.

There’s something that we like to call the 2-2-2 principle which is that you’ve got two seconds to grab people’s attention. The first two words are the most important. And you have to get them to take action today. So, what that means is people’s attention spans are short. You’ve got two seconds to grab their attention. So, what you want to do is use relatively short words. You want to keep the whole thing pretty short as well, around five words is probably the maximum that you should have in an email newsletter subject line. It should be very clear- what you’re offering by people opening your email. When we say the first two words are the most important, what we’ve found is that people will read the first two words of the subject line and then decide whether they’re even going to bother reading the rest of the subject line. Not open the email, but even the rest of the subject line. Yeah, I know, it’s crazy. And you have to give them some reason that’s compelling for them to open that email now because what happens is, when people are sorting through their email inboxes and I do it and you do it and everybody else does it or we do it subconsciously, is that as you’re looking down your inbox, you’re kind of going through the Now, Later, or Never process. You want to be in the “Now” pile.

How can you combine email marketing with social media?

There are a couple of different ways. I would say that the first thing that you want to think about is actually how you can use social media to build your list. In fact, let me just give a bit of context here. Social media tends to create different types of relationships than email, at different rates. What you can do is you can use the power of both of those types of relationships to really help you. So, email will create very relationships of building that feeling of trust and understanding very quickly because you’re constantly showing up in their inbox and they see you and they see your face. But your number of people you’re contacting tends to be smaller because they have to opt-in to you. If you’re doing things right, they have to opt-in to you, which is what I thoroughly recommend. However, on social media, you can much more quickly reach a larger number of people, but the relationships there tend to be a little bit more tenuous. I actually think of social media as more of a broadcast medium than email, really. For example, I have some very close friends that I met through social channels, but we didn’t become friends and we didn’t take the relationship to a more personal level than just Twitter or Facebook until we actually moved away from those channels. So, it was when we decided to have a phone call or meet up for coffee or something like that.


Here’s how you can use the benefit of both of those things because ideally what you want to do is to get everybody who is on our email mailing list, connected with you on all dominant social channels. Also, get the majority of your social followers and fans onto your mailing list. You’re never going to get 100% of that. The numbers will skew more towards one side than the other, but that’s what you should aim for. So, there are a number of good things that you can do. First of all, actually linking back to your website from your social profiles and your newsletter and have a landing page on your website that is designed to get them to find out more. I think the first time I saw someone do that really well was a friend of mine. He’s based in the west, Peter Shankman. He’s quite well known in PR circles. He had his Twitter bio linked to a page on his website that was titled “So you found me on Twitter.” He gave a bit more of a detailed bio, he explained what kind of stuff he posted. That’s a great place to also add in a sign-up link for your mailing list because if I’ve gone through the bother of actually clicking on your link in your bio, I probably want to know more. So, that’s one great way.

Connect with Tamsin on Twitter @tamsinfd and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.