Most human resources personnel cover a lot of ground — they are responsible for keeping up with the latest regulations and developments in healthcare, education and training, diversity, performance and morale. These busy individuals don’t have time for frivolous direct marketing offers, so marketers have to find just the right way to reach out to this tough-to-target group. In addition, marketers in this segment face significant competition, as nearly every company, big and small, has the need for HR products and services.
“It’s a very competitive market,” says Camille Gamble, VP of marketing at Verified Person Inc., a background screening services provider. “HR managers are contacted daily about benefits, enrollment and incentive programs, because they do a lot of buying.”
One way to get through to HR managers, say experts, is to provide them with useful information that helps them with their business. “HR people love content,” says Mark Willaman, founder of marketing agency HRmarketer.com. They read industry publications, he says, as well as peruse suppliers’ Web sites and devour information about the latest developments in healthcare plans, compliance issues and training.
However, HR decision makers typically don’t want to pay for content, since they know there is plenty of free content available. “Once you ask them to spend, it turns them off,” Willaman says. But value-added content that is easy to find — such as whitepapers distributed by e-mail and search marketing — is a great way to make sure your company stays top of mind, he points out: “It’s not rocket science, but it works.”
A successful HR direct marketing campaign doesn’t need to be fancy, Rodger Roeser, president of Eisen Management Group, agrees. However, it should be helpful. “HR people are busy,” he explains. “If you can give them something that’s useful for their job, that helps.”
One of his company’s most successful programs offers reprints of in-depth trade magazine articles that feature a client. This is combined with a cover letter and mailed to HR executives. The direct mail piece is followed up with a phone call.
“It’s not just a traditional direct mail piece — it’s sharing news HR people can use,” Roeser says. “It acknowledges that HR people have a very important role to play in the company and empowers prospects.”
A good offer can also help a company stand out from the competition. “There’s a lot of noise in the online sphere when we try to tell our story,” says Brent Arslaner, VP of marketing at Unisfair, which produces virtual job fairs. However, he explains, there is interest in what Unisfair offers once it finds the right people, which is why search engine marketing plays a big role in the company’s marketing strategy.
But SEM alone isn’t enough in the competitive HR field, Arslaner adds. Unisfair recently polled more than 100 HR managers about job recruitment related issues and highlighted the completed survey in an SEM campaign. Whereas a typical SEM campaign for the brand might produce click-through rates in the 3%-5% range, for the combination of SEM with the survey, the results are in the range of 10%-15%.
Content isn’t the only way to reach HR personnel. A meaningful offer, like a free trial of a product HR managers can use, can also work.
“We’ve had silly offers before that weren’t very compelling, like ‘call us today and we’ll send you a free item,’” says Gamble. In the company’s latest campaign, it is offering a free six-month trial of a new background screening product that isn’t available from the competition yet.
“The offer is better,” she explains, adding that she thinks this will directly correlate to the success of the campaign. “The message is, ‘we know how busy you are, so here’s something that’s easy to use.’”
After putting together a whitepaper on employee engagement, human resources consultancy Juice Inc. and HRmarketer.com sent an e-mail to 60,000 HR decision makers alerting them to this new content. The e-mail drove recipients to a Web site to complete a form, after which they could download the whitepaper for free. The e-mail, which went out in April, had a 20% open rate and resulted in 1,000 downloads of the whitepaper.
Direct mail offer
Since many small businesses spread around HR responsibilities, professional employer organization TriServe and Eisen Management Group created a direct mail campaign around the offer of a free leather binder that can be used to organize HR materials. Clients also receive follow up mailings with useful information that fits into the binder. TriServe targets a different vertical segment every quarter, sending out approximately 250 mailers. The response rate ranges from 10%-30%.
Verified Person Inc.
Direct mail and e-mail series
Beginning in June, one of five different direct mail and e-mail communications will go out every four to six weeks to 20,000 HR managers, offering a free six-month trial of a new background screening product. “We expect to do a little brand building as well,” says Camille Gamble, VP of marketing at Verified Person, who is hoping for a 1% response rate and to convert 10% to 20% into closed accounts.