Events give marketers the ideal opportunity to form deeper relationships and build connections with prospective or returning customers. In-person, hybrid or virtual events allow brands to raise awareness, generate leads, and increase customer engagement.
Your Talent Acquisition team can create similar value for your organization through recruiting events – by building a talent pipeline full of qualified and engaged candidates, raising awareness for your employer brand, and keeping prospective candidates (or current employees) engaged.
The difficult part is, you must be able to measure the success and demonstrate the ROI of these events in order to show the true value of your efforts. And while most event marketers recognize the value of events, many struggle to prove it.
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 a recruiting event, mostly because Talent Acquisition teams don’t always plan in advance the kind of information needed for reporting further down the line.
So as a result, it can be difficult to understand – and demonstrate – the tangible impact of events on the talent acquisition process.
Why it’s so important to track recruiting events
Just because a recruiting event appears to be a success on the surface, doesn’t mean it had an overall positive impact on hiring. It’s easy to focus more on the apparent indicators of success – a full auditorium or a fun atmosphere – and less on whether you’ve captured the full value of the event.
The problem is, an event can be ‘successful’ but still not have the positive impact on recruitment you 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 and keep them engaged.
You advertise your event broadly and ensure that you’ll have a full house, yet most of the attendees are not a good fit and don’t contribute to growing your talent pipeline.
You allocate budget between different types of events depending on how expensive they are, and not on how much potential impact they could have on your talent 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 and measuring your recruiting events at every stage prevents these situations from happening, but most importantly, it helps to calculate ROI.
The strategic benefit of understanding the ROI of events is having a better grasp on what factors drive it up or down (and why). For example, you’ll know after a while if it is easier to boost attendance by promoting the registration page more widely, or by nurturing existing registrants as the event gets closer and closer.
What to track
The type of metrics to track usually depends on the results you are looking for. A company briefing on a college or university campus, for example, generally aims at increasing awareness of your employer brand among students, while an invite-only cocktail hour would likely focus more on nurturing relationships with high-value executive candidates.
It’s worth asking yourself a few things before going forward with the planning of your recruiting 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 on in the planning process. This will ensure you don’t miss an important window to collect data from candidates, like at the event registration or the post-event survey, for example.
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 record your attendees on the day of?
You will also need to know in advance what information fields to collect depending on what you want to report on down the line, like the experience level of the candidate, key skills, or how they first learned about the company.
Here is a guide that outlines 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 when it’s time to determine the ROI of your event.
Event organization tasks
- Nail down your target audience
- Decide on your goal (i.e. employer brand awareness, application time acceleration)
- Who are the internal participants? (i.e. Hiring managers, department heads, recruiters)
- What is the time, place and event schedule?
- How will you promote the event?
Day of event:
- How will the registration/check-in process work and who is in charge of that?
- How will guests and participants be engaged during the event? (i.e. networking, entertainment, one-to-one meetings)
- Filter and add prospective candidates to your talent pipeline
- Add candidates to relevant recruitment marketing campaigns
- Update candidate or applicant information as needed
- Create a follow-up message to thank guests, invite them to future events, share relevant content or current job openings.
Event tracking tasks
- Create/curate a list of candidates to invite
- Set up a user-friendly and responsive registration form
- Build a nurture campaign for registrants
- Keep track of time and resources spent
Day of event:
- Provide a fast and smooth check-in process
- Ensure prospective candidates are aware of how their information will be used
- Consolidate information so you have a single source of truth for your event
- Build out the follow-up campaigns to keep attendees engaged
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 making a great hire.
An “attribution model” is a framework often 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 each step in the candidate journey; Segment has a great intro to multi-touch attribution if you would like to learn more.
Note: the way you calculate “Value of Candidates closed” doesn’t really matter, but you must decide what makes the most sense for your organization. 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 new 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 a recruiting 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.