Is My Recruitment Marketing Data Reliable?

Kat GusevaBy Kat Guseva
March 1st, 2022 • 4 Minutes

If you are investing in recruitment marketing campaigns, you probably already know how important it is to measure your KPI and ROI. But how do you collect recruitment marketing data correctly and make sure it’s accurate?
You should be all about data analytics and performance. To measure your success, there are various tracking tools, data visualizations, and data analytics platforms. But how do you collect the data and how do you verify it?

Before & After Third-Party Tracking

When different ad platforms were launched in the past 20 years, they would only provide their own reporting. In most cases, this data may not have told the full story. But how accurate was the data? How much quality was in that traffic to your website or ATS? With these platforms, tracking would generally stop as soon as users left their properties (e.g. clicking on the destination link to your website).

This is where other methods of tracking come in to play – something that can identify the source of the traffic to the website/ATS and measure its performance with metrics such as landing pages, time on site, bounce rate, clicks to apply, and, where possible, completed application.

Using a separate tracking tool, such as Google Analytics or an ad trafficking tool like DoubleClick, is called third-party tracking. Third-party tracking provides an independent measure of each publisher’s performance (publishers being advertising platforms such as job boards or social media). This helps employers connect the missing dots between various traffic sources to their career site and completed applications and sometimes even hires.

What is often discovered in third-party tracking is that publishers’ data often is very different from what is reported on Google Analytics/DoubleClick and clients’ ATS. I will try to explain why this is happening and how to use all these various data sources in the most effective way to calculate ROI and measure performance of different media.

Publisher Data Vs. Third-Party Tracking

Each publisher usually reports on metrics that are available to them and more relevant/applicable for their media. For example, Facebook will report on post likes, shares, comments, and followers. This dataset would only be available within Facebook. Website clicks on Facebook ads, however, could be tracked with a third-party analysis tool, such as DoubleClick or Google Analytics, and could be compared against Facebook reporting.

So, why do you occasionally see large discrepancies between these two data sources? The answer is very simple – they are not the same metrics, even if they appear to be measuring the same thing. What is called a “website link click” on Facebook or LinkedIn is not the same as a website visit from these sources. Google Analytics and Facebook use different algorithms to count these metrics, and there are also a lot of potential events that could happen to a website visitor between these two data points:

  1. They might not have cookies enabled in their browser, so even if they have clicks on a Facebook or LinkedIn ad, their visit might not be counted in Google Analytics because cookies must be enabled in order to register in Google Analytics.
  2. They clicked on the ad but closed their browser before the page loaded – Google would not count that as a visit.
  3. They are using “incognito” mode in their browser (no cookies = no visit!).
  4. If the website is taking too long to load or loads with errors, Google Analytics may not record the user’s session.

Another reason for clicks and/or visits discrepancy could be caused by some of the new user experiences that have been introduced by job board publishers over the past few years. For example, several job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn have introduced a “second pane” view that opens up the job description within the publisher platform after the candidate clicks on the ad, rather than taking them to the career site, which used to be the previous user experience for these “clicks.”

This leads to a large variance in website visits reported from such publishers to the career site via Google Analytics, as well as ad clicks reported from their reporting platforms, since it’s a completely different action from the user’s side.

Bridging the Gap

What are some best practices for combining and analyzing these different recruitment marketing data points to effectively build a more informed, accurate, and complete ROI report of your recruitment marketing efforts?
I highly recommend that you never take the vendor data as the only source. I would recommend always comparing it against your Google Analytics or website traffic data for better insights. Some tactics to keep in mind:

  1. Define what’s important. Why are you running a particular campaign – and for what ultimate goal? Is that Facebook campaign driving visits back to the career site in order to complete the application? Or is it running to increase your employer brand’s reach? For reach, the metrics reported by Facebook are more important, as the impressions and clicks within that platform are driving most of the branding activities. For a campaign that is meant to drive applications, website visits and conversions to completed applications are more important and should be measured through your third-party analytics tool.
  1. Build a relative model that will compare publisher data with Google Analytics data. When reviewing your performance, be sure to evaluate both the publisher data and that of your third-party analytics tool in order to provide an unbiased and more complete picture. For example, if there is a discrepancy between publisher clicks versus sessions reported through analytics, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.
  2. Technology is not perfect and there will always be discrepancies between systems, even if they were created to measure the same thing. The best solution would be to choose a tool you are comfortable with and put your trust in it. Also, set up a margin of error you’re comfortable with and monitor any discrepancies against it.

I hope this article helps you get more confident about the story you’re receiving from your publishers! Learn how to How to Build the Ultimate Recruitment Marketing Analytics Dashboard.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments below.

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