Return on Awareness: A Better Way to Measure Brand & Experience Management

by | Apr 15, 2022

Your reputation and brand hinge on what people say about you online. According to data from BrightLocal, 74% of consumers find companies with positive online reviews to be trustworthy. 77% say that they “always” or “regularly” read a review when browsing for local businesses.

If you want to be competitive, a positive reputation is foundational. It’s not optional, it’s not a “nice to have.” It’s an investment that, over the long haul, will empower you to attract and retain more quality candidates. 

Yet, when approached with the decision to invest in improving the candidate experience or promoting the brand, many agency leaders will ask: what is the ROI? 

That’s the wrong question to ask. 

Instead, you should measure something called return on awareness (ROA). It will present you with a better, more comprehensive understanding of how your experience management and brand promotion efforts are impacting the business.

Why ROI falls short when measuring brand & experience management

When evaluating the ROI of a campaign or project, you’re really setting out to answer one specific question: should we keep spending money here? In other words, an ROI analysis is only helpful when a particular program is on the chopping block. 

So take a step back and ask yourself: is there ever a situation in which you wouldn’t invest in brand or experience management? Especially in today’s candidate-centric market, the answer is probably no. 

When looking for a new recruiter, the first stop for modern candidates will be online validation. That includes looking at online reviews, your website, and evaluating your brand overall. If you don’t invest in your online brand presence and reputation, those candidates will simply go somewhere else—before you even get a chance to talk with them.

Say you attend a local baseball game, and one of the attendees is wearing a shirt with your brand on it. And let’s say that someone notices that shirt and strikes up a conversation, learning more about your agency, and may even recommend a client or candidate to start working with you.

Now, you can’t track the ROI of printing that shirt and giving them out to your people. But you know that shirt has a positive brand impact. Likewise, you can’t track the ROI of investing in your reputation. But it yields a positive impact, without a doubt.

What is return on awareness (ROA)?

Return on awareness is the business impact that comes from the attention your brand receives. If your brand receives positive attention, it’s a positive return. If you receive negative attention, then it’s a negative return. 

Although not many companies use the term ROA specifically, the concept is one that most recruiting agencies are familiar with. According to data from Glassdoor

  • 86% of HR professionals indicated recruitment is becoming more like marketing
  • 86% of employees and job seekers research company reviews and ratings to decide on where to apply for a job
  • 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand
  • 86% of women and 67% of men in the United States wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation
  • 68% of Millennials, 54% of Gen-Xers, and 48% of Boomers indicated they visit employer’s social media properties specifically to evaluate the employer’s brand

We’re currently in a candidate-centric market, and that trend looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future. By taking ROA seriously, agencies have good reason to invest in experience management and brand promotion tactics that will boost your organization’s reputation.

What are the specific benefits of ROA?

Let’s get a little more specific and walk through the specific benefits of ROA in terms of tangible impact on your business. 

If you’re an agency that people love to work with, then candidates and clients will keep coming back to you again and again. In fact, if they love their customer experience, then you’ll have a built-in pipeline that will come to you—often without prompting. Here are three specific ways that will benefit your agency. 

1. Referrals

One of our long-time customers, Atlas MedStaff, cites an increase in referrals from 33% to 50% after implementing a concerted effort at experience management. Additionally, they reduced their spend on third-party sites because of the influx of referrals. 

We actually had to change the title of a guy that’s working here. He now only handles referrals that our top recruiters can’t get to any more. That’s how dramatic it’s become,” said Rich Smith, Atlas MedStaff co-founder.  

This result shouldn’t be surprising. When you provide an exceptional candidate experience and encourage them to spread the word, people are going to want to do business with you. 

2. Cost efficiency

Providing a stellar candidate experience isn’t as expensive as you think. You don’t have to overspend on marketing to get the word out. All you have to do is take care of your people, ensure that they’re living up to your core values, and encourage your candidates and clients to be champions of your brand. 

There are tools that will help you do that. For instance, Great Recruiters provides a platform to evaluate recruiter performance in real time, as well as the ability for recruiters to publicly share ratings and reviews with their network. 

But tools and technologies can only elevate the experience you’re already providing—they don’t provide the experience themselves. Focus on the foundation, then use technology and automation to empower your people to spread the word. 

3. Building brands within brands

Every recruitment agency is actually an amalgamation of two brands: the company brand, and the individual recruiter brand. Both play a major role in attracting quality candidates.

Most candidates don’t pay much heed to the agency they work with, unless they’re in a highly specialized field. Instead, they value the individual relationship with the recruiter—that’s what they respond to.

By empowering your recruiters to build their own brands by providing quality experiences to their candidates, you’re building up those recruiter brands. These, in turn, build up your organization’s brand equity.

Brand & experience management reap long-term rewards

The most successful recruitment agencies today don’t just look at short-term placements when evaluating the success of their firm. They want to build an organization that candidates and clients continually return to whenever they want to make a new career move.

By focusing on return on awareness instead of ROI, you prioritize activities that will build an agency that continues to grow over the long haul. Even if it comes at a short-term cost, it’s the only way to ensure that you grow.

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