5 Minutes with Kathy Koomson

We sat down (virtually) with Kathy Koomson, Head of Brand and Marketing at Core Talent, to find out more about marketing in the world of recruitment, the changes the industry has seen over the past ten years, and what the future holds.

Hi Kathy, thanks for chatting with Colour Me Social! Tell us about your background before joining Core Talent?

I’ve been in marketing for over 20 years and just been elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Before I joined Core Talent, I worked as a Commercial Manager and Head of Product for an English manufacturer – that role gave me an excellent insight into Engineering & Manufacturing. Before that, I was at Bank of America/MBNA for 10 years and held various positions in marketing. During my last role, I was Head of Retail Strategy and managed the Retail Strategy Team, which was financially results-driven and creative.

What prompted you to move into recruitment marketing?

Core Talent asked me to come in on a contract basis and help initially as they wanted a new website. However, the further I got into the business, it became clear that it was an exciting growing business. A new website would not do it justice, so we completely rebranded and repositioned the company with a new logo, colour palette, and imagery. We even developed our values with input from clients, candidates, and employees. I have been with Core Talent for almost five years now. Recruitment Marketing is exciting and fast-paced; you need to be creative to appeal to candidates with job opportunities, informative to clients, and persuasive to potential employees. It’s a very stimulating company to be part of.

How does Core Talent help businesses?

We’re a specialist, engineering & manufacturing, construction, and consultancy business, and now we work globally across the UK, Europe, the USA and China. Our Directors actually transitioned from engineering and purchasing into recruitment, so they worked in the industries we recruit, adding significant value to technical knowledge and ability. We’re not a generalist recruiter – we really understand our clients’ needs.

We have consultants working in very niche markets, and they get to understand the client, the candidates, and the actual market incredibly well, so we’ve got some excellent knowledge. 

We recently developed our consultancy division, Tactical Consultancy. So we offer more than a recruitment service. We can re-engineer recruitment processes, manage a temporary workforce down to the payroll, provide competitor intelligence, support social media activity all support and improve our client’s recruitment processes. So we help clients in a lot of different ways. 

What does your role entail? 

My remit is the internal and external brand. So I’m looking at anything related to communications, branding, our messages, external brand, and internally. I am also responsible for introducing new products and innovation in the business and managing performance and spend on job boards and advertising platforms. As our consultancy division grows, I support clients with their social media and marketing, which is an exciting new angle to my role.

What does an average day as Head of Brand and Marketing look like?

On a typical day for me, I’ll come in and check my emails, and then I develop social media posts. I will also review the current performance of Core Talent and our client’s social media activities. As I manage the website and job boards, I will also analyse performance and ensure the consultants are supported with any queries.

I will also produce collateral, presentations, and pitches for new clients. Or I could be briefing our creative agencies or be speaking to Phil at Colour Me Social about social media activity. I often attend various meetings with consultants or the Directors who’ve got a particular challenge or particular piece of support they need. 

So, it’s pretty well rounded – it’s not just about the marketing. It’s about supporting the business, clients, and candidates using my expertise and experience. 

How would you say recruitment differs from other industries when it comes to marketing?

With recruitment, three key audiences are always at the centre of what we do – candidates, clients and employees/ potential employees.

We moved from a candidate-rich, job-short market to a job-rich, candidate-short market, so we have to work even harder to get exactly the right people for our top jobs.

With clients – it’s about bringing new ones in and supporting the clients we have. For the other audiences, our people, it’s essential to keep them engaged and happy at work. We are on a recruitment drive and always looking for new employees. This could be experienced recruitment consultants, trainees, or graduates – we want to attract those kinds of people into the business, so we need to demonstrate what it’s like to work for us. Everything we do needs to ensure that all of those audiences are considered.

How has the role of marketing within recruitment changed in the last ten years?

Years ago, you could put a job on a job board, and you’d probably more or less fill that job from that advert. But now, it’s about a lot more than that. You can’t just put a job on a job board and think it’s gonna drive people; you have to have an online presence, offer a variety of services and have an extensive network. So it’s critical, now, I think, to have a marketer within a recruitment business to support recruitment activities and the company. So it’s a lot more popular now to find experienced marketers and agencies than ever because recruitment really does need it. 

What marketing trends can you see happening in recruitment?

LinkedIn has become more and more popular for many recruiters; I see a lot of firms invest a lot more in terms of LinkedIn. They’re also changing how they communicate on social platforms – it’s much more creative, whether it’s white papers or explainer videos. This is true of Twitter, as well, but to a lesser degree. So there’s a lot more investment going into social media now than there was before. 

Also, as we see in other industries, a lot more digital technology is coming into the recruitment market that supports consultants and candidates. Video interviews, for example, have been invaluable over the last 15 months. However, I don’t think human contact should or will ever be replaced in the processes, but there will be many more shifts in the next few years with these great new technologies being introduced.

How has Core Talent changed in the Covid-era?

It has been difficult, as it has for everyone. We had to rebuild our workforce and restructure to enhance our offering in the US and Europe. Business areas like international construction and data centre construction continued to perform really well, as mission-critical projects were still ongoing. In contrast, other markets went a lot quieter during the first lockdown. So as a business, we’ve spent the last 12 months really looking at our markets, expanding further in the areas where we see more significant growth, like E-mobility, autonomous vehicles and AI, and dealing with our usual fields of construction and manufacturing.

Finally, what is the best marketing campaign you’ve seen?

There have been so many excellent campaigns I have seen and experienced over the years. I admire the teams who have created the current public health campaigns we have all been exposed to over the last 15 months. They have had to get the information and strategy out to the whole country in a short space of time and ensure that the core message is memorable and easy to follow.

There are also two above-the-line advertising campaigns that I have always loved. The Guinness Surfer/Horses advert and the Dairy Milk Gorilla advert. The mix of cinematography, the characters, the straplines ‘good things come to those who wait’ and ‘a glass and a half full of joy’ set against the musical score all contribute to these adverts being some of the greatest and most memorable of all time.

Here’s Why You Should Be A/B Testing Your Paid Social

Using A/B testing as a marketing strategy is not new. In fact, it was used routinely in the pre-internet era to conduct small tests by direct mail marketers, who would send a tiny fraction of print to their contact lists before committing to the massive cost of printing and mailing a campaign.

Nowadays, the technique is just as important to marketers across the globe who want to refine their content marketing and advertising strategies on the fly. The true beauty of A/B testing in the digital age is its agility – any time you have a hunch, or question-related to your strategy, social testing can be easily implemented, helping support your next steps. 

Whilst there are endless articles online about creating the best social ads, the truth is that the best way to reach your audience will be unique to you. That’s why we’re big advocates for the importance of A/B testing here at Colour Me Social. 

So, we thought we’d compile a guide to starting with A/B testing paid social. Whether you’re trying to secure more clicks and conversions or improve engagement, we’ll show you how to use A/B testing to get great results for paid social ads.

What exactly is A/B testing?

Let’s drill down into the basics.

A/B testing, also known as split testing or conversion optimisation, is the process of running versions of ads that are different from one another in only one aspect. These two versions are then sent to a small percentage of your total audience – half get version A, half get version B. Testing two versions means you can find out which works best – the winning message is determined by success metrics like opens or clicks. Think of it as survival of the fittest. 

It’s a simple concept. However, the countless variations you can build into social ads requires marketers to be very precise. Without precision, you may end up wasting budget and garner no significant insights.

A/B testing can be used to answer key questions about your social ads, helping you identify the strongest messages, the best time of day to post, or the most effective call-to-action.

Getting Started

A/B testing lets the data show you what’s working and what’s not. It’s deeply rooted in your campaign, rather than relying on blanket best practices or other people’s benchmarks. Therefore, before you start running A/B tests, we suggest you get the following five key details down. This work will help you identify the most important areas to focus on when it comes to testing. 

  1. An understanding of the overarching goals of your business
  2. Your current social strategy, including your general goals for each platform
  3. An understanding of your audience for each platform
  4. An overview of your current performance across all channels
  5. Your questions, hunches, feelings and ideas that you want to test

What can you A/B test?

Anything! Well, pretty much. Any variable element of your social media ads can be tested, but let’s take a look at some of the most common elements to test:

Post Text

There are many variations you can try with your headline, post text and description. Just remember the A/B rule – make just one change for each test, otherwise, you won’t know which variation is working. Here are some considerations:

  • Testing a formal approach vs more friendly language is a common A/B test. Think about the tone of voice you use and the words you pick – different phrases and punctuation can hugely impact click rates. 
  • Consider the use of emojis – dependent on your target audience they could be well received or could come across as unprofessional. If your audience is responding well to them, which emojis work best?
  • Other useful tests could include the length of your ad, and the style of the copy itself – which will perform better – a question? A statement? Or perhaps even a statistic?

Layout

Layout variables depend on the platform you are using; some provide a lot of options that are well worth A/B testing. Facebook, for instance, offers multiple ad formats like carousel ads and lead ads. Test these against each other to see which your audience engage with the most. 

Imagery

Photos, graphics, illustrations – we know imagery is important in social ads, but which type will work best for your ad? Does a product image or video perform better? Will GIFs perform better than static images? Will images with brighter colours outperform those with dark colours? There are countless A/B tests you can run with your imagery. 

Audience

This one is a little different – rather than showing variations of your post or ad to similar groups, you show the same advert to different audiences to see which gets a better response.

Test your assumptions, and find out if the persona you imagine matches the results you see when you run ads. Test a sample size by using the filtering characteristics to drill down into your audience, consider:

  • Location
  • Gener
  • Education Level
  • Hobbies
  • Behaviours

How to run an A/B test on social media adverts

Now’s the time to determine which two variants you want to test against each other, and to run your first A/B test.

Step 1: Decide on your goals

Knowing your objective is an essential first step when setting up your campaign. This will help you in planning your budget and in knowing what to test. A vital first step is defining what success means to you. 

Step 2: Choose what to test

Look at your goals and let them guide your decision. Of course, you can (and probably should) run many iteration cycles you can run to find the best ad, so choose your goal with this in mind. For example, if you are optimising for overall impressions, your aim would likely be to get the lowest Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM). The main elements that affect the CPM are the targeted audience and the ad placement, so that is what you would start testing.

Step 3: Set your budget

A/B testing can involve many cycles, so it’s crucial to set your budget at the start of the process. Think about your targets, and make sure you factor in some wiggle room for ads that will underperform.

Step 4: Run your test

Once you’ve completed your test, take the best performing ad and scale up your spending to the full budget allocated towards that campaign. Alternatively, you can test it against another small variation to see if you can improve your results further.

Step 5: Report back

Finally, share what you learn throughout your team to build a library of best practices for your company.

A/B testing is a smart, quantifying process that should be the cornerstone of every social ad campaign. Using trial and error is a failproof method for achieving maximum conversion, and we highly recommend that you build it into your strategy.