How long should a digital marketing campaign be for the most tangible results?

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The duration of the projects we deliver at Just R varies greatly, ranging from 2 months to 2 years for an individual project, and we can often be running a number for the same Trust concurrently. We are very proud that the duration of many of our relationships with individual Trusts span many years and that we continue to work with the majority of our first clients Tameside, Bradford and Airedale to name a few.

During our years working with NHS clients one thing which has remained consistent is that the longer the collaboration and campaigns run for, the greater the chance of generating the required results.

Having witnessed this first hand for her client campaigns, Just R’s Sophie was keen to carry out some research to deepen her understanding as to why this trend occurs and answer her own question as to how long does a campaign really need to be? Here are her findings:

As a general rule, I have found that research shows digital marketing campaigns take 90 days to build momentum, form consistent brand awareness and land the key messages needed to grow audience familiarity and trust. This backs up what I have found to take place – in that the longer the campaign the better! 

At Just R, we recommend for campaigns to run for at least 6 months in order to build traction and begin generating optimal results, but if there is an ongoing need the campaigns should, in theory, never stop. What should remain is continual, consistent messaging to deliver on the NHS’ long-standing needs to attract new people to join the service; return to the service and critically stay in the service. Long term campaigns also help build community engagement in order to produce the very best, sustainable results.

 

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Why don’t short term campaigns work? Well first of all we are yet to encounter a Trust which doesn’t have an ongoing need to recruit the very best people, therefore if a campaign generates high quality candidate enquiries it should be viewed as a long term solution rather than a short term fix, as the need does not go away. Research shows that people on average need to hear a message 7 times in order to first of all decide whether it is relevant to them and whether or not they are interested. After this point is when people can begin to decide whether they trust a brand, like a brand, are interested to find out more, etc. This is the work being done at the start of any campaign, and in time, as the audience evolves, more and more people reach the tipping point of deciding whether the message is for them or not and act accordingly, resulting in a consistent flow of people ready to act on the information they have received and ultimately complete an application of interest in working for a Trust.

The only reason we continue to offer short-term ‘taster’ campaigns of around 3 months is in order to provide Trusts with proof of concept. This duration should demonstrate the potential advertising has to drive passive candidate applications but it is not long enough to reach the optimum audience penetrations and therefore begin to deliver optimum results. Marketing should never be used as a quick fix. It has the power to deliver sustainable long term solutions, which put organisations on the front foot so that in time quick fix, reactive solutions are no longer necessary. 

Digital reach, engagement and candidate enquiries provide solid evidence that marketing campaigns are doing their job and Trusts with a long term presence consistently perform better than those who are just starting out.

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Digital marketing isn’t a one-off effort, and full optimisation takes time with ongoing testing and improvements being essential to a successful recruitment campaign. This is the huge advantage that digital has over traditional media such as radio or television, with which the huge cost outlay required to run a single advert leaves little to no opportunity to test and improve.

Over time, we are able to test what works; we can monitor where the content is performing or failing, how and where to target, and which advertisements in which variations are your strongest performers. The more your story can evolve and develop, the more your audience will familiarise and trust your employer brand. 

There can be exceptions to the rule. For example, Bradford District Care Admin campaign ran for 4 weeks and resulted in 134 enquiries of interest and enough values-aligned applications that the recruitment team were able to direct applicants to vacancies across the Trust. However, this result was advanced by the existing social awareness that had already been built (BDCT had been running Nursing and HCSW campaigns for at least 12 months prior), the vacancies available, and the existing employer brand which was adapted for the campaign, with the additional support of a dedicated careers website.

At Just R, we recommend that the NHS take a longer-term approach and invest in our sustainable workforce solutions. We are built to support recruitment efforts across NHS organisations, where traditional routes are failing. Our solution is simple: digital marketing, employer branding and consistent broadening of a Trust’s talent pipeline are key to the growth of our struggling NHS workforce.

Below are a few reasons why long-term, always-on, evolving digital marketing campaigns are our most recommended plans.

1. For Continual Candidate Attraction

  • With an “always on” digital marketing campaign, your doors are always open. You are constantly open to receiving enquiries of interest from people who are attracted to working at your Trust. 
  • You will consistently reach passive job seekers who wouldn’t normally be searching vacancies via traditional routes – we normally see a 50% rise in TRAC applications once a campaign is live and optimised. 
  • Consistently building your bespoke talent pipeline in our Recruitment Pipeline Management (RPM) system means that you are growing a pipeline of interested candidates that you can reach out to whenever a suitable vacancy arises.

 

2. To Test, Retest and Test Again

  • Marketing efforts are an ongoing test. We’re continually seeing what makes your audience click that call-to-action button, visit your website, sign up for that event or simply engage with your Trust.
  • Continually creating and testing various media and how your audience responds – then we can make more of what it is that’s working! 
  • SEO can take 12 months to be fully optimised – learning what makes your audience tick and driving traffic! It takes time to discover trends that enable considered and focused development for each area of need.

 

3. For Constant “Top of Mind” Awareness

  • More than half (60%) of social media users gravitate towards services from a familiar brand. An employer brand is vital to a successful campaign. Consistent messaging and brand familiarity is what will make someone choose your Trust over a competitor.
  • Effective targeting – digital marketing campaigns need time to learn the audience and create like-for-like targeting audiences (a confusing algorithm, that’s for another time) – essentially, social media can do all the audience learning for you. You just need to implement changes depending on the results.

 

4. Return on Investment

  • Comparing our 12-month digital marketing campaign (which includes brand development, digital management, recruitment pipeline management, photography and video shoots and dedicated candidate consultants) prices to alternative methods; it’s a no-brainer.
  • The candidate journey is simpler meaning people are less likely to drop out of the application process. Plus, having a consistent flow of content on a social platform creates a hub for interested candidates to return to.
  • Building a following with an online presence means the future of your Trust is taken care of too – your community will be aware of your offerings and choose you when they come to making that all-important first step.
If you want to see our sustainable workforce solutions in action, have a look at some of our case studies covering campaigns of various lengths
Case Studies