Briefing: February 2011

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First Impressions

Use Your web site to drive your business

Adams & Garth's Web site has gone from "lackluster to great." In late 2009, the Charlottesville VA-based staffing firm partnered with Haley Marketing to revamp its site, which now features a more modern look, extensive job search and résumé writing techniques, and a blog.

And the return on the investment has been huge, says CEO Lee Witherow, noting that people have told him it's one of the strongest staffing company Web sites they have seen.

Since the upgrade, traffic has increased dramatically: The site had 10,550 visitors in October 2010, up 220% from 3,296 visitors in October 2009.

Meanwhile, total page views, or hits, stood at 81,502 in October 2010, up from 6,216 in September 2009. "It has been tremendous in terms of the visitation it has drawn," Witherow says.

Adams & Garth may make even more changes to its site this year. Toward the middle of the year, the company may add "flash technology and things of that nature to liven it up," Witherow explains.

Having a strong Web site sets your company apart from the competition and makes people remember it, Witherow points out.

Time for an Upgrade

Many staffing firms, like Adams & Garth, have upgraded their Web sites recently or plan to do so. What are some signs it's time to make some enhancements to your site or redo it entirely? If your site doesn't instantly tell people what you do, send a strong message and the right message about your company, help your salespeople to sell more effectively, lower your cost of recruiting or integrate with social media, and if it is more than three years old, it's time for an upgrade, according to Haley Marketing's guide, "Creating a Killer Staffing Website."

A Strong Site Leads to Success

It certainly makes sense to upgrade your Web site, given what a powerful tool it is in terms of marketing your company and your company's overall success. According to Haley Marketing's guide to "Creating a Killer Staffing Website," nearly 95% of clients will check out your Web site before agreeing to meet with you. More than 90% of candidates will review a company's Web site before applying for a job.

Candie Shahlaie, director of client services at The Anderson Agency, an Atlanta-based marketing firm that also helps staffing companies with their Web sites, says that a company's site can "really affect a first impression about a company." Indeed, Haley Marketing's guide states that one in four candidates will decide not to apply with a company because of its Web site.

Jim Lanzalotto, principal at Scanlon.Louis, a Philadelphia-based strategy and marketing outsourcing firm, adds that everybody is going to a Web site first. Your Web site needs to be in synch with what your salespeople are pitching, he stresses.

Partner or Go Solo?

Some staffing companies hire another company to help revamp their Web site while others do it on their own.

"Most people won't try to do everything on their own because the technical skills required are too great," says Haley Marketing CEO David Searns. "It requires a wide range of skills."

Searns cautions, though, that it's important to find a design company that is well-rounded and can meet all of your needs. One mistake a lot of staffing companies make is that they partner with someone who is great at graphic design, but doesn't understand the company or isn't good at writing content/copy, Searns says.

What Witherow says he likes about working with Haley Marketing is that David Searns grew up in staffing. "He worked in the business. He knows all the lingo. That part makes it a lot easier."

Harvey Nash worked with ClearEdge Marketing to make enhancements to its site, according to Anna Frazzetto, VP of technology solutions. "Marketing is not our core competency," Frazzetto explains. "We know what we're good at: our core offerings."

ClearEdge Marketing CEO Leslie Vickrey is able to look at what the competition is doing and provide some advice, Frazzetto points out. "She thinks about this stuff every day. It's her job. She narrows it down. She understands the company culture."

One of Harvey Nash's services is outsourcing, "so it's a little like you practice what you preach," Frazzetto explains.

Still, many staffing companies SI Review spoke with took on the challenge of revamping their Web sites themselves.

Emphasize Social Media

Harvey Nash added links to its Web site last summer that enable users to follow the company via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs, according to Frazzetto. Harvey Nash also improved the site's events section and hopes to add videos of senior executives sometime this year.

Because the site is the company's public face, "It is really important for it to look as sharp as it can be," Frazzetto explains. "You want to have the right image."

Cleveland OH-based EverStaff got 2011 off on the right foot late last month when it unveiled a new Web site that has connections to Facebook and LinkedIn, according to President Danny Spitz. The company is considering whether to do a Twitter account, he says.

The new site also features the company's new logo, an improved, more interactive press release section and a welcome video. Additionally, people can now subscribe to the company's newsletter on the site (instead of having to sign up via e-mail) and the company plans to hold online contests as well, Spitz says.

Late last year Dallas-based Frontline Source Group overhauled its Web site, which now has a whole new look and feel, a quicker load time and places more emphasis on social media links, according to Bill Kasko, president and CEO. The links are incorporated throughout the site on a continual basis, which wasn't the case with the old site.

Users are able to find what they need more easily, Kasko points out. Graphically, he says, Frontline's site has gone "from [being] a piece of junk to a Rolls Royce." The company made the enhancements in-house, a process that took about a year.

The company's prior site was about seven years old, so it was time for a change. A Web site should always evolve, Kasko stresses. "A Web site should never be something [that] you build and just sits there," he says. "It should be a work in progress."

Now that Frontline has revamped its site, Kasko expects traffic to be up. "If you build it, they will come," he says. "[Traffic] will only continue to increase. There's no doubt about it."

Kasko says his company's Web site is an extremely important part of its marketing strategy and the company's overall success. "Our business model and operations are based on the success of the Web site," he says. "There's nothing we cherish as much as our Web site, and we realize how important it is to have it running every single day."

Search Engine Optimization

According to Haley Marketing's guide, 30% to 40% – or more – will find your site on Google or another search engine, so you want your site to rank highly with search engines.

Instant Technology, based in Chicago, is revamping its Web site this year with the primary focus being on increasing search engine optimization, or SEO. "We are exploring enhancements to our Web site to make it more SEO-friendly," explains Katie Prizy, social media strategist. "After thorough research, we realized that the majority of our visitors come to the Web site intentionally instead of being directed to it by a search engine. Although we are pleased that our current clients and consultants are finding the site useful and are frequently visiting it, we want to attract new business as well."

The company found great success in a 2009 social media initiative. Subsequently, making its Web site more SEO-friendly is a marketing priority for 2011, Prizy concludes.

In 2010, QPS Employment Group also modified its home page to increase search engine optimization, explains Marketing Manager Katie Lindbloom, and the improvements didn't stop there. "We added a drop down for company locations, included more applicable content, and added links to our media sites," Lindbloom explains. In addition, QPS regularly adds new content to its client and candidate knowledge center and uses the site as a tool to take in questions and accept client orders and candidate applications.

"We understand that our Web site may be our first impression to job seekers or prospective clients," Lindbloom explains, "and we always want to put our best foot forward."

Easier to Search, Share, and Apply

Within the last year, Sapphire Technologies has enhanced not only the look and feel of its Web site, but also has created a much easier experience for the job seeker, according to Nicole Goldstein, manager of online marketing. "Since our site is very candidate-focused, we try to enhance tools that will give users the ability to easily search jobs, share jobs, apply for jobs as well as gain access to news related to market trends and skills assessments," she says.

The company made these changes for a couple of reasons, Goldstein explains. First, Sapphire needed to streamline the site's look and feel to show its relationship with its parent company. Second, with constantly changing technologies, Sapphire wanted to keep up to date with what its audience is looking for. "Our site has become increasingly more integrated with our social networking sites," she says, "and is now a home base for candidates."

All of the Web site management enhancements were done in-house through a combined effort of IT, development, and marketing.

This year will be another year of enhancements. "We will be focusing strongly on SEO as well as further integration with the ever-changing Web 2.0," comments Goldstein. The company also plans to incorporate blogs from industry experts and company executives and will focus on enhancing screening processes.

Fresh, More Streamlined

San Diego-based SkillStorm is overhauling its Web site, says project manager Ariana Toro. "We want to give a fresher, more streamlined look than what we have right now," she says. "We want to make it more interactive and make sure all of our information is accessible to [clients and candidates]."

The new site, to be unveiled this spring, will feature plenty of information on all of the company's divisions and their capabilities. It will also have links to all of the company's marketing material and the company's newsletter sign-up will be more easily accessible. "It will be front and center," Toro says.

On the candidate side, SkillStorm is putting interactive polls on the site's career page for candidates to provide feedback.

All of the work on the overhaul has been done in-house. "No one knows your business better than you do," Toro says.

Easier Navigation, Better Content

In 2010, Beta Soft Systems, a Fremont CA-based information technology staffing and services company, improved the content and graphics of its Web site, enhanced the press release section of its site and added details about the company's offshore/onsite model, according to CEO Ritu Mangla.

As a result, the site is more client- and user-friendly. "We have eased navigation and added good content to our Web site," Mangla explains. "We have added [client] testimonials and services that we offer, which can give [prospective clients] a good description of our company and services. For candidates, we have introduced Candidates Lounge, where they can see benefits, white papers regarding new technologies and tools, etc."

Beta Soft Systems partnered with eMantras, which has operations in New York and India, to upgrade its site. The content was done in-house, with eMantras providing the architecture/graphical interface, Mangla explains.

This year, Beta Soft Systems will be making additional changes to its Web site to reflect upcoming business changes: a new office in Connecticut and some project implementation work. Additionally, Beta Soft Systems plans to open up another Web site this year to provide candidates with technical training sessions to increase their knowledge base.

"We are in the consulting/staffing industry business where Web sites play a major role," says Mangla. "We get a lot of   business through our Web site."

Company Methods and Message

Chicago-based La Salle Network's new Web site, which made its debut just this past December, talks more about the company's methods and message, according to CEO Tom Gimbel. The new site has better SEO and the ability to add video portals and podcasts. Gimbel says the site has gone from "average to excellent."

"All candidates really turn to it," he says. "Candidates really go to your Web site and check it out. That is the No. 1 image that people will see of you."

LaSalle Network worked with another Chicago-based company to make the changes, Gimbel says.

Rebranding Effort

Philadelphia-based Yoh revamped its Web site in the summer 2010 to align its brand more closely with its parent company, Day & Zimmermann, says VP of Marketing Joel Capperella, who notes there has been a 20% increase in traffic each month since.

It had been at least three years since Yoh had upgraded its site, so it was time for a change, Capperella points out. "You have to keep up with the pace of the industry at least, not to mention technology," he says.

Day & Zimmermann did the majority of the work on the revamp, although some of the design elements were outsourced.

Atlanta-based MATRIX Resources also upgraded its Web site last summer as part of a rebranding effort, according to Rick Sanders, senior media strategist. "We are becoming more than a staffing company," he explains. "Our brand is expanding to offer professional services" such as Web design and development.

The new site has helped the company announce its new tagline, "We're how you get there," and has pictures of real people, whereas the old site used stock images. "We feel like our site is not just a brochure or billboard," Sanders comments. "We have lots of good content for all our user groups. … We've got lots of great stories about how we help candidates get from point A to point B. Whatever part of the journey they are on, we're part of the solution to getting them there."

Because MATRIX offers Web design and Web development services, it made perfect sense for the company's own designers to revamp the site. The project took about six months. "It was sort of a labor of love for us," says Sanders.

Akraya, a Sunnyvale CA-based information technology services and solutions company, also revamped its Web site as part of a brand change, according to CEO Amar Panchal. Akraya worked with PurplePatch in Santa Clara to come up with a better brand message.

The company added information about its green program and community efforts to its Web site this year, as well as a diversity register database where minority suppliers can go to register, Panchal explains.

"We definitely have had positive feedback – qualitative as well as quantitative," he says. "People mentioned that they went to our Web site and were impressed with what they saw. We've seen a significant increase in the number of inquiries that have come through the Web site."

Panchal points out that a Web site is a "perfect tool to stand out from competitors."

Akraya currently doesn't have a section for government business on its site, but that should change in the first half of this year, Panchal explains. Other plans for this year call for adding video to the site and connecting people to the Akraya blog via the site.

The Lawton Cos., formerly TLC Staffing, revamped its Web site in late 2010, also as part of a rebranding effort, explains Shannon Erdell, president of the San Diego-based company. Everyone is aware that the company does clerical staffing, but many people don't know that the company also does IT staffing and executive level search, for example.

Erdell decided to change the company's name to the Lawton Cos., in honor of TLC Staffing's founder Judy Lawton, and the company's new Web site reflects its new name. The company's different divisions – TLC Staffing, Lawton Technical Solutions, C-Level Search, and TLC Consulting and Training Group – now have separate tabs on the site. The new site also features the company's new logo: "Staffing, consulting, training and executive search."

Additionally, the new site provides a more in-depth description of solutions the company offers and includes newsletters, informational articles and links to other informational sources.

Erdell says she thought about doing the revamp in 2009 but couldn't because of the economy. In 2010, the economy started to pick up a little, so she was able to pull it off.

She turned to Haley Marketing – with which she had worked on her previous site – to give it a facelift. "Because we are a smaller company, I don't really have the bandwidth," she explains, noting that Haley Marketing has all of the resources and can serve as an advisor. "They really understand our industry," she says.

ASAP, a Norcross GA-based information technology staffing and solutions firm, updated its brand and made that the focus of its new Web site, which made its debut March 2010. The new site has better design, content and functionality. "We scrapped the old one and completely redesigned it," explains Patrick Emmet, CFO. "I don't know what the increase in traffic is but no one ever made a comment about our Web site prior to it being redone. Now, we get lots of compliments."

ASAP worked with The Anderson Agency on the overhaul. Before meeting with Anderson, "We put a small team together and went over timelines and functionality," explains Emmet. "Once we had a general idea of what we wanted, we engaged Anderson to put the look or brand together."

Emmet concludes that the process seemed more complicated than it ended up being. "The biggest decision," he advises, "is finding a good agency that can design a brand around your company. Anderson did a terrific job for us."

Better Brand Match

Springfield MO-based Penmac Staffing began in 2010 with a completely redesigned Web site that better matches its existing branding and provides usability, according to Marketing Director Sara Corman. "We updated the design. We also focused on search engine optimization to improve our search rankings." The company also added a Twitter feed, a link to its Facebook page and excerpts of news releases to the home page to increase the visibility of its different
communication channels.

The result? "We saw a 40% increase in visitors to our site almost immediately," Corman explains. "I think that can be attributed to both a better user experience and improved search engine rankings."

Corman said: "I would say our site is promoted more heavily to job seekers, because they can search all of our job openings and apply online. The content is split about 50/50 between job seekers and clients. Clients also log on to our TempWorks WebCenter staffing management portal via our Web site."

Penmac revamped its site in-house with the help of Web designer Cory Ostroski. "Having him in-house during the redesign process made everything go quickly and smoothly," Corman said. Because Ostroski understands Penmac's message and culture, he was able to communicate that effectively online. "His SEO expertise also meant we didn't have to pay an outside consultant [for that]. Since the initial redesign, he also has
created microsites for all 26 of our branches, as well as standalone sites for our medical and technical divisions. Also, the fact that he is on staff to immediately address any problems that may arise is priceless."

Congratulations to you if you have upgraded your Web site in any way, as it
will increase traffic to your site and your company's business. If you haven't made any changes recently, now is the time. It's important to have a strong Web site because, as Haley Marketing's "Creating a Killer Staffing Website" guide points out, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Sidebars

QUICK Facts:

The Five Elements of a Killer Staffing Web site:

• Content: Killer content is comprised of great information; how-tos, market data, statistics and charts, first person success stories, great pictures, facts (not marketing hype), great writing, strong opinions, personality, irreverent humor, sincerity, and clarity. It clearly defines how you want to be seen, tells a compelling story, educates, and adds value to clients and prospects. Content can include flash animation, podcasts, articles, photos, PDFs, wikis, and searchable databases.

• Functionality: Functionality is what your Web site does or allows visitors to do. Killer functionality makes it easier to do business with you, reduces the cost of doing business, delivers a "Wow" customer experience, and makes your site fun and memorable.

• Design: The design of your Web site is more than just the graphics. It's also about the physical structure of your site. A well-designed Web site is easy to get around, allows access to any page with minimum clicks, and is visually captivating and uncluttered.

• Conversion: Conversion is the art and science of turning Web site visitors into Web site responders. It may mean getting people to place an order or respond to a job opening. Or, it could also mean getting people to download a white paper, subscribe to a newsletter or just watch a video.

• Promotion: Promotion refers to all the ways you get people to your Web site and to specific landing pages within your site. It can involve using search engine optimization, social media and offline marketing.

Source: Haley Marketing's "Guide to Creating a Killer Staffing Website"

Revamp Your Web site

Thinking about revamping your Web site? Here are some things you should do.

• Focus on your customers. What do they think about? What do they need? How can you bring value to your relationship with them? Think about your customers' connectivity.

• Hone in on a message. Too many staffing companies have a message that is indistinguishable from their competitors. Make sure your message is tailored and says what makes you different from competitors. Be sure it applies to the markets you are serving.

• Talk to your clients to find out what they are looking for in a Web site or work with an outside agency to obtain the information from your clients.

• Brainstorm with internal staff before you approach an outside design firm.

• Don't rush. Take your time.

Sources: Joel Capperella, VP of marketing, Yoh; Candie Shahlaie, director of client services, The Anderson Agency

Hot Trends in Staffing Company Web Sites

What are some trends in staffing company Web sites right now? Social media, video and content management systems. Staffing companies want their sites to incorporate social media, says Candie Shahlaie, director of client services at The Anderson Agency in Atlanta. "That's all that anyone talks about - it's the biggest buzzword. You can't escape it. Social media is the biggest, hottest trend." But, she cautions, "I don't recommend that everyone jump on the bandwagon immediately."

The challenge is how to manage social media, Shahlaie points out. "If you don't have the resources to manage it, don't post it," she says.

Video also is a trend. "The use of video on the Web has exploded, largely due to ease of publishing video via YouTube.com and other free video sites," explains Shahlaie. "The latest use of video does not necessarily need to be highly produced, ultra-clean video; many companies are capturing interviews, personal notes and more on simple hand-held cameras and sending them across the Web quickly and unedited."

Content management systems also are king, Shahlaie points out. "Clients are still interested in content management systems," she says. "We encourage clients to use content management systems. That's a valuable tool clients are consistently interested in that is a must-have. For a lot of clients a content management system is the only way they are going to consistently update their site."

Driving Traffic a Primary Concern

Kforce's primary goal is directing more people to its Web site as opposed to making changes to the site itself, explains Rich Weede, director of Internet operations. Kforce has been working on creating an e-mail campaign that directs more people to its site and is expected to officially launch the new campaign this month.

In 2010, Kforce put a portion of its Salary and Employment Guide on its site, and now more clients are logging on to check it out.

Late this year, Kforce may also add video to its site. "We want to add content," Weede explains. "Video is one of the elements of content we're looking at. We are looking at the different mediums to provide within the context of the site."

One of Kforce's goals is to make its site more client-focused, according to Don Sloan, chief information officer. "I would tell you that in many ways it's [our Web site is] at the center of our marketing strategy," explains Sloan. "We have made the digital part of the pie front and center as far as marketing is concerned. Our Web site is what we consider to be a lifeblood system or a lifeblood type of solution within the company."

More People Accessing Web sites via Mobile Devices

More people are accessing Web sites via mobile devices, so you've got to make sure you're prepared for that and that your Web site will run smoothly when people try to access it via their BlackBerries, iPads and iPhones, points out Joel Capperella, VP of marketing for Yoh. "That's where everybody is headed," he says.

Capperella cites a Forrester Research study that found that by 2013, more people will be using mobile devices to access Web sites than a traditional computer.

Capperella, who takes a train to and from work, says he is seeing more and more people with iPads on the train. "As the iPad becomes more ubiquitous, you have to pay attention to that," he points out.

An Effective Web site Should:

Instantly tell people what you do

Send a strong message about your company

 Compel visitors to take action

 Be easy to navigate

 Rank highly with search engines

Allow you to post jobs and add content easily

 Help your salespeople to sell more effectively

 Lower your recruiting costs

 Keep visitors engaged

 Generate a lot of repeat traffic

 Integrate with social media

 Be less than three years old

Source: Haley Marketing's "Creating a Killer Staffing Website"

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