An interview with Helen Merrell Spalding, Content Manager at Salt Digital Recruitment
We sit down with Helen Merrell Spalding, Content Manager at Salt Digital Recruitment. Salt is a leading global recruitment agency, specializing in digital talent and our mission is to create futures to make your life easier.
How did you end up at Welovesalt and what problem does Salt Digital Recruitment solve for its clients?
Salt is an award-winning recruitment consultancy. Each consultant is specialist in a different aspect of digital recruitment - and we have offices all over the globe. We partner with our clients, global employers of all kinds, to place not just the best individual talent but also to create some of the most exciting digital teams globally. We also champion diversity and inclusion at every stage of what we do, both internally and externally. This translates to our recruitment advice and practices, as well as our content and marketing. I was headhunted via LinkedIn by Salt AMEA's CEO Elliot Dell while I was in my fourth year working for a top 10 UK charity (NSPCC) and have been with the company just over a year now. In that time, with a new global marketing team, we've almost reached an audience of 1 million followers on LinkedIn, produced 3 seasons of Creating Futures by Salt (our podcast - https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/creating-futures/), embarked on a digital transformation of our own website (https://welovesalt.com/) and produced over 40 pieces of search optimized content. Everything we do to market Salt also has the aim of representing more people in the world of work and inspiring our audiences to pursue their dream jobs and contribute to building a bigger, brighter workforce of the future, a workforce where everyone is welcome and everyone is valued.
As the Content Manager, what are your main responsibilities at Salt Digital Recruitment?
As Content Manager, I write, edit and promote all Salt's content: from podcast episodes to blogs to long form guides and reports we publish on our website. I work with an SEO agency and our in-house SEO specialist on keyword strategies across our different markets, and translate that into the content we plan and produce. Strategies vary as Salt is active across 5 continents all with different terminology, job markets and competitors. I also work closely with colleagues in Social Media and Global Brand to shape the narrative around what Salt offers both candidates and clients, how we talk to our online audiences across different channels, how we continue to engage and grow our online community, and how we make the most use of a single team to support the wonderful variety of work we do globally. What this looks like is working to produce service landing pages and brochures and marketing assets to directly communicate what we do and how we help, to producing nurturing and engaging content marketing assets to bring our audience on a journey with Salt via newsletters and social posts. What we share to nurture our audiences also varies - with candidates, hiring managers and consultants making up three very different and distinct audience groups we need to cater for, that also happen to overlap in their interests and needs in weird and wonderful ways (a dream for an SEO nerd - or indeed a nightmare). The needs and questions these audiences have change dependent on the market conditions and region. There's never a one-size-fits-all answer! Myself and the team produce thought leadership blogs, job market insights commentary, practical and actionable advice for job seekers and hiring managers based on the current job market, and inspiring stories in the form of interviews we share in podcast, written and video formats that aim to open up the world of work and represent the diversity of digital careers around the globe to inspire others to break into their dream roles... We use this long form content in a myriad of different ways across our channels to reach different people at different stages of their career journeys. To be honest, the list goes on.
To get a bit more technical, which methods work best for making people aware of and interested inSalt Digital Recruitment , and why do you think they work so well?
There's no easy answer to this as we do a lot that is impossible to measure holistically and I can't exactly share my dashboards... Our activities as a Marketing team overlaps with the work we each do across different channels, as well as the individual branding and marketing each of our specialist consultants do to build their own brands and networks. There's no way to market everything, everywhere, all at once - but Salt's consultants already have vested interest in marketing their specific and specialist niche of digital to a specific and specialist community they grow themselves. A lot of what we do empowers them to build and sustain their own individual brands as part of the Salt network. It's the first professional environment I've been in that fully understands and in fact embraces the power of branding (both business and personal) and story (as intangible as that is with regards to digital marketing measurements and metrics) as a means of building a reputation and nurturing people into trusting our company or the individual they're connecting with from Salt to act as a a real source of help and motivation on their career journey. Analytics would show that organic search traffic remains our biggest source of acquisition, however often our visitors are searching for us directly, as a result of our people, our event presence, our social presence and all the many ways we're sharing our story and the stories of inspiring individuals we work with... The engagement our social networks see given our relative size is astonishing when compared with much larger corporate competitors in the same space, which is testament to the power of the stories we're telling and the futures we're creating.
At ColdFire, when we look at our clients' Marketing strategies, they vary greatly. Some have found a single, scalable client acquisition process while others thrive on a mix of top-of-funnel strategies. How would you summarize the high-level marketing-related strategy of your organization, and what key elements contribute to its success?
Our vision as an organization is to Create Futures that positively impact the global economy. This leads us not just in the recruitment activities we do worldwide but also in the marketing strategy we have. We aim to answer the questions, and predict the needs of our audiences online and off, both at a global scale (market insights) and at an individual level (working directly with people in businesses or on the job search journeys). In terms of content marketing, this means providing insight to the future of work and up to date summaries of job market changes as they develop, to showcase authority and reliability, as well as the stories of inspiring individuals from every corner of the world and every level of digital, to showcase diversity and innovation in the digital space now and inspire the changes we want to see replicated in the workforce of the future. Our success is defined by our people. Not just the people that work for Salt and create futures for clients and candidates alike every day - but also in the people we uplift via our channels and the people that go on to be inspired by those stories.
What marketing tactic have you employed at Salt Digital Recruitment or past companies that you feel is often overlooked by marketing teams, and what makes this technique effective in your experience?
I have never had any interest in podcasting. I was very surprised to be asked to do it as a form of content when I first started with Salt. Working in the charity sector however I did know first-hand that stories outperform statistics. Putting a face instead of a number, a name instead of a percentage, made discernable and trackable changes to the success campaigns had, which directly translated into the donations received and services we were able to finance. Working in my first "corporate" job has been an easier transition thanks to the vision and values Salt has and is led by. The podcast is an excellent demonstration of this. It's a lot of work, but it also generate A LOT of content, and that content is reusable. People's voices, experiences and advice really does engage and inspire year-round, and it's an amazing thing to link the work we do as recruiters with workplace wellbeing activists and inclusive hiring experts around the world and raise awareness about the importance of these issues post-pandemic and for the workplace of the future. It's also amazing to see the networks of the people we feature engage and grow as a result of their feature with us, and their message be uplifted and expanded to reach around the world. These stories see real responses online and - as perhaps Cold Fire knows first hand - can even play part of a business development or client nurturing strategy - building and strengthening relationships though story telling and engagement.
Has your Marketing team experimented with some kind of cold outbound strategy (like cold email)? If yes what was the general outcome and if no, why not?
No, not as marketers. We grow our reach organically through content-led marketing across multiple channels with a focus on organic growth via social media and search. I started out working for a BPO start up as a Marketing Manager in the beginning of my career - and wrote upwards of 300 email campaigns in my first year in the workplace (right when GDPR was implemented!) I have seen them work and I have also seen the adverse impacts of them - I think as with all channels of marketing, direct or organic, that substance leads over style. It's the content that defines success - and 'good content' very much depends on your understanding of your audience and the value you're able to provide them in areas they need support or guidance or inspiration.