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Wouldn't you like to know exactly when someone is reading that recruiter email you just sent them?

Engaging passive candidates is hard work.

I recently trained a massive recruitment agency that use LinkedIn Recruiter and they were proud to tell me that 19% of their InMails are replied to. LinkedIn told them this is pretty amazing as an agency. The really good corporate recruiters I know tell me that they average 25-30% reply rates. Not bad, eh?

Wrong. If you’re only getting replies from 1 in 5, then 4 out of 5 people are getting spammed. How does that look for your employer brand and reputation? Worse still, to shortlist 5 candidates you’ll probably need to talk to 10 and therefore reach out to at least 50 people. Sometimes, there aren’t 50 people out there who can do your job. I spoke last week at the brilliant Sourcing Summit Europe Conference in Amsterdam on why it’s so important for Sourcers and Recruiters alike to hone their sales skills (you can check out the slide deck here) but technology companies have also come up with some pretty nifty solutions to this growing challenge.

Most of the time, it’s better to phone someone you want to talk to. Nothing works like a conversation. But alas, we don’t always get people on the phone and some professions just can’t be reached at a work number.

Email still dominates the recruiting communication landscape, which means the brightest of us are becoming adept at writing compelling subject lines, openers and concise personal messages to try to move candidates to respond (check out Dan Pink’s game-changing book “To Sell is Human” for insights on how to move others).  Perfecting this art will certainly improve your response rates, but wouldn’t you like to know exactly who opened those 20 emails you just sent, who clicked on the job link you provided and who’s reading your email right now?

Back in the old days (I’m feeling my age now), we could turn on read receipts within Outlook, but alas, most people don’t allow read receipts anymore. With instant messaging like iChat, Skype and Google+ Hangouts, you can see when someone is drafting a response. Why can’t we have that kind of technology in email?

We can and we do. In fact we’ve had it for years, embedded in the email campaigns we send out from Mailchimp and Constant Contact and many email marketing providers are tiny image files with unique URL’s that notify a remote server once they are downloaded as an email recipient opens your marketing mail. For years, I’ve tried to persuade ATS vendors that they should be incorporating this technology in outbound emails, but it almost feels old-tech at this stage.

Enter the new world of intelligent email messaging solutions from start-ups like Yesware and ToutApp. I firmly believe that their technology will forever change the way we look at sales emails.

Yesware is a freemium plug-in that works only with WebMail for Gmail, Yahoo and AOL. ToutApp is a paid solution for webmail and Outlook (yes, the majority of you who still email in the dark ages of desktop Outlook, there is a solution for you!) that you can evaluate on a 14 day trial for free (no credit card required). There are some differences between the two but essentially here are their top 4 features:


As you’re sending an email you can simply tick a box that turns on tracking. Whenever that email is opened by a recipient you will be immediately notified through a pop-up (I’ve been using Yesware for Gmail and the pop-up appears within the browser). The pop-up tells you who is reading your mail, what location they’re in and what type of device they are reading the email on. Has that sunk in yet? Your email client will tell you exactly when a brilliant prospect is reading the email you so carefully worded to get their attention.

If you’re pro-active, you could be phoning them 5 minutes later to “follow up”, feigning surprise when they say “that’s a coincidence, I was just reading your email….”. You gotta strike while the iron is hot and there is no better time than when a prospect has just absorbed your message.

Even better, you will be alerted when they click on any links you put into your message. You will actually know if they’ve read the job spec you linked to. I’ve been using this on my outbound emails for a month now and it’s amazing. I sent a message to a client 2 weeks ago to follow up on a quote we provided for online training for their staff. After three days she hadn’t replied but then last Thursday I saw her opening my mail. 20 minutes later, it opened again, and again a few minutes after that. On Friday morning it was opened twice more. She was showing it to her colleagues! By Friday afternoon she was on the phone negotiating the final contract. Brilliant stuff. Even if you’re not there when the alert comes in, you can go back and see which emails were opened and which weren’t, allowing you to prioritise your follow up’s to call the people who definitely saw your email first. And the beautiful thing is that the recipient is oblivious to the fact that you have this technology! You shouldn’t need to read any further, you should be downloading one of these tools right now… but there’s more!


I’m not a fan of templates as they de-personalise the prospect approach but I concede that even I have used “smart” templates that allow me to modify 2-3 keywords to leave the impression of personalisation. It can help productivity, there’s no doubt. With these tools, you can easily insert a stored template mail from a list that can be shared across your organisation. How good is that? Once you’ve perfected the perfect email, you can template it and make it available to all of your recruiters from within their email client. Recruitment for dummies with expert effect.


Whenever I ever sent a campaign to 10, 20 or 30 people, I would add a calendar reminder to follow up with them in 3 days. It was the only way that I could be sure to chase up everyone who hadn’t replied and it always worked – I’d usually reach at least 50% of the people who had not originally replied on my second approach and many of them were in fact interested or at the very least, up for a chat. With Yesware (as also with Boomerang for Gmail), as I’m sending my email I can tick a box asking my email to remind me to follow up in X hours or days, which I can select by dragging a simple slider. If the person replies, it won’t remind me. If they don’t, it will email me again in X days. No longer do I have to remember to open my calendar and diary an action.

CRM integration:

Both ToutApp and Yesware integrate with Salesforce and some other CRM tools meaning that your emails can seamlessly be synced with the relevant contact within your CRM system. No need to copy or paste or remember to add a note. Unfortunately there are no ATS or Recruitment CRM integrations available yet but its early days folks. If enough of us start using these tools, I am sure the providers will move to rectify that.

So, there it is. Unbelievably simple technology that gives you unbelievable power and insight. It costs nothing, nada to try either solution out. Trust me, you will never go back! Don’t forget though, whilst technology like this is amazing, it won’t make up for a poor approach email or lame phone call.  Our Black Belt in Internet Recruitment course shows you exactly how to write winning emails and take control of headhunt calls. If you haven’t checked it out, shame on you. Learn what else Black Belts can do here.

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