What you can learn from Indeed’s CPA rollout

Indeed's CPA rolloutHow did Indeed’s CPA rollout go? Well…take a look at these TrustPilot comments. Or read this AIM Group article. Or listen to this Chad and Cheese podcast. Or listen to Steven Rothberg and Peter Zollman. Or…well, you get the picture.

It wasn’t pretty.

But running down Indeed is truly not the purpose of this blog post – really. We all – even multi-billion multi-national industry leaders – make mistakes. The key value of mistakes, be they big or small, is that you can learn from them. That’s what I want to do here – so that your job board doesn’t someday end up as the focus of so much industry ire. So, let’s take a closer look at Indeed’s CPA rollout.

The background is this: for some time, Indeed has been laying the ground for moving their employers from a cost per click (CPC) model to a cost per application (CPA) model. This can be seen as both a natural progression from their historic focus on CPC, and a way to differentiate their service from all the other CPC vendors.  The CPA model was tested last year, and then in October the company announced that it would be moving all employers over to CPA during 2023.

OK, so what went wrong? And with who?

First: remember that Indeed’s employers are literally every company out there. Although it can be argued that the job board works better for specific types of employers, the reality is that almost every employer has tried and/or regularly uses Indeed. Several years ago the company ramped up its marketing and now it’s a rare employer that hasn’t heard or seen an Indeed ad, or been contacted by their vigorous sales team. So think about that: imagine if your customers were literally everyone in the market. You’d have mom-and-pop shops, startups, mid-sized firms, multi-nationals, and everything in between – in every vertical you could imagine. (And if this in fact describes your customers, then you are probably cheering Indeed’s CPA rollout!).

Big companies handle hiring much differently than tiny ones do. Companies with HR and recruiting teams handle hiring differently than those that rely on the owner to make the hires. And so on. Who seems to be most upset about the CPA rollout? Small and medium sized business (SMBs). Why? The general tenor of comments seems to be: What happened? When did this change? Why is everything suddenly so expensive? Etc.

Lesson #1: When you make ANY change that affects your customers, communicate, communicate, communicate. You should in fact over-communicate! Your customers should know how the change affects them, why the change is being made, how it benefits them, and what they need to do to make the change work. You cannot tell them too many times about the change – believe me! (I have been involved in similar kerfuffles  in past jobs). Remember – your customers aren’t always listening to you. They have other things to do. So you must communicate to them multiple times, in multiple ways, until they hear you. As far as I can tell, in Indeed’s CPA rollout they did very little communication to their customers about the change (and if I’m wrong, let me know!).

Second: don’t forget how hard you fought to land your customers. If they are valuable to you, treat them that way. Do everything you can to make the change easy for them. If that means one-on-ones with certain customers, so be it. If that means some special webinars, or an online wizard, or a bunch of giveaways, so be it.

If, however, you are making this change to help your best customers, and get rid of your not-so-great customers, ignore the above. Treat the best customers right, communicate like crazy to them – and do the minimum for your other customers. (Some have speculated that this is what Indeed is actually doing. I have no idea!).

Lesson #2: Understand why you made the change. If you aren’t clear about why the change is being made, and who it benefits – well, it’s time to take a pause. Price hikes often work this way; perhaps your service was underpriced to begin with, so you had lots of customers. If you talk to me, I will tell you to double your prices. Yes, you will lose some of your customers – but the ones that find value in your services will pay, as they recognize they are still getting what they need at double the price. You are making the change for a reason. 

Are we clear? Have we learned something useful from Indeed’s CPA rollout? Then….class dismissed!

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