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The True Value of Measuring Cost Per Application

The True Value of Measuring Cost Per Application

It’s time for a little pop quiz! 

Ready? Here we go. 


Cost Per Application (CPA) is: 

  1. A completely useless metric 

  2. The best measure of TA success

  3. Useful, but there’s more to it 


Answered C? Well clearly you know your stuff! High five!


The world of recruitment marketing acronyms is a minefield, and with job listing giant Indeed reigniting the debate over whether Cost Per Application (CPA) is a more effective pricing model than Cost Per Click (CPC), we’re hoping to provide clarity and understanding, helping you to navigate a safe way to advertising your jobs.

In summary, CPA is definitely a useful metric, especially in the early days of tracking your overarching strategy but it should be used alongside other data, to get a full picture of how effective your recruitment marketing strategy can be long-term. 

CPA and CPH (Cost Per Hire) are two of the most tangible tools in the recruitment marketing metrics toolbox, but you can't rely on them solely to build a solid business case

Let’s demystify CPA vs CPC and the importance of tracking CPA alongside other recruitment data to achieve an effective TA strategy! 



  • CPA vs CPC

CPA is the monetary amount that’s charged to an employer for a single application to their job posting or, the average cost-per-application based on an organisation’s overall spend on their
recruitment marketing

When boosting a job listing on a job board, you’d usually be paying per click, CPC, and just cross your fingers that the right person would see and click on your boosted listing. Paying per application is definitely an improvement on this model and offers a bit more surety. Which makes it an important metric in recruitment marketing, but of course, applications don't directly equal hires. 

So, let’s quickly brush up on some other key data top recruiters measure in tangent to CPA:


  • Time to Hire vs Time to Fill

Often these terms are used interchangeably, but the important difference is the point at which the clock starts ticking.  Time-to-fill measures the overall time to fill a position from requisition approval to accepted offer. Time-to-hire measures how quickly you were able to identify this candidate. As we all know, time = money.


  • Cost Per Hire

The total annual spend on recruitment (e.g. HR salaries, software fees, infrastructure, marketing costs) divided by the total number of hires. This can also be broken down into specifics, such as your marketing CPH spend or broken down even further into one channel for example, your Social Media spend divided by the total number of hires, to get an even more specific metric.


  • Quality of Hire 

This is not merely about relevant expertise but a more holistic look at the overall impact a successful candidate has on the culture and performance of a team. It’s tricky to measure and as Stephen Clark breaks down, it’s directly impacted by your quality of applicant.


  • Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS)

The Candidate Net Promoter Score (cNPS) is a metric many companies use to measure the
candidate experience. The cNPS gives valuable insights into how candidates experience your recruitment process and if they would recommend applying to your company to friends and family, an essential tool in building your employer brand.


  • Views to Applicant Conversion

Traditionally this would be, the total number of applications for specific jobs divided by the total number of views of that job posting. Views can also be the number of visitors to your job description page. 

However, if you’re a forward thinking recruitment innovator with postings advertised across social media, your “views” will also need to account for all your impressions of that job ad across all social platforms. 

But wait there’s more! Have you heard of Lead Generation Ads? At Adway we’ve been running these in beta. They’re a highly efficient conversion tool that we’ll be offering as part of our “Convert” product launching next year. Once a job seeker clicks on the ad and expresses their interest, they become a lead. The "views to applicant conversion" rate refers to the percentage of job seekers who view the lead generation ad and subsequently apply for the job.

A high views to applicant conversion rate indicates that the ad is effectively reaching and attracting the right audience, while a low rate may indicate that the ad is not resonating with its intended audience or that the job offering is not attractive to potential candidates.

This can be impacted by the amount of detail in your job description, the placement of the listing or even the type of job being promoted. But again, quality over quantity is key, so although it’s great to have a high conversion rate - the goal is quality candidates. Which is why targeted social ads and targeted lead generation ads are such a powerful tool in your recruitment arsenal.


  • Source of Application

Essential information to help you evolve your hiring strategy over time, but your ATS cannot track data that is not there and in the age of data privacy being more and more regulated, your UTM links won’t have the full picture anymore. We dive into the challenges of tracking the source of your application and how you can navigate these challenges here.



  • CPA in Talent Acquisition and CPM in Social Media Marketing

We’ve gone into great detail about how successful social recruitment marketing strategies emulate e-commerce and UX strategies, and in the case of measuring CPA, we can learn a lot from social media marketing's measurement of CPM (Cost Per Mille).

One of the biggest common grounds between CPM in social media marketing and CPA in Talent Acquisition, is the importance of not just tracking cost metrics, but also taking a step back and analysing why and how certain metrics are being used. As is always the case within digital or social marketing strategies - cost results are important to track, but don’t tell you much about the effectiveness of your strategy in isolation. Are your ads being displayed to the best audience primed to take action? Are you growing that pool of people so that you can channel them further down your funnel? Is the journey of that audience one that leaves them raving about you? 

All powerful strategic points that can be applied to recruitment through social recruitment marketing.

The great news is: Automation through powerful AI can implement this strategy for you without you needing to become a digital marketing guru overnight or outsourcing to expensive agencies.


  • See the Bigger Picture and Optimise with Adway 

With Adway’s smart technology, CPA is tracked alongside other key data-points, all accessible via a fully-automated dashboard. Data-driven insights combined with machine learning means your campaigns are constantly learning and updating for you, automatically, delivering you better results – faster and more (cost) effectively.

With Adway you not only get an automation platform, you also unlock a dedicated CSM team to help you figure out the KPIs that make sense for your business.

By offering both a big-picture strategic overview and a granular, analytical analysis, your team can be empowered with recruiting metrics that truly matter to your organisation, making it easier to see the ROI and make BIG business decisions.