WorkSource Marketing Campaign

Against a background of record-low unemployment, employers in Washington state were faced with a challenge in hiring. Identifying this need, the state’s Employment Security Department (ESD) set out with the goal of increasing awareness and utilization of its WorkSource services—specifically the website—as a tool for employers to connect with candidates.


Before D2 even began working with ESD, the state had conducted some research and collected analytics data. However, much of the research had assumptions that could lead to varying conclusions, or was not backed by measured data. One of the first things that D2 recognized—and what established our relationship with the department—was that in order to develop a successful marketing campaign, you need a solid foundation of data. This data-driven approach is the core of our methodology.

Our plan was multi-fold and involved stakeholders across the state. We surveyed the ‘boots on the ground’ (relationship managers at WorkSource regional offices) to get their insight, conducted usage analytics on the WorkSource web site to gauge how people used it, and interviewed existing business clients of WorkSource to ascertain their goals and pain points.

Business Landing Page

One of the biggest pain points for anyone using the WorkSource web site, business or otherwise, was the sign-up process. As a state-funded organization (technically separate from ESD), WorkSource was required by law to verify users’ identities by tax ID, industry codes, and other pieces of information. Because that process was separate from the sign-up process, which itself took up to three days for manual verification, utilization rate was lower than commercial competitors. The 11-minute tutorial video was not helpful either.

While D2 was not able to change state law, we were able to modify the business landing page to make it easier for users to sign up. The new landing page was built with a simpler design, provided a clear ‘1-2-3’ registration guide, a concise explanation of benefits, and a method to contact a WorkSource representative directly. Because the business landing page was also how existing users signed in, the new landing page provides for that without adding unnecessary complexity to the page.


After several rounds of feedback from regional workforce development councils, the communications team at ESD, and other stakeholders, we landed on three ad concepts to test. We learned close to the end of the process that ESD policy required the inclusion of certain disclaimer language and compliance with WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines (usually only applied to web pages). Luckily, our designers had the skill to incorporate the required language tastefully, and our experience building accessible web sites gave us the background to bring the ads into compliance.

We built all three concepts in HTML5 for smooth animation and tracking on most browsers, as well as modified variants for animated GIFs for Internet Explorer and other older browsers and small-size static ads. We began tested the concepts in late March, 2018 on the Seattle Times display ad network, which includes sites beyond the Seattle Times’ own properties.

Winning Creative

At the end of testing period, we expanded the ad with the best response rates into other media, including:

Print: newspapers, magazines, direct mail

Broadcast: digital and terrestrial radio

Social media: paid and native posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks

Digital display: additional ad sizes and customized messaging for targeted audiences

As we drove traffic to, we continued to utilize on-site analytics to measure user behavior and adjust ads throughout the campaign. Using audience segmentation, we created retargeting groups to reach those who showed interest but did not come back to complete the transaction.

Because ESD interacts with every business in the state, we also created direct-mail advertisements to include in business license and other official mail communications.


During the three month campaign, we measured interaction with about 30,000 individuals through multiple media. From that pool, more than 1,700 businesses started the application process, 20% more than the same period from the prior year, despite the tighter labor market in the state. Optimizing the account throughout the campaign led to higher quality applications, measured by the significantly decreased number of application denials. Additional optimizations led to the last month of the campaign having double the positive interaction of the first month. We also observed businesses with existing accounts reviving and utilizing their accounts more frequently due to the exposure from ads in multiple media.