This post is part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we draw lessons from experiments conducted by our own HubSpotters. Acquisition marketing campaigns are critical to attracting new customers and revenue. At HubSpot, we run these campaigns on a quarterly basis. Despite the rapid cadence, each quarter we work to create new and remarkable ways to reach, inform and convert our audience.
I wrote this post to share with you how we designed our latest acquisition campaign to meet and exceed our acquisition goals.
Establishment of the campaign
The start of our Q1 2020 acquisition campaign started with a blinking cursor. As we thought about how to begin our research, we had some input to work with. First, we knew that our target audience consisted of marketing managers, as we were relaunching our Marketing Hub Enterprise product that month. We knew that reporting was a type of content that worked well for us in the past. We saw our Instagram engagement report 2019 and a Social Media Report 2020 attract new audiences successfully. At the very least, it was a move our audience was familiar with, which meant there were fewer barriers to showing value. Additionally, seasonality played an important role in our planning. We wanted to create content to help marketers plan their strategies for the coming year. With the combination of 1) a target audience, 2) an understanding of high-performing content types, 3) timing, and 4) our additional user research, we wanted to create a remarkable reference resource for marketing managers developing your strategies for the year. Thus was born the idea of ”Not Another State of Marketing Report.” In this article, I’ll talk about surveys and report content, web experience, promotion, and results. Hopefully it will give you a peek behind the curtain and some inspiration for future campaigns.
Running surveys and creating report content
The first and foremost thing about the content of this report was to begin collecting survey data for analysis and visualization. Working with our team in HubSpot Research, we conducted our first survey in November / December 2019 that was sent to 3,400 global marketers. After submitting the survey, we talked about what might differentiate this content from other reports we’ve published in the past. While data was valuable, we knew that data can be boring without human context or insights. So, we brought the humans. Our first criterion for selecting our experts was their experience in the field. We had put together a list of topics that we wanted the report to cover (from SEO strategy to content marketing strategy and more) and we wanted our experts to have in-depth and specific knowledge on the topic we chose them to represent. Our second criterion was seniority. We were doing a report for senior marketing managers, directors, and vice presidents, so we wanted our experts to be of a similar level of seniority. We are fortunate enough to work with many brilliant marketers at HubSpot, so eight of our experts were internal. The other two, Cynthia Price (Vice President of Marketing for Litmus) and Ellie mirman (Crayon’s CMO) were generous enough to volunteer their time when we asked them to share their experience with us. We interview each of our experts for about an hour, take detailed notes, and record the interview. We also share the survey data with them to collect their feedback on the data points. Finally, we work with the experts to create detailed articles with their advice for the coming year. We decided to leave these articles unranked in the web experience, so we optimized them for organic search with extensive keyword research. We’ve seen some exciting results from that play, generating over 15,000 backlinks in the first two months and taking the number three result for the search term “state of marketing.” When we received the data from the initial survey, we were delighted with the results, but we knew we had to go one step further. So we conducted an additional survey in January of a database of North American marketers. At this point, with the additional survey data and expert feedback, we got some quotes from experts from across the industry. We ended up with a great group of contributors from Dropbox, Twilio, and more. When all was said and done, we had 19,000 words of valuable information and more than 70 data points.
Design and develop the web experience
The differentiation of this campaign was not limited to the knowledge of the experts. We wanted to create an immersive web experience to pair with the PDF report. The result was a fully personalized web experience with a home page, nine subpages for each article, and a custom interactive form that follows the user in a non-intrusive banner. It was designed by an amazing leading designer and built from the ground up by three developers. (Better to see than to describe, so I’ll leave you with this.) We were curious what kind of conversion rates this personalized web experience could generate. To date, the landing page of the report is turning around 35%. This metric is calculated as the ratio of views to submission and is measured in HubSpot HubSpot’s own portal. We’re very excited about that conversion rate, but we’ve found that it doesn’t stay as high on every page of the web experience. For example, on a sample article page, we noticed that the conversion rate was approximately 5%. The main theory right now is that people are downloading the offer when they hit the home page and then explore the rest of the experience after downloading, so they are not converting on the offer pages. However, overall, we are very proud of how the web experience turned out and we think it is a strong differentiator. After all, 38% of people will stop interacting with a website if the content doesn’t look good on the page.
How we promote the campaign
When it came time to promote, we had to decide three things: the story we wanted to tell, our creative promotional assets, and the channels we wanted to follow.
1. The story
The literal offer we were marketing was a report. However, the emotion we wanted to convey was confidence. This was the story we wanted to report and the campaign we wanted to tell. For some marketing managers, feeling confident about a strategy can be difficult. Are other people in the industry doing this? How will I know if it will work? Data can help alleviate those concerns, as can extensive articles from subject matter experts. So, we wrote 20 headlines about that concept. This was a good exercise because, although most of them ended up unused, we found that this process sharpened our writing “muscle”. One of the first headlines we got was: “A report for marketers using data to exceed their goals.”
2. Our creative assets
The design of this campaign was important to us. We wanted you to feel cohesive across the entire web experience, the PDF offering itself, and our promotional efforts. So, under the guidance of our lead designer, we put together a detailed brief for a freelancer, and he came up with some beautiful things. Our learning here is that cohesive design across all campaign assets makes the campaign feel larger than life.
3. Promotional channels
In the Global Campaigns Team here, we like to divide our promotion into three categories: Paid: What channels can we activate in which we have to invest direct money? Own: What organic channels and established HubSpot audiences can we tap into? Obtained: What additional free promotions and placements (eg organic SEO) can we take advantage of? For our paid channels, we opted to focus on Facebook ads (historically the lowest CPL for us) and LinkedIn ads (typically a more expensive but more effective targeting for the audience we wanted to attract). For this channel, we created a more standard landing page to drive conversions. For our own channels, we activated our brand channels (social media, email, etc.), our solution partner channels, our customer channels, our HubSpot Academy channels, and our sales channels (our BDRs used the report as conversation starter). We also asked our authors to promote it on their personal social media, and we gave them custom assets to make that promotion noticeable. For our earned channels, we focus heavily on the organic SEO value of our unclassified articles, promoting our partners in the report (Litmus and Crayon), and the placement of the media in marketing posts.
Monitoring and analysis of results
This campaign was quickly successful – we reached 100% of our new net lead goal in 16 days and 150% of the goal in just over a month. As of April 21, there are 15,800 backlinks to the report. We ranked for over 350 organic keywords and got the # 1 result for the search term “state of marketing.” Custom landing page becomes over 30% and paid landing page becomes 25%. Approximately 50% (48%) of the campaign’s net new leads came from paid social media. We expect that percentage to decrease as organic traffic continues to gain ground. There were many factors to our success, but we have identified the following as the main ones: Take time for the strategic planning process. It’s tempting to rush a campaign, but a well-thought-out strategy goes a long way. Use qualitative, quantitative, and search data to inform the direction you choose. Think about how you can contribute to a conversation that is already taking place in a new way. There are many reports on the state of marketing. We focused on delivering that same value, but we took it a step further. Help your creative team by giving them solid creative guidelines. This makes the design more cohesive and powerful in the end. Identify at least three channels that you can activate for promotion. You should prioritize the ones that will help you the most with your goal. Since we were looking to attract a new audience, our payment channels made more sense to invest. Duplicate the details of your content. If someone is willing to give their information about your content, you better make sure it offers value. Best of luck with your future campaigns!