This post is part of Made @ HubSpot, an in-house line of thought leaders, where we draw lessons from experiments conducted by our own HubSpotters.
Acquisition marketing campaigns are critical to generating new customers and revenue. At HubSpot, we run these campaigns quarterly.
Despite the fast cadence, we work every quarter to find new, remarkable ways to reach, educate, and convert our audiences.
I wrote this post to let you know how we developed our latest acquisition campaign to meet and exceed our acquisition goals.
Set up campaign
The start of our acquisition campaign for the first quarter of 2020 began with a blinking cursor. When we were thinking of how to start our research, we had to work with some inputs.
At first we knew ours target group consisted of marketing managers when we launched our Marketing Hub Enterprise product this month.
We knew reports a Content type that has worked well in the past. We saw our 2019 Instagram Engagement Report and 2020 Social Media Report successfully attract new audiences.
At the very least, it was a movement our audience was familiar with, which meant there were fewer barriers to showing the value.
Additionally, Seasonality played a big role in our planning. We wanted to create content to help marketers plan their strategies for the year ahead.
By combining 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 go-to for marketing managers to strategize for over the year.
This is how the idea for “Not Another State of Marketing Report” came about.
In this article, I’ll be covering the report polls and content, web experience, advertising, and results. Hopefully it gives you a behind-the-scenes look and inspiration for future campaigns.
Run the surveys and create the report content
The first and most important part of the content of this report was to begin collecting survey data for analysis and visualization.
In collaboration with our team at HubSpot Research, we conducted our first survey in November / December 2019, which went to 3,400 global marketers.
After we sent the survey out, we talked about what might differentiate this content from other reports we had published in the past. Although the data was valuable, we knew that data can be boring without human context or insight.
So we brought people in.
Our first criterion for choosing our experts was theirs Expertise. We had made a list of topics that the report should cover (from SEO strategy to content marketing strategy and more) and wanted our experts to have in-depth and specific knowledge of the topic for which we were working them have selected.
Our second criterion was Seniority. We made a report for senior marketing managers, directors and vice presidents so we wanted our experts to be of similar seniority.
We’re fortunate to work with many brilliant marketers at HubSpot, so eight of our experts were in-house. The other two, Cynthia Price (VP of Marketing at Litmus) and Ellie Mirman (CMO at Crayon), were generous enough to offer their time when we asked them to share their expertise with us.
We interviewed each of our experts for about an hour, took detailed notes, and recorded the interview. We also shared the survey data with them to collect their comments on the data points. Finally, we worked with the experts to create detailed articles with their advice for the year ahead.
We have decided to leave this article ungated We have therefore optimized them for organic search with extensive keyword research. We’ve seen some exciting results from this game – over 15,000 backlinks were generated in the first two months and the number three result was used for the search term “State of Marketing”.
When we got the first survey data, we were thrilled with the results – but knew we had to go one step further. So in January we conducted an additional survey of a North American database of marketers.
At this point, with the additional survey data and expert commentary, we had some quotes from experts across the industry. We ended up having a great group of contributors from Dropbox, Twilio, and others.
In the end, we had insights worth 19,000 words and more than 70 data points.
Design and develop the web experience
The differentiation of this campaign did not stop with the expert insights. We wanted to create a comprehensive web experience that can be combined with the PDF report.
The result was a completely custom web experience with a home page, nine child pages for each article, and a custom interactive form that follows the user in a non-intrusive banner. It was designed by an incredible lead designer and built from scratch by three developers. (It’s better to see than described, so I’ll leave it to you.)
We were excited to see what conversion rates this custom web experience could achieve.
To date, the report’s homepage converts around 35%. This metric is calculated as the ratio of views to submission and is measured in HubSpot’s own HubSpot portal.
We’re really excited about this conversion rate, but we’ve found it doesn’t stay that high on every page of the web experience.
For example, on a sample article page, we found that the conversion rate was around 5%. The leading theory right now is that users download the offer when they land on the homepage and then explore the rest of the experience after downloading so they don’t convert on the landing pages.
Overall, however, we take great pride in how the web experience turned out and believe it is a strong differentiator. After all, 38% of people stop using a website if the content on the page doesn’t look nice.
How we advertised the campaign
When it came time to advertise, we had to choose three things: the story we wanted to tell, our creative advertising skills, and the channels we wanted to pursue.
1. The story
The literal offering we marketed was a report. However, the emotion we wanted to portray was trust. This was the story we were telling and we wanted to tell.
It can be difficult for some marketing managers to feel confident about a strategy. Do other people in the industry do this? How will I know if it will work?
Data can help address these concerns, as can lengthy expert articles on deep topics.
So we wrote 20 headlines around this concept. This was good exercise because while most of them weren’t used, we found that this process sharpened our writing muscles.
One of the first headlines we came across was, “A Report For Marketers Who Use Data To Beat Their Goals.”
2. Our creative ability
The design of this campaign was important to us. We wanted it to feel cohesive across the web experience, the PDF offering itself, and our advertising efforts.
With the guidance of our lead designer, we put together a detailed job for a freelancer and he came up with some nice things.
We learned here that having a cohesive design across all campaign resources makes the campaign feel larger than life.
3. Advertising channels
In the Global Campaigns team, we want to divide our advertising into three categories:
- Paid: What channels can we activate that we need to put direct dollars into?
- Owned: Which organic channels and established HubSpot target groups can we use?
- Earned: What additional free promotions and placements (e.g. organic SEO) can we take advantage of?
For our paid On the channels, we focused on Facebook ads (historically the lowest CPL for us) and LinkedIn ads (usually more expensive but more effective for the audience we want to target). We created a default landing page for this channel to generate conversions.
For our obsessed In our channels, we have 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 a conversation starter). We have also asked our writers to promote them on their personal social networks and we have provided them with personalized resources to help make that advertisement noteworthy.
For our earned In our channels, we focused heavily on the organic SEO value of our ungated articles, advertising our partners in the report (Litmus and Crayon), and the placement of media in marketing publications.
Tracking and analyzing the results
This campaign was quickly successful: We achieved 100% of our new net lead target in 16 days and 150% of the target in just over a month.
As of April 21, there are 15,800 backlinks to the report. We rank for over 350 organic keywords and have secured the best result for the search term “State of Marketing”.
The custom homepage converts over 30% and the paid landing page converts 25%.
About 50% (48%) of the new net leads for the campaign came from paid social media. We hope that this percentage will decrease as organic traffic continues to gain traction.
There were many factors that contributed to our success, but we identified the following as the most important:
- Spend time in the strategic planning process. It’s tempting to rush a campaign out the door, but a well-designed strategy goes a long way. Use qualitative, quantitative, and search data to determine which direction you choose.
- Think about how you can contribute to a conversation that is already being conducted in new ways. There are many reports on the state of marketing. We focused on delivering the same value but went a step further.
- Help your creative team by giving them strict creative guidelines. This makes the design more cohesive and powerful in the end.
- Identify at least three channels that you can turn on for advertising. You should prioritize the ones that will help you the most in your goal. We wanted to put one on New Audience, our paid channels made the most sense to invest.
- Double the details of your content. If someone is willing to give their information for your content, make sure it adds value.
Good luck with your future campaigns!