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.
Platforms are embedded in our daily life – whether we realize it or not.
Have you recently … ordered food from a service like GrubHub or made a reservation through OpenTable? Booked a ride with Lyft? Did you use your cell phone to check your email? For all of these seamless interactions, systems must communicate with one another using open platforms.
What about at work? How many tools do you use in your work? Do you spend a lot of time updating different systems, or do you use a connected stack of technologies to keep things up to date? In the latter case, you have a platform on which to say thank you for the time you have saved.
A platform makes it possible to combine tools, teams, data and processes under one digital roof. It is the core of all systems and allows you to seamlessly connect all of your favorite tools together using integrations. On integration enables different systems to communicate with each other. By connecting tools via integrations, a change made in system A is automatically carried over to system B.
Using platforms and integrations has not always been commonplace. A few years ago, HubSpot Research found that 82% of sellers and marketers lost up to an hour a day managing isolated tools – a costly mistake.
Today’s employees realize that integrating technology is not an option, but a requirement for their work. Individual employees choose to combine their tools and use an average of eight apps for their work.
Employees and companies alike work with connected applications. Okta found that its small and medium-sized customers (defined as companies with fewer than 2,000 employees) averaged 73 apps – a 38% increase from last year. While larger customers (companies with over 2,000 employees) use more than 130 apps – an increase of 68% compared to the previous year.
From personal life to work, platforms have become an integral part of our everyday lives. These platforms are well-oiled machines that create seamless connections between technologies. Today, consumers not only expect their systems to connect, but also expect the bar to be raised for businesses to make that happen.
However, more tools shouldn’t mean more friction. At HubSpot, we want to help our customers connect their tools on our platform to reduce friction and grow better. Customers should have tools and solutions to meet their needs, whether or not HubSpot created them. Linking tools enables uniform data, processes and experiences. This year, we’re experimenting with ways to make integrations available to our customers to increase adoption.
However, as a platform scales, it becomes more and more difficult for customers to navigate extensive integration lists and determine what is relevant to them. We realized this at HubSpot and started experimenting with paid ads to see if this could be a valuable sales channel for our customers.
Our experiment on paid integration ads
At the end of the fourth quarter, the Platform Marketing team decided to use a leftover budget to try out a channel that we hadn’t yet proven viable to roll out the integration – paid ads.
We hypothesized that we could influence the introduction of integration through paid ads. To test our hypothesis, we ran a retargeting campaign for three integrations on Facebook. The ads were served to the HubSpot retargetable audience.
These ads featured three integrations created by HubSpot: Slack, WordPress, and Eventbrite. We chose these integrations because they are natively built (created by HubSpot) and structured so that we can measure multi-touch mapping.
By using Google Tag Manager in the in-app integration directory, custom UTM parameters, and funnel reports, we were able to measure every step from displaying the ad to installing the integration. Before starting the campaign, we tested our custom funnel reports for Google Analytics by taking all the actions – including installing the integrations – to make sure they were working as planned.
Before running the campaign, we made a conscious decision to split our budget evenly across all three integration ads – regardless of whether one ad outperforms the others. We did this to minimize the variables for the experiment.
Because we ran ads through November and December, we’ve reduced spending on and around the holidays from $ 130 per day to $ 5 per day. We did this to pause the campaign on days when the ads would be lost in the noise, as this data could skew the overall results.
Lastly, we determined our success metrics. Since we didn’t have apple-to-apple benchmark data for paid integration ads, we worked with our paid team to come up with some reasonably similar benchmark data. While this wasn’t a head-to-head comparison, we were excited to see how ads can affect tiered actions. We rated our performance based on click rates (CTR), cost per click (CPC) and cost per acquisition.
The integration ads exceeded our benchmark data for click rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC) and cost per acquisition after 7, 30 and 44 days. Support our initial hypothesis and prediction.
The 30-day CTR for our integration ads was higher than the 7-day and 30-day CTR for the benchmark data. This is surprising as we expected the audience to get more tired over time.
Fatigue can be measured by the number of times a user sees the same ad. At HubSpot, for example, we check whether a viewer has seen the same ad more than 2.5 times within 30 days, which we think is high. In addition, we have been on the lookout for rising costs per acquisition.
Paid ads for these integrations were attractive to our target audience and a legitimate acquisition point for HubSpot. It helped us influence the rollout of integrations – resulting in hundreds of installations in the technologies featured. We also got a data point that we were excited about – the cost of an installation.
When you consider the value and cost of an installation, it is helpful to understand the business impact. At HubSpot, our customers tend to be more successful with integrated technologies – and they stick with it.
This makes sense – the more apps you have installed, the higher the chance someone will stick with them. This is a common finding among platform companies.
Scott Brinker, Vice President Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot in San Francisco, recently stated that “A common pattern on platforms is that the more apps a customer integrates into their system, the higher their retention rate – both for the platform and for them integrated apps. “
By connecting their tools, customers can access all of their data in one core system while remaining flexible and adaptable to their needs as they grow.
Since HubSpot doesn’t currently charge integrators as part of our ecosystem, it may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a net reinstall. By weighing the long-term benefits of an installation for customer benefit and retention, we can determine the reasonable cost per installation. The experiment costs were worth looking into, as it gave us a basic understanding of the cost of purchasing an integration installation.
Ultimately, you can determine if the long-term value outweighs the upfront cost. (While the Directional value is a good baseline, ideally you should pay attention to the Lifetime value [LTV] to determine the actual value.)
What this means for HubSpot – and for you
Our experiment with paid ads exceeded our expectations and helped us reach a larger audience than we expected. It became clear that this was and is a viable channel for us to increase adoption of integrations and better understand the cost per integration installation.
Looking ahead, we could change who we target to see how that affects click through rate. We could use enrichment software like Datanyze or Clearbit to see if users have tools and cross-reference installation data, to make a list of users with tools that we will integrate but not yet need to connect to. Alternatively, we could use this data to target a group of users who are onboarding to encourage them to connect existing tools to HubSpot.
Additionally, we could go over the steps required to connect an integration and see how we could reduce them to make the process easier for our users and potentially increase our click-through rate.
Not a platform company? No problem. These retargeting campaigns can be used to evaluate other valuable actions for your users, e.g. B. Registrations, Free Trials, or Event Registration.