A presentation by Nina Stepanov of HubSpot and Inbound.org that was given at the Manchester NH HUG Meetup on June 14th, 2016. Learn how the team at inbound.org segmented their lists based on quite a few data points and saw great results.
Two quick notes about this
It’s an adaptation of a post written by my fellow team
member, find it here: https://goo.gl/SjegLN
It’s intended to be referenced after this presentation,
so I’ve intentionally made it as something you can
return to and understand without feeling completely
No it’s really not...
81% of US online shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases, either online or in a store,
as a result of emails based on previous shopping behaviors and preferences. - Harris Interactive
72% of consumers say that email is their favored conduit of communication with companies they do
business with. 61% say they like to receive promotional emails weekly and 28% want them even
more frequently. - MarketingSherpa (2015)
68% of consumers find email to be their #1 preferred channel for receiving commercial messages. -
CG Selections "National Email Onderzoek" (2013)
66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a direct result of an email marketing message. -
Direct Marketing Association (2013)
1 in 5 (19%) of consumers said they read every email newsletter they receive just to see if
something’s on offer. - Forrester Research "North American Technographics survey" (2014)
In 2014 consumers delete less promo emails without looking, down 25,4% relative to 2010. - Forrester
Research "North American Technographics survey" (2014)
…further proof of it not being dead.
55% of companies generate more than 10 percent of sales from email. - Econsultancy
Marketers consistently ranked email as the single-most-effective tactic for awareness,
acquisition, conversion, and retention. - Gigaom Research (2014)
Email is almost 40x better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. -
McKinsey & Company (2014)
42% of businesses say email is one of their most effective lead generation channels. And
for B2B marketers, 88% say email is the most effective lead generation tactic. – Circle Research
Your emails just suck. Plus, there’s a lot of new stuff on the
Bots, desktop notifications, text, social media, Slack, and so on are
coming onto the scene with new ways to notify consumers
Email is a well-established source of information. It’s easy to use
and getting even easier (and prettier).
Email belongs to no one. It’s not a startup or big business that
controls your usage of it (except spam, don’t spam).
Alternatives to email are great, but email is not dead.
It just needs a tune up.
A community of marketers who:
• Ask and answer questions (Q&A)
• Share awesome content from around the web
• Write their own original content (Inbound Originals)
• Find and post jobs
Our Goal and The Big Gnarly Problem
Goal: A lot more weekly active users
Problem: What started as a community of SEO’s sharing content,
Our total number of engaged WAU was flatlining at 350-400 per week for
almost 18 months!
...but what would last?
Q&A Threads driven by Personalized
Q&A is hard, engagement is even harder.
To do list:
• Increase the number of questions asked on inbound.org
• Solicit answers using hyper-personalized emails
1. We wanted to just use Gmail, but that’s illegal…
2. Then we decided HubSpot would do the trick.
3. We used plain text templates and sent to a subset of our
4. People clicked through and left a comment on the discussion!
By sending these emails to highly-targeted
subsets of our 150,000+ members, we’ve
been able to get those questions answered
and build out our original content on the
But Why? Sounds like a lot of effort.
People hate being marketed to.
People like to be treated like people.
People in your database are not all the same.
This isn’t rocket science, but it definitely takes
What does this mean for your
Stop treating your email list as a single entity!
What are you offering and how can that be applied to the
different groups of people that you’re selling to?
The Steps to Personalization
Pre-Work: Come to terms with the fact that not everyone
in your list cares about every single update, promotion, or
change to your business, but some do.
Here’s a sampling of just a few of the
data points we use to personalize our
• Job title keywords and titles - “manager”, “writer”, “SEO”, “consultant”,
• Social media bios keywords (Twitter and LinkedIn)
• Pageviews - including keywords and exact match URLs and slugs
• Company name - keywords and exact match
• Profile data - skills, location, badges, job seeking status, karma
• Industry - in the company name (a HubSpot contact property)
• Followers and following (Twitter)
• Last actions - Last seen, last karma events, last comments, last post
• Lifecycle status - (members with full profiles are more likely to contribute)
• Number of comments
A final note.
We will not be doing it this way forever.
This methodology is sound, but it may not work for you.
Just treat your people like people.
As a community - a startup - trying to build engagement and retain our members, building a site whose main function is to take people off the site is strategically poor design for keeping people engaged on inbound.org. Whilst we’ve a steady stream of new members without having to try especially hard, our total number of weekly contributors leaving comments and posting new discussions had been flatlining at around 350-400 a week for almost 18 months. Without content, we don’t have readers, users - anything!
But how to do this at scale? Q&A platforms like Quora (which covers a wide range of topics, and doesn’t necessarily have the density around one topic that StackOverflow might) have related topics and suggested threads, but they also use email. But these seem impersonal. They feel exactly like the sorts of emails sent by marketers and robots, not a human. Why do they want my participation?
Lazily, I tried using HubSpot instead. What if I just used the plain text template and send to a list of our contacts there? It’d be easier to measure, test and target the right people. It worked! Some people clicked through and left a comment on the discussion. By sending these sorts of emails to highly-targeted subsets of our 150,000+ members, we’ve been able to get those questions answered and build out our original content on the site.
You’re making it personal. You’re engaging with other people both as a brand and as an individual. You need to think about frequency, your data and making your message truly personal. Write to people in mind whom you respect - the sorts of people who will react negatively (or positively) to your email if it’s rude/crass/careless (or spot on).
Send these emails like you would in Gmail. Don’t try and be clever or smarmy with them. Imagine all funky formatting didn’t really exist. Think of the last message you sent to someone in Gmail asking for something - how did you phrase it? Was it short? Long? Really personal? How was it personal? Try to emulate that.
Use these emails when you can respond. If I emailed your address, I’d expect a response. Same with these emails. If you send these sorts of emails, expect replies (and to answer those replies). That’s how email works - you’ve got mail! Don’t break the internet!.