Interesting Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020 [+ Takeaways for Marketers]

Interesting Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020 [+ Takeaways for Marketers]

The other day, I was on a run and listening to my trusty Spotify playlist. Lo and behold, in between two of my favorite pump-up jams, I hear a HubSpot audio advertisement trickle through my headphones.

It’s not uncommon for me to see HubSpot ads on social media or Google, but Spotify was a new one.

This experience made me curious about what other kinds of advertisements our team at HubSpot had tested out this year. So I sat down with a few folks on our advertising and editorial teams.

Below, they share some interesting lessons and takeaways regarding the different platforms and audiences they tested in 2020.

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Advertising Experiments HubSpot Tried in 2020

“While HubSpot has traditionally been relatively direct response-focused (with software signups being the main acquisition goal), one of the biggest takeaways from our advertising in 2020 actually revolves around driving awareness through brand advertising,” shared Rex Gelb, Director, Acquisition Analytics & Paid Advertising at HubSpot.

In early 2020, the team realized they were reaching diminishing returns on many of their existing ad channels, namely search and social ads, and saw it as an opportunity to branch out.

They spearheaded this effort based on the guiding principle that the HubSpot audience is comprised of people with different media habits.

“What works for one person might not work for everyone, so we were likely only reaching a small segment of them through [direct response ads],” said Jillian Hope, Senior Marketing Manager, Brand Advertising at HubSpot. “But in reality, our audience is listening to podcasts, they’re reading articles in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal,they’re watching Hulu, they’re doing all these different activities throughout the day.”

So, by expanding where they showed HubSpot ads, the team hypothesized they could reach a much larger segment of their audience and make new consumers aware of HubSpot.

As I chatted with these experts, a few key platforms stood out.

1. Audio Advertising

“In 2020, we started doubling down on [podcasts]. It started as more of an awareness play, but we’ve invested in this really neat tool called Podsights,” said Jillian. Podsights is a podcast attribution tool through which the team measures when someone hears a podcast ad and returns to the site, and becomes a lead.

(Can I plug an audio file in COS? https://wiki.hubspotcentral.net/display/marketing/2020+Year+in+Review%3A+HubSpot%27s+First+Brand+Advertising+Push)

The team has tested a few direct buys with specific podcasts, like NPR’s How I Built This and Masters of Scale. They’ve also done some national radio buys on NPR and a few Spotify Audio Everywhere ads (for those Spotify users who don’t pay for premium).

2. Hulu Advertising

“[In addition to podcast advertising,] we’re diversifying into new channels and also looking for opportunities to really measure and hone in on what’s working even from a direct response standpoint, including Hulu,” Jillian shared.

That’s right — this year, consumers turned on their TV to see some of HubSpot’s first advertisements on streaming channels. The team found that Hulu has high completion rates (about 99%) because the network’s ads are unskippable. “This made it a great tactic for testing out more creative messaging and executions because our audience was tuning into the full ad,” shared Alicia Collins, Copywriting & Brand Strategy at HubSpot.

Alicia worked on much of HubSpot’s 2020 brand advertising campaigns, including the Hulu push.

3. YouTube Advertising

Video as a whole gave the team more room to deliver value through education, entertainment, and inspiration, especially compared to a display or static social advertisement.

“Because YouTube is a Google-owned property,” Jillian said, “we had the ability to target people who are actively searching for content related to our products, so our ads are relevant to their work.”

In fact, Rex shared one of the most successful tests they ran: YouTube’s “affinity audiences,” Affinity audiences are audiences that Google’s algorithm identifies as likely to be interested in your product(s).

“While the algorithm is a bit of a black box, trusting their data ultimately paid off for us, generating some of the most cost-efficient, high-quality impressions and video views, which in turn yielded a great brand lift (as reported by surveys), and a measurable increase in incremental Google searches,” reported Rex.

So, what does developing this brand advertising campaign creative look like?

According to Alicia: “When you’re thinking about brand awareness advertising, you have to think about who you’re coming in contact with.”

Most people who interact with HubSpot’s brand awareness advertisements have never heard of HubSpot — versus those who see the typical direct response advertising. “There’s a reason why people are getting targeted with [direct response] ads; they’ve seen our content, they’ve been on our website, and they’ve interacted with our posts.”

The same can’t be said for this new brand advertising push. Alicia and her team are trying to reach a completely new audience, meaning they have to create clear, direct ads that communicate what HubSpot is and who it’s for.

“[We’re aiming for] eye-catching and engaging, so people are either enticed to click-through to learn more or simply stop and take a second look,” Alicia shared.

advertising experiments hubspot tried in 2020 sales hub enterprise brand awareness

Speaking of second looks, Alicia has learned just how different the brand advertising strategy can be. “[It’s a] bit different because, again, people don’t see one social ad and immediately remember your brand. It takes like seven or eight impressions for someone to start recalling.”

In her opinion, brand awareness work is unlike a lot of other bottom-of-the-funnel work. “It’s not that there’s only a science to it, but there’s also a bit of an art,” she shared. “It’s [all about] trying to find the right balance between solving for the data and the short-term results, and thinking about where you want to be in the long-term.”

She encourages those who want to invest in brand awareness plays to be patient. “It can take a long time to move [brand awareness] metrics; raising brand awareness can take years and millions of dollars,” said Alicia.

In her experience, people who want to invest in new channels and audiences tend to put their money in one place. But Alicia and her teammates have found that no one spends all their time on one channel.

advertising experiments hubspot tried in 2020 hubspot cms brand awareness

For example, you might prefer to start your day listening to a podcast, read a few articles during lunch, and watch your favorite Hulu show to unwind after work. However, your coworker might like to start their day watching cable news, scroll through social media during lunch, and travel to the gym (passing multiple billboards) after work. “You’re just getting multiple touch points throughout the day and sharing your stories in new, unique ways,” said Alicia.

Jillian agreed: “What works for some won’t work for all. If we limit channels, we risk not reaching a large segment of our audience.”

And the more channels on which consumers can see HubSpot, the more likely they are to remember and return.

Read more about developing your own cross-channel or omnichannel advertising strategy on the HubSpot Blog.

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Scott Voelker’s 19 Year Journey From Home Builder to Amazing Seller to Online Business Builder

Scott Voelker’s 19 Year Journey From Home Builder to Amazing Seller to Online Business Builder

Scott Voelker may be a new grandparent but has the energy of a teenager. This year marks his 19th year being self-employed, and although he is slowing down to focus more on family, his workload at Brand Creators is still more than most will tackle in a lifetime.  Running the Rock Your Brand Podcast is his primary focus with nearly 900 episodes and 16 million podcast downloads, but that’s just the start.  Last year Scott checked a few things off his to-do list:
  • Wrote the book Take Action Effect.
  • Ran a high-level mastermind (10 people at $25,000 to join).
  • Completed a $200k home renovation for an Airbnb rental. 
  • Managed his podcast 175k-350k monthly downloads.
  • Created online courses for Brand Creators.
  • Hosted a live event with over 250 people in attendance. (pre-Covid)
  • Completed a handful of exciting case studies. 
  • Sold a business which all together netted just at 7 figures.
In his early days, Scott would see others being successful with a project or business and think, “I can do that, I can do better”, and next thing you know he would be building something new.  For those that know Scott best, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Even before Scott was building a business, he was building homes in the construction industry. Scott loves to create new things.  Scott has been in both the online world and physical brick and mortar businesses. He previously ran a photography studio for 5 years. It’s these types of experiences that have made him incredible at building brands. 

Watch the Entire Interview

Scott’s Philosophy on Building Brands

Interestingly Scott has been able to boil down two things that are the same for every brand.  Whether it’s building an Amazon FBA business, launching a live event, selling courses, brick and mortar stores or niche websites, Scott says one thing is always consistent. 
Traffic + Offers is the core of any business.
You have to have an audience to sell to (traffic) and something to sell (offers) that makes a profit. 

Scott’s Key Strategies on Building Brands

While this is a bit simplified, Scott dove a little deeper into business strategies that he used to build the business that netted him 7 figures in the three and half years building the company he recently sold.  This particular business he grew with a business partner.  While it started off as an Amazon FBA business, they also built an authority site in the space that really enhanced the overall business.
  1. Grow your email list.

    This is a traffic channel you can control. It’s also efficient and cost-effective. Running contests and landing pages with lead magnets was Scott’s go-to strategy in growing an email list for their authority site. With the contests, he was finding he could run a Facebook ad and generate email subscribers at .15-.18 cents per subscriber. The lead magnets would be closer to .70 cents per conversion, but he found subscribers’ quality to be much greater. The tool he uses for the contests is Giveaway Boost, a WordPress plugin. He actually partnered with Chris Guthrie a mutual friend of ours to build this tool. Check out Giveaway Boost for yourself!
  2. Don’t Disregard Ad Monetization

    For the longest time, Scott was convinced that adding ads to your website wasn’t worth it. He felt it diluted the value of the site and distracted from the main goals of the site. In his case the goal was to sell products on Amazon not earn revenue through selling ads. This all changed after talking with someone who was having success with ads. Scott decided to give it a try, and his only regret was that he didn’t start sooner. Using premium ad platforms (like Mediavine and Adthrive), he was sometimes generating nearly $6k a month in display ad revenue. The Amazon products were still the primary money maker, but the extra income far outweighed the negatives of adding ads to his site.
  3. Diversity Monetization

    Similar to how he diversified the advertising fees. Scott recommends repurposing content for additional revenue. For example, after doing Facebook live events, he would upload the video content to YouTube. After a while, the YouTube channel started making a couple of hundred dollars a month for little extra work. Another monetization strategy was to include a call to action for a paid product after converting someone from a Facebook Advertising campaign. The primary goal is to capture the email subscriber, but if you can upsell them on the back end to offset the ad costs, it makes running ads a game-changer.
  4. Consistency is required

    When Scott signs up in his own head to do something, he’s going to do it. Scott says consistency has done him well. The fact he has 900 podcast episodes is a testament Scott can be consistent. Scott’s giving credit to consistency reminds me a lot of what Nathan Barry from ConvertKit said in one of our last podcast episodes, it’s evident that consistency is a critical factor in any brand. 
What I love about these strategies is that it doesn’t matter what business you are in. They work. The products they sold in this business were accessories to household items—for example, an accessory to a Kirby vacuum or other appliances. 

Selling the Business

After three and half years and the decision to simplify a bit, Scott and his partner in this Amazon FBA business decided to sell.  Scott and his partner choose Quiet Light Brokerage to sell. Before they sold, they met with their team and were sure to prepare themselves early. They started to get their financials in line with a third party accountant and prepare the business for the sale.  Their preparation paid off. When listing the business, 6 offers came almost immediately. They choose one of the highest bidders, but unfortunately, Covid hit. 
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The benefits of taking the extra time to prepare financials allowed the buyer to leverage the SBA lending options. When Covid hit, finding a bank open to complete the deal delayed things. Eventually, after about a month, the buyer backed out.  They went back to the drawing board and eventually sold the business to a very capable, if not better, buyer.

Getting Back to Creating a Lifestyle Business with Brand Creators

Selling the business was a significant component of simplifying and getting back to creating a lifestyle business for Scott.  Scott knew he was pushing the limits with so much going on. Even with the sale of the business, Scott made an important decision. He was no longer going to compare himself to others. He would instead look at what he wanted. Pick his own numbers to challenge himself with, understand those numbers, and get real with it.  The first step was the rebrand of his podcast from “The Amazing Seller” to “Rock Your Brand”. 

Rebranding Amazing Seller to Rock Your Brand Podcast

In business, it’s not uncommon to take on the identity of your business brand.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been referred to as the “Niche Pursuits guy” Scott found he was known as being the “Amazon Seller Guy”. He wanted to expand to other things than just the Amazon sales.  No, he’s not saying goodbye to Amazon, but Amazon is simply a tool. The rebrand allowed Scott to focus on what he was truly great at, building brands.  The rebranding also allowed him to stay true to himself and the lifestyle business he wanted. The Rock Your Brand podcast allowed him to not just talk about Amazon selling, but all things business. Not only could he have unique guests on his show, but he could talk about health, fitness, or even business mindsets, things that are often highly needed and neglected for entrepreneurs.  But the broader niche didn’t solve all his problems. In fact, this required him to focus more. He scaled back even more by stopping the sale of his courses, slowing down on case studies, deciding to put his focus in just a few areas. 

Scott’s New Focus

  1. Brand Creators Academy
  2. Brand Accelerator Live Event (once per year)
  3. Little Workshops 3-hour lessons he can tackle on a Saturday and turn into evergreen content.
  4. Podcasting 3 times a week.
Scott and I go way back, and I’m excited to see him put his focus into these areas. He’s built himself a great funnel and will hopefully be able to spend a lot more time being grandpa “Papa” Scott.  One of the things Scott and I connect the most with is our attention to the family. Many people say that family comes first, but with Scott, you know he means it. From his father as his mentor to how he makes his kid’s events a priority. Even with taking on so much, it’s evident his family truly comes first.  You can read more about Scott, his family, podcast, and brand creators academy at BrandCreators.com
Influencer Marketing for E-commerce: Tools and Tips to Grow Your Brand

Influencer Marketing for E-commerce: Tools and Tips to Grow Your Brand

To have a successful e-commerce platform, you have to pay to play. Some of the top US brands spend billions on advertising to secure their internet advertising space.

If you can’t keep up with the big companies that spend billions of dollars on their advertising campaigns, there are still a few ways you can get your brand noticed.

One such method is an influencer promotion campaign. It’s a quick and effective way to help with brand recognition. You could also invest in some tools that will make working with influencers simpler. In this guide, we will break down these unconventional forms of marketing.

How Using Social Media Influencers Can Grow Your E-commerce Brand

Influencer marketing is the practice of working with well-known social media users to grow your brand. For example, if you have a popular skincare line, you might have a well-known lifestyle influencer try your product and tell their audience about their results.

This is a highly effective strategy. In fact, 49% of users say they rely on recommendations from influencers on Twitter to make purchase decisions.

Marketers like influencer promotions too. Nearly 89% of marketers say that influencer marketing campaigns’ ROI is the same or better than other marketing channels like SEO or PPC.

The problem is, most e-commerce brands don’t have the budget to partner with the likes of Kim Kardashian.

Working with micro-influencers, who have smaller but more targeted audiences, might be the way to go. However, you still have to deal with finding the right influencers, managing communications, making sure influencers create the posts you pay them for, and tracking campaign efficacy.

For smaller e-commerce stores or those with limited budgets, this can be more hassle than it’s worth.

So what’s the answer?

Try using influencer marketing tools for e-commerce brands that make working with influencers easier by bringing the influencers to you.

Why Your E-Commerce Business Should Use Influencer Marketing Tools

E-commerce is a highly competitive market. Currently, there are more than 7 million online retailers. That’s a lot of other stores for users to choose from.

The Baymard Institute found that after going through the difficult trials of browsing products, filling a cart, and committing to a purchase, two out of three users will end up abandoning their cart.

Even if you can grab shoppers’ attention, you also have to keep that attention if you want to drive conversions.

For e-commerce brands, influencer promotion helps leverage your consumer base to do your marketing for you rather than spending thousands on ads that may or may not actually work. Influencer marketing tools can help connect you with hundreds of powerful influencers.

In addition, influencer marketing tools often offer marketing tools such as automated emails that reduce other e-commerce challenges, like cart abandonment.

Here are a few other benefits of influencer marketing tools for e-commerce brands:

  • Letting the influencer choose the brand or product means the person using your product is more likely to be genuinely interested in it. This makes their content more authentic.
  • Tools give you access to a wider range of influencers instead of focusing on who you already know, including micro-influencers.
  • Influencer tools can help you track influencers’ niches, the quality of their audiences, and their engagement rates so you know the influencers you work with are legitimate.
  • Tools that take care of all communications, post content, and monitoring, thereby simplifying the process, meaning brands can sit back and enjoy conversions without the hassle of striking and sealing deals.

Statista, a company specializing in market and consumer data, found that 88% of U.S. consumers used coupons for shopping in 2020. Discounts and coupons are proven methods of retaining customers and increasing brand loyalty. 76% of consumers rate discounts as top-ranking factors for purchasing, according to RetailMeNot.

As a marketer, this offers an opportunity to cater to a wider audience while simultaneously promoting products.

By using influencer marketing tools, consumers can get a good deal and value for their money. The added incentive of discounts has the potential to attract new customers by drawing them in with savings and payment options.

Looking for more ways to boost your e-commerce presence? Find out how you can drive 10 times the e-commerce sales with a $0 budget.

Influencer Marketing for E-Commerce: Tools to Help Grow Your Brand

Brands have stepped into the scene and are finding creative ways to leverage consumer marketing techniques.

SwayPay

SwayPay offers discounted rates for influencer promotion, which can offset added costs like shipping, tax, and fees. In addition, SwayPay offers a simplified payment option that tailors itself to consumer needs.

As users browse through online stores, they see special SwayPay pricing available on products. When they go to purchase a product, they will be asked to add their Instagram account handle. Adding this information lets them know what discounts they may be eligible for and how many Instagram posts will be required to earn the discount.

A user’s “sway” determines their discounts, which means the more followers they have, the less they have to pay. This ensures the posts you are trading for will benefit your business, not simply fade out into the social sphere.

In the SwayPay checkout, the user will pay the full dollar amount of the product, without the discount. Then, they have 30 days to make the required posts and keep their discount.

This means a shopper could pay for a $150 item with $90 and two Instagram posts. SwayPay requires shoppers to tag them in each post, so compliance is mandated.

For businesses, this system opens up a range of new conversion opportunities. Customers are now incentivized to complete their purchase and engage in online marketing of the product.

The SwayPay app boasts their retailers receive twice the number of branded Instagram posts, 17% engagement increases on SwayPay posts, and up to 13% of all processed sales coming through their app.

Currently, the app only works with Shopify and Instagram. They are hoping to branch out in the coming quarters and integrate their platform with the likes of TikTok and BigCommerce.

SwayPay plans to introduce more ways to sway, such as a SwayScore that would score user purchases and reward them with extra discounts or prizes. They also plan to implement a Live Receipt feature to let users generate sales more directly through affiliate payments.

At the moment, SwayPay offers the best ease and accessibility for consumers. Seeing the discount at point-of-purchase as well as a clear and direct promotion task is unique and, if their strategy works out, will help brands connect with influencers more often and more efficiently.

Dealspotr’s Influencer Marketplace

Dealspotr is an online platform that connects influencers to brands and offers discount codes through their website. They call themselves “the LinkedIn of influencer marketing” and are essentially a meeting place for brands and influencers.

Brands can offer “free product campaigns” that supply products directly to influencers, or they can choose a “promotional fee campaign”, where they pay influencers a designated rate in exchange for promotions.

This gives brands greater visibility without having to find the right influencers and adjust the process based on what works best for your brand. For example, you can offer influencers an exclusive discount code for their followers or partner with specific influencers that fit your niche.

You can fund an influencer campaign with as much or as little as you like, though Dealspotr does recommend offering at least $100 if you want to work with small to medium-sized influencers.

Unlike SwayPay, Dealspotr doesn’t offer a point-of-sale option. That means their customers can set up deals on the platform but will have to find workarounds to get those discounts applied to their orders.

Heepsy

Heepsy is an influencer search and marketplace that connects brands with more than 11 million influencers on sites like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook.

Like other influencer tools for e-commerce, Heepsy makes it far easier to connect with influencers. In addition, Heepsy provides data about influencer audiences, engagement rates, and gives influencers an “authenticity score.”

You can also create influencer lists, make sure they don’t have a ton of fake followers, and even monitor the effectiveness of campaigns.

All this data makes it easier to find the right influencers for your e-commerce brand — and make sure your influencer campaigns are driving sales.

If you don’t want to deal with managing the influencer process, Heepsy can handle it for you with their influencer campaign management service.

Shopify

Shopify is best known as an e-commerce solution for building stores. However, there’s a lesser known tool you can use with influencer marketing as well.

Shopify also offers group discount options, which can help you create special rates for your influencer community. By using the code, influencers can receive a predetermined commission based on your agreement.

You can also add influencers to a specific customer group so that no one else can use that code — which protects you from giving deep discounts to everyone if the code gets leaked.

While not as full-featured as some of the other influencer marketing tools (there are no pay features or influencer marketing metrics, for example), this is an easy way to leverage influencer marketing if you already have a Shopify account.

Conclusion

As the popularity of e-commerce continues to grow, finding cost-effective advertising platforms will become more and more important.

You can offer customers discounts on products in exchange for Instagram posts. These posts act as influencer marketing channels and allow your products to be seen by more people, more often.

By offering discounted rates, which research says improves buying behaviors, you open up your market to new customers.

Likewise, tapping into influencer promotion is a great way to spend less on advertising and keep your budget where you want it to be.

What benefits have you found through influencer marketing for e-commerce?