I was on the run the other day and checked out my trusted Spotify playlist. Lo and behold, between two of my favorite pump-up jams, I hear a HubSpot audio commercial on my headphones.
It's not uncommon to see HubSpot ads on social media or on Google, but Spotify was new.
This experience made me curious about what other types of advertising our HubSpot team tested this year. So I joined our advertising and editorial teams with a few people.
Below, they share some interesting lessons and insights about the different platforms and audiences they tested in 2020.
Tried advertising experiments HubSpot in 2020
“While HubSpot has traditionally been relatively straightforward to respond (with software signups being the primary target of the acquisition), one of the biggest takeaways from our advertising in 2020 is actually about building brand awareness," said Rex Gelb, Director , Acquisition Analytics & Paid Advertising at HubSpot.
In early 2020, the team found that many of their existing advertising channels, namely search and social ads, were seeing declining returns and saw this as an opportunity to branch out.
They led this effort based on the guiding principle that the HubSpot audience is made up of people with different media habits.
"What works for one person may not work for everyone, so we're likely only getting a small fraction of it through (direct response ads)," said Jillian Hope, senior marketing manager, branding at HubSpot. "But the reality is that our viewers are listening to podcasts, reading articles in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, watching Hulu, and doing all these different activities all day."
By expanding the displays of HubSpot ads, the team hypothesized that they could reach a much larger segment of their target audience and bring HubSpot's attention to new consumers.
While chatting with these experts, a few key platforms stood out.
1. Audio advertising
“In 2020 we started to double up (podcasts). It started out more as an awareness game, but we invested in this really nice tool called Podsights, ”said Jillian. Podsights is a podcast attribution tool that the team uses to measure when someone hears a podcast ad, returns to the website, and becomes a lead.
(Can I embed an audio file in COS? Https://wiki.hubspotcentral.net/display/marketing/2020+Year+in+Review%3A+HubSpot%27s+First+Brand+Advertising+Push)
The team tested some direct purchases with certain podcasts, like NPR's How I Built This and Masters of Scale. They also made some national radio purchases through NPR and some Spotify Audio Everywhere ads (for Spotify non-premium users).
2. Hulu advertising
"(In addition to podcast advertising) we're diversifying into new channels and looking for ways to really measure and improve what works from a direct response perspective, including Hulu," said Jillian.
That's right – this year consumers turned on their TVs to see some of HubSpot's first ads on streaming channels. The team found that Hulu had a high completion rate (around 99%) because it couldn't skip the network's ads. "This made it a great tactic for testing more creative news and execution as our audience was tuned for the full ad," said Alicia Collins, Copywriting & Brand Strategy at HubSpot.
Alicia worked on many HubSpot branded advertising campaigns for 2020, including the Hulu push.
3. YouTube advertising
The entire video gave the team more space to add value through education, entertainment, and inspiration, especially when compared to a display or static social advertisement.
"Because YouTube is owned by Google," said Jillian, "we were able to target people who are actively looking for content related to our products so that our ads are relevant to their work."
In fact, Rex shared one of the most successful tests they've run: YouTube's "Affinity Audience". Affinity audiences are audiences that the Google algorithm identifies as likely to be interested in your products.
“Although the algorithm is kind of a black box, ultimately trusting their data has paid off for us, generating some of the most affordable, high quality impressions and video views, which in turn led to a huge brand boom (as reported by surveys) and one that is measurable Increase in incremental Google searches, ”reported Rex.
How does the development of this creative campaign for brand advertising look like?
According to Alicia, "When you think about branding promotion, you have to think about who you come into contact with."
Most of the people who interact with HubSpot's branded advertising have never heard of HubSpot – compared to those who see typical direct mail. “There's a reason people are targeted with (direct reply) ads. They saw our content, were on our website and interacted with our posts. "
The same doesn't apply to this new brand boost. Alicia and her team are trying to reach a whole new audience, which means they need to create clear, direct ads that communicate what HubSpot is and who it is for.
"(We strive to) be showy and engaging, so that people are either enticed to click through to find out more or just stop and take a second look," said Alicia.
Alicia learned how different brand promotion strategies can be. "(It's a little different) because again people don't see a social ad and they instantly remember your brand. It takes about seven or eight impressions for someone to remember."
In her opinion, brand awareness work is different from a lot of other work at the bottom of the funnel. "It's not that there's just a science, it's also a kind of art," she shared. "It's about finding the right balance between solving 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 games to be patient. “Moving metrics (brand awareness) can take a long time. It can take years and millions of dollars to grow brand awareness, ”said Alicia.
In their experience, people looking 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 of their time on a channel.
For example, you might want to start your day with a podcast, read some articles over lunch, and watch your favorite Hulu show to relax after work. However, your employee may want to start the day watching cable news, scrolling through social media during lunch, and heading to the gym (past several billboards) after work. "You just get multiple touchpoints throughout the day and share your stories in new, unique ways," said Alicia.
Jillian agreed, "What works for some won't work for everyone. If we restrict channels, we risk not reaching a large portion of our audience."
And the more channels consumers can watch HubSpot, the more likely they are to remember and come back.
For more information on developing your own cross-channel or omnichannel advertising strategy, visit the HubSpot blog.