This article is part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we learn from experiences conducted by our own HubSpotters.
Platforms are built into our daily lives – whether we realize it or not.
Have you recently… ordered food from a service like GrubHub or made a reservation with OpenTable? Have you booked a ride with Lyft? Have you used your phone to check your emails? All of these seamless interactions require systems to talk to each other through open platforms.
And at work? How many tools do you use to do your job? Do you spend a lot of time updating disparate systems or do you use a stack of connected technologies to keep things up to date? If it’s the latter, you have a platform to thank for saving time.
A Platform connects tools, teams, data and processes under one digital roof. It’s the core of all systems and lets you connect all your favorite tools seamlessly using integrations. A the integration allows disparate systems to talk to each other. By joining tools through integrations, a change made to System A is automatically pushed to System B.
Leveraging platforms and integrations has not always been commonplace. Few years ago, HubSpot Research found that 82% of salespeople and marketers wasted up to an hour a day managing silo tools – a costly mistake.
Today, employees recognize that integrating technology to do their jobs is not an option but a requirement. Individual employees choose to connect their tools and, on average, take advantage of eight apps to do their job.
Employees and businesses run on connected apps. Okta found these to be small to medium-sized customers (defined as businesses with less than 2,000 employees) 73 applications on average – 38% more than last year. While larger customers (companies with more than 2,000 employees) operate more than 130 applications, a 68% increase over last year.
From personal life to work, platforms have become a staple of our daily lives. These platforms are well-oiled machines that initiate seamless connections between technologies. Today’s consumer not only anticipates, but also expects their systems to go online, raising the bar for businesses to make it possible.
But more tools shouldn’t mean more friction. At HubSpot, we want to help our customers connect their tools to our platform to reduce friction and grow better. Customers should have tools and solutions to meet their needs, whether HubSpot created them or not. Connection tools enable consistent data, processes and experiences. This year, we’re experimenting with ways to expose integrations to our customers to increase their adoption.
However, as a platform evolves, it becomes increasingly difficult for customers to browse exhaustive lists of integrations and identify what is relevant to them. We recognized this at HubSpot and started experimenting with paid ads to see if it could be a valuable distribution channel for our customers.
Our experience with paid integration ads
At the end of Q4, the Platform Marketing team decided to use some remaining budget to try out a channel that we had yet to prove viable for integration adoption – the paid advertisements.
We speculated that we could influence the adoption of an integration through paid ads. To test our hypothesis, we ran a retargeting campaign for three integrations on Facebook. The announcements ran on HubSpot retargetable audience.
These ads featured three integrations based on HubSpot: Soft, WordPress, and Eventbrite. We selected these integrations because they are natively built (built by HubSpot) and structured in a way that allows us to measure multi-touch attribution.
By leveraging Google Tag Manager On the in-app integration directory, custom UTM settings, and funnel reports, we were able to measure every step from viewing the ad to installing the integration. Before launching the campaign, we tested our custom Google Analytics funnel reports by taking all the actions, including installing the integrations to make sure they worked as expected.
Before launching the campaign, we made the conscious decision to spread our budget evenly across the three integration ads, regardless of whether one ad outperforms the others. We did this to minimize the variables of the experiment.
Since we ran announcements in November and December, we reduced our spending from $ 130 per day to $ 5 per day during and around the holidays. We did this to “suspend” the campaign on days when ads got lost in noise, as this data could skew the overall results.
Finally, we determined our indicators of success. As we did not have apple-to-apple benchmark data for integrating paid ads, we worked with our paid team to establish reasonably similar benchmarks. Even though it wasn’t a direct comparison, we were curious to see how ads could influence actions in multiple stages. We evaluated our performance based on clickthrough rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC) and cost per acquisition.
Onboarding ads topped our benchmarks for click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition every 7, 30 and 44 days – support our initial hypothesis and prediction.
The 30-day CTR for our onboarding announcements was higher than the 7 and 30-day CTR for the benchmark data, which is surprising as we expected audiences to get tired over time.
Fatigue can be measured by how often a user sees the same ad. For example, at HubSpot we check to see if a viewer has seen the same ad more than 2.5 times in 30 days, which we consider to be high. In addition, we have kept an eye on the increase in cost per acquisition.
Paid ads for these integrations were engaging for our retargetable audience and a legitimate point of acquisition for HubSpot. This has helped us influence the adoption of integrations – resulting in hundreds of installs in the technologies presented. It also provided us with a data point that we were curious to see: the cost of an installation.
When considering the value and cost of acquiring a facility, it helps to understand the impact on the business. At HubSpot, our customers with built-in technology stacks tend to be more successful – and they stay.
This makes sense – the more apps you have installed, the higher the likelihood of someone sticking around. This is a common finding among platform companies.
On a recent trip to San Francisco Scott Brinker, HubSpot’s vice president for Platform Ecosystem, found that “a common model across platforms is that the more apps a customer has in their system, the higher their retention rate will be. , both for the platform and the applications integrated into it.
Connecting their tools allows customers to access all of their data in one central system while remaining flexible and adaptable to their needs as they grow.
Given that HubSpot does not currently task integrators with being part of our ecosystem, spending the money to drive a clean new install can seem counterintuitive. When we assess the long-term benefits of a facility for customer value and retention, we are able to determine what a reasonable cost per facility is. The cost of the experience was worth it as it gave us a basic understanding of the cost per acquisition of an integration facility.
Ultimately, you can determine whether the long-term value outweighs the initial cost. (While the directional value is a good baseline, ideally you should be looking at lifetime value [LTV] to establish the actual value.)
What this means for HubSpot – and for you
Our experience with paid advertising exceeded our expectations and helped us reach a larger audience than we expected. It became clear that this was and remains a viable way for us to increase adoption of integrations and better understand the cost per integration install.
Going forward, we may change the people we target to see how that affects CTR. We could use enrichment software like Datanyze or Clearbit to see if users have tools and cross-reference setup data to build a list of people using tools that we integrate with but have not yet connected with. We could also use this data to target a group of users being onboarded to encourage them to connect existing tools to HubSpot.
Additionally, we could look at the steps required to connect an integration and think about how to reduce them to simplify the process for our users and potentially increase our CTR.
Not a platform company? No problem. These retargeting campaigns can be used to evaluate other actions of interest to your users, such as registrations, free trials, or event registration.