HubSpot, Technology, and Automation for Publishers

Twenty-First Digital relies on quite a few tools to do our jobs (some better than others), but one of our most treasured tools is HubSpot. It’s our job to help our clients cultivate their sales funnel to convert website visitors to leads and leads to subscribers. Connecting the dots across platforms, from Google Analytics to individual email engagement (and every customer touchpoint along the way), isn’t an easy task.

Many of our clients are publishers, and the publishing industry is constantly being impacted by the rapid changes in media consumption and the ongoing competition for attention. For circulation management, many publishers rely on fulfillment houses to handle subscription information and manage the end-to-end consumer relationship on the print side. While internally, publishers are managing email newsletter lists, event attendees, social audiences, and more. Are you drowning in CSV files?

But with a platform like HubSpot, publishers have the ability to connect multiple data sources into the CRM, appending contact-level information with the way in which a user has interacted with your brand or content, allowing the publisher to unearth where the overlaps exist. Which of your audiences is engaging with your brand cross-platform? Which are not?

Publishers rely on many revenue streams, from website ads and paid subscribers to sponsored content, events, and email newsletters. To move the needle on a bottom line, publishers can leverage the full force of platforms like HubSpot to help them generate revenue centered around their audiences’ preferences.

Audience Segmentation

It all starts with audience segmentation. Segmenting audiences based on how frequently they touch the brand allows us to send the right message to the right audience at the right time. According to Databox, while more than a third surveyed report average click-through rates between 2.1% and 3% for general, non-segmented emails, half report significantly higher average click-through rates—between 5.1% and 25%—for personalized, segmented emails. HubSpot allows both personalization and segmentation.

Inside of HubSpot, publishers can view Smart List performance over time, send targeted emails to various audience segments, connect them to APIs for usage in third-party reporting tools, and even connect to paid media services to promote ads to designated audience segments. It’s like magic … with a lot of work sprinkled in, too.

For those platforms without native integrations, TFD has helped publishers build APIs from places like fulfillment houses, which allow publishers to push subscriber data directly into the CRM. If a user becomes a subscriber, it gets appended to their contact property inside of HubSpot. If a user buys a ticket to an event, publishers can easily push ticket sales to the CRM, allowing the opportunity to build a Smart List of event attendees, past and present.

Email Marketing Automation

Nurturing your email database is crucial to keeping your customer base warmed up to your brand, but it’s also possible to email too much, causing audience fatigue. Or worse, unsubscribes! Using HubSpot, publishers can promote timely messages to customers (and potential customers) based on past interaction with the brand, leveraging the Smart List audience segmentation to enroll audience members into automated workflows. At TFD, we like to use automated email workflows to warm our audience to the brand, cross-promote other material the user may be interested in, and sprinkle in revenue-driving material without ever being too obvious about it.

HubSpot also has easy-to-build lead capture pop-ups to prompt website visitors to sign up to receive emails from publishers. Functionally, you can determine when the message appears, how frequently a user engages with it, and you can also tailor messaging to specific webpage content, too. Tools like this are the main source of our clients’ newsletter traffic growth, capturing 1-2% (or more) of site visitors.

Ads Integration

Anyone currently using popular remarketing tools can promote to audiences of their choosing with website retargeting and segmentation. But HubSpot’s many integrations with remarketing tools allow for a live audience connection between the CRM data and the remarketing tool. This is huge! Consider the effect of remarketing to a subscriber as soon as their subscription expired or targeting them with a nurture campaign as soon as they’ve entered your database.

Take Facebook, for example; all users have the ability to download and upload CSV files into Facebook. But keeping static CSV files up-to-date on Facebook is time-consuming (do you really want to be batching and uploading your lists to Facebook each week?), but also sending CSV files of customer data via email or saving customer data to employee computers, provides a potential for a data breach. With tools like HubSpot, you can connect Facebook Ad accounts directly to Smart Lists that have been created inside the platform. By using the HubSpot/Facebook integration at TFD we have increased subscribers by 67% YOY for one of our clients.

Sure, we’re partial to this beloved platform of ours. But that’s because it connects many dots while reducing the amount of labor required by eliminating repetitive tasks, streamlining efforts for audience development and allowing us to focus on the strategy. Publishers ultimately have to decide what they want to invest in and what tools their company will use to fuel its strategic vision for the company. But we know from experience that with the help of technology–along with a sound marketing strategy–growth happens.

Want to talk more about audience segmentation and technology? Email me, Natalie, at