Can Facebook Ads Influence Integration Adoption? Here’s What We Found.

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

Platforms are embedded in our daily lives — whether we realize it or not.

Have you recently … ordered food from a service like GrubHub or made a reservation using OpenTable? Booked a ride using Lyft? Used your phone to check your email? All of these seamless interactions require systems to talk to each other via open platforms.

What about 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 connected stack of technologies to keep things up-to-date? If it’s the latter, you have a platform to thank for your saved time.

Free Lookbook: 50 Facebook Ad Examples That We Actually Clicked

A platform makes it possible to connect tools, teams, data, and processes under one digital roof. It’s the nucleus of all systems and allows you to connect all your favorite tools seamlessly using integrations. An integration allows disparate systems to talk to each other. By joining tools via integrations, a change made in System A automatically carries through to System B.

Leveraging platforms and integrations hasn’t always been commonplace. A couple of years ago, HubSpot Research found that 82% of salespeople and marketers lost up to an hour per day managing siloed tools — a costly mistake.

Today, employees recognize that integrating technologies to do their jobs isn’t an option but a requirement. Individual employees are opting to connect their tools and, on average, leverage eight apps to do their job.

Employees and businesses alike run on connected applications. Okta found that it’s small-mid sized customers (defined as companies with less than 2,000 employees) average 73 apps — up 38% from last year. While larger customers (companies with over 2,000 employees) leverage closer to 130 apps — up 68% from the past year.

From personal life to work, platforms have become a staple in our day-to-day. These platforms are well-oiled machines that initiate seamless connections between technologies. Today, the consumer not only anticipates but also expects their systems to connect — raising the bar for companies to make it possible.

But more tools shouldn’t mean more friction. At HubSpot, we want to help our customers connect their tools on our platform to reduce friction and grow better. Customers should have tools and solutions to solve their needs, regardless of if HubSpot built them. Connecting tools allows for uniform data, processes, and experiences. This year, we’re experimenting with ways to expose integrations to our customers to increase adoption.

However, as a platform scales, it becomes increasingly tricky for customers to navigate exhaustive lists of integrations and identify what’s relevant to them. We recognized this at HubSpot and began experimenting with paid ads to see if this could be a valuable distribution channel to our customers.

Our Experiment on Paid Integration Ads

At the end of Q4, the Platform Marketing team decided to use some leftover budget to try a channel we hadn’t yet proven viable for integration adoption — paid ads.

We hypothesized 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 ads were surfaced to HubSpot’s retargetable audience.

These ads featured three HubSpot-built integrations: Slack, WordPress, and Eventbrite. We selected these integrations because they are natively built (built by HubSpot) and structured in a way that allowed us to measure multi-touch attribution.

By leveraging Google Tag Manager on the in-app integration directory, custom UTM parameters, and funnel reports, we were able to measure all steps from viewing the ad to installing the integration. Before launching the campaign, we tested our Google Analytics custom funnel reports by completing all actions — including installing the integrations to make sure they worked as designed.

Before running the campaign, we made the conscious decision to split our budget evenly across all three integration ads — regardless if one ad outperformed the others. We did this to minimize variables for the experiment.

Because we ran ads through November and December, we decreased spending from $130 dollars a day to $5 a day on and around holidays. We did this to “pause” the campaign on days where the ads would get lost in the noise, as this data could skew overall results.

Lastly, we determined our success metrics. Because we didn’t have apples-to-apples benchmark data for integration paid ads, we worked with our paid team to establish reasonably similar benchmark data. While it wasn’t a direct comparison, we were curious to see how ads could influence multi-step actions. We evaluated our performance based on click-through rates (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition.

Experiment Results

The integration ads surpassed our benchmark data for click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition at the 7-, 30-, and 44-day marks — supporting our initial hypothesis and prediction.

The 30-day CTR for our integration ads was higher than the 7-day and 30-day CTR for the benchmark data, which is surprising as we expected the audience to become more fatigued over time.

Fatigue can be measured by the frequency a user views the same ad. For example, at HubSpot, we look at if a viewer has seen the same ad over 2.5 times within 30 days, which we consider high. Additionally, we kept an eye out for an increasing cost per acquisition.

Paid ads for these integrations was attractive to our retargetable audience and a legitimate acquisition point for HubSpot. It helped us influence adoption of integrations — resulting in hundreds of installs in the featured technologies. It also provided us with a data point we’ve been curious to see — the cost of an install.

When considering the value and acquisition cost of an install, it’s helpful to understand the impact on the business. At HubSpot, our customers with integrated stacks of technologies tend to be more successful — and they stick around.

This makes sense — as the more apps installed, the higher the likelihood someone will stick around. This is a common finding among platform companies.

On a recent trip to San Francisco HubSpot’s VP of Platform Ecosystem Scott Brinker found that “a common pattern on platforms is that the more apps a customer integrates into their system, the higher their retention rate will be — for both the platform and the apps integrated into it.”

Connecting their tools allows customers to access all their data in one core system while staying flexible and adaptable to their needs as they grow.

Since HubSpot doesn’t currently charge integrators to be part of our ecosystem, spending money to drive a net new install may seem counterintuitive. When weighing the long-term benefits of an install for customer value and retention, we are able to determine what is a reasonable cost per install. The experiment cost was worth the insight, as it allowed us to gain a baseline understanding of the cost per acquisition of an integration install.

Ultimately you can determine if the long-term value outweighs the upfront cost. (While directional value is a good baseline, you’d ideally look to lifetime value [LTV] to establish actual value.)

What This Means for HubSpot — and For You

Our experiment with paid ads outperformed our expectations and helped us reach a larger audience than we anticipated. It became clear that this was and is a viable channel for us to increase adoption of integrations and better understand the cost per integration install.

Future looking, we could alter who we target to see how it impacts CTR. We could leverage enrichment software like Datanyze or Clearbit to see if users have tools and cross-reference install data to create a list of folks using tools we integrate with but have yet to connect to. Alternatively, we could leverage this data to target a group of users going through onboarding to encourage them to connect existing tools to HubSpot.

Additionally, we could look through the required steps to connect an integration and consider how we could reduce them to simplify the process for our users and potentially increase our CTR.

Not a platform company? No problem. This retargeting campaigns can be leveraged to evaluate other valuable actions for your users, such as sign-ups, free trials, or event registration.

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16 startups challenging Salesforce's core business that analysts think will soar this year

Summary List PlacementWhen it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce is usually top of mind. Two decades ago, the cloud giant pioneered new way to deliver software over the cloud via subscriptions, changing CRM software forever. 
It still has an iron grip on the market, holding an 18.4% share as of 2019, according to a report from IDC. By contrast, other large players like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Adobe have single digit percentages (although Microsoft is aggressively investing in its own cloud-based CRM application, called Dynamics 365). 
CRM software generally includes customer-facing tools for divisions like sales, customer service, and marketing and has traditionally served as an electronic Rolodex-of-sorts for a company’s customers. But the software is quickly evolving, said a senior research director at Gartner, Brian Manusama. 
Nowadays, companies don’t want their CRM systems to simply help their own employees, but also to make their overall customer experiences smoother and simpler, too, Manusama told Insider. For example, they want tools to automate online problem-solving processes for customers. And as automation capabilities become standard for modern CRM systems, that often means integrations with outside applications or social media.
Salesforce is built primarily for large enterprise customers, so CRM startups have popped up to cater to small and medium-sized businesses, Bessemer Venture Partner’s Alex Ferrara told Insider. Also, because CRMs encompass a wide range of tools and software, many companies start in one category — sales, services, or marketing — and then expand outward from there.
“I think most modern organizations today want all of their employees to have access to customer data,” partner at venture firm CRV, Murat Bicer, told Insider. “It’s not just sales anymore.”
As the pandemic pushed businesses to digitally transform faster than ever, modern CRM software is critical to helping them stay connected with customers. 
Insider asked venture capitalists and analysts to name smaller CRM companies competing with behemoths like Salesforce and Microsoft. They named both innovative startups and smaller companies that are growing in popularity. 
Some of these smaller companies could also be acquisition targets for big cloud firms looking to improve their own capabilities. For example, Facebook said in November 2020 that plans to acquire customer service startup Kustomer — reportedly for $1 billion. 
Here are 16 customer relationship management companies that experts say to watch in 2021:
(All private company funding amounts and valuations taken from Pitchbook.)Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales management tool to help coordinate the sometimes complicated or lengthy sales process. It’s tailored to help salespeople do their jobs as opposed to sales managers, which more traditional CRM systems are focused on, said Bessemer’s Ferrara, who led Pipedrive’s Series A round in 2015.
Pipedrive has customizable fields, Google Apps integrations for email, and data importing and exporting, so salespeople can plan their strategy, track deals, and record conversation history on one platform. 
Ferrara says it’s a company to watch because it’s very profitable and has a really great team of product and engineering folks on board.
Total funding raised: $95.4 million
Valuation: $1.50 billion 

Iterable is an email marketing platform that helps automate the customer reach-out process.
The company was founded in 2013 and started with marketing automation before quickly realizing how much more it could do with the customer data stored on its platform.
It essentially allows companies to customize the way they interact with customers based on their preferences, said CRV’s Bicer, who sits on Iterable’s board. CRV led Iterable’s Series A round in 2016. 
“It’s giving you a more of that full picture of your entire customer base and how they’re behaving,” Bicer said. “I think that’s the kind of scale that even Salesforce today wouldn’t really be able to do.”
Total funding raised: $141.84 million
Valuation: $535 million

Gorgias makes help-desk software — primarily for small online businesses — to help manage customer service. It uses machine learning and integrations with other software to create templates and suggestions on how to resolve customer service requests so businesses can respond quickly. 
The company was founded in 2015 and just raised a $25 million Series B led by Sapphire Ventures in early December. CRV’s Bicer recommended the firm. 
Total funding raised: $44.77 million
Valuation: $325 million

Freshworks is best known for its customer service product, Freshdesk. It was founded in 2010 after CEO Girish Mathrubootham saw an opportunity to change the way companies handle customer support.
In the 10 years since, Mathrubootham has expanded the firm’s customer support focus to build a platform that provides software to help manage every interaction a customer has with a company, from marketing to customer support. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, although the majority of its employees are based in India.
Freshworks has made a number of acquisitions over the last few years to build out its platform, Gartner’s Manusama said. 
Total funding raised: $401.1 million
Valuation: $3.5 billion

SugarCRM, founded in 2004, offers a range of customer experience tools including for sales, service, and marketing divisions. A recent Gartner report called SugarCRM’s products “easily configured and customized.”
In addition to sales automation, customer service, and marketing tools, SugarCRM has also added products for data visualization, analytics, and integration.
“They’ve got a pretty comprehensive offering compared to most smaller market CRMs,” said Nucleus Research analyst Dan Elman, who expects the firm to keep growing.
Notably Salesforce has a similar line-up of products in its CRM platform. 
SugarCRM was acquired by private equity firm Accel-KKR in 2018. 
Total funding raised: $119.64 million up to 2013, unknown after that
Valuation: Unknown

TechSee is a customer service platform that integrates technologies like artificial intelligence and internet connected devices with more traditional CRM tools. It’s geared towards field service agents in particular, helping them respond to customer support requests at specific locations and allowing them to connect with customers via a live virtual chat.
The company is based in Israel and raised a $30 million Series C round in August led by Salesforce Ventures, TELUS Ventures, and OurCrowd. Gartner’s Manusama recommended it as a field service-focused CRM company to watch. 
Total funding raised: $53.50 million
Valuation: Unknown

Hubspot started as a marketing automation company, making it easy for small businesses to launch marketing and go-to-market strategies. Once Hubspot started seeing how its platform could use the customer data it was collecting, however, it began adding more features to make it a full CRM platform, including sales and service software.
The company went public in 2014 and has 95,000 customers. It is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and run by its cofounders Brian Halligan (CEO) and Dharmesh Shah (CTO). 
CRV’s Bicer and Bessemer partner Ferrara both noted that Hubspot was a smaller CRM company to watch. 
Market cap: $17.71 billion

Zendesk is known for its customer service software, but it also offers sales software and a marketplace of customer engagement apps. Its software makes it easier to help customers across self-service options, connecting all the communication methods — like phone, chat, messaging, and email — in one platform. 
Nucleus Research’s Elman said he already sees Zendesk in competition with Salesforce for deals and he expects that competition to only get more intense as Zendesk grows. More often now, CRMs are expanding to include that “customer experience distinction,” he said.
Zendesk was founded in 2007 and went public in 2014. 
Market cap: $17.71 billion

Zoho is an Indian software company that provides tools for finance, productivity, collaboration, and more, with its sales, services, and marketing tools integrating with its entire product portfolio. 
Zoho’s CRM offering is more developed than most companies of its size, said Nucleus Research’s Elman, so it could likely compete with Salesforce more effectively than others.
Earlier this year Zoho released tools to help businesses reopen safely, similar to Salesforce’s tools. 
The company was founded in 1996 in Pleasanton, CA but its global headquarters are in Chennai, India. It has remained private and claims that it never took outside funding. 
Total funding raised: N/A
Valuation: Unknown

Glia is a customer service platform that allows businesses to connect with customers using messaging, video, and other online avenues. The software is intended to make it simple for customers to learn about a product, purchase it, and access customer service, too. Sellers can interact with interested parties in real-time to try to convert them into paying customers. 
Glia’s customers include several big banking organizations, said Gartner’s Manusama, making it a firm to watch. It raised $78 million in Series C funding in early January.
Total funding raised: $107 million
Valuation: Unknown

Conversica is an AI-driven platform to help salespeople connect with potential customers and sign them on. It uses chat bots to automatically start conversations with potential buyers over email, text, or social media to schedule sales meetings or gauge interest. It can also collect overdue payments from existing customers, too. 
Its customers include Oracle, Beck & Masten, and Talend, and it also has partnerships with Salesforce, Hupspot, and Marketo. Gartner’s Manusama recommended it. 
Total funding raised: $106.8 million
Valuation: Unknown

GetAccept is a sales enablement platform that aims to digitize the sales process from the first conversation to a signed contract. The software includes features like video, live chat, sales content, proposal design, document tracking, and e-signatures to simplify the sales process. It also allows sales reps to track their pipeline.
Bessemer’s Ferrara likens it to digitizing the deal room where sales contracts get discussed and signed. His firm led GetAccept’s $20 million Series B round in early December.  
Total funding raised: $30.6 million
Valuation: $36.88 million before its Series B, current unknown

Insightly is a project management tool for keeping track of customer interactions. The platform helps companies manage their customer contacts, tasks, and projects on desktop and mobile, and also offers a marketing automation tool. Its tools integrate with Google Apps and GSuite, Microsoft 365, and Quickbooks.
Insightly was founded in 2009 and is backed by Emergence Capital Partners, Cloud Apps Capital Partners, Scott Bommer, and Sozo Ventures. Bessemer’s Ferrara named Insightly as a CRM startup to watch, though his firm has not invested.
Total funding raised: $40 million
Valuation: $220.67 million
Copper CRM

Copper is a CRM system designed to be used with GSuite and Google Apps. It helps salespeople identify, track, and optimize sales. The integration with GSuite allows users to update opportunities, add contacts, get account histories, and manage the pipeline directly from their Gmail inbox. It also automatically scrapes data from Gmail to automate recurring tasks. 
The company was founded in 2011 and has CRM products tailored for the tech industry, real estate firms, consulting companies, and small businesses.
Ferrara recommended Copper, though Bessemer has not invested in it.
Total funding raised: $108.12 million
Valuation: $77.68 million as of its Series B in 2016, current unknown

Affinity is a CRM startup that’s focused on managing relationships as opposed to simply serving as a database of contacts. Its scans the email and calendars of its workers in customer-facing roles to map out how people are connected and suggest ways to leverage existing relationships in order to secure new deals.
Bessemer’s Ferrara said his firm is a customer of Affinity and has seen first-hand the value it can bring to organizations. It has products tailored towards the real estate industry, venture capital firms, and financial institutions. 
Total funding raised: $40.5 million
Valuation: $96.5 million

Nimble is another CRM platform that integrates with productivity suites from Microsoft and Google. It allows users to access their CRM while working in their email inbox or websites like LinkedIn.
Its differentiator is a “focus on mining social media,” said Nucleus Research’s Elman. “It can link your records with social media, so it gives you more up-to-date info on when your contacts are active and what they’re thinking about.” 
Nimble is part of the Microsoft Accelerator. 
Total funding raised: $15.5 million
Valuation: $34 million


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