How the Harvard Business Review Used Personalization and Automation to Enhance Success

Growing email and newsletter programs demanded a digital solution that could deliver greater flexibility.

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Even though the Harvard Business Review (HBR) is one of the most respected business publications on the planet, it’s not exempt from the need to continually improve customer engagement and experience. HBR, like every other organization, wants to attract more customers and create strong relationships with them. HBR had been working with a third-party marketing database firm, but that engagement primarily focused on direct mail campaigns and was expensive. With HBR moving quickly to become a more digital business, it needed modern customer experience technology to support that goal.

HBR decided that a more personalized approach to audience engagement would help increase subscriptions and interactions. Automation was essential, because there was insufficient staff to treat each campaign as a unicorn. HBR had already deployed Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target; by adding Adobe Campaign, it was able to more effectively utilize content, leverage audience sharing, and provide more complete reporting across systems.

Deploying the new Adobe solution was a joint effort between HBR’s customer analytics and technology teams. The two teams also brought in M2 Partners to help with the implementation of the system. One of the primary goals of the project was to have a single, comprehensive data source. With the Adobe application, it is now possible for product, editorial, advertising, and marketing to work together more effectively and to individually find unique value in the platform.

Integrating and storing data in a single repository is the foundation of the CX improvement that HBR has achieved. It started by integrating several different data types into Adobe Campaign including website registrations, newsletter signups and opt-outs, subscription and webinar data from third parties, and several web behavior data points. Working with this foundation, HBR can use data from Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics to develop new offer strategies and model the results.

“We used subscriber data from Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics to help develop our new offer strategy and model the financial results,” noted Carrie Bourke, director of customer analytics and insight at HBR. “As we built out the test campaigns for website and email, we made sure we could measure the ‘lift and shift’ so we could clearly see whether the strategy was increasing revenue or just redistributing it.”

Using Adobe Campaign, HBR sent out 4.5 million triggered emails that had an average open rate of 28% and a click-through rate of 5%. These are impressive results that surpassed previous efforts. Adobe Campaign also allows HBR to drive more targeted campaigns and expand volumes to reach a wider range of audiences.

For organizations that want to gain the benefits of using Adobe’s solutions, Bourke has a few suggestions.

“Start with a crawl-walk-run approach,” she advises. “Connecting Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics enables many improved campaign options for interacting with customers and prospects. With this, there is a need to set up key foundational elements such as naming conventions, folder structures, and the processes to effectively manage the use of Adobe solutions. This foundation will allow you to systematically adopt new features and measure the results from using them to ensure an organization gets all the benefits from these platforms.”

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