How Harvard Business Review Strengthens its Leadership as an Important Source of Business Insight

by Michael Sciano

posted on 12-02-2019

Even long-successful, widely respected publications like Harvard Business Review (HBR) aren’t immune to the many challenges facing publishers today. The pressure to offer more digital content in more formats continues to rise, but that’s only part of the story. People also demand more subscription options, easier access, and curated content. For magazines, a good Customer Experience Management (CXM) strategy is essential to keeping readers happy by demonstrating that publishers know what they want now and in the future.

HBR offers a great example of a magazine bridging the gap between print and digital with CXM. The company recently launched a new subscription model, giving its readership three options—digital only, digital and print, or a premium subscription.

The previous model encompassed print and digital in a single subscription. HBR knew it needed a more advanced digital marketing strategy to match its expanded options for readers. Integral to supporting its new digital strategy is testing through Adobe Target, ramping up email marketing with Adobe Campaign, and using Adobe Analytics for greatly enhanced insights.

“With an integrated solution that includes Adobe Campaign and insights from Adobe Analytics, we can make email more personalized and automated, with a richer view of website and campaign analytics,” says Carrie Bourke, director of customer analytics and insights at HBR.

Data underpins HBR’s digital strategy

Carrie and her colleagues were determined to use data as a guiding light for the new offer strategy. HBR chose M2 Partners to lead the implementation of Adobe Campaign, and the partner worked closely with the technical team at HBR, Adobe Customer Solutions, and 33 Sticks, the consulting firm that helped HBR adopt Adobe Analytics. M2 Partners helped HBR understand campaign requirements and build a comprehensive data model critical to the project’s success.

“We used subscriber data from Adobe Analytics to help develop our new offer strategy and model the financial results,” Carrie says. “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.”

The rich pool of data—shared seamlessly between Adobe Target, Campaign, and Analytics—provides a foundation not only for the offer strategy but also for advanced analytics across the board.

“We see 8 million unique visitors on our site every month, so we have a lot of deep behavioral data that can help guide our campaigns and segmentation,” Carrie says. “Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics help us surface insights about how people consume information and how we can deliver more value to them.”

Email drives digital subscriptions

Email communications—to the tune of 40 million emails monthly—play a big role in driving subscriptions under the new offer strategy. The variety of emails includes welcome emails for new subscribers, newsletters for people with an interest in topics such as AI or healthcare, and triggered communications for website visitors who abandon their carts.

“With Adobe Campaign, we’ve sent out 4.5 million triggered emails with an average open rate of 28 percent and a click-through rate of 5 percent,” says Carrie. “We’re making campaigns more targeted and expanding our volumes to reach a wider range of audiences.”

As much as possible, HBR wants its communications to feel contextual, meaningful, and valuable to readers—while making it easier to segment, test, and optimize campaigns behind the scenes. Its newsletters are typically top performers, sent to 900,000 unique subscribers with a 25 percent average open rate.

“Thanks to Adobe Campaign, we continue to increase the impact of our newsletters through greater targeting and segmentation,” Carrie says. “For example, we started an 8-week newsletter series for new subscribers interested in AI and machine learning—which really highlights the value of HBR content and keeps people reading.”

For HBR, email marketing is one of its most powerful tools to increase revenue through subscriptions, advertising, and e-commerce. Paired with behavioral analytics and a new offer strategy, the magazine is primed for success in the era of personalized, on-demand digital content.

_Harvard Business Review has a bold new CXM strategy for digital subscriptions built on Adobe Campaign, Adobe Target, and Adobe Analytics, keeping the magazine relevant as its audience demands more personalized content online. Read more.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Email Marketing, Customer Stories

Products: Analytics, Campaign, Target