Delivering good business sense.

Harvard Business Review drives personalized, automated email campaigns and gains deeper customer insights using Adobe Campaign.

Company Logo

Established

1922

Brighton, Massachusetts
hbr.org

Partner:

28%

Average open rate

for new triggered emails, driving engagement

Objectives

Keep readers engaged by delivering more personalized newsletters

Get better results with less work by automating emails with behavioral triggers

Leverage effective web analytics to drive business decisions

Results

4.5 million triggered emails sent, enabling more contextual experiences without manual work

28% average open rate for new triggered emails, driving engagement

50% average open rate for a weekly subscriber-only newsletter, boosting engagement through relevant content

Met aggressive implementation timeline with expertise from M2 Partners to meet year-end subscription goals



“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.”

 

Carrie Bourke
Director, Customer Analytics and Insight, Harvard Business Review



Success among business leaders

Good business leaders don’t operate in a vacuum—they rely on the perspectives and best practices of peers and experts to help make smart decisions and lead effectively. That’s why many subscribe to Harvard Business Review (HBR), which has delivered valuable insights to business professionals since 1922.

To drive magazine subscriptions and sell products, HBR must deliver consistent value by publishing content regularly that keeps people engaged, informed, and interested. In the past, its print magazine and direct mail marketing have driven its subscription model. While the print magazine remains the brand’s crown jewel, the company is moving toward a more digital approach as readers consume an increasing amount of content online.

For the customer analytics and insight team at HBR, the shift toward digital has meant a stronger focus—and increasing pressure—on email operations and online analytics. The team delivers 40 million emails per month helping to drive revenue through subscriptions, e-commerce, and ad sales. As email became increasingly important to the HBR strategy, the team found it needed a more robust campaign management solution.

“Our previous marketing database was managed by an external vendor, and it was structured primarily to drive subscriptions through direct mail,” says Carrie Bourke, Director of Customer Analytics and Insight at HBR. “Though we had email capabilities, our ability to personalize campaigns and build relevant, real-time experiences for our readers was limited.” 

As HBR evaluated its options, Adobe Campaign Standard emerged as the clear leader. The company already used Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, and the addition of Campaign would give the team greater flexibility, better campaign targeting, and the ability to share behavioral data seamlessly across the solutions. HBR also saw it could cut costs significantly by moving from its existing marketing database to Adobe.

“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 Bourke.
 



“As we evaluated different implementation partners, it became obvious that M2 Partners was the best match for us. With the company’s extensive experience in Adobe Campaign and highly personal approach, we felt comfortable and confident that all our requirements would be met.”

 

Carrie Bourke
Director, Customer Analytics and Insight, Harvard Business Review



M2 Partners brings expertise and a personal touch to implementation

HBR chose M2 Partners to lead the implementation of Adobe Campaign, citing its deep expertise and hands-on approach as a boutique consulting firm. M2Partners worked closely with the technical team at HBR, Adobe Customer Solutions, and 33 Sticks—the consulting firm that helps HBR continue to mature in its use of Adobe Analytics and with its digital strategy.

“As we evaluated different implementation partners, it became obvious that M2 Partners was the best match for us,” says Bourke. “With the company’s extensive experience in Adobe Campaign and highly personal approach, we felt comfortable and confident that all our requirements would be met.”

M2 Partners jumped right into the project, working to understand campaign requirements and building a comprehensive data model. An aggressive rollout schedule kept the implementation team moving quickly, but with careful due diligence around quality control, as HBR prepared to launch its first set of 21 campaigns using Adobe Campaign.

Engaging email campaigns—better results, less work

Using Adobe Campaign, HBR transformed its routine email campaigns running daily, weekly, and monthly—with newsletters among the most valuable content. The company delivers 13 newsletters to 900,000 unique subscribers, generating higher open rates versus most campaigns and exerting a strong influence on the decision to purchase a subscription.

“Thanks to Adobe Campaign, we continue to increase the impact of our newsletters through greater targeting and segmentation,” says Bourke. “For example, we started an 8-week newsletter series for subscribers interested in AI and machine learning. Through Adobe Campaign, the series started whenever the user subscribed, so that in any given week, some subscribers are receiving their first issues, others their second, and so on.”

For HBR, one of the most beneficial aspects of Adobe Campaign is its ability to automate campaigns based on behavioral triggers such as site registrations and abandoned shopping carts. Triggers allow the team to send timely, targeted emails that make sense to readers in context, while alleviating the day-to-day work of segmenting, testing, and optimizing batch campaigns.

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

For instance, the team uses triggers to make the onboarding experience more intuitive for new subscribers. As part of their subscriber benefits, a new subscriber receives the weekly Insider newsletter from HBR.org. Rather than entering the new subscriber directly into The Insider flow, on the day following subscribing, they receive a version of The Insider welcoming them to HBR. This approach eases subscribers into the weekly stream by starting with a welcome email.

“Using triggers through Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics, open rates for The Insider are as high as 50%,” says Bourke. “With the ability to suppress other campaigns while welcoming new subscribers, we can deliver a much cleaner onboarding experience for customers.”

As HBR builds more behavioral triggers into its batch campaigns, it aims to drive more revenue with fewer touches. “We’re managing batch emails in a more integrated way, layering in personalization and applying detailed segmentation so we can control campaigns with greater precision,” says Bourke. “The goal is to hit revenue numbers without overloading readers.”
 



“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. Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics help us surface insights about how people consume information and how we can deliver more value to them.”

 

Carrie Bourke
Director, Customer Analytics and Insight, Harvard Business Review



Data is the foundation for effective marketing strategy

Adobe Campaign played a crucial role in launching a new offer strategy—an important initiative that represents a significant change for HBR. For years, the company offered one all-access subscription that included both print and digital content. Now, aiming to address the needs of different customer segments while growing its circulation, the company offers a three-tier offer structure, giving readers the choice of digital-only, digital plus print, or a premium subscription.

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

Seamless integration between Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics is the key to supporting its business initiative, and HBR is working to tap into the rich pool of website behavior and subscriber data for advanced reporting.

“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,” says Bourke. “Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics help us surface insights about how people consume information and how we can deliver more value to them.”

In fact, HBR is extracting data from Adobe Experience Cloud for developing propensity models powered by third-party machine learning algorithms, learning which factors drive people to purchase a subscription and which influence subscribers’ decision to renew.

As HBR focuses on engaging business professionals as lifelong learners, these insights will be critical in organizing content and offers around their needs—helping them become more effective leaders. With the ability to support both insights and execution, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Analytics are essential tools for HBR as it progresses toward more personalized experiences and solidifies its reputation as an essential resource for business leaders.

Harvard Business Review and Adobe Experience Cloud

To learn more about Harvard Business Review’s use of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, read the story.

Let's talk about what Adobe Experience Cloud can do for your business.

Let's talk about what Adobe Experience Cloud can do for your business.