Harvard Business Review is a 100-year-old business management publication and one of the most recognized brands in the world. Published by Harvard Business School, the magazine has always relied on avid and loyal readers among corporate executives and entrepreneurs in the US, Asia, Europe and beyond.
In 2017, the marketing team at HBR realized that traditional direct mail subscription campaigns were no longer generating the results they once did. While the brand still enjoyed a sterling reputation, growth in new subscribers had stagnated.
It was time to turn the page and start a new chapter at HBR.
The decision was made to cut back on mail in favor of a purely digital marketing approach, including paid social, display ads, email and content marketing, in addition to print “house ads” appearing in the magazine itself. Read more about HBR’s digital-first marketing strategy in this 2018 Forbes article.
8 Beacon Partners was hired by HBR after a lengthy review process to develop all the creative assets for the new marketing push.
We introduced a more youthful, confident tone - with bold graphics and smart headlines to compliment the magazine’s recently updated look.
We continue to work closely with the HBR marketing group, developing “full funnel” campaigns which include:
Paid social campaigns on Facebook and Instagram
Content marketing targeting new and current users
HBR realized that visitor engagement with content is a reliable indicator of those who are most likely to become - and remain - subscribers.
So in addition to high-level brand messaging around prestige and business success, we created sub campaigns to remind readers of HBR’s exclusive subscriber-only tools and resources, such as a visual library of slides and graphics readers can download and use in presentations; access to HBR’s top 50 best-selling articles; as well as its extensive archive of breakthrough business thinking - all available free to subscribers.
With 15% less in total spending, HBR has generated high growth rates in customer acquisition at more reasonable costs, and now has a paid circulation of over 300,000, the highest in the publication’s history. Paid circulation has grown by 11.8%, and subscriptions have increased by 9.5%, in one year.
Moreover, the average cost per acquisition (CPA) for direct mail was $227, while the CPA for paid social is $111. Conversion rates in paid social are up by 117% over direct mail.