Smart Content Case Study: Hyper-Personalized Newsletters

3 min read
May 26, 2016


When it comes to newsletters, the days of email "blasts" are long gone. These days, email marketing needs to align with the needs, interests and lifecycle stages of your target audience.

As we described in a previous blog post, HubSpot's Smart Content offers elegant options for dynamically serving up personalized content to email recipients based on their list membership or lifecycle stage.

Here's an example of how we integrated HubSpot's Smart Content into a client's email newsletter program...

The Challenge

Prior to implementing an inbound marketing strategy, our client was using MailChimp to deploy newsletters. The MailChimp email file was modestly segmented. However, under most circumstances, a single version of the newsletter was sent to all constituents in the email file.

The challenge was to develop a newsletter that offered personalized information based on a contact's lifecycle stage.

The end goal was to create and deliver a newsletter that was more effective at engaging and nurturing leads, as well as delighting existing customers.

The Vision

For this project, we started from scratch with a new email template design. For this template, we wanted to retain a digest-style newsletter to serve up high performing blog posts and podcasts. But we also wanted the newsletter to do more than just engage constituents and drive site traffic. We wanted the newsletter to nurture leads.

Specifically, we aimed to integrate targeted CTAs aligned with constituent lifecycles in order to help usher leads through the buyer’s journey.

To do so, we built the email template with two HubSpot Smart Content modules: one at the top of the newsletter and one near the closing.

Opening Module with Smart Content

To retain a more conversational style in the newsletter, we assigned the first module to contain a personalized greeting. We also chose to integrate a CTA early on in this first module. Lead nurturing is an important enough outcome goal for the newsletter; as such, we considered it vital to introduce a lifecycle-targeted CTA early on. Additionally, we chose to forego an image-based CTA in favor of anchor text in order to preserve a more conversational feel.

The Smart Content module was set up with the following segments:

  • Leads saw an eBook CTA.
  • MQLs received an event/workshop registration CTA.
  • SQLs received an in-person consultation CTA.
  • Customers received a standard greeting with option to include a client appreciation invite or a referral request.

Closing Module with Smart Content

Because lifecycle-targeted lead nurturing was a critical element of the newsletter, we chose to serve up the CTA again in the closing module. Though, with the closing module, the CTA included text as well as an image-based CTA.

Here's a screenshot of our template wireframe...



The Smart Content function offers an editing option that allowed us to easily view and modify multiple content variations all in one window. So, with our smart rules and lifecycle-aligned CTAs identified in advance, adding content to this smart newsletter was swift and straightforward.


Final Newsletter: Screenshot Examples

When we implemented the newsletter plan, we moved forward with personalized content aligned with the following lifecycle stages: Leads, MQLs, SQLs, and Customers. Below are two examples of the final newsletter personalized for lifecycle stages (a) Leads and (b) SQLs.

(a) Newsletter with Smart Content for LeadsNewsletter_-_Telemarketer_Lead_Active

(b) Newsletter with Smart Content for SQLs



The updated newsletter structure with lifecycle-targeted HubSpot Smart Content was a clear win.

Open rates experienced a 43 percent increase, and clickthrough rates improved by 89 percent!



At the end of the day, lifecycle-personalized content in newsletters – with HubSpot Smart Content – is certainly worth implementing. In this case study, we saw a remarkable improvement in open rates and clickthroughs across the board.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.