Customer data is about as real as it gets, but unfortunately, many marketers still struggle with where to find it, how to access it, and how to analyze it.

Luckily for us Hotjar’s VP of Marketing, Sharon Biggar was on hand to answer all our questions on the data-driven future of brand marketing.

If you’re ready to take those crucial steps towards more efficient, number-based strategies, dive in. 👇

Q: Are there specific metrics that you measure for each part of your customer buyer’s journey? If so, which metrics are they?

A: Yes we do have different metrics for different stages of the journey.

Here’s the way that we look at it:

A. At the top of the funnel - here we’re focused on brand awareness (both aided and unaided) and how many new unique visitors we’re driving to our website.

B.  At the middle of the funnel - we became more concerned with quality and started to look at how many new accounts we’re creating, and whether or not those accounts are high quality and meet our requirements to be a Marketing Qualified Lead.

C.  At the bottom of the funnel - we’re looking much more closely at those MQLs. We want to see that these new accounts are progressing well in their onboarding onto the product and that they are starting to get insights from Hotjar they can use to make a product their users love. More specifically, here we are measuring whether or not the user makes it to our "A-ha" moment and forms a habit.

D.  And then finally, once the user subscribes to our service we switch over to measuring engagement and retention metrics.

Q: With so many data sources available, how do you and your team ensure you focus on the right metrics?

A: We have two ways of looking at this. Firstly, we look from a high level and ask ourselves - what are the key drivers of growth for Hotjar? And that has led us to a series of metrics that we are always monitoring - things like brand awareness, website traffic (broken down into our various channels such Paid, Content, etc), number of new accounts, cost of customer acquisition, conversion to the customer, lifetime value.

Secondly, each quarter we set OKRs to help us achieve our key goals and/or overcome our biggest obstacles. This then drives a second set of metrics that we use to specifically measure if we’re able to overcome that obstacle or achieve that goal. For example, right now we want to diversify to paid traffic that’s not Google Adwords and so we’re specifically measuring the new accounts coming from non-search paid efforts.

Q: What are the key metrics that brand marketers should pay attention to in the future?

A: I think it really depends on your stage of growth and the most important objectives that you have for your team. But that's a cop-out answer, so let me answer you specifically by reference to what we measure at Hotjar.

At Hotjar our biggest obstacle is that our target audience is still relatively unaware that Hotjar exists and that we can help them with understanding how their users perceive their product experience. For this reason, our brand team is responsible for increasing the awareness of our brand.

We measure our brand team against three key metrics, which are:

  1. Unaided brand awareness.
  2. Aided brand awareness.
  3. And finally - because we want to check their campaigns are motivating our target audience to action - we also check that we are seeing an increase in traffic to our website from the brand awareness campaigns that they deliver.

In addition to those metrics, I also think that brand marketers should pay attention to brand affinity, and this is a direction we hope to move to quite soon.

Q: How do you think ROI will be impacted by data-driven marketing?

A: At least from our own experience, data-driven marketing has not only increased our ROI but has also delivered a much better experience for our users.

On the brand side, we use data to figure out the right way to position Hotjar, i.e. in a way that our target audience understands. This not only increases ROI as our audience "gets" what we do quickly but it’s also a much nicer experience for our users to understand something fast rather than to be left scratching their head trying to figure out what we do.

Secondly, on the performance side, our data shows us where our ads are intrusive and annoying for potential users, and where they truly add value by informing our future customers that Hotjar exists and can help them to create products that users love.

So yes, I am thoroughly convinced that a data-driven marketing approach not only increases ROI but also is the most effective way of executing a customer-centric marketing strategy.

Q: How do you differentiate 'brand marketing' from other types of marketing?

A: You are right of course that there is no such thing as brand marketing, rather "everything" we do is brand marketing insofar as everything we do affects our brand - so this is a really tricky question.

At Hotjar the way we think of it is that our brand team focuses on raising our brand awareness and delivering content that appeals to that part of our audience that is at the top of the funnel.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in steering Hotjar’s marketing towards more data-focused strategies?

A: I would say that the biggest challenge I have faced in steering brand marketing towards a data-driven strategy is that it’s just not second nature yet for brand teams to verify subjective questions with objective data.

For example, this morning I was on a call with a brand agency, and nowhere in their presentation was a reference to how they would test nor measure if the changes that they were proposing were effective.

I think at Hotjar we are starting to make the transition towards being more humble and saying to ourselves "hey this logo or visual looks great to us but we are not our target market, so let’s go and ask our target audience what they think of this".

Q: Does your research for your marketing strategies include data from the customer’s entire experience with your brand — from exposure, to purchase, to use?

A: Our data tracks the customers from the earliest moment that we can, but we are most likely missing many touch points in the exposure phase.

For example, as you probably expect we are able to identify the journey if our users click on one of our social sites, or an ad, or a blog article (only of course when the user has given us permission to implement this kind of data collection), but we miss a great deal of the informal word of mouth touch points. To overcome this we do a couple of things:

1. We implement one of our own Hotjar surveys on our website and after someone has created a new account we ask them how they heard of us.

2. We hold regular customer interviews and include this question in that conversation too.

But yes after the exposure point of the journey, and once they’re on our website, we make sure to tie the information back to see which channels are bringing in the users that get the most value out of Hotjar.

Q: Which KPIs do you focus on at Hotjar? Have they made a significant impact on your marketing strategies?

A: The key KPIs that we track within marketing are:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Volume of traffic (website traffic, MQLs, subscribers, etc).
  • Return on investment for marketing campaigns.
  • Engagement and retention of subscribers.

And yes they’ve had a huge impact on our marketing strategies and sometimes beyond that.

For example, we recently went through a brand positioning exercise and we used data from potential customers to verify that our positioning was landing well with our customers. In doing so, we discovered that the positioning we wrote worked very well for our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) but not as well for our larger audience (the Serviceable Addressable Market).

This was fascinating and led us to rethink our strategy. It was a particularly pertinent find for Hotjar, as at Hotjar we believe product experience tools should be available for everyone, and hence we want to appeal to a broad audience. We wouldn't have figured this out without running the test and collecting the data on both of those audiences.