Logo - Full (Color)
Skip to content
Background Blob Background Blob Mobile

Athabasca University Achieves 75% Lead Growth in Three Years With HubSpot

Athabasca University was using several different tools for its marketing efforts, and had no holistic view of its data. With Marketing Hub, Athabasca University was able to consolidate onto a single platform, refine existing processes to improve marketing performance, and gain valuable insights into the student journey. Since then, Athabasca University has seen 75% overall lead growth in 3 years.

  • +75% Overall lead growth since implementation

  • +100% Marketing influenced lead growth YoY

  • 2x Increase in conversion rate

Athabasca University

Athabasca University is a leader in open, online education. Athabasca University offers over 850 courses in various disciplines, so over 35,000 students of all ages and backgrounds can pursue their academic goals from 81 countries around the world.


Company Size:


Use Case:


    HubSpot Video

    Disjointed tools with no visibility

    As Canada’s Open University, Athabasca University serves thousands of adult learners in Canada and around the world. Prospective students learn about their programs and offerings through many different channels, from social media to email marketing and paid advertising. AU was using several different tools to manage these channels, including Mailchimp for email marketing and Unbounce for landing pages and conversion tracking, as well as custom tools and APIs embedded within the website. 

    It was hard to gather data together from all of these different sources and build a comprehensive overview of their marketing engine, as Raza Hussain, Director of Marketing and Recruitment, tells us: 

    “There was no integration between all of those tools and other data sets that we could lean on to give visibility into the performance of our campaigns and the other marketing work that we do,” he explains. “Integrating all that data into one single view was important.”

    Reporting challenges 

    Without convenient access to data, the marketing team had a hard time communicating the value of their work and their strategy. Building custom reports to share with different stakeholders was time-consuming and difficult. “We wanted to share the information needed with different layers of the organization, from stakeholders and VPs all the way up to the President and the Board of Governors. But building those custom reports was too laborious to be practical.”

    Without data-backed results to point to, it was hard for the marketing team to demonstrate how their strategy translated to business impacts. “The lack of integrated analytics didn’t instill a lot of confidence in our colleagues, and it made it more challenging for our team to articulate the value of our campaigns and processes,” Raza says.  

    A holistic view into marketing operations 

    Athabasca University replaced their previous marketing tools and adopted Marketing Hub to gain holistic visibility into marketing workflows, campaigns, and operations. “With Marketing Hub, we’ve brought all of that together under one view in a very intuitive, user-friendly format,” Raza says. 

    Marketing Hub’s analytics allowed the marketing team to map out the entire customer journey (or student journey, in their case) and build a real, data-backed view of their marketing efforts and enrollment processes. “We removed a lot of the assumptions we previously had around our sales cycles and conversion cycles,” Raza says. “Now, we’re able to educate and instill confidence among our colleagues by leveraging data and insights. That's been really powerful.” 

    Data-driven decisions 

    With Marketing Hub, the marketing team has used data to make better strategic decisions. They have been able to verify assumptions and set up A/B testing for copy and landing pages and use smart content on pages based on ad campaign parameters. They’ve built up their marketing automation, improved lead management, and implemented lead scoring, all of which has made it possible to tailor their marketing campaigns and drive better results. 

    Marketing Hub’s flexible filters, custom views, and partitioning have made it much easier for the marketing team to create custom reports for different stakeholders and keep everyone at the organization informed of their efforts, making collaboration much more productive across teams. “We can come to the table with very sound metrics that help us understand where the actual gaps in our student journey are and what we should be focused on,” Raza says.

    Impactful changes

    Armed with the data they collect through HubSpot—as well as Marketing Hub’s flexible and convenient user interface—Athabasca University has made several changes to their marketing that have had real benefits for the university and its prospective students. 

    For example, they’ve begun featuring specific programs like their arts, science, and business degrees in their marketing campaigns, instead of focusing their marketing solely on high-level value propositions. “We had always wanted to do programmatic marketing, but it was difficult to operationalize. Marketing Hub has enabled us to observe the behavior of prospective students in HubSpot, which allowed us to be much more effective,” Raza says. “And these campaigns have been the most successful conversion tool we’ve had by far.” 

    They’ve also used HubSpot data to redesign the university’s website. They’ve started using copy that was effective in their landing pages to improve their main site copy, which has helped make the website a more valuable resource for prospective students interested in learning more. “With the metrics that we gathered in HubSpot, we were able to be far more strategic about where we added lead capture forms throughout the website. That’s something that we wouldn’t have thought of without that HubSpot data,” Raza says.

    Valuable feedback loops

    Having HubSpot data at their fingertips has led to meaningful changes for the university’s marketing and recruitment function. “HubSpot has helped us qualify leads based on lead scoring and threshold building that we can now do,” Raza says. “Having the understanding of how qualified leads make their way through our nurture journey has influenced the way that we do email marketing. It's influenced the way that we build landing pages, and the way that we build marketing assets.” 

    But the data has had impacts beyond the marketing department, as well. By uncovering specific drop-off points in the student journey, they’ve been able to shine a light on places to spend time and resources to make improvements. “Before this data was available, we took more of a broad-stroke approach to addressing the student journey from end to end,” Raza says. “But that risked diluting the impact of our efforts as we were spreading ourselves thin. We’ve moved away from that.”

    For example, they’ve discovered that their lead engine is very effective, but conversions are trickier.  They’ve used that information to help and support  student service delivery functions, such as registrar operations and student financial aid. They’ve created more assets to explain financial aid processes and other assets that help simplify student navigation experiences. “With Marketing Hub, we can build feedback loops and use them to contribute to the overall success of the organization and our collective efforts to improve the end-to-end student journey,” Raza says.  

    Putting the focus on the student

    Today, Marketing Hub functions as a single source of truth for the marketing organization. “Marketing Hub removes a lot of the subjectivity that would otherwise have gone into our strategic planning. It gives us an edge to build realistic goals based on actual data and performance history,” Raza says. 

    But most importantly of all, having that centralized data puts the focus on their students. “It’s easy to lose sight and get wrapped up in the day-to-day. Having those outputs in HubSpot reminds us that these are students that we want to help. We see them, and we see where they’re going on the website. It allows us to focus on how we can improve their journey by strategically investing time, energy, and resources into meaningful marketing efforts,” Raza says.

    75% Overall Lead Growth in 3 Years

    Thanks to the changes Raza and his team have made, and the insights they’ve gained from Marketing Hub, Athabasca University has seen steady overall lead growth: 

    • Up 31% YoY in year 1 
    • Up 34% YoY in year 2 
    • And 75% overall lead growth since implementation

    They’ve also seen a 100% YoY increase in marketing influenced leads. They’ve had a corresponding high double-digit increase in conversions as well. 

    “Having access to this data is like having an ace up our sleeve,” Raza says. “HubSpot is more than just a toolit’s an extension of our team. It contributes to making our technical marketing stack far superior to our competition’s. It’s a massive competitive advantage for us.”

    “With Marketing Hub, we can build feedback loops and use them to contribute to the overall success of the organization and our collective efforts to improve the end-to-end student journey.”

    Raza Hussain

    Director of Marketing and Recruitment

    Athabasca University

    colorful still life with people and technology

    Start Growing With HubSpot Today

    With tools to make every part of your process more human and a support team excited to help you, growing your business with HubSpot has never been easier.