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How ASCD Pivoted to User-Centered Marketing with HubSpot

When schools went virtual full time, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, responsible for supporting the education community of teachers, principals, and administrators around the world, had to pivot quickly and on a massive scale. Here’s how HubSpot helped a very smart team take their strategy from “spray and pray” to user-centered marketing across social, email, content, and events.

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The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

ASCD empowers educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

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    Start where you are. Grow together. 

    When schools went virtual full time, the Association for Curriculum Development, responsible for supporting the education community of teachers, principals, and administrators around the world, had to pivot quickly and on a massive scale. 

    The organization, operating in 50 states and 200 countries, had to take a serious look at how it viewed the larger community. How would engagement look without in-person activities? What could symposiums, workshops, publications, and social engagement look like in a hybrid or completely digital environment? The team was new to marketing automation and had an idea of where they wanted to go, but no roadmap to get there.

    ASCD’s team had one goal: Compete in a digital world by leveraging best-in-class marketing automation. The organization’s Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Marketing Operations began their search and quickly identified two highest-rated platforms: Marketo and HubSpot. The decision to move forward HubSpot was about not just what was possible with marketing automation, but how they’d get there.


    "HubSpot is an iPhone. It just works. As an organization, we were new to marketing automation. We had an idea of where we wanted to go, but no roadmap to get there. That’s why we chose Hubspot."

    Ultimately, the ASCD team felt that HubSpot’s flexibility and “grow better” approach would mean that they could easily change and adapt the platform to what they needed in the moment, and— when and if direction changed based on the business—HubSpot could adapt too. For nonprofits using HubSpot, this incremental approach to adoption as well as agility to pivot when the larger marketing strategy takes a turn is often critical to long-term success.

    User-centered marketing, integrated teams

    It’s truly incredible what can be done when a team doesn’t just want to be able to center users in their marketing experience, but actually has the tools to do so. That’s exactly what happened when ASCD’s engagement and marketing teams aligned on HubSpot as a solution. Katie Kiss, the organization’s Director of Marketing Operations, likens ASCD’s marketing strategy pre-HubSpot to a friend that only talks about themselves. “We acted like those friends when we were emailing our contacts. We used to send 1 blanket email asking hundreds of thousands of people to buy the same thing. We would do that 5 times a week and wondered why our contact list was shrinking.” Sound familiar? We bet it does. There are hundreds of thousands of sophisticated nonprofits facing the same challenge.

    Today, ASCD sends emails differently. They use SMART modules to send different messages to members and non-members in the same email. SMART modules mean saying goodbye forever to accidentally sending two, or even three emails to the same contact because suppressions and segments aren’t working properly. They also build lists based on a users’ interests by tracking certain websites and then segment their users by behaviors and interest. This critical connection between how a user engages with content on-site via landing pages and other content, and the email engagement that’s tailored to their needs, means a standout, holistic experience for ASCD’s teachers, principals, and administrators. 

    Lead-generation has also taken off, with high-quality downloadable content easily gated behind a form that builds ASCD’s contact list by showcasing and repurposing award winning articles. We love to see organizations building reciprocity into their content strategy. This kind of strategic gating keeps content accessible and reinforces ASCD’s position as thought-leaders in their field.

    "We create downloadable content, gate it behind a form, and build our contact list by showcasing and repurposing our award winning articles."

    But—although lead generation rooted in user-needs is impressive—there’s more to this story to get excited about,  because ASCD is focused on developing long-term relationships with its global community. That means that sales and marketing efforts need to work together seamlessly to create a buying experience for prospects that feels well-timed, informed, and thoughtful. It’s not just about leads: It’s about what happens to those contacts after they’re in the door. For nonprofits, ensuring that donors and prospects feel that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing can be the difference between securing a massive contribution or contract, and losing out on pivotal funding.

    ASCD approaches their outreach with trust and care across sales and marketing teams. Their representatives can stop a sequence or workflow when a prospect books a meeting through the Hubspot calendar. And because Hubspot integrates out of the box with SalesForce, when reps update a contact in one place, it updates everywhere. Their marketing team also uses lead scoring based on webpage visits, emails opened, job title, and more to pass well-qualified leads along to the sales reps. And when it comes to engagement once those leads engage? Sales reps can mute marketing emails if they are working with a contact and want to “limit the noise”.

    This kind of cross-team coordination and trust can only be possible when organizations provide a 360 lens on individual engagement. The organization feels that it is able to be better guardians of its users' email inboxes and has seen a drop off of unsubscribes because of it.

    Seamless reporting that fuels endless improvement

    Another common challenge we hear about from nonprofits is a reporting dashboard that brings different teams together through clear reporting. For nonprofits, it’s never just about the data, it’s also about the experience, so qualitative feedback is just as important as quantitative outcomes. ASCD notes that with HubSpot, it is simple to create marketing reports that offer qualitative and quantitative data that show off impressive email performance and creative, social listening reporting, and Google Analytics. Being able to construct and send a cross-team, full-view report has been a fantastic tool for the ASCD team to keep executives and board members apprised of progress towards goals and major successes.

    "We are able to let our users see our best and reinforce our position as a thought leader in the field."

    We’re impressed with how quickly ASCD implemented HubSpot and how they continue to build on the tools available. Today, the Association has seen remarkable results thanks to this growth mindset within a network of support. The team has a consultant that helps with marketing automation efforts and supports the build of workflows, emails, and trainings as well as helps ASCD’s marketing team write better materials. They also have a technical consultant to help their IT team build better integrations with their critical  member database, SalesForce, and other tools.

    Grow Better with HubSpot for Nonprofits

    Our work with HubSpot for Nonprofits is to make sure that nonprofits and associations like ASCD can dream up a strategy, execute it without a headache, and then learn from the results. Learn More about the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development or join our HubSpot for Nonprofits program. Save 40% on the tool that scales your marketing, improves SEO, simplifies reporting, and engages core audiences—all in one place. Learn More

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