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How Tumblr Uses HubSpot to Connect with Millions of Users

Tumblr’s platform is all about helping users discover valuable and interesting content. But outside the platform, the marketing team had no way to deepen that connection. With HubSpot, Tumblr can build lists to send targeted personalized emails and keep users engaged.

  • 2x number of original posts per user

  • 3x number of likes per user

  • 5x number of reblogs per user


Since it was first founded in 2007, Tumblr has been the home of fandom, art, and the internet’s favorite things.


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    The home of fandom 

    On Tumblr, content has always been king. Ever since the platform was first founded in 2007, discovery of new and interesting fandom content and artwork—the two things the platform is most known for—has relied heavily on users finding, loving, and reblogging that content for other users to discover. 

    Tumblr is historically less algorithm-driven than other social media platforms. “Getting a piece of content you liked in front of someone really required you to do the heavy lifting and reblog it,” CMO Matthew Ryan explains.

    Even today, when the algorithm does more of the work than in the past, a lot of discovery happening on the site is still user driven. “Users don't have to rely on everyone reblogging content that they are interested in in order to see it, but it's still the heart and soul of the platform,” Matthew says. 

    Connecting users to that content that they love right from the beginning is vital to retain and increase Daily Active Users (DAU), which in turn helps Tumblr increase revenue through ad spend and purchases.


    Introducing newbies to the culture

    Tumblr has always been known for having its own unique culture and inside jokes that can be very different from other platforms. “New users can be a little bit intimidated by the lore of Tumblr,” Matthew says. “They can feel a bit like outsiders who don’t quite understand how the platform works, because there are some big nuances.” 

    One of the marketing team’s goals is to help those new users learn and enjoy the platform. “We want to make them feel at home,” Matthew says. “We want them to feel that Tumblr is a cozy and enjoyable place that feels like a safe space for them, where they can get great content.”


    Targeting for better engagement 

    The key to helping users discover engaging content is targeting and segmentation: Getting the right content in front of the right users at the right time helps them find the value in the platform. 

    The product team does this on Tumblr itself. But outside of the platform, it’s up to the marketing team to keep users engaged. 

    When Matthew first started as Tumblr’s CMO, there was no easy way for the marketing team to do that outside of the platform. “They were looking at various audience cohorts and tailoring messaging wherever they could, but there wasn't a clear, easy to use, accessible platform shared across the marketing team,” Matthew says. 

    Emails had to be built out through the API by engineers, which added technical complexity when speed was of the essence. If they couldn’t be nimble and move quickly, Tumblr missed out on opportunities to engage with trending topics. 

    The marketing team needed a better solution to connect with their users.


    HubSpot: The key to connection 

    HubSpot makes it much easier for Tumblr to serve users content they’ll love—and in doing so, it helps the platform create a deeper, more engaged connection with those users. “In the most simplistic sense, we use HubSpot to get the right content to the right user. But the power in that is phenomenal,” Matthew says. “It dictates all kinds of metrics for us, including ad revenue, engagement levels, retention rates, whether users are likely to buy our ad free or TumblrMart products.” 

    With HubSpot, the marketing team can build lists, segment their audience based on their interests, and send daily targeted emails to automatically share interesting content on those topics with their users, without any coding or engineering support.


    Onboarding emails 

    In addition to sending out daily targeted emails, Tumblr also created an onboarding workflow to help new users become familiar with the platform’s features and culture. 

    “If a user signs up and stops engaging with the platform, we’ll start sending tips,” Matthew explains. “We’ll pick ones that resonate with what the user is doing on the platform. If they haven’t reblogged, we’ll explain what a reblog is. If they haven’t followed enough tags, we’ll show them how to set up their dashboard.”

    They also use their communications to help users understand Tumblr’s culture, which is different from other social media sites and can sometimes feel intimidating to new users. “We want them to feel at home,” Matthew says. “We want Tumblr to be a cozy and enjoyable place that feels safe for them, and that puts great content in front of them.”


    Higher engagement with HubSpot 

    Tumblr uses a non-HubSpot control group to compare user engagement, so Matthew and his team can make a side-by-side comparison between Tumblr users in and outside of HubSpot. 

    And those results are unequivocal: Users within HubSpot are more engaged across the board. 

    Compared to the control group, users in HubSpot make: 

    • 2x the number of original posts per user
    • 3x the number of likes per user
    • 5x the number of reblogs per user
    • 3.5x the time spent per user

    They also see a 50% increase in first-week return rate compared to non-HubSpot users.

    “HubSpot allows that clear connection between great content and the user themselves, even off the platform. It’s a win-win situation. When we can connect with users off the platform in an email, we're providing that valuable content, that stuff that really resonates with users and we're taking it outside of the Tumblr space. And that's where the value is. And hopefully, that's deepening every connection,” Matthew concludes.

    HubSpot allows that connection between great content and the user themselves, even off the platform…We're providing that valuable content that resonates with users and taking it outside of the Tumblr space.
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