A Dramatic Spike in Online Learning
TutorOcean was using various manual systems to manage its business, such as Gmail lists, spreadsheets, and MailChimp.
“We stapled these tools together as best as we could,” says Jonathan Milne, VP of Product and Partnership, “but it was far from ideal.”
TutorOcean’s online tutoring platform worked so well for tutors and students of all ages, the company started offering it as a B2B service called QuadC to colleges and universities as a way to connect professors and students to academic student support services.
“Our volume of contacts increased suddenly as soon as we landed that first client,” says Joanna Huang, Marketing Communications Strategist at TutorOcean. “We couldn’t handle the workload with our mishmash of one-off tools.”
With such a surge of interest, manual segmentation and management of contacts was time consuming and prone to errors.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced institutions of higher learning to pivot to online support services, demand for TutorOcean’s QuadC platform exploded.
“COVID forced us to get going sooner than we might have otherwise,” says Jonathan. “With such huge demand, we couldn’t keep managing our pipeline or communicating with clients with Gmail and spreadsheets.”
At the same time, TutorOcean increased the size of its sales and marketing team, which also underscored the need for a new approach.
“Expanding from one sales rep to many was a strong signal that we needed a more workable solution,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan looked for a solution that would be easy to set up and use, because not everyone on his growing sales and marketing team had a strong technical background.
He also wanted to keep sales, marketing and support on one platform to facilitate collaboration and achieve greater efficiencies.
Initially, Jonathan worried he wouldn’t find a solution that met these criteria with his limited budget. Still, he didn’t want to go through the hassle of setting up and moving everyone to a “free” solution that couldn’t scale.
“A lot of the free tools out there are deadends,” says Jonathan. “You can’t grow with them, and it becomes a throwaway investment.”
TutorOcean’s executive team initially considered Marketo and Pardot, but neither platform met its requirements. In contrast, the HubSpot CRM platform checked all the boxes, making it an easy choice.
“We ultimately chose HubSpot because it's easy to set up and train internal users. It also came with a lot of out-of-box functionality that we could use from day one, including live chat, landing pages, and the ability to create website sub-domains for marketing campaigns. HubSpot connected our core internal workflows between sales, marketing and support into one. It’s a budget friendly option that can scale with us at an unbelievably fair price—and our non-technical team members find it super easy to use!”
Jonathan concurs that HubSpot for Startups was an easy and affordable way to get started while still having the ability to scale.
“HubSpot isn’t a one-off, even though its CRM is free,” says Jonathan. “It’s a strong foundation on which you can build.”
An Affordable and Scalable Solution
The most important benefits for Jonathan and his team are:
Ability to test channels
The ability to quickly and easily test different modules and functions is critical to TutorOcean as its client base expands. It makes it easy for Jonathan and his team to experiment with different channels.
“We built integrated email campaigns. We started sharing on social media. We ran ads and built landing pages for them. HubSpot allows us to turn everything on, experiment and see what works.”
Through this process, TutorOcean discovered that live chat is a perfect channel for communicating with top-of-funnel prospects, especially for their global tutoring marketplace.
“Not everyone wants to fill out a form or sit through a live demo,” says Jonathan. “But chat is a great light-touch entry point to start a conversation. We’re reaping the benefits of that discovery.”
API integrations are also critical to TutorOcean’s success.
Jonathan’s team is using Events API and Contacts API to connect seamlessly with other software systems and segment contacts for emails and workflows, which has reduced delays and errors.
“We have two distinct business lines,” says Jonathan, “and we can’t make the mistake of sending the wrong message to the wrong person. It would look awful if we sent a message for parents to our higher-ed QuadC clients, for instance. So the ability to segment accurately and efficiently with HubSpot is huge.”
500% Growth in Leads Since COVID-19
With the HubSpot CRM platform, TutorOcean has grown its business 400 to 500%.
“Every data point has grown dramatically since COVID-19, including contacts, new students, and tutors, and we’ve been able to do it without skipping a beat,” says Will Li, Co-Founder and CEO, TutorOcean.
Even at this amazing rate of growth, TutorOcean has decreased time spent segmenting lists by 33%.
“I was spending a third of my time segmenting contacts, cleaning lists and asking our engineering team for help with the database,” says Joanna. “Today, I’m using that time to develop strategy, create content and increase engagement. Today, I can focus on strategy and tasks that support the business.”
For Will, the value of the HubSpot CRM platform is indisputable:
“The challenge for startups is that you need the tools before you can afford them. But HubSpot solved that ‘chicken-and-egg’ problem for us. It’s a top-tier tool that grows with you, without huge initial investment costs,” says Will.