How Parabol Connects Content and Product to Drive Growth
Parabol’s vision is to deliver a future of work that is more human, people-oriented, and connected. Their product, an agile meeting co-pilot, improves the way agile teams work together by moving rituals—such as retrospectives and estimation meetings—online. By using Parabol, teams can save time preparing for these meetings and make sure they stay on track, ensuring better meetings that are worth the time invested by teams.
By switching from HubSpot’s CMS Hub to WordPress VIP, Parabol improved their teams’ experience of creating content, and saw significant improvements in website performance. This resulted in improved customer experience, better agility and performance, and improved conversion from content to product usage.
- Better site performance
- Improved user experience with less friction
- Easier content creation, empowering entire team to build content
- Easier repurposing of existing content
Content at the center of business growth
As businesses have shifted increasingly to remote work, Parabol has seen a dramatic increase in their own business. “We saw a big spike in interest and usage, particularly in early 2020 with the onset of the COVID pandemic,” said Aviva Pinchas, Head of Growth at Parabol. “We’ve managed to maintain that growth. Once customers start using Parabol, they find it really improves how they work, and they tend to stick around. One of our teams’ main goals right now is getting as many folks as possible to try out Parabol.”
Parabol uses a bottoms-up, product-led adoption model. Their users are always in control of their own journey. They can immediately start using the product for free with no commitment and no restrictions on the number of users or meetings. When customers exceed two teams using the product, they switch to a paid plan.
“When it comes to acquiring users, we don’t think aggressive advertising is the way to go,” said Pinchas. “We focus on helpful content that addresses the real problems agile teams face. We want to provide immediate value but also make it easy for teams to try our product. The keys are 1) delivering a high volume of content tuned to a variety of topics, 2) making this content easily discoverable, and 3) making the transition from reading content to using the product seamless. Our product does the rest.”
Existing HubSpot CMS holding them back
From the early days of the company, Parabol relied on HubSpot’s CMS. “In many ways, HubSpot was like an architectural dig,” said Pinchas. “There were so many layers of things we had built over the years. We were struggling to make changes to move our brand and our storytelling forward.”
Furthermore, the existing CMS held back every element of their acquisition funnel. Parabol’s content creators found the editorial experience poor and clunky. “Even simple things like adding a column required us to change the page template,” said Pinchas. “Content is a key strategy for us—we didn’t have everything we needed to create great content. Our team was being dragged down by fiddling with the CMS, rather than getting to focus on sharing insights and telling stories.”
Once content was created, the CMS stood in the way of effective promotion and content repurposing. “HubSpot treated blog posts and pages as completely separate things, so we couldn’t reuse modules between them,” said Pinchas. “It was also surprisingly hard to show content from one part of the site to another. If I’m building a lot of content, I want to be able to surface it across the site. I want it to be dynamic, so that, for example, we can easily pull in recent blog posts on a relevant topic to a landing page about that topic.”
Both search engine optimization and user experience were impacted by weak performance. “Our website was quite slow,” said Pinchas. “We did try to optimize HubSpot, but it’s a closed system. At the end of the day, there’s going to be a performance upper limit because we don’t have control over the whole stack.”
Finally, the CMS introduced friction into the handoff from content to product. “To try our product, you have to click off into our app,” said Pinchas. “In the future, we want to show the product directly on the website, embedding the app into a page or using components from the app on the site. HubSpot couldn’t do that.”
WordPress VIP: Improving content and user experience
In 2021, Parabol decided to overhaul their website. “We had grown so much and were going to do a redesign anyway,” said Pinchas. “We had evolved our old site but we wanted to represent ourselves as a more mature brand without losing the sense of being welcoming and fun. The time was right to move to a CMS that better fit the needs of a growing, content-driven company.”
After an evaluation, Parabol selected Happy Cog, a WordPress VIP Gold Agency Partner, as their agency, and WordPress VIP as their platform of choice. “We definitely wanted WordPress as our core CMS because it would make it much easier to create content, to share it across channels, and to embed our product fully into the experience,” said Pinchas. “At first we thought WordPress VIP might be overkill for a company our size, but performance was extremely important to us. They worked hard to earn our business.”
Happy Cog fit well with the Parabol philosophy. “We’re an agile company,” said Pinchas. “Many agencies want complete designs for everything handed to them upfront. That’s not how we work. We wanted to design a bit, build a bit, give feedback, and then continue the design process. Happy Cog was not only willing to work that way, they also understood why we wanted to.”
A technical partnership addressing their unique needs
Parabol has a unique technical architecture that Happy Cog worked to integrate with WordPress VIP. Even though Parabol was moving off HubSpot’s CMS, they would still be using HubSpot’s CRM and marketing automation. Leveraging WordPress plugins, they were able to easily make these pieces work seamlessly together.
Parabol also relies on Segment as their customer data platform (CDP). “We want enough data—in every tool— so we can see the big picture,” said Pinchas. Parabol takes traffic data from WordPress VIP and uses Segment to connect it with Google Analytics, Amplitude, HubSpot Analytics, and other parts of their marketing stack.
Finally, Parabol needed unique content taxonomies to support their business. “One example of this is for our job postings. We’re hiring pretty consistently, we’re a remote company and we hire all over the world,” said Pinchas. “However, we still have certain team meetings that everyone is expected to attend, regardless of time zone. Therefore, for every job post, we have a category ‘team’—meeting times are set based on that category. That way, when a team updates their unique meeting time, every job posting on that team is automatically updated. That lets potential team members know what the calendar commitments are before they apply.” Similarly, Parabol built specific types of content like resources, support pages, team member bios, and more, each with their own structures and properties.
Improved content agility and performance
After shifting to WordPress VIP, Parabol saw an immediate improvement in several key areas. “People, internally and externally, gave us compliments on our site, both on performance and experience,” said Pinchas. Desktop performance immediately saw a dramatic improvement on the new platform; mobile performance saw a more muted improvement. After investigation, Parabol identified the HubSpot plugin as the root cause. Parabol is currently implementing WordPress forms that will send data to HubSpot as a high-performance alternative.
Parabol was also able to empower their team to more easily create content. “Every employee in our company builds content,” said Pinchas. “In fact, we have a weekly blog post called Friday Ship that we rotate between employees. Developers, operations folks, salespeople and marketers—everyone gets a turn. Before WordPress VIP, I had to give detailed workaround instructions to everyone for how to get this published. I frequently ended up apologizing, saying ‘I’m so sorry you have to know this.’ The week after we launched on WordPress VIP, our director of operations wrote our weekly Friday Ship without training—and flawlessly. That’s how easy content creation is on WordPress VIP.”
By moving to WordPress VIP and partnering with Happy Cog, Parabol improved their teams’ experience of creating content, and saw significant improvements in website performance. “We improved ease of creating content, content repurposing, flexibility, and performance by moving to WordPress VIP,” said Pinchas. “For a content-driven business with a bottoms-up adoption model, that makes a massive difference.”