Return to all articles

How Santa hacked Christmas - a growth marketing guide

We interviewed Mr. Claus to see how his business is using technology to bounce back from COVID this Christmas, from HubSpot naughty and nice active lists to present management on Shopify.

(if this doesn't make sense, have a look here)

COVID-19 has affected all businesses. Even Santa's festive empire has fallen on tough times, and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest of the gang have started to look for alternative opportunities:

We recently interviewed Mr. Claus to see how his business is using technology to bounce back this Christmas. From HubSpot naughty and nice active lists to present management on Shopify, Santa walks us through his tech stack.

Q. Mr. Claus, how are you coping with delivering a great Christmas during such difficult times?

We've had to get with the times! I'm old school, and have been doing this since long before you were born. I guess you could say that we've been stuck in our ways, but when COVID first hit, we knew that needed to change.

Technology has allowed us to work more efficiently, and with reduced staff. We have been using Zapier to automate lots of laborious tasks, and we now use Bamboo HR to manage all of the elves.

Santa has bounced back impressively since the virus first hit.

Q: So what does your tech stack look like?

There are tons of great platforms out there, but we have a few personal favourites. We use HubSpot as our CRM and for our analytics, Shopify for keeping track of presents and inventory, Bamboo HR managing the elves and Snackcess for keeping them happy while working from home.

Q: Quite a line up! What platform or service has saved you the most time?

I'm a big fan of Hubspot. We used to employ thousands of elves in the data science team, who would go and collect information on which kids had been naughty, and which had been nice. It was a thankless task and required tons of field work which of course wasn't possible when lockdown started.

We upgraded to Hubspot's marketing professional subscription, and set up lead scoring using workflows. It meant that we could associate scores with certain behaviors, so when a kid was badly behaved, it would automatically lower their behavior score. We then use active lists (for the naughty and nice lists) which automatically filter the kids based on their behavior score.

When the big day comes the good kids get sent a present request call-to-action, and the bad kids get an automated email letting them know of the bad news, and what behaviors let them down.

Q: At least you provide constructive feedback! How does the present request work? It sounds a bit more modern than kids leaving lists in their fireplaces.

Oh it is, and believe me, I don't miss having to squeeze down those chimneys! It just felt so antiquated, you know? Like all these kids have phones and laptops... and this felt more inclusive to the inner city kids who might not have a chimney. They all receive an email with a CTA that directs them to our Shopify store, where they can pick out their dream present.

Q: Do you use any clever Shopify tools?

We're actually Shopify Plus users, so have access to Shopify flow. We use Flow and the Scribeless Shopify app to automatically send 'handwritten' Christmas cards to the kids. They love 'em! And since the Scribeless AI learnt my handwriting none of them can tell that it isn't me!

Q: That's cool - how did you get to use your handwriting?

It was super easy - I got in touch with the guys at Scribeless and they gave me some instructions on what I should write down to learn all the nuances of my writing. In a few weeks it was ready, and I couldn't believe the likeness! I ordered a sample and gave it to Mrs. Claus with a note I wrote myself, and she couldn't tell the difference!

Q: How have you coped with working from home?

I've always worked from home so for me it wasn't a huge change, but for the Elves it was a bit of a shock. We had to send all of the toy-making kit to their homes, and it was pretty hard to keep the Christmas cheer going after we had to cancel the big Christmas party.

Employee and elf well-being is one of my number one priorities, so we had to look for alternative ways to keep them happy at home. Bamboo HR has been great at keeping track of all the elves without muddling through a load of spreadsheets.

They love it too - they can track how long they've worked so they know when they've earned a well deserved break. The North Pole can get pretty chilly, so every now and again I can't begrudge them a couple days in the sun!

Q: Did you find any good ways of maintaining moral for your employees?

Snackcess are a great asset to us for making sure the elves stay full of morale this year - and I think we'll be using them long after the pandemic stops too! The elves are used to gorging themselves on chocolate coins and pigs in blankets, but Snackcess really opened our eyes to healthy snacking, and the elves seem to feel much more energised as a result!

This year we are also sending handwritten Christmas cards to all of the elves to say thank you for their work in this especially hard period. It hasn't been an easy time for anyone, so we wanted to make them know we still really value their work.

Scribeless have just started offering Christmas cards, so we've got a thank you campaign in the works right now. The custom merge fields mean I can even thank elves who have been working on different toys without having to create more than one campaign!

Q: Great, well thanks for this Mr. Claus. I'll leave you to make the presents - hope you and the team have a great Christmas!

You're welcome - Merry Christmas to you too!

Featured articles