While it may feel like forever, the coronavirus pandemic has been with us for less than 8 months. An unwelcome guest from hell, it has worked its way into almost every facet of our lives and has dramatically impacted not just the business landscape, but how we conduct critical aspects of business activity.
Obviously impacted have been travel, leisure, entertainment, hospitality, education, and healthcare (not an exhaustive list). But also B2B businesses. Dramatically curtailed in person interaction has resulted in across-the-board cancellation of physical trade shows and conferences, the derailment of most face-to-face customer meetings, non-existent business lunches, dinners, and other networking, and of course, the ongoing work from home paradigm. All have had a substantial impact on how marketing and sales teams are finding and working with prospects and new customers.
Business Did Not Stop (Of Course)
So how have marketing and sales adapted? Well, luckily our friends at HubSpot have a global customer base of over 70,000 companies and through their platform, a treasure trove of activity data. Most helpfully, they are able to aggregate all this activity data and provide a lens into how business metrics have changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. You can see and play with all the data here or read below for a quick overview. And while we chose to focus on North American activity, you’ll see from the graphs that the dataset is global.
Website Traffic and Online Chat
Conventional wisdom suggests that during COVID, your website would take on an even greater level of prominence and the data bears that out. Since the early days of the pandemic, North American website traffic has consistently maintained an increase of 20%+ over pre-COVID levels and since September, has hovered in the 30%+ range. Prospects are relying on your website more and marketers are engaging in activity to drive more traffic there.
What’s really fascinating is the degree by which online chat has increased. Site visitor initiated website chat sessions are running nearly double from pre-COVID levels. Prospects and customers are finding your website and using chat to engage.
While often declared dead, email remains an indispensable tool for marketing and sales and if you’re like me, you’ve noticed an uptick in the volume of email arriving in your inbox. Sales email sends are running at a 100%+ increase since pre-COVID levels.
However, sales email response rates have plummeted. This likely has more to do with the vastly increased volume than it does with the effectiveness of the channel. Still, the lesson here is to make these emails count and mix up the touch cadence (while we don’t have the data, anecdotally, LinkedIn Inmail volume also appears to be on the rise).
Like sales email volume, marketing email campaign volume has also rapidly increased since pre-COVID levels but at lower rate (about 1/2 the volume increase compared to sales).
Marketing email open rates however are performing much better than sales emails and running between a 10% and 20% increase from pre-COVID levels.
The data shows that all of this marketing and sales activity, along with an economy that is re-opening (although with an uncertain future as of publication), is finally generating results. The volume of new pipeline deals has increased on average between 10% and 20% since pre-COVID levels (unfortunately the data does not reveal trends in deal size).
And while improved since the earliest days of the pandemic, particularly over the summer months, the volume of deals actually closing are running at or below pre-COVID levels. Uncertainty around the pandemic, the 2020 election and ultimately the economy are likely factors driving this lackluster volume.
The Data Never Stops
HubSpot continuously updates their data on a weekly basis making this an extremely useful tool for marketing and sales teams. And while trends seems to be pointing mostly positive, there will no doubt be interesting fluctuations as the election plays out, we continue to make our way through this third wave of COVID cases, and more therapeutics—and hopefully a vaccine—come online.