HubSpot has measured aggregated sales and marketing platform activity across its 70,000 customers since the pandemic began and benchmarking this activity against the pre-COVID level (January through early March). Looking back at Q2, CMO Kipp Bodnar noted that “the data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.”
Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer,” commented Bodnar. “While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.”
Marketing email open rates are up ten to twenty percent above pre-COVID levels, with the last week of June running 18% above the baseline.
Sales teams have been less successful in their outbound communications. While sales emails have risen 60% since mid-March, “response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.”
Sales email open rates are down 25 to 30%. “As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes,” warned Bodnar. “So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.”
“Volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.”HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar
Website traffic increased during the pandemic as decisionmakers and influencers began working from home. Global site traffic is up 16% in Q2 vs. Q1 with it peaking at 24% above the benchmark on April 20th. Software industry site traffic is running at 40% above pre-pandemic levels.
Customer-initiated chat levels have also risen sharply during the pandemic. Total volume is up 31% over the pre-pandemic baseline, with every measured industry seeing increased volume. “Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support,” observed Bodnar.
Call prospecting has dropped significantly during the pandemic as it has become more difficult to reach individuals who are now working at home. Call prospecting fell as much as 27% below baseline the week of April 6th and now is down around 9%. Before COVID, there was a rough balance between phone and email prospecting, but in Q2, email activity doubled that of phone calls. “Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates,” argued Bodnar.
Deal Creation has improved in eight of the eleven weeks since April 6th, with deal creation up the past four weeks. APAC deal creation was down 5% in Q2, North America down 6%, EMEA down 12%, and LATAM down 12%. Large companies have recovered deal creation activity faster than small firms. Computer Software deal creation was down 3% in Q2.
Deal Won has improved ten of the last eleven weeks, after dropping to 36% below baseline the week of April 6th. For the full quarter, deals won were down 11%. Smaller firms did best at closing deals, with larger firms posting the weakest performance, likely due to large firms selling a greater percentage of high-dollar, strategic deals that would have stalled in their pipeline. Computer software Q2 was 14% above baseline, but this probably overstates industry performance due to Q1 often being the slowest month of the year and the loss of many “hockey stick” end of quarter deals at the end of Q1 as the pandemic struck. Some of these likely slipped into Q2.
Bodnar provided three suggestions for Q3: invest in chat, shift from quantity to quality in sales prospecting and communications, and invest in online discoverability.