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HubSpot Webinar Series Looks At Marketing Strategy Shifts Due To COVID-19

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HubSpot has a new weekly webinar series covering the shifts in marketing and selling strategies they see in response to COVID-19. The Adapt2020 series aims to help businesses build strategies for today's situation and gear up for the new norm facing us.

Update as of April-30-2020

HubSpot released new information! After Weeks of Decline, Sales Metrics Showing Signs of Recovery [COVID-19 Benchmark Data]

"After several weeks of concerning declines in deals created and deals closed, we are cautiously optimistic about this week's data. While it's certainly too early to call these trends a "rebound," the numbers suggest that companies that had paused "business as usual" in the last seven weeks are beginning to move forward in a new normal."

The HubSpot panel of experts changes with each episode, with April 16th's panel welcoming VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer Kipp Bodnar, and VP of Sales Michaell Benfer.


HubSpot compiles marketing and sales information businesses can learn from by aggregating and anonymizing data from their customer base of over 70,000 companies worldwide. This data includes the number of deals closed, sales engagement (are people opening emails or clicking on CTAs, etc.), and general website traffic. Their goal is to clarify trends and provide benchmarks that are happening in real-time. Their compilation captures data from March 2020, which is their benchmark for when the crises began.  

On April 16th's episode, the panel says their initial assessment is that, despite company size, marketing traction and engagement seem to be trending similarly. Some businesses seem to be in a holding pattern and others are actively investing into their future. 

Deal Volume & Sales Engagement

The number of sales deals dropped 28% since March 30, with an 11% drop in the week of April 6, which represented the lowest volume of the year thus far. This appears to be the trend across regions, with

  • North America - declining 3%
  • EMEA - declining 19%
  • Latin America - declining 16%

The panel agrees that the lack of discrepancy across regions, particularly because some regions were farther along in their COVID peak, indicates that we are truly in a global crisis. Sales leaders are advised to focus on strategy no matter where in the world their prospects are. 

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The panel says there have been some surprising movements with startups performing well, with the venture capital community really doubling down on startups in their portfolio and working with them to provide extra funding during this time. They remark that some startups can weather storms because they are so nimble. Smaller businesses can react in real-time because they have less moving parts and management layers to coordinate. It is noted that many startups and small businesses came out on top in the last recession, disrupting established companies and enterprises.  

Buyer and Customer Engagement

What HubSpot Sees With Sales

The panel says the data indicates that sales email volume has dropped for the first time in eight weeks. When the crisis first began, there was a significant uptick in email outreach, with a sustained increase since. Engagement, however, has been extremely low, with only a 2.1% response rate, the lowest response rate of 2020 thus far.

email rates and responses

What HubSpot Sees With Marketing

Marketing outreach has gone up steadily over the past three weeks, with a solid average open rate of 25.5%. This disparity between sales emails and marketing emails is discussed. It appears that because consumer behavior on the internet has changed significantly, there are more engagement opportunities for marketers. Consumers are not commuting, they have more time, and they are spending a lot more time online right now. Marketers have more of an audience as a result compared to sales staff who currently have to be wary of offending prospects with sales pitches during a pandemic.  

email rates and responses_2

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How HubSpot Teams Altered Their Outreach

The panel discusses their outreach approach, noting that overall they reduced emails, edited automated emails for tone and relevancy, and switched to using casual and friendly ways of communication, like Messenger and chat, more. They have also ramped up education, which aligns with the huge increase in demand for online education right now. Consumers are looking for value, education, and empathy in today's climate.  

The panel offers outreach tips such as:

  • Personalize communication as much as possible - you want to come off as sincere and helpful.
  • Get feedback from existing customers - try and understand their needs right now and how you can help. This will help guide your new marketing strategy.
  • Prioritize outreach to prospects that are engaging with your company. 
  • In reaching out via any cold outreach, target businesses that are the least affected by COVID - perhaps you can help them optimize their business and remain strong.   

Monthly Website Stats

email rates and responses_3

The average monthly website traffic increased by 13% in March compared to February. The panel believes some of these numbers are due to March being the end of the first quarter, and a lot of traffic reflects people researching and evaluating the quarter. However, the bulk of the traffic they attribute to people accessing education. 

Good CTAs to Use Right Now

The HubSpot team recommends anything educational, be it eBooks, webinars, or online classes, is a good CTA to use in this environment. And of course, anything that adds value and isn't too "salesy" may resonate well. For example, if you have reduced pricing or free services in response to COVID, that may work well as a CTA. The panel recommends pushing back using any new releases as CTAs as these can be perceived as irrelevant right now.   

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Where Are Your Prospects Right Now?

The panel talks about the fact that the number of Facebook Messenger and chat-type conversations are up quite a bit since the start of the crisis, although there was a small dip the week of April 6. They encourage businesses to make sure prospects who are looking for answers have information and access to sales staff readily available. It is a good idea to be more open during this time to prospects seeking details and pricing. A lot of this can be accomplished with one-to-one videos, automatic meeting scheduling, and automated bots.  

email rates and responses_4

Offering The Right Education 

Do the research (again) in light of what your prospectives are searching for now. What are their pain points and opportunities in light of what is going on? And then generate educational content that fits those needs. This process does not need to cost a lot of money or take a lot of effort. The panel note that this webinar episode, for example, took them just a few days to put together. Another tip is to make use of sales staff, who are less busy right now, to help create educational content. 

Using Downtime Wisely 

Another strategy discussed is using downtime to work on your marketing in general. Create the sales tools that you've not had time to create. Assess marketing processes and current material for improvement opportunities. Research marketing tactics that perform well that you've not incorporated before, such as video. Video is noted as offering the tremendous value of personalized outreach, which resonates well with prospectives.  

The panel concludes the episode saying right now marketers need to focus on nurturing those long term relationships, and part of that strategy may include freezing monthly subscriptions and accounts. It is much easier (and cheaper) to build loyalty with existing business than to start with a cold lead. 


Additional Resources:

Coronavirus Canceled Your Trade Show, Don't Let it Destroy the Year
HubSpot Sequences vs. Workflows: What's the Difference?
Startup Marketing Technical Tasks - Website Tracking
11 Actionable Marketing Tactics We Learned from Inbound 

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