Your prospects are continuing to increase their control over the buyer’s journey, enabled by the internet and the work from home culture. That said, it makes sense for marketers to confirm our understanding of how buyers respond to your marketing activities. A few key data points, culled from a large and well-selected cohort, can provide to Freelancers and others who oversee marketing or sales functions valid insights into how buyers are responding to commonly used inbound and outbound marketing tactics in the post-COVID marketplace.
The content marketing company HubSpot, based near Boston, MA, began collecting marketing and sales outcomes data from its 100,000 + customers in January 2020 which was, as it turned out, a most interesting time to begin. Barely three months later the world would change radically. Billion dollar industries, most notably travel, hotel, restaurant and fitness, would crater. Those enterprises lucky enough to have survived, or thrived, have entered a changed business environment.
Benchmark data can provide guide posts that help you to get your bearings in the new business environment. The post-shutdown business climate demands a recalibrated understanding of customer expectations. How do prospects and customers want to experience the buyer’s journey now? How do they want to be sold? Find answers here in May 2021 data.
- Sales meetings. The number of sales meetings in May 2021 (overwhelmingly made by videoconference call) was 21% higher than what was done last May and have risen 18% since March of this year. Knees were buckling in March 2020 and nearly every company was reeling, including those that were emerging as winners, such as grocery and liquor stores. Small business owners and leaders tended to reach out to customers sooner than larger companies. It is theorized that small business owners immediately realized that if they wanted their venture to survive, it was imperative that a plan to generate revenue had to be put into action, which usually meant figuring out a polite way to contact customers (I did the same). May 2020 was not the time to pursue new business, but rather to offer empathy and reinforce relationships that one hoped could be leveraged at some point, including relationships with those who cancelled contracts just 60 days previously.
- Prospecting. Small business (1-25 employees) got busy prospecting at a frequency that was 31% higher in May 2021 compared to May 2020 and up 26% as compared to March 2021. Companies with 26-200 employees also saw an increase in prospecting activity of 18% as compared to May 2020, with a 17% increase as compared to March 2021.
- Website traffic. Perfect your landing page! Website traffic was 34% higher in May 2021 than it was in May 2020. Further, website traffic increased by 25% between March and May 2021. Online shopping of various kinds, from home decor at Wayfair to the take-out dinner you’ll pick up in 20 minutes at a favorite local restaurant seems to have accounted for a big chunk of the increase. Software companies accounted for 51% of website traffic seen by HubSpot customers.
- Chat bot. Speaking of your website’s landing page, a useful tool to add there would be a chat bot. Business moved online in a big way in March 2020, but the trend has been building for 20 years. Business owners and marketers are stepping up the functionality of company websites and adding a chat bot is a leading upgrade. Customers appreciate them because through chat, they’re able to get basic questions answered quickly and without paging through the website, which can be time-consuming. The volume of chat conversations rose 16% year-over-year May 2021 compared to May 2020.
- Marketing emails. Reports of the death of email marketing have been greatly exaggerated and marketers are reinvesting in the genre (again!). Since the start of the pandemic shutdown in mid-March 2020, marketing email volume has increased 49% through May 2021 and is 52% higher pre-COVID volume. The open rate hovers at around 15% and that is 10% – 20% higher than April 2021.
- Sales outcomes. U.S. Businesses adapted extremely well to the numerous protocols required by the shutdown, most dramatically demonstrated by the quick and often well- executed pivot to working from home. America means business! However, unreliable cash-flow prevented many customers from buying and that resulted in sluggish sales revenue in many organizations. In April 2020, sales outcomes bottomed out at 36% lower than 1Q20 benchmarks. Positive sales outcomes rose gradually throughout 2020 and May 2021 finished with a 10% increase in deals done (national or international companies). Deal creation (proposals) climbed 35% above benchmark.
So how do these statistics apply to you? They definitively show that the shutdown has ended, that money is being made agin and that you can make money again, too. Reboot your operation by using what have become standard marketing and sales strategies and actions.
Develop a powerful digital presence for your company. Employ Inbound and Outbound marketing and sales tactics. Optimize your website to help prospects easily find information about your products and services. Post and distribute relevant marketing content to confirm your expertise. Send emails to promote engagement with customers and prospects. Work hard, work smart.
Thanks for reading,
Image: A young lady gets serious about researching benchmark data.