How COVID-19 affected HubSpot customers: ‘People wanted to hear from marketers’

Data shows positive audience response to inbound and outbound marketing, but response to sales emails lagged.

HubSpot this week provided extensive insights into the effects of COVID-19 on digital businesses by aggregating second-quarter data from its 70,000-plus customer base.

The data confirmed:

  • A notable growth in web traffic (18% for Q2 over Q1);
  • A steady rise in chat volume, peaking in late May, and showing an overall increase of 31% for Q2 over Q1;
  • Very strong marketing email open rates, currently at 32% above pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • A contrasting fall of between 25 and 30% in response rates to sales emails.

There’s little doubt that, tragic though the effects of the pandemic continue to be, digital commerce was well-placed to serve the needs of a remote audience. We spoke with HubSpot VP of Marketing Jon Dick about the implications of the findings.

Good news for marketing. “The biggest and most obvious takeaway, in my opinion, is that companies that invested in a really good online presence really benefited when the world suddenly found itself sitting at home looking at the computer all day,” said Dick. “We saw a huge spike in traffic to our customers’ websites starting the week of March 15. There was a peak in mid-April of about 24% above benchmark. Companies that invested in really good email marketing also benefited.”

The shocking email statistic, for Dick, was that the open rate actually trended up with volume of marketing emails sent. “That almost never happens,” he said. “Traditionally, if you send more emails, your open rate goes down.”

A struggle for sales. The sales story is less happy, with many brands pausing decision-making on purchases. When sales teams responded by increasing the volume of emails sent (up 44% for Q2 over Q1), the response rate crashed. “People wanted to hear from marketers; they did not want to hear from sales reps.”

Dick describes the pandemic as having a polarizing effect on commerce. “Computer software has done pretty well, consumer goods has done okay, manufacturing above benchmark. But entertainment, travel, human resources have all totally tanked. This recession has definitely been harder on some industries than others.”

Why we care. It’s been easy to speculate about the possible effects of COVID-19 on businesses, and on their sales and marketing efforts. Enough time has now passed for us to have meaningful data showing what has actually taken place. More detail, including a link to the data, can be found here.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.

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About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech Today. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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