The COVID-19 Crisis Is Transforming the Way We Communicate with Buyers. Here’s How.

By Gail Axelrod

How Covid is Transforming the Way We Communicate

Special thanks to Kyle Thelemann for compiling the data cited throughout this post.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, the world slowly, then quickly, and then pretty much all at once, moved online. Now, for virtually every business, your website is your storefront. And there’s no escaping just how important digital has become, nearly overnight.

With so many of us at home, it’s no wonder then why worldwide internet traffic is up 18% since the beginning of the year.

Even looking at data for our own site, the terms ‘coronavirus’ or ‘COVID-19’ were mentioned in conversations through the Drift platform 406 times from January 1 to April 2.

Our new reality has implications far beyond increased web traffic and quirky conversation trends. It means a whole new way of working and interacting with one another. Which also means we need to embrace an entirely new way of buying and selling.

To help you through this journey, we first wanted to dig into the data to see how conversation volume has been impacted by coronavirus. And from there, explore what you can do as a business leader to not just survive, but thrive in this new environment.

Conversation Volume Is Up

Stay-at-home orders around the world have left many businesses either closed entirely or looking for new ways to engage with virtual foot-traffic. One way to do that is through live chat. So it’s not entirely surprising that year-over-year and week-over-week conversation volume through Drift is up.

Year-Over-Year

On the whole, conversation volume across our customer-base is up 79% comparing March 16 – April 20, 2020 to the same six week period, March 18 – April 22, in the year prior.

ConvosPerCustomer-YoY

Week-Over-Week

If we zoom in to look at the data in the weeks immediately leading up to and preceding the stay-at-home orders in the United States (we’re using the week of March 9 and the week of March 16, 2020 though the timing of shelter-in-place directives varied), conversation volume looks like the following:

ConvosPerCustomer-WoW

Blue shows percent increase and pink shows percent decrease. The decrease the week of April 6 likely reflects somewhat of a settling into ‘the new normal.’

This jump is even more drastic than the cumulative increase in conversations per customer over the span of a year cited above. Here, we see that the week-over-week percent change in conversations per customer rose by 26% from the week of March 9 to the week of March 16. This jump points to the abrupt nature by which stay-at-home orders were implemented.

But Do More Conversations Mean More Leads & Meetings?

Looking at the data above, we know that the average number of conversations per customer increased at the start of the COVID outbreak in the US. But does that jump in conversation volume correlate to more leads captured and meetings booked?

According to our data, leads captured per customer rose by 77% when comparing March 16 – April 20, 2020 to the same six week period in the year prior. 

Meetings booked rose similarly, by 45%, comparing the same periods.

So it’s not just that conversations are up, but also that companies are capturing meaningful leads that result in pipeline for their businesses. And in this business environment, that’s a huge win.

How Conversation Volume Changes by Industry

It’s clear by now that coronavirus does not affect all industries the same. Video-conferencing providers have seen interest skyrocket. And demand for food delivery services has skyrocketed. So we wanted to play this out to see if conversation volume also varies across industries. We looked at industries that have seen the biggest increases in conversation volume since the start of the crisis and found the following:

How Covid is Transforming the Way We Communicate - ConvosPerIndustry

As expected, our data shows that conversations for food products providers have soared. While telecom, pharmaceuticals, consumer discretionary spending (likely an uptick in eCommerce), internet software & services, and professional services have also seen upticks in conversation volume.

While it’s not business as usual, for some it’s more business than usual.

What This Means for Your Business & What You Can Do About It

Internet traffic is up. Conversation volume is up. And so are leads captured and meetings booked. And for certain industries, business is booming all around.

While these trends are encouraging, there’s no guarantee that as stay-at-home orders persist and the economic toll grows, the trends will remain. To bolster your business now for the longer-term, you need to think strategically about what your next steps should look like.

We’re now moving into what my colleague, Kate Adams, calls ‘wave 3’ or the ‘Pivoting & Thriving’ wave of this crisis. It’s time for business leaders to shift their go-to-market strategies in order to lead and innovate so that they emerge into the ‘next normal’ in a stronger position than before.

Here are a few opportunities to help you do that:

Display Empathy 

COVID-19 has changed nearly every facet of life, including how we buy and sell. Business leaders need to take these shifts into account when evaluating their own go-to-market strategies. Specifically, incorporating more empathy into sales and marketing outreach, so we can help our buyers, rather than sell to them.

Because simply put, empathy is the gold standard. It has been and always will be. And it’s never been more important. To help you transition your own messaging to be more empathetic, we’ve compiled two email template packs for you to use in your sales and marketing cadences here and here. 

Show Value and Speak to Your Financial Buyer

Crises force us to strip away any excess so we can identify the things that matter most – in both our personal and professional lives. In fact, It’s very likely your own business is evaluating the tools and technology you use and deciding which you truly need to run your business. Your own customers are doing the same. So now is the time to speak to the financial decision maker. Truly show how your product or service delivers value. Change up your messaging to communicate the value you’re driving like increased productivity, improved business agility, better personalization and more.

Implement New Ways to Connect Face-to-Face 

While most of the world is working from home, we’re spending hours of our lives starting into computer screens. Zoom has become a lifeline for many businesses, but all this real-time conferencing can leave little time for much else. So while video is a great way to stay in touch while we’re staying apart, you need to ensure you’re making the most of your and your buyer’s time. That’s where asynchronous video, with tools like Drift Video, comes into play. You’re still able to connect with buyers face-to-face, but you can do it on their terms and timeline.

Double Down on Digital

 By now you know just how important digital is to keeping your business afloat. With in-person events cancelled and typical direct mail and field marketing tactics thrown out the window, it’s time to double down on digital. Think about how you can increase and optimize your efforts on digital channels like SEO and SEM, email, video, virtual events, content marketing, and online advertising. There’s more on how to do exactly that in this post here.

This is a challenging time personally and professionally. No one is sure when or how we’ll emerge. But one thing is certain, challenging times do end and we do overcome the hurdles thrown our way. With a few smart pivots, your business will emerge from this stronger than ever.

Learn how to weather the storm and emerge more resilient on the other side. Get The Marketing & Sales Field Guide for Today’s New Digital Normal featuring real-world lessons from Drift, Gong, Acquia, and Outreach here.

Marketing and Sales Field Guide