Led by our co-founder Chris Mechanic, our weekly virtual roundtable discussions brought together a select group of Chief Marketing Officers to discuss how COVID-19 has changed their businesses. We’ve found that smaller groups give people more time to talk, and so this session featured:

  • Amit Pande, Aviso
  • Bethany Allee, Cybera
  • Christine Washburn, Berkshire Grey
  • David Roth, FDS, Inc.

Here are the highlights of this week’s discussion:

  • One CMO has been seeing up to 45% open rates in their email marketing campaigns, which is something they’ve never seen before or managed to achieve through any other marketing tactic. They also observe increased engagement in long-form blog content (sometimes a 6+ minute page duration), which may be inferred to mean that people now have more free time to read things online than they did before COVID-19. The real issue the CMO is having with this, however, is finding a polite way of getting their visitors to express an interest in their solutions while they’re on the site.
    • Two other CMOs were able to confirm this trend of higher email open rates, with one stating that their rates have increased from 20% to 40%, coupled with a 10% conversion rate.
  • “Day in the life”-style videos have worked very well in humanizing business executives and selling a solution.
  • It is currently an insensitive time to send physical mail. One CMO has over 200 marketing letters that automatically play videos when you open them. Because of the current climate, however, they can’t send them out.
  • Free assessments that showcase what your solution can do have performed well during COVID-19. Unlike other economic contractions, more people than ever are now stuck at home, meaning that right now, there are more people shopping around – but fewer people ready to buy – than there have ever been before. Many Software-as-a-Service companies are offering free features right now, in hopes of obtaining prospects and eventually turning them into customers, once consumer confidence returns.
  • In the digital marketing industry, COVID-19 has not notably affected customer churn and sales pipeline.
  • Larger companies seem to be more conservative in their spending than mid-market companies are.
  • COVID-19 has also forced CMOs to ask themselves the question, “Why are we doing what we’re doing?” more than they have ever before.
  • One CMO is performing more frequent virtual check-ins with their team members.
  • The number of orders that some software companies receive has gone up during COVID-19.
  • Video marketing is going to be important moving forward, so CMOs are now considering adding that tactic into their mix, as they look ahead to the future.
  • One CMO is investing more into SEO and SEM, while also considering other “blue ocean” channels, such as YouTube ads.
  • One has made an increase in customer communication from six-week cadences to two weeks. Open rates have remained high, and the CMO plans to keep this same frequency even after COVID-19 ends.
  • Your existing customer list is your most under-utilized and valuable resource. You can leverage it for cross-sells, upsells, deepening relationships, partnerships, and referrals.
  • Right now, one CMO is choosing to spend money on hiring several people to build their marketing team up to ten people, which creates a little guilt, since other CMOs aren’t currently able to spend money.
  • Some retail companies have slowed down their demand for manufacturing and warehouse automation, since their stores have closed, while others have increased their demand, because their sales have increased by 3x or 4x, partially due to phenomenons such as panic-buying and hoarding.
  • In the digital age, marketing companies have also grown to become media companies, given the amount of content that they are now expected to produce.
    • It’s not about quantity, however; it’s about creating quality content that can turn into repurposable content.
  • COVID-19 forced one CMO to focus solely on mission-critical solutions, and that move has worked out well for the company. Their intent in customer communication all boiled down to the question, “How can we help?” The CMO had their subject experts conduct more webinars during COVID-19, which then resulted in live attendance shooting up to 50% and registrations climbing up to 50-100%. This shift went so well, in fact, that people were turning to the company over trade organizations because they were focused entirely on educational information.
  • One CMO’s business has never had a customer conference before, so they are now attempting to have their first virtual conference.

This roundtable seemed to make it clear that not all industries or companies are suffering in the wake of COVID-19. What’s more, CMOs are extremely keen on discovering the best marketing tactics that they can make use of, during this unprecedented new time. Email marketing and providing free educational content appear to work best, mainly because more people are at home on their computers than there ever have been before. CMOs also really enjoy and benefit from virtual gatherings like this roundtable, which presents an opportunity to share ideas and find out what other CMOs out there are doing; some of the CMOs also mentioned, a few times, that they want to attend more events like this.

So definitely stay tuned for more roundtables!

If you’re a CMO and are interested in joining a future roundtable, please contact us.

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