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Are Seasonality & the Economy Impacting Marketers in Q4? [Traffic & Conversion Data from 150K+ Companies]

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Are Seasonality & the Economy Impacting Marketers in Q4? [Traffic & Conversion Data from 150K+ Companies]

This time each year, nature – as well as marketing – slows down as we head into colder seasons.

As we enter Q4, marketing departments are preparing for a slowdown in business that comes as people tune out towards the end of the year.

But, while seasonal change is expected and inevitable, this year’s economic shifts might cause some marketers to worry that this year could bring a flurry of poor numbers.

As you see dips or bumps in early Q4, you might wonder, “Is my marketing department experiencing seasonality or an impact of outside events, or are our numbers solely based on the work we’ve been doing?”

To help you gather evidence that proves or disproves the possibility of outside impacts in Q4, here’s a look at how businesses across industries entered the first month of it in October.

About this Data: These insights are based on data aggregated from 158,000+ HubSpot customers globally between July 2021 and October 2022. Because the data is aggregated from HubSpot customers’ businesses, please keep in mind that the performance of individual businesses, including HubSpot’s, might differ based on their markets, customer base, industry, geography, stage, and/or other factors.

Download Now: Free State of Marketing Report [Updated for 2022]

How Marketing Metrics Are Shifting (or Staying the Same) in Early Q4

To learn how metrics were shifting, we looked at data from sample sizes of 120,000+ businesses.

Overall, we’re seeing that most inbound marketing metrics are down year-over-year. Luckily, the good news is that one major, hard-to-win metric, website conversion rate, is trending upward.

When looking month-over-month, numbers seem to be flatter with a mixed bag of small increases and decreases, which could hint that we’re heading into a seasonal time of slow growth, or starting to see some sluggishness due to the economic climate.

Below, I’ll break down each key marketing metric and walk through what we’ve seen across industries in Q4 so far.

Q4 Web Traffic So Far

Month-over-month, we see that fall and winter seasonality hasn’t harmed websites quite yet with most industries seeing flat, low-change in traffic. Only Technology, Information and Media (up 2% MoM) as well as Trade, Transportation and Utilities (up nearly 3%) saw any real change.

While seasonality might not be impacting the industries below, year-over-year data shows significant dips in traffic across industries (a theme we’ve seen throughout the last few months). Professional and Business Services (down 10%) saw the most significant annual loss, while Leisure and Hospitality saw the reverse with a nearly 7% YoY increase.

Industry

MoM

YoY

Sample size

All

1.30%

-10.80%

145,150

Construction

-1.21%

-5.39%

1,405

Education and Health Services

-0.42%

-3.74%

3,659

Financial Activities

1.32%

-11.12%

4,084

Leisure and Hospitality

-1.31%

6.99%

1,114

Manufacturing

-0.19%

-6.43%

4,463

Professional and Business Services

-0.55%

-9.65%

12,999

Technology, Information and Media

2.32%

-4.62%

14,934

Trade, Transportation and Utilities

2.92%

-5.58%

3,480

Why is this happening? Are we continuing to see solid annual traffic drops? We can’t be certain, but a few things that could be causing impacts are:

  • More and more, audiences spend time discovering and even shopping for products on social media directly – no longer relying on standalone company sites.
  • In 2021, many regions were still at least partially quarantined due to COVID-19. While the pandemic continues, most of the world’s lightened precautions, enabling economies to re-open and allowing more people to go out and spend less time surfing the web.
  • Search engines get more and more competitive daily as hundreds of sites aim to rank for the same keywords as their competitors. More competition directly impacts search traffic and, today, search result pages are more saturated than ever..

Website Conversions Grow Despite Traffic Dips

While traffic seems to be a tad sluggish in October, we’re seeing significant YoY gains (+10.95%) overall with Technology, Information and Media leading the pack (+22.1%) and only Trade, Transportation and Utilities, and Construction seeing decreases.

Across the board, we’re seeing a very slight MoM decrease overall, except for Technology, Information and Media which saw a large increase and Trade which saw the greatest decrease (aligning with slow tech business growth reports we’ve seen all over the news.)

Industry

MoM

YoY

Sample size

All

-1.76%

10.95%

124,836

Construction

-5.36%

-5.36%

1,166

Education and Health Services

2.26%

19.35%

3,316

Financial Activities

-4.59%

7.47%

3,542

Leisure and Hospitality

5.00%

9.70%

939

Manufacturing

-6.27%

12.95%

3,905

Professional and Business Services

0.31%

15.41%

11,451

Technology, Information and Media

17.27%

22.10%

13,504

Trade, Transportation and Utilities

-8.41%

-4.39%

2,984

Inbound Leads Stay Fairly Flat… Except in a Few Key Industries

In October, Inbound Leads were a mixed bag. However, the evidence of both positive and negative seasonality patterns become more obvious when looking at this metric.

Month-over-month, inbound leads remained flat with an overall 0.65% decrease. Manufacturing (-6.48%), as well as Transportation and Utilities (-5.6%), saw the biggest dips. Meanwhile, Construction (-8.75%) and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (9.82%) saw significant YoY losses.

Where did inbound leads grow? Technology, Information and Media saw a sizable MoM and YoY increase of 5.22% each. Additionally, inbound leads overall saw a small annual increase with Education and Health Services (16.76%) and Leisure and Hospitality (17.15%) seeing the greatest gains. These boosts contributed to year-over-year growth of 1.63% for overall industries.

Industry

MoM

YoY

Sample size

All

-0.65%

1.63%

132,820

Construction

-4.48%

-8.75%

1,345

Education and Health Services

1.70%

16.76%

3,636

Financial Activities

-2.80%

-1.97%

3,876

Leisure and Hospitality

2.74%

17.15%

1,031

Manufacturing

-6.48%

4.31%

4,287

Professional and Business Services

0.15%

8.02%

12,648

Technology, Information and Media

5.22%

5.22%

14,592

Trade, Transportation and Utilities

-5.61%

-9.82%

3,251

What can we make of this data?

While we can expect year-over-year conversion rate growth with web traffic going down annually, some of the substantial losses and gains are due to more than just web traffic. A few potential impacts could be:

  • Products or services sold within manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities can be quite expensive or impacted by inflation. As people tighten their budgets with conflicting economic news, high-priced industries could be seeing some sluggish lead generation as people might only be focusing on just the products or services they need.
  • Seasonality is likely beginning to take effect as people begin to focus more on experiences driven by education, media, and holiday travel, while putting other industries on the back burner.
  • As we keep seeing news of career changes, recession-based company shifts, and the continuing pandemic, people might be more fixated on Education and Health Services industries than in previous quarters, leading to nearly-17% annual lead growth.

Are Marketing Emails Struggling to Be Seen?

In our previous reports, we noted that while marketers have been sending fewer emails – likely to meet the needs of today’s subscribers with heavily cluttered inboxes – they’re still seeing opens and open rates dip.

It’s tricky to guess what the problem could be, but as the HubSpot Blog’s former email manager, one suspicion I have is that email inboxes are far too saturated and competitive these days.

Metric

MoM

YoY

Sample size

Email sends

1.42%

-1.97%

141,791

Email opens

-1.14%

-15.85%

141,791

Email open rate

-2.19%

-13.71%

141,769

Ultimately, if your email isn’t seen in an inbox no one will open it. And, if you’re sending emails with great content, but non-competitive, non-eye-catching subject lines, your readers might not click into them.

Odds are, your subscriber subscribes to many other emails related to your industry. And, because of this, they compare you to competitors sending similar content with similar goals each day. This is why it’s so important for your brand’s emails to seem as interesting, unique, and eye-catching as possible – without looking too desperate.

To learn more about how to boost your open rate and opens, check out this helpful post.

Further Reading

When it comes to key marketing metrics, keeping a pulse on how the business world and your industry are doing can help you determine when and how to get ahead of competition.

For even more helpful data, check out our previous reports, plus a few additional research studies, as you plan your strategies for Q4 and beyond.

Lastly, be sure to check out our free, downloadable 2022 State of Marketing Report below – with data and tips from experts across the global marketing industry.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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