a rather empty-looking Dresden International Airport terminal.
PHOTO: shankar s.

The whole world seemingly has had to make pivots due to COVID-19. And that goes for marketing technology companies, as well. It’s anything but business as usual for the 7,000-plus martech companies. Even the MarTech Conference in San Jose, Calif., scheduled for this month, is canceled (now going virtual) just like hundreds of other live events. “I’ve always believed that managing change and uncertainty is one of the central responsibilities of marketing technology and operations leaders,” Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, wrote in a post on March 25th. “Admittedly, the kinds of changes I was anticipating were more modest in nature — embracing new channels, integrating new technologies, reengineering processes and workflows, etc. The past couple of weeks have been a humbling recognition of what real disruption looks like.”

We’ve caught up with some martech companies to see if they adapted their product roadmaps and offerings due to COVID-19 and how they’re coping generally with the world health pandemic.

Branch: Putting More Effort Into Existing Customers

Mada Seghete, co-founder of Branch, a mobile attribution company, said Branch is no exception to the trend of companies reducing spend, conserving cash, doing less with more and spending less on ads. “For us,” she said, “this translates into putting more effort into retaining the customers we have and building even stronger relationships with them, rather than trying to acquire new customers right now.”

Branch is also revisiting its product roadmap and focusing its resources on the products it offers that help companies organically grow: those that encourage user to user sharing, referrals, converting web visitors into app visitors, etc. “One example is we are putting more time and resources into our offering around personalized app onboarding which helps companies increase their signup conversion rates,” Seghete said. “Small optimizations during these times are incredibly important, as companies need to maintain their vulnerable customer base.”

Related Article: Why Marketers Can't Realize the Full Potential of Their Martech Stack

OneSignal: Free Push Notifications for Critical Organizations

In response to COVID-19 crisis, OneSignal recently announced it will offer a free six-month push notification plan for healthcare, government and non-profit organizations. "Governments, healthcare organizations and nonprofits rely on digital messaging channels as a way to efficiently send important news and informational alerts to the general populace,” said OneSignal CEO George Deglin. “In the current crisis with COVID-19, these channels are used to ensure that people are well informed on guidelines specified by the CDC and help communicate critical updates about the current pandemic that has afflicted the world on a global scale.”

Critical health alerts and other local or national updates can easily get lost in inboxes already crowded with coronavirus email updates, according to Deglin. “Enabling these organizations to use push notifications and in-app messages, real-time communications are a key factor to help keep the spread of this virus at bay,” Deglin said. “This free six-month package would help support organizations with larger subscriber bases to make sure their messages reach all their targets without extra costs as they combat this crisis.”

WP Engine: Communications Are Critical

Mary Ellen Dugan, CMO at WP Engine, said in times of uncertainty, open and transparent communication is the key to retaining loyalty and trust. “It’s important to update customers on the details of your business, but it’s just as important to tell them in a way that shows confidence and care,” Dugan said. “As a technology company, we try to lead by example and act as a product demo in everything we do.”

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, WP Engine has reached out to customers about the safety of its employees and partners, and a continued quality of service. “We put together a business continuity site to build confidence in our employees,” Dugan said. “As part of this communication, we’ve given our customers one-click templates to help them spin up their own business continuity or communication sites for their customers and/or employees.”

Related Article: What Does Martech's Ecosystem Evolution Mean for Marketers?

Banzai: Seeing Huge Shift in Priorities

Like most companies, Banzai teams are working from home. Banzai is an event marketing automation solution provider headquartered in Seattle. “The big change I've seen is the emotional toll this crisis has taken on our team,” said Joe Davy, co-founder and CEO of Banzai. "Fast growing startup jobs are already stressful enough. Shortages, travel restrictions, and the constant bad news is wearing on everyone. I am taking extra time to make sure our team feels secure and has clarity, and that our message is very consistent: we're not going anywhere. We've got your back.”

As for the product, Banzai has seen a huge shift in priorities. The pivot to virtual events are top of mind for everyone now, so it’s re-prioritizing features that benefit users of the platform's virtual and live features. “Our pipeline for virtual event marketing automation has exploded,” Davy said. “We have to balance serving customers' short-term needs with the long-term likelihood that this crisis abates and live events return to normal.”

Banzai formerly sold virtual and live features under separate pricing models. It has now merged its pricing so customers can buy both virtual and live features with a single price. “We think that's a great way to acknowledge the uncertainty our customers are facing and let them know we get it,” Davy said. “We know customers’ lives just got turned upside down and everyone is scrambling for a plan. Our customers are still under the exact same pressure to deliver. We're here to help make them heros and come out of this crisis stronger.”

PROS: Moving to Digital at 'Warp Speed' 

Geoff Webb, VP of strategy at Houston-based PROS, a digital commerce solution, said the COVID-19 outbreak has, like many others, caused uncertainty among customers and concern among employees. It’s accustomed to turning to business continuity and employee-centered practices since hurricanes already tend to focus the mind on those subjects. “That means when the time came we could very quickly move our teams to home-based operations with no measurable disruption, and with an established communications plan in place,” Webb said. “The result is that when your employees are able to pick up their jobs easily, with the tools in place to support them, and with the obvious and clearly-communicated support of the business leadership, they can actually focus on our customers, which is the ultimate objective. Simply put — we spend time and effort to look after our teams so they can focus on looking after our customers.”

As for the product, PROS was already moving to digital — selling, fulfillment, support, and so on — but now it’s moving to digital at “warp speed.” “Any business that was thinking about embracing digital commerce needs to look at their plan and replace ‘years’ with ‘months’ for implementation,” he said. “That means the type of product, the way it’s priced and packaged, and how it’s delivered and implemented, all are going to have to be redefined and reevaluated.”

PROS is focusing on really listening to customers today, both the explicit messaging they send, and the implicit actions they see them take, according to Webb. This will enable them to anticipate changing needs, and respond quicker. “From this point on we’re all going to be racing to understand what our customers want and to respond faster than anyone else,” he said. “So, a high degree of personalization is essential — when the world is this uncertain, customers want something that meets their needs now — not something that is a version of one-size-fits-all.”

HubSpot: Reduced Prices, Increased Limits

HubSpot, a marketing automation and CRM provider based in Cambridge, Mass., has reduced the cost of its Starter Growth Suite from $112.50 per month to $50 per month; existing and new Starter Growth Suite customers will have access to the software bundle at the reduced price for 12 months from the time of purchase. HubSpot's also suspending marketing email send limits for Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise customers and increasing limits on calling to 2,000 minutes per month for starter and professional customers of Sales Hub and Service Hub. This will be in effect for 90 days. The company is also making paid Meetings functionality, Quotes, E-Sign, and 1:1 Video tools available for free for 90 days from activation.