Digital Shift Sharpens Disconnect Between Marketing, Sales Strategy and Customer Engagement, According to Survey by Copper


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Only half of survey respondents built new customer relationships during the pandemic

88% report sending more or same number of cold emails; majority report same or worse response rate

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Copper, the leading CRM platform for relationship-based business growth, today released its 2021 Marketing and Sales Relationships Survey, which uncovers a strategic disconnect between marketing and sales actions and results.

While 70% of the sales, marketing and advertising executives surveyed report that they have invested more in professional relationship-building within the past year, only half built new customer relationships and 88% continue to maintain or increase cold emailing efforts. Thirty-seven percent report sending cold emails more often during the pandemic without seeing better return on investment. A combined 63% say they receive the same response as before the pandemic (including no response) or receive a worse response.

Roughly half (52%) of respondents report that they have built new relationships during the pandemic, while 14% report having lost relationships. Amid a shift to a more virtual environment, 63% state they have good relationships with customers and prospects. However, 30% report they only have good relationships with customers, not prospects, highlighting a gap between relationship development for existing and new business.

Older generations of respondents report stronger customer and prospect relationships despite less of a prioritization on networking and cold outreach tactics. Seventy-eight percent of Baby Boomers report having well-developed relationships with clients and prospects, compared to 68% for Gen X, 62% for Millennials and 60% for Gen Z. But 50% of Millennials and 51% of Gen Z report sending cold emails more often, compared to 37% of Baby Boomers and 34% of Gen X. Forty-one percent of Millennials state they have sent more cold emails since the beginning of the pandemic, the highest of all generations.

“The forced shift to a digital-first environment over the past year was a prime opportunity for marketing and sales teams to redefine how they engage buyers and develop new and stronger relationships. What we found is that this opportunity is still there for the taking,” said Dennis Fois, CEO of Copper. “The average industry response rate for a cold email is abysmally low, and despite this not changing over the past year, the tactic continues to proliferate. It’s no surprise that the generations we surveyed who focus less on cold emailing – Baby Boomers and Gen X – say they have the strongest relationships with customers and prospects. Strong, personalized and even ‘old-school’ relationships lead to sustainable businesses.”

Marketers Brace for the Death of Third-Party Cookies

The impending end of third-party cookies is worrying marketers, with 40% feeling concerned about the change. Fifty-one percent say this change will impact their marketing strategy, with 13% further stating they have to rework their entire marketing and advertising strategy.

As a potential alternative, 82% of respondents classify their use of first-party customer data as “good.” The current environment has also impacted the way marketers manage their own data, as 65% report they’re using their CRM at least the same amount or more during the pandemic.

Optimism on the Horizon

Despite lingering customer engagement issues related to the virtual environment and end of third-party cookies, the survey found that marketers and salespeople are overwhelmingly optimistic about their own businesses going forward. Eighty-eight percent of respondents believe their business revenue will be stronger in 2022 than it was in 2019, and 73% expect to increase the size of their sales and marketing teams in the coming year.

To read more about Copper’s 2021 Marketing Relationships Survey, visit here.


This CARAVAN survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 501 adults ages 18+ who are employed full time and currently work in a sales or marketing/advertising department. This survey was live on April 22-30, 2021.

About Copper

Copper is a Google-recommended CRM for Google Workspace users, loved by over 25,000+ businesses globally. Designed for businesses that drive lasting revenue through strong relationships, Copper functions seamlessly in the background so customers can spend time on what matters: people. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Toronto, the company has raised $100M in venture capital financing to date.

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