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How to Navigate Marketing in an Economic Downturn

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During times of economic uncertainty, slashing marketing budgets is often a knee-jerk reaction for business owners who want to protect cash in the short term.

But shaky economic times also present an enormous opportunity to capture online sales and awareness at a discount — and come out stronger on the other end.

Now, more than ever, business owners need to zero in on scalable, high-ROI marketing strategies that will produce revenue to sustain their businesses — not shy away altogether. 

10 Highly Effective Strategies For Marketing During a Recession

The scalability of online marketing makes it one of the most profitable ways to reach your target or customers at the lowest cost.

Here are ten ways your business can benefit from investing in digital marketing during a recession:

1. Strategically continue your ad spend 

During economic downturns, more companies drastically reduce or turn off advertising spend, creating less competition, lower ad costs and increased visibility for companies that choose to stick around.

Research suggests that companies still engaging in marketing activities during recessions have greater success than those who pull back significantly on their marketing efforts. 

Plus, after surviving an economic downturn, brands often gain competitive advantages with more customers and better control of pricing within the market.

Ultimately, companies that stay in the marketing arena through challenging economic times could see great returns, as competitors either fold or stagnate with their marketing spend.

2. Continue capturing market share

As your competitors shy away from digital marketing, stay active in the market! Continue producing engaging email campaigns, social posts and other great content to solidify your presence in the industry and capture more market share than your inactive rivals. 

Once consumer spending habits normalize, you’ll have their attention first.

3. Get in front of high-intent prospects 

There are still plenty of businesses and people who need what your company offers. And those searching for your offering during an economic downturn are more serious than ever. 

Doubling down on low-funnel campaigns, like remarketing and retargeting, will help you stay in front of high-intent prospects for a fraction of the cost.

4. Build trust and rapport

More consumers turn to the web for advice, tools and conversation during unstable economic times. Consider utilizing personalized emails, distributing surveys to gain feedback, and engaging in honest interactions on social media platforms.

Additionally, you should aim to create a sense of connection with your target audience by telling stories about your company and its values. If potential customers can relate to your mission, they will be more likely to think of you when looking for solutions during an economic downturn.

Help and contribute instead of hiding, and you’ll come across stable and trustworthy to your audience.

5. Scale out through automation

Marketing automation, bulk campaigns and cheaper ads can help you maximize your reach, especially as the strain on your workforce tightens.

Automation can help streamline processes such as email campaigns and social media management, allowing you to send out more messages with less manual labor. 

Cheaper advertising outlets such as social media ads or sponsored content can also be an effective way to target potential customers with fewer resources.

6. Invest in measurable, high-ROI digital marketing efforts

Non-measurable marketing activities can be risky during an economic recession, making digital marketing highly valuable for its flexibility and adaptability.

Measurable marketing activities are those that can be quantitatively assessed in terms of their effectiveness–things like website traffic, number of leads generated, or sales revenue. These activities are typically associated with digital marketing efforts like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing.

Access to detailed analytics means you can see which activities are driving the most conversions and revenue, and allocate budget as needed for the highest possible ROI.

Non-measurable marketing activities, on the other hand, are more difficult to quantify in terms of their effectiveness. Examples include influencer marketing campaigns, public relations efforts and event marketing. The success of these activities is often difficult to quantify in terms of hard numbers, making it difficult to justify investing in those areas.

7. Diversify your revenue streams

I can’t stress enough how important it is to diversify revenue streams and marketing channels; doing so helps businesses mitigate their risk and increase resilience. 

One way to do this is to expand beyond a single source of revenue, such as relying solely on Amazon for e-commerce sales.

When a business relies on a single source of income, it is more vulnerable to market fluctuations, economic downturns or changes in consumer behavior. On the other hand, if a business has multiple sources of income, it is better able to weather these types of changes.

Another approach is to expand beyond a single marketing channel, such as relying solely on paid advertising to drive traffic and sales. Instead, businesses should diversify their investment in channels like organic search, social media marketing or email marketing to drive traffic to their website. If one channel falters or becomes increasingly costly, you still have other sources of traffic to rely on.

8. Build an audience to convert later

Depending on your business, products or services, you might not convert as many customers while consumers are wary of spending. But don't put yourself at a disadvantage because of that. Use this time to focus on building your audience and adding value for your customers.

You can do this through education-based marketing, discounts and special promotions, and cost-effective advertising.

9. Focus on closing sales 

Now, more than ever, you should be focused on closing business. Marketing fuels your sales funnel and assists heavily with customer nurturing. 

With online resources, reviews and comparisons readily available to the public,  a large part of the sales process happens before a prospect ever speaks to anyone at your company. 

Leverage that research process and speak to your customers’ pain points through sales automation and enablement.

10. Monetize your existing database 

For companies that have invested well, a recession is not the time to curb your marketing efforts; it's the time to monetize all those hard-earned leads and customers. Lean on your existing list and solid foundation to run extra monetization campaigns as needed.

Run special promotions or discounts for past customers to encourage repeat purchases, or try upselling or cross-selling to increase average order value and generate more revenue from customers who are ready to purchase.

Facing a recession is a frightening reality. 

Of course, turning to digital marketing won’t make sense for every business enduring economic hardship.

If your business is operating on a limited runway or investment, you’ll be hit with tough budgetary decisions. 

But if you can invest wisely in online marketing now, you won’t just “weather the storm.” You’ll come out ahead of competitors and be better positioned to hyper-accelerate growth once the economy rebounds.

At Human, we believe in combining intelligent software and humans to create a one-to-one digital marketing experience that generates better results for our clients. 

If you’re looking for an agile marketing team to identify and double-down on high-ROI activities for your business, let’s chat!

Topics: Marketing Strategy