All businesses currently have one thing in common: dealing with the combined effects of high inflation and high interest rates.
There’s no doubt that these two factors have contributed to less-than-stellar numbers in 2022. And it looks like everyone will still be feeling their effects in 2023.
That being the case, many businesses are looking for ways to save money and reduce expenses in the new year. Traditionally, many businesses react by cutting their marketing budget during a recession.
Well, marketing is a major expense for businesses. And the initial thought is “Why spend money on marketing initiatives if the audiences aren’t purchasing our products or services?”
In theory, that makes total sense.
Unfortunately, that’s not really the case.
There are still people out there who require or want those respective products and services. And if a business no longer has a marketing presence, those folks will gravitate toward the competitors who are still pursuing marketing campaigns.
Plus, drastically cutting a marketing budget during a recession halts any momentum and progress that a business has recently gained over the past few years.
Instead of decimating the budget, it makes more sense to take a good look at what marketing tactics provide a better ROI and focus your efforts with those – and reduce or eliminate the tactics that are underperforming.
If you are thinking about reevaluating your business’ marketing budget, we’ll highlight the areas that you should focus on and call out the ones that no longer provide an impressive ROI.
Where To Focus Your Marketing Budget During A Downturn
So where should you invest your marketing dollars during an economic downturn?
As traditional forms of marketing and advertising continue to underperform, it’s best to focus your time and money in the digital marketing world.
Still, not every form of digital marketing is worthy of your marketing dollars.
To create a more refined marketing budget, it’s important to look for the digital marketing strategies that:
- Provide the best ROI.
- Offer greater flexibility and control.
- Present the best insights to inform your future marketing plans.
All of the following digital marketing strategies meet those preferences:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Of all the forms of digital marketing, SEO may be the most vital during lean times as most audiences turn to search engines when they are looking to purchase goods or services.
If you’re not familiar with SEO, it’s the process of enhancing a website or webpage to improve its search engine results.
In other words, its goal is to have a website rank higher than its competitors when audiences search for a particular product or service on a search engine (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo).
To help achieve this goal, a website is optimized by:
- Implementing keywords throughout the website that best match the audiences’ search intents.
- Adding high-quality content that demonstrates the website’s trustworthiness and expertise.
- Addressing any website speed issues to avoid longer page loads and lagging.
- Ensuring the website is mobile friendly so its appearance looks great and is easy to navigate on computers, smartphones and tablets.
By implementing the processes above,
- SEO helps visitors find your website in their search engine results
- Drives them to your website
- Helps them easily understand the purpose of your website and the goods/services it provides
- Compels them to take action (fill out a form, call a phone number, buy a product etc).
By following these best practices, you also ensure your website adheres to Google’s frequent updates and policies to avoid any infractions that could negatively impact search engine results.
However, SEO is no longer just for enhancing your website’s presence on search engines.
More and more audiences are searching for goods and services on their voice controlled devices (Echo Dot, Google Home) or virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa).
Sites that are optimized for traditional search engines are more likely to enjoy more favorable results with voice searches than sites that do not follow SEO best practices.
Other advantages of SEO are its real-time insights and flexibility.
Unlike many traditional marketing tactics, SEO allows you to see your marketing efforts in action. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can see how your keywords are performing, monitor traffic and track conversions in real time.
If certain SEO efforts are underperforming, they can be easily updated and adjusted. Swap out outdated keywords with more relevant versions. Update old on-page text to reflect new products or services that your business offers.
These advantages help provide a stronger ROI than most traditional forms of marketing.
While SEO offers all of these advantages, it does not provide overnight satisfaction. A proper SEO marketing strategy takes time to produce optimal results.
Yet, this downtime is the perfect time to use SEO marketing to plant the seeds that will take root and lead to growth in the later half of the year.
For the past ten years, Google has stressed the importance of quality content on websites.
While various Google updates over the years have helped weed out some undesirable spammy content tactics, this year they doubled-down on their efforts.
In August 2022, Google launched its Helpful Content Update.
With this update, Google rewards websites that offer quality content to its users – and penalizes sites who use spammy content tactics and/or create deceptive content.
Although this update has had a major impact on sites that offer misleading content concerning health issues, news, legal or financial issues, it has also affected the search engine results of websites that use their content to simply achieve higher rankings.
Essentially, websites not only need to avoid producing potentially harmful content, they also must produce content that is written for people – and not algorithms.
To avoid these scenarios, your business should invest in creating high quality content that:
- Relevant to a user’s search
- Offers help to a user (provides a solution to a problem/issue, teaches them how to do a certain task, answers their question, etc).
- Clearly demonstrates the website’s expertise in the topic at hand.
- Leaves the user with a satisfied feeling after they’ve viewed the content.
- Adheres to Google’s Search Essentials
Since Google is placing so much emphasis on content, your company should definitely make room in your marketing budget for content creation.
Whether you’re investing in a monthly blog that solves a user’s pain points, an infographic that explains the timetable for your service or a video that shows your product in action, your content should not simply be aimed at attracting the attention of search engines – it should appeal to your audience’s needs or wants.
By doing so, you establish your website as a reliable resource. And Google rewards such resources.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
As we mentioned above, SEO marketing provides a strong ROI. Yet, it takes time.
One of the most effective ways to boost your search engine presence while your SEO strategy takes root is by launching PPC campaigns.
Investing in PPC advertising during a recession is advantageous in two key ways:
- Unlike traditional advertising, you can be more selective and place your ads on the outlets where your audience is most likely to visit/use:
- You have more control over your ad spend since you only have to pay for the number of clicks your ads receive.
Placing these ads in the desired location and controlling your allocated budget, you can increase your opportunities for audience engagement, conversions and revenue.
Unlike traditional advertising that only generates data after the fact and offers little flexibility, PPC advertising allows you to see your results in real time and make changes to your campaign on the fly.
For example, if you’re running two campaigns at the same time and your insights reveal that one is outperforming the other, you can react in real time. Simply halt the underperforming campaign and invest those dollars in the other campaign to extend its reach.
Investing in PPC advertising is a great way to get your business in front of relevant audiences during a time when your competitors are cutting back their advertising spends.
Web Hosting and Maintenance
Another factor that could impact your digital marketing initiatives is your website.
The following issues can not only affect your site’s search engine rankings, they could also lead to a poor user experience:
- Lack of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate to ensure that all information being passed between your customer and your site is secure and cannot be accessed by cybercriminals.
- Slow site speed that takes pages too long to load
- A website design that violates ADA compliance
If Google recognizes any or all of the above issues, they may view your website as less trustworthy than your competitors. This can lead to lower search engine rankings or worse – a suspended account.
Investing some of your marketing dollars in a web hosting and maintenance service helps keep your site from falling victim to these issues.
They’ll audit your site to reveal any instantly identifiable and hidden problems, create an action plan, and take the necessary steps to resolve all existing issues.
Then, they’ll perform ongoing maintenance to ensure that your site is performing optimally, adhering to all best practices, and immediately respond to any issues as they arise.
What To Cut From Your Marketing Budget During A Downturn
Now that we’ve identified the strategies and outlets that provide the foundation for a more beneficial marketing budget, it’s time to shift focus to the areas that are least impactful.
To free up your marketing budget and reduce unnecessary spending, we recommend scaling back or cutting out the following efforts.
Traditional Marketing and Advertising
Although digital marketing has dominated the field, many businesses still invest in traditional marketing techniques such as local television/radio spots, print advertising in newspapers and magazines, and direct mail pieces.
While the ROI on these avenues has always been problematic for small and medium-size businesses, it has shrunk dramatically over the course of the past 10 years.
Yet, their costs continue to remain high.
Rather than throw good money after bad, now is the time to cut these outdated and underperforming marketing efforts from your budget.
Now you have the funds to invest in new or existing digital marketing endeavors.
Organic Social Media Marketing
Not long ago, frequently posting content on social media pages was a necessity for local businesses.
It became so much of a marketing necessity that many businesses hired agencies to manage their social media accounts.
Unfortunately, organic social media marketing no longer provides a strong ROI.
As more social media platforms give top priority to accounts that pay for ads, it’s more difficult for organic posts to appear in the audience’s feeds.
Instead of halting all of your organic social media marketing efforts, we recommend moving them back in-house if you currently have a third-party managing it.
Since organic social media marketing is no longer the juggernaut it once was, there is no need to post multiple pieces of content each day.
Through the use of free planning tools and high quality smartphone cameras, you can easily create content, a calendar for posting, and then schedule the posts accordingly.
By moving your organic social media marketing in-house, you’ll still be able to maintain a presence on your pages and reduce your expenses.
Keep The Marketing That Matters Most
Clearly, reevaluating your marketing budget to include such strategies such as SEO, content creation, PPC, and web hosting and maintenance, and exclude inefficient and ineffective high-cost solutions is the best way to navigate these current economic conditions.
We hope the suggestions above help you make a more informed and optimal marketing strategy for your business this year.
While all of these strategies are recommended, we also realize that you may not have the bandwidth or insight to carry out these plans on your own or internally.
To get a more clear understanding of these strategies and what you can do to implement them, we are happy to provide a free marketing evaluation of your website or existing PPC campaign.
Contact our team today so you can be better prepared for marketing during this downturn.