4 Reasons to Invest in Digital Marketing in a Recession

Person Studying Digital Marketing Online

By some measures, the US economy is already in a recession. By others, it’s all but a forgone conclusion that we’ll be entering one in the coming weeks. Ultimately, the economy is cyclical, and recessions happen regularly over time.

For many companies, the knee-jerk reaction is to tighten purse strings, buckle down, and wait it out. Often, companies will attempt to lower their internal expenses where they can and lower prices to try to increase sales. However, there are strong reasons to continue to invest in digital marketing, and doing so will even create some advantages in an economic downturn.

Some important things to consider when developing your strategy during a recession is to understand the mindsets of your consumers while keeping a focus on the future beyond the recession. Here are four things that companies should keep in mind when developing their digital marketing strategy for a recession.

Know Your Customer

Market/Consumer research is an important tool that can help you through tough economic times. Understanding the mindset and the behavioral changes your consumer is considering (or making) will help you plan your overarching strategy. Put simply, where is your customer’s head at? What’s affecting their decision-making, and how? There is no better way to know this answer than to ask them.

We’ve seen this with supply chain issues, inflation, scarcity, etc. Data is king, and you should be using it to understand what adjustments beyond simple price cuts that you can consider to maintain a strong market position.

Take Advantage of Reduced Competition in the Digital Marketing Landscape.

We all understand that there is an inherent seasonality in the overall marketplace. The landscape gets very crowded in Q3 and Q4 with brands advertising their holiday offerings to close out the year. This drives ad pricing up and makes breaking through the noise challenging. By contrast, Q1 and Q2 have less activity.

A recession can be looked at in a similar way. When markets are in a downturn, many brands will end up advertising less, creating openings and opportunities normally saved for the early part of the year. Investment in SEO and advertising could lead to favorable outcomes like lower cost and higher effectiveness.

Don’t Lose Momentum

Cuts to your marketing budget may decrease brand awareness, lower your search result ranking, and impact the perception of your brand overall. Once those things are impacted, it can be very expensive to earn them back. And, with the landscape constantly changing, re-educating yourself on updated best practices and tactics you could have learned during this period can be cumbersome; you won’t be able to just “flip everything back on” and expect to see results months after you took a break.

That’s not to say you can’t scale back; there’s no requirement to maintain pre-recession marketing spending. Instead, adjust your strategy to match your new budget levels so you can remain top-of-mind in the most effective way possible, all while staying up to date on platform and audience changes.

There are Additional Ways to Keep the Conversation Going

Year-round, but especially in a recession, your customers will appreciate ways in which you can still bring value, beyond discounts or coupons. Don’t be afraid to create content that’s valuable to your audience beyond the promotion of your product/service, and doing so can come in many forms.

  • Introducing key players in your company to put a human face to an otherwise faceless entity.
  • Showing consumers “behind the scenes” of how your products are made, service is provided, or company was formed
  • How to use your products in new ways. Maybe you’re in the food and beverage category and have a way your product can be used that’s out-of-the-box but helps avoid waste in other parts of a customer’s life.
  • Start a public-facing dialogue with your audience (see also: research) that allows you to creatively flesh out new product ideas or ways your company can help the community.

Generating content that gives your consumer base a free sample of who you are as a company builds brand loyalty at a minimal-to-no cost to you.

Ultimately, how you approach an upcoming recession will set the course for your company in subsequent years, and creatively keeping your brand top-of-mind throughout is vital to keeping that course moving in a favorable direction.