Asad Kausar is CEO at Dabaran, a premier Chicago-based SEO firm helping businesses grow their online presence and expand their audience.
Between the 9% inflation of consumer prices across the board and the possibility of the next recession on everyone’s mind, many businesses are looking to cut costs wherever they can to survive the next potential economic downturn.
Marketing efforts are often the first thing on the chopping block when budgets get tight, but that might not always be the best strategy. It’s all about cutting ineffective marketing efforts and maintaining (or even increasing) spending on proven strategies. With that being said, is digital marketing “recession-proof”? Here are four reasons why I think digital marketing is a solid investment, even during an economic downturn, and how to leverage it.
Digital marketing can be inexpensive.
Whenever buzz of a recession starts floating around, everyone wants to talk about money—and that makes sense. The first reason digital marketing can pay off is because it’s often easy on the wallet.
While some digital marketing strategies can be quite comprehensive and expensive, there are several, such as SEO (search engine optimization), that can give you more bang for your buck.
Email marketing also brings an incredible 3,600% return on investment (ROI), according to Litmus data (via HubSpot). That means that when done correctly, for every one dollar you spend, you could get $36 back. That’s a worthwhile investment.
You can get started with email marketing by signing up for a platform like MailChimp, HubSpot or Constant Contact. Subscription costs are typically based on how many sends you need per month, so you can scale it to your budget.
Once you have your email marketing platform set up, work on growing your contact list and send emails regularly. One of the best ways to ensure email marketing success is to provide an offer. Think about what would make someone want to open your email. Whether it’s information about your industry or services, a discount on their next purchase, or even something entertaining, there should be something of value that entices users to open your email and follow through with the call to action.
Both of these digital marketing strategies cost little to nothing to get started. You can implement SEO best practices (a topic I discuss on my website) and create content for your website without additional software or purchases, and how much money does it take to send a few emails? Even if you have to pull back on some forms of digital marketing, there are several ways to continue your digital strategy without straining your wallet.
Digital marketing can be flexible.
You never know what’s going to happen in an economic downturn. Customers might change the way they shop, browse, search or make purchases—all of which can impact the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Luckily, you can adapt your digital marketing strategy and change directions quickly with the market.
Traditional marketing efforts like signage and advertisements are more difficult to change. Once you spend the money, they’re typically going to run for a predetermined amount of time. With digital marketing, you can change gears in an instant.
If you decide to run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign and all of a sudden buyers shy away from the product or service you’re pushing, you can swap the look and message of the ads immediately. Use analytics to stay on top of trends as they happen in real time, even during times of economic uncertainty.
You should measure your digital marketing.
Remember what I said at the top of the page? Surviving isn’t about cutting costs; it’s about cutting the right costs. You should absolutely cut marketing efforts that don’t work. However, make sure to maintain and even reinforce proven marketing strategies. And how do you know a marketing effort is working?
Digital marketing is highly measurable. With all the analytics and background data you have available from your campaigns, you should analyze which campaigns are working and which aren’t. Then, adjust your spending accordingly to get the most bang for your inflated buck.
Some of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine campaign success include:
• Cost per conversion.
• Spend rate.
• Audience and targeting metrics.
If you see a campaign’s KPIs start dipping, you should readjust or completely change the campaign immediately to maintain your marketing’s effectiveness. (See the section above.)
It takes time to build authority.
Some forms of digital marketing, like SEO, take time to grow organically. If you take a break because of economic hardship, you might lose some of the domain authority you’ve accumulated with your previous marketing campaigns.
Times might be tough now, but they likely won’t always be. When things turn around for you, you should make sure your digital marketing efforts are ready and waiting to attract customers the minute they have some extra spending money again.
So, is digital marketing recession-proof? The answer, in my opinion, is yes. If you choose strategies with budget-friendly price tags, higher returns on investment, and high levels of measurability and flexibility, it could be the perfect marketing strategy for your business during an economic turndown. Plus, when the economy improves, you’ll likely have increased your domain authority and will be ready to attract even more customers than ever before.
Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?