Why You Need A Digital Marketing Strategy Even During A Recession
Posted: 4th May 2020
In the uncertain world we are currently living in, many businesses are having to make some difficult decisions. At the moment, no one can be sure how far the economy will drop. The full impact that the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic will have on the economy is still unknown. Even though we are in unprecedented times, there are three stages to a recession. The initial drop, the slow rise out, and the continual growth that follows. Whilst we are currently in the first stage, all businesses are having to adapt or change the services that they offer. This means that when we slowly rise out, businesses can try to carry on as normal.
This is the same in the world of digital marketing. Whilst some businesses may cut the funding for digital marketing strategies in the current times, this could harm your business further down the line. The steps you take to protect your business will heavily influence how your business is perceived once the economy has stabilised.
Even though this economic threat is wildly different from the one experienced in 2008 and 2009, you can still learn from it. There are always going to be a variety of responses from digital marketing departments. From cutting the budget completely and pausing all campaigns, to increasing the budgets and adapting to capitalise on the worldwide situation.
Whilst ensuring that internal communications with your employees or shareholders are kept open, you also need to keep the communication with your clients open. In this article, we will show you why you need a digital marketing strategy during a recession.
Do not cut your whole marketing budget
Usually, when businesses are looking to reduce their spending, the marketing budget is the first to be cut. If you are not offering your usual products or services, or are temporarily closed, you may wonder why you need a digital marketing strategy. Whilst you will save money in the short term cutting your budget, you may see yourself fall further behind your competitors. If your competitors keep advertising whilst you are not, then they will be exposed to a larger audience. This may mean that you will have to spend more money, in the long run, to catch back up.
Why you should invest in digital advertising
- If other businesses in your industry stop advertising, this does not mean you should. This is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd as there will be less competition for your products and services.
- The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted everyone’s normal lives. Spending habits have had to change, with more people turning to online shopping. By using addressable geofencing, you can create personalised campaigns to target your audience.
- Even though people are not going out to see advertising on the side of buses or bus stops, they are spending more time online. More people online, means more people seeing online advertising. You need to tailor your campaigns to what people are looking for, whilst being sensitive to why they are at home.
- When creating digital ads, you will see a lower cost per mile/cost per click when bidding. This means that any search engine marketing, paid social, or programmatic campaigns you create will be more affordable for your business.
Whilst you should keep advertising online, it needs to be changed from what you had already planned. Most campaigns that you were planning to run are most likely irrelevant or insensitive to the current situation.
You should not continue to advertise products or services that you are not currently offering. If you have the capacity to, try to adapt your offerings to what products or services are needed right now. For example, if you are a restaurant, you should consider offering takeaways or delivery. Running ads lets your customers know that you are still open for business and makes them aware of the new services you are offering.
Marketing with integrity
Now is the perfect time to show your customers what values matter most to your business. There have been stories coming out about how badly some companies are treating employees. Whilst wondering why you need a digital marketing strategy, you should not try to profit off other people’s problems. Once things start to return to normal, customers will remember which businesses handled themselves with dignity during the crisis.
How to achieve this
- Review your target audience. If your services have changed, does that mean your customers have? Have their needs changed? Are they searching for new types of products?
- Monitor customer behaviours. Everyone has had to adapt their lifestyle to a ‘new normal’ during this global pandemic. What used to work for you before, might not work for you now. Google searches in the UK for home workouts, baking recipes, and fish and chip deliveries have increased since the lockdown period started. Check analytics and insights for your social media profiles and website traffic. This will show how the behaviour of your customers have changed, and how you need to adapt to meet these new trends.
- Be sensitive to what people are experiencing. People around the world are having to deal with different levels of trauma due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis. In times like these, people look for a way to distract themselves from what is happening around them. Whilst you should try to tailor your content to the current times, you should not try to exploit the situation by targeting phrases that are not relevant to your products or services.
Keep an eye on emerging consumer trends
When trying to plan your digital marketing strategy during this economic crisis, you should keep an eye on how your customers are behaving. Collecting data on how people are spending, or not spending, their money will help you be able to tailor your digital marketing strategy to their needs. This data does need to be taken with a pinch of salt, however, as it does not show the whole picture. Heatmaps, for example, can show you that big groups of people are gathering in one place, but it does not show you the context behind the data in that they are gathering at a supermarket.
McKinsey & Company suggest that when companies are thinking about why they need a digital marketing strategy, they consider five key areas:
These five ideas should form the basis of your digital marketing strategy during an economic crisis. Covering not just how you respond to the economic challenges your business will face due to coronavirus, but also how you market what your business has to offer in these uncertain times.
Everyone is having to adapt to a new normal in a short space of time. Whilst it can be challenging, it should be a challenge that you as a business embrace. Due to this being an economic crisis that no one has seen the likes of before, no one knows how best to handle it. People are having to adapt to new ways of working and living. Use this time to develop not only innovative and experimental marketing strategies but also products and services you can offer.
An example of how to use what you already have to meet the current needs of people is the work of ALM Engineering Solutions. Based in County Durham, the firm usually provides precision machined components for aerospace, defence, and rail industries. During the coronavirus pandemic, they have switched lanes, putting their skills to good use to create new hospital beds. Not only does this keep your business going and your employees in work, but it also creates a positive image for your brand. You are more likely to be remembered once things return to normal if you change your services to meet the current demand.
Combine sales and marketing
There has never been a better time to make sure that your sales team are working cohesively with your marketing department. When considering why you need a digital marketing strategy and how to adapt it, listen to your sales department. They are on the front line, speaking to your customers. Make sure that your sales team are listening to the concerns that your customers have. Try to find out why they may need to reduce some of the services that they pay for. With this information, it will give you a bigger picture of how your customers are being affected. Then you will be able to re-direct your marketing strategies to meet the new needs of your customers.
Try not to adopt an ‘everyone for themselves’ mindset
Whilst your gut instinct during this crisis is to protect your business at all costs, there may also be part of you that wants to help others. This may be difficult whilst the social distancing measures are in place. We are being conditioned to believe that contact with other people may lead to our downfall. Try to avoid letting these thoughts and feelings feed into your marketing strategy.
People want to see messages of hope and happiness. Use this to your advantage when thinking about your digital marketing strategy. Communicate with your team. Allow them the creative freedom in the spirit of hope and positivity. You are more likely to develop new products, services and marketing ideas this way than in an environment dictated by uncertainty and fear.
Working in the mindset of hope and curiosity, your marketing perspective will line up with what your customers are looking for right now. This will also help you develop your brand identity into one that your customers will want to support. You will be creating content that reflects your brand values, rather than just trying to benefit from the current times by only looking out for yourself.
Now is the time to double down on marketing
One of the main reasons why you still need a digital marketing strategy is factoring in the long game. Content marketing and search engine optimisation take time to be effective. If you stop all your digital marketing efforts now, with the plan to restart when your business is back open, you will be further behind your competitors. Continuing to optimise your website and producing content will allow you to be in a better position when the economy stabilizes.
Whilst your digital marketing strategy should be tailored to showcase products and services that are of use to customers, you should also keep creating generic content about your industry. This content will be more useful in the long run when society returns to normal.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want to be ranking for in a year?
- How do you want people to perceive your business when coming out of the recession?
- What have your core beliefs and values always been?
- What makes you different from your competitors?
Use this time to work on your business. Take stock of how well you are doing against your competitors and what needs to change to help you rank above them in search engine results pages. Conducting a full audit of your website and content will help you find areas that need focusing on and how you can increase your visibility.
How you conduct yourself during this uncertain time will impact how you are perceived in the future. People will be looking for help and information both during and after the economic crisis has passed. Use this time to create guides, long-form blog content, or video series in response to key questions and phrases you are being found for.
Find out more
If you would like more information on how best to create a digital marketing strategy for the current times, please get in touch via email on firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you.