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Four Strategies for Marketing During an Economic Downturn

Economic downturns are faced by marketers in every business and tackling them is a skill. Here are four strategies for marketing during an economic downturn.
marketing strategies

In the best of times, marketers have an increasingly difficult job. Driving company growth is not just one thing.  Building and maintaining a strong brand, engaging customers, and building quality pipeline are just a few of things marketing teams own.  Typically, you are squeezing more out of the same budget and don’t have enough people, resources, or in-house expertise for everything you want to do.

But what happens when you add economic uncertainty or downturns to the equation? Budget cuts, hiring freezes, layoffs, reduced headcount, and increased stress can make even the most confident marketers feel a bit shaky. Some of you reading this have been through economic downturns before and understand for every down there will be a reciprocal up. The economy will return, so no need to panic.  Until then, here are a few considerations that have helped me in the past.

Here are four strategies for marketing during an economic downturn:

1. Double-down on existing customers.

Customers are one of your most valuable assets.  Make sure to treat them that way!  Consider programs that are helpful like a free education or training course.  Look at expansion opportunities as well.  Now is a great time to ensure you have solid customer segmentation with clear paths for upsell and cross-sell.

2. Optimize digital spend and show ROI.

Now is not the time to spend money on lower converting segments. In my opinion, it is also not the time to stop digital spend (which some companies do).  Test messaging and also double down on the highest converting segments.  Additionally, make sure you can illustrate your ROI from valuable programs.  Look at Tealium’s conversion API for Google and Meta to preserve conversion measurement.

3. Focus on results-driven channels and segments.

Think of your marketing program mix like a stock portfolio – at times you need to change the mix.

With behaviors changing quickly, and resources limited, it is critical to identify and focus on the most cost-effective and best performing channels that drive the greatest ROI.

For example, maybe large trade shows provide 3x return, but smaller field events are at 6x.  The larger events might be a program to dial back on – but field events could be ramped up.  Performance will look different for each organization, but it’s a good time to make sure program performance stats are clear.

4. Invest in technology that delivers the most significant impact.

With limited people, budget, and resources, utilizing technology that marries data to action is paramount to marketing success. Technology that connects to and enhances your existing tech stack, like a CDP, no matter what tools you use, will save your team time, improve and enhance workflows, and ensure buyers have a relevant and trusted experience.

For example, based on a Forrester study, global enterprises were able to achieve:

  • 3% increase to average order value with improved customer segmentation and personalization
  • 8.5% increase in campaign engagement by year two through recapturing abandoned conversions
  • Up to 25% lift in productivity across digital advertising, web analytics, and database operations team
  • $782,000 savings from technology stack optimizations
  • $1.2 million increased revenue from right-time data access

To effectively engage, sell to, and retain customers – especially in a trying economic time – it is important to examine your current plan.  Chances are some changes are needed, whether it is a tweak to messaging or modify an ongoing program.  The key is to remain nimble and also look at what the data is telling you.  CDPs are top of mind for many teams, but often people do not realize the multiplier effect.  Your current tech stack will be more efficient and will drive better results – with BETTER data inputs.  For example, if someone changes privacy preferences, reflecting this in real time can help retain a valuable customer.  Providing an at risk customer with an offer proactively, can impact churn.  Engaging a segment so they graduate to a higher value segment can significantly impact the quarter.  The key starts with optimizing the right data and the ability to act.

Regardless of the economy or trying times, marketers are tough, creative, and resilient.  This time will pass, but until then, hopefully these tips will help inspire some ideas!

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Heidi Bullock, CMO, Tealium
Heidi Bullock is an experienced marketing executive who has built a 20+ year career working at both global enterprise technology companies and start-ups and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer for B2B marketing.

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