Recession Marketing - More for Less

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Marketing during a recession can see businesses looking at how to get more from less. Find out how to up your digital performance without increasing budgets.

Recession marketing – how to get more from your marketing strategy without upping your budget

 When reviewing the digital performance of various industries as part of our sector reports, we are seeing an almost universal fall in organic traffic within retail industries. The primary exceptions in our research are childcare, care homes, and funerals – ‘recession proof’ industries that provide a need to have service as opposed to a nice to have product. As competition increases for an ever-shrinking pool of customers, brands must ensure that they’re winning as much of this limited traffic as possible if they want to stay visible. But, when profits are low, instincts can be to tighten budgets, rather than expand them. While, if your marketing activity is recording any ROI, throwing more budget at your strategies is a way to increase overall sales, making your marketing more efficient and profitable within your current budget restrictions is possible. When looking to make advertising strategies more profitable, our fail-safe approach is to look at how we can make them more conversion-centric.

Why you need new consumer research for recession marketing

Your first step to improving your marketing profitability is some straight-forward internal reflection. If you haven’t already, you should be researching or investing in commercial insights that help build a better picture about how your target audience has changed its behaviour. For most businesses, this is a consistent and ongoing process that forms part of their monthly board meetings. However, if you’re not consciously investing resource into identifying changing retail habits (externally, as well as just looking at your own data!), you must make this picture clearer to get the best from your conversion-centric re-strategising. Brands must question;

  • What external factors are impacting their target consumer habits
  • Whether their idea of their target market matches up to reality
  • What digital media their target customers are consuming (to help inform your marketing channel selection)

Running through these considerations will either build a new picture of who your brand is resonating with, and where you can reach them, or solidify your existing ideas. If this is something you’re already well on top of, it’s time to move on to step 2: assessing your marketing priorities.

Why conversion marketing improves performance

Being able to get more from your advertising campaigns and secure a higher ROAS doesn’t simply come down to spending more. In reality, you can invest your total advertising budget in smarter ways to ensure you’re improving conversion rates, without having to up your total outgoings. Adding a conversion focus into your advertising campaign is just one way of optimising for additional sales – when it comes to Paid Media channels, many of these even offer options to optimise for conversions directly from the platform. However, to truly maximise the performance of your campaigns, a Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) strategy should be in place outside of your advertising platform, on your site itself.

Ideally, a solid conversion marketing strategy should already be in place across your full site, ensuring that user journeys are optimised and geared towards sales and lead generation. But applying Conversion Rate Optimisation to just one key landing page will secure benefits within your existing campaigns. In the example below, we can see how one of our clients was performing on a Paid Search campaign where they were investing £30,000:

Conversion model - Before

 The next image shows the potential conversion uplift that comes with reallocating media spend, as opposed to upping your marketing budgets. For this brand, they took just £3,000 from their media budget to put towards optimising their campaign landing pages instead – as a result, they secured 450 more sales at a CPA £13 lower than their previous campaign and double their initial media investment:

Conversion model - After

 To put it simply, you should be looking at the age old ‘quality versus quantity’ debate. Though the above campaign got less traffic (as you would expect when reducing media budget), the landing page this traffic was directed to was higher-quality and better poised to encourage conversions. Despite driving 10% less traffic, the campaign delivered 50% more conversions. The above model is only looking at Paid Search. In reality, if the overall conversion rate was improved, all channels would benefit – you can test your own potential gains in our Director of Conversion Strategy, Al Rowe’s, ROI calculator.

How well re-allocating budget to CRO will work will also depend on your AOV, current level of conversion optimisation, and your own particular niche, but this is a good starting point to judge how much more you stand to gain from this simple change in your strategy.

Why you need digital marketing that is fully integrated 

If reallocating budget isn’t a possibility for your brand, you can look at improving your omnichannel communication and strategy integration to increase performance and conversions. No marketing channel really acts in isolation, as they should all be following the same guidelines and looking to you, as the central point of authority on your brand, to ensure that this aligns with your current business goals. From experience, we know that two channels joining up and sharing insights will yield better performance from both sides. Just as we demonstrated above that Conversion Rate Optimisation should be integral to a Paid campaign, other channels should be combined to identify stronger opportunities for performance gains. For example, a joint SEO and Paid Search campaign becomes a campaign to occupy as much SERP real estate as possible, while Paid Social Media can be used to amplify any Digital PR activity. When these activities are coming from one agency, there’s no excuse for your marketing teams to not be aligned on strategy.

Fully-integrated is what we do at ClickThrough, but we recognise that many businesses choose to work with different agencies on different marketing channels. When you’re in this situation and aren’t looking to centralise your marketing activity, assess how these different agencies are currently working together:

  • Ensure they have one central point of contact (likely to be you!) but are able (and feel comfortable) to contact one another
  • Make it clear that you expect strategies to be aligned with one another or, at the very least, communicated to other channels
  • Request regular updates on how individual strategies are integrating on activity and identify any knowledge gaps between channels
  • Challenge any activity that doesn’t align with the above

The marketing teams you work with should be keen to collaborate in order to improve performance. If not, it’s time to seriously consider moving to one digital agency so you can trust that this integration will become more natural.

So, in summary, brands can secure a better return on their recession marketing activities by:

  1. Looking inwards to identify current business goals and changes in consumer behaviour before making marketing decisions
  2. Reallocating budget to Conversion Rate Optimisation for key campaign pages
  3. Aligning existing strategies to be better integrated and focused on a common goal

If you want to explore how you can improve your performance without committing to a higher marketing budget cost, how to reduce media spend wastage, and how to drive more performance from less, read up on our 10-Week Performance Accelerator Programme for CMO’s & Marketing Leaders.


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