Back to all articles

Maintain marketing effectiveness during macroeconomic uncertainty

Ellen Corrigan
Ellen Corrigan
Chief Revenue Officer, Growth Americas
7 min read
17 August 2022

We live in interesting times! Employment is strong, yet many industries still struggle to hire qualified workers or may even lay off employees as companies take precautions against a potential recession. Macroeconomic conditions have thrown digital marketing best practices, roadmaps, and plans into a completely different direction.

Some companies may retract marketing and advertising in the face of adversity in hopes of saving budget. This is a bad decision, and can hurt the company in both the near- and long-term. Recent research from Analytic Partners shows that increased media and marketing investment during a recession results in stronger return on investment (ROI) and increases in incremental sales. Alternatively, companies that decrease paid advertising efforts saw a 15% dip in sales, forfeiting those profits to competitors who maintained or expanded advertising investment.

Instead of cutting back, brands should reassess their growth marketing strategy by taking a critical eye to digital acquisition analytics. It’s easy for researchers to say that marketers should increase investment based on historical data, but harder for a practicing marketer to request more budget from leadership without a precise plan for where that budget will make a proven impact.

How to find a path forward

As many companies enter budgeting for 2023, an audit of their existing customer acquisition program can help marketers strengthen their plans of attack during a rocky economic climate. In fact, the right audit can help companies improve and re-align metrics with data and measurement processes, while also optimizing the company’s advertising media mix and overall digital presence. When these insights are evaluated in contrast to competitor activity, a savvy marketer can set themselves up to improve their company’s competitive positioning and increase market share and revenue.

Start your assessment with a historical review of business goals and campaign performance. A well-rounded assessment of your advertising strategy may include something similar to DEPT®’s Dominate Program. This program is comprised of the following:

  • Data collection validation: Confirms that all website activity is tracked accurately, is combined with your post-lead or offline activity, and is ready for granular assessment.
  • Measurement plan: A detailed breakdown of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant and appropriate for every stage of the funnel, to measure leading indicators before the final conversion.
  • Competitive analysis: To understand the behaviors of your key competition, their marketing channels and where there is congestion in the marketplace and open space to accelerate strategies and drive growth.
  • Paid media opportunity analysis: Identifies all growth and efficiency opportunities within active ad platforms, as well as new whitespace opportunities.
  • Website opportunity analysis: Assesses your website not just for crawlability and indexability by search engines, but also for conversion-friendliness and an intuitive experience for real human users at every stage of the buyer journey.

Foundational data structures

When a digital media audit comes to mind, many marketers immediately jump to analysis of specific channels, though a more complete audit can identify more significant foundational issues that might be holding them back and which might otherwise be missed. Brands often may not know where to look when revenue starts to slip, because the correct KPIs are not established or aligned with broader company goals. The right measurement planning not only identifies issues, but also details solutions to address and enhance data availability. And by evaluating the existing tech stack for opportunities to complement current data or integrate data from a variety of sources, you can identify additional marketing technology investments that may need to be made.

With an established measurement framework, you can then look for gaps in the data collection process to ensure that the technical aspect of data collection is properly and comprehensively set up. Knowing the right metrics to measure does you no good unless the correct process is set up. Your measurement plan and data collection process will single out opportunities to propel performance in paid media, SEO, the website experience, and conversion rates (CVR).

Stretching your dollar to the limit

It’s important to note that consumer behavior can shift dramatically during economic changes, and marketers need to match the channel strategy to where consumers spend their time. Paid media is an integral part of a successful digital marketing program, and companies today are feeling the pressure to be everywhere their customers are (oftentimes meaning an omni-channel strategy). Using a multi-channel approach can increase advertising impact by 35 percent, as noted in the aforementioned Analytic Partners research.

As the threat of a recession looms large, marketers need to continue to invest in the brand. It’s critical that you not abandon current channels until you have a sound understanding of any audience behavior changes and channel performance. Evaluate your current strategy and investment to encourage efficient returns and bolster long-term growth. To prioritize budget and creative, determine which channels are doing the best for you. A paid media opportunity analysis will review a company’s direct response media channels, comparing performance to best practices, vertical benchmarks, and competitor activity. It will pinpoint where to make changes to streamline efficiency, enhance creative, and drive engagement, thereby freeing up budget to invest more in testing for new growth opportunities. The detailed insights that come from this help optimize channels to deliver more efficient returns and long-term growth.

Optimizing your website

It’s critical to know how customers are searching for your business, and that you have a plan to stand out. Keeping up with the changes to search engine algorithms can be challenging in today’s fast-moving digital landscape. Marketers are focused on ensuring content remains accessible when search engine algorithms change, optimizing to adapt to the constant changing of search engine crawlability standards, and maintaining site indexability. For a frictionless user experience from discovery to conversion, marketers first need to determine what challenges consumers have in finding and using your website.

Traditional SEO is only part of the story behind a comprehensive analysis of your website performance. Marketers in growth mode need to look deeper at what’s influencing consumer actions and determine how to increase high-quality leads or decrease conversion costs. A website opportunity analysis can do just that by inspecting unique criteria that can impact a website’s content, and UX performance. Technical, on-page, and heuristic analysis is compiled and developed into a roadmap, which will stop customer leakage due to website functional deficits and help simplify the conversion process.

No company has money to leave on the table or throw away, especially in an unpredictable economic environment. When marketing investments are reduced during a recession, companies don’t just suffer in the short term–it creates a waterfall where demand that could have been generated now gets delayed, damaging your ability to ramp up acquisition again when the economy improves. Research PROVES that continuing to invest – or even scaling your current investment – will pay off significantly.

With the right insights, you can maximize growth and ROI, and also hold every dollar accountable – which is critical in times where companies around the world are tightening their belts and scrutinizing every investment. Learn how DEPT®’s Dominate Program can arm you with a precise plan of attack for spending precious budgetary dollars.

Learn more about our growth services


More Insights?

View All Insights


Chief Revenue Officer, Growth Americas

Ellen Corrigan