SEO can be an effective strategy during economic uncertainty and can increase the visibility of your website, build credibility, trust, and even adapt to changing consumer behaviour.
Leveraging SEO during an economic downturn
As a business owner or marketing professional, you are always looking for ways to get the most out of your marketing efforts, specifically during economic downturns. With advertising and marketing spends taking cuts during periods of recession, you must be wondering what strategy will allow your business to retain its share and get the most bang for the buck.
Our research has indicated one such strategy that can help you weather economic depression and recessions is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). While most marketing strategies rely on paid advertising, SEO is a more sustainable and long-term approach that doesn't require constant investment to stay alive.
Investing in SEO can increase your website's visibility and credibility, which can lead to more organic traffic, leads, and sales. It involves making your website more attractive to search engines by improving its technical structure, content, and overall user experience. Best of all, it doesn't shut off when you switch off your SEO investment.
In this article, we take a deep dive into:
How does a recession affect marketing?A recession can have a significant impact on marketing efforts and strategies. Here are some ways in which recession affects marketing efforts:
1. Reduced advertising and marketing spend cuts:During a recession, businesses may face financial challenges. They may need to reduce their marketing budget, limiting the resources available for marketing campaigns and making reaching and engaging with customers more challenging. A survey by Statista of global brands found that 75% agreed or strongly agreed that the possibility of a recession in 2023 influences their media budget decisions and advertising and market expenditures for that year.
2. Increased competition:
When there's an economic downturn, businesses may face increased competition as they try to capture a smaller pool of available customers. This leads to intense competition for customer attention and loyalty, making it harder for businesses to stand out in the marketplace.
3. Changed customer behaviour:
Economic uncertainty during a recession can lead to changes in consumer behaviour. Customers may be more cautious about spending money and more selective about purchasing products and services. This can impact the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and may require businesses to adapt their messaging and targeting to better align with the needs and concerns of their audience.
4. Increased importance of digital marketing:
During a recession, businesses may need to rely more on digital marketing channels to reach customers and drive sales. With tighter budgets and increased pressure to reach customers cost-effectively, traditional marketing methods (usually considered more expensive), such as print and television advertising, may be foregone to focus on digital marketing.
This can include tactics like social media marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimisation.
A survey of global brands conducted by Statista revealed that 50% of respondents plan to decrease their offline media budgets in 2023 compared to 2022. In contrast, 42% of the surveyed multinationals intend to increase their advertising and marketing spending on online channels, while 13% plan to reduce their digital media budgets.
5. Emphasis of value:
During a recession, customers may be more focused on getting value for their money. Businesses may need to highlight the value of their products and services in their marketing efforts and offer promotions or discounts to help attract and retain customers.
If we look at the trends in UK & US markets post the pandemic, we can already see this demonstrated with consumers switching to cheaper or own brands products to save money.
Here are some key reasons why SEO is a recession-proof marketing strategy:
1. SEO helps you stay competitive & save on advertising costs.
One of the main benefits of SEO is that it can help you save on advertising costs. Unlike paid advertising, which requires you to pay for each click or impression, SEO is a more cost-effective way to attract traffic to your website. This can be especially useful during economic downturns when budgets may be tight.
By keeping SEO on during an economic recession, you can not only retain market share gained through previous optimisations but also continue to drive relevant traffic from highly relevant keywords without needing to pay for every click.
2. Organic search allows you to reach a wider audience.
Another reason why SEO is a recession-proof marketing strategy is that it can help you reach a wider audience. When you rank higher in the SERPs, your website will be more visible to a larger group of people.
This includes people who are actively searching for the products or services you offer, as well as those who may not have heard of your business before. By increasing or retaining your visibility in the SERPs when people are considering brand switches, you reach a larger and more diverse audience and have a higher chance to influence their buyer journey during the Awareness & and sales.
3. SEO can help you adapt to changing consumer behaviour.
During economic downturns, consumer behaviour often shifts as people become more cautious about their spending. SEO can help you adapt to these changes by allowing you to optimise your website and its content for the keywords and phrases that people are using to search for your products or services.
By staying attuned to these changes, you can ensure that your website remains relevant and valuable to your audience, even during tough economic times.
4. Build credibility and trust through organic search.
In addition to increasing your visibility and reach, SEO can also help you build credibility and trust with your audience. When your website ranks highly in the SERPs, it sends a message to potential customers that you are a reputable and reliable source of information.
This can help you stand out from your competitors and build trust with your audience, which can lead to more sales and customer loyalty.
5. Work with limited assets & supporting budget constraints.
While SEO focuses on creating optimised content for Search, it can also be used to drive traffic to underperforming assets. Example: E-Books, Whitepapers or Webinars previously used to drive paid media leads.
So by leveraging SEO effectively brands can leverage existing content and repurpose them during periods of Paid Media freezes, to continue to drive leads and traffic to the website.
Complementary marketing strategies to use during a recession
1. Integrated Digital Marketing:
Organic digital marketing can be a cost-effective way to reach and engage with customers during a recession. Using an integrated approach across channels like social media, organic Search and eDMs will allow brands to get the most out their limited budgets. In addition to this, brands can also focus on using limited budgets to plan defensive campaigns and remarket to users who were already moving down the buyer funnel.
During a recession, customers may be more selective about their purchases. Personalised marketing campaigns and efforts can help businesses stand out and show customers that they value their business.
3. Ensuring the incoming traffic is optimised:
It's easy to think more traffic equals more sales. However, that's not always true. By ensuring the content and the website is optimised for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation), we can help ensure the traffic that comes in has the highest probability of converting to a paying customer. While this is always valuable, this holds stronger value during a recession as we expect the market to shrink temporarily.
4. Double down on value adds:
During a recession, customers may be more focused on getting value for their money. Businesses can highlight the value of their products and services in their marketing efforts and offer promotions or discounts to help attract and retain customers.
5. Customer loyalty programme:
Customer loyalty programmes can help businesses retain their existing customer base and encourage repeat purchases during a recession.
6. Adapt to changing customer needs and behaviours:
Economic uncertainty during a recession can lead to changes in consumer behaviour. Businesses should keep a pulse on their customers' needs and concerns and adapt their marketing efforts accordingly.
In conclusion, SEO is not a 100% recession-proof marketing strategy.
However, it's a marketing strategy that holds robust value during periods of economic downturn, and it can help your brands operate when they face pressure to curtail advertising costs. It allows brands to reach a wider audience, build credibility, trust, and adapt to changing consumer behaviour.
By investing in SEO, you can increase the visibility and credibility of your website, which can lead to more organic traffic, leads, and sales, not just when markets are growing but even during economic downturns.