Strategies for Digital Marketing Growth During Economic Turmoil
With budgets being cut, social media proving to be unreliable, and the economy in a rough spot, investing in first-party data, loyalty programs, and streaming video could be a better bet for marketing growth.
In these uncertain times, no digital marketing professional can predict how bad the economic downturn that has caused tens of thousands of tech-industry layoffs will be or how long it will last. Furthermore, no one knows when Google will ultimately deprecate third-party cookies, if ever.
But analysts have a few suggestions for beleaguered marketers and CX leaders who are facing shrunken budgets and seeking ways to maximize investments in the coming year. Time is of the essence.
“CX teams that track metrics and can demonstrate the efficacy of their efforts for business outcomes get budgets to continue,” said Joe Cicman, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research. “Those that cannot? They don’t have a leg to stand on.”
The Shift from Social to Streaming
- Facebook and Twitter used to be dependable marketing investments, providing top-of-funnel audiences for marketing programs. However, both have been struggling for different reasons.
- Twitter’s content moderation uncertainties and concerning behavior from CEO Elon Musk have caused half of the top 100 advertisers to leave the platform, including well-known brands like Dell, Merck, Fidelity, and Heineken, according to research from Media Matters published in late November.
- Axios research has also shown that ad revenues from Meta’s flagship marketing channels, Facebook and Instagram, are declining considerably from their 2017 peak. The quality of audience data Meta can provide has been diluted due to new privacy laws, Apple allowing consumers to turn off cross-app tracking, and Google’s planned deprecation of third-party cookies. Additionally, the emergence of competing advertising channels such as TikTok, LinkedIn, and Amazon have cut into Meta’s market share.”
- Apple’s privacy push is having a much larger effect than anyone had predicted,” Cicman remarked.
As companies shift away from social media channels, they will need to focus on collecting and using first-party data to enhance their marketing efforts. One of the best ways to do this is by creating original content that attracts search traffic. To accomplish this on a budget, businesses can turn to AI tools such as ChatGPT to help draft content that resonates with their target audience. Andrew Frank, a Gartner vice president and analyst, suggests that companies that invest in AI technology will save money in the long run.
According to Frank, video offers a more controllable and less volatile channel to drive traffic and brand awareness compared to social media. As subscription streaming services compete for consumers’ attention, marketers will likely attempt more product placements. By incorporating their products into these videos, they can reach a larger audience and potentially drive sales.
Loyalty Programs to Counter Economic Headwinds
The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant economic disruptions, resulting in tech layoffs in 2022, which peaked at 153,000, with over 50,000 in November alone. Marketing staff were not immune to these layoffs, putting big-picture plans such as building a metaverse presence on hold or canceling them altogether.
Creating a digital experience for customers is challenging, with many companies struggling to build a single-vendor marketing or experience cloud. According to Forrester’s Cicman, companies are building their online presence with multiple-vendor tech stacks, not integrated clouds.
Rather than buying a single provider’s cloud and attempting to use it for all their needs, companies need to assemble the components that align with their unique digital strategy. Assembling these components is like creating a bespoke motherboard, where each component is tailored to their specific needs.
In economic downturns, the cost of acquiring new customers is higher than retaining existing ones. Therefore, companies need to focus on loyalty programs and improving their customer service to keep their customers satisfied. B2B companies can also benefit from investing in explanatory content that enables customer success, which can help with customer acquisition through word-of-mouth recommendations.
Cicman advises against relying on gimmicks like discounts and flashy videos to sell products. Instead, companies should focus on providing value to their customers and bringing new products to market. By doing so, they will acquire customers organically, based on their product’s merits, rather than relying on gimmicks.