We still don’t know where the cards will fall in terms of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Many organizations — and marketers, especially — have been asked to freeze nonessential spending. In fact, eMarketer has revised its predictions on global ad spending, lowering projections from $712.02 billion to $691.7 billion this year. Facebook and Google are facing down losses amounting to $44 billion in ad revenue this year while Disney is looking at a 20% decline in ad revenues.
As a comparison, the recession in 2008 led to a 13% drop in ad spending in the US, with the bulk lost from newspaper ad spending, which dipped 27%.The uncertainty has created a crater in terms of ad spend and many organizations are being very, very careful about how and where marketing dollars are spent.
Here’s the thing: maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a recession lead to increased sales and market share both during a recession and after. Numerous studies say so.
The natural, knee-jerk reaction is to contract and freeze marketing spending, but that may not be the healthiest option for your business. That said, it’s also true that each business is unique and faces its own challenges during a downturn. If you do find yourself cutting marketing spending during this time, consider the following ways to get the most out of your marketing budget.
Hone in On Content Marketing
Yes, we’re biased, but it also makes sense in terms of ROI and brand awareness. Still not convinced? Consider that:
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Source: DemandMetric)
- Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Source: Aberdeen)
- 39% of marketing budget is spent on content marketing by the most effective B2B marketers. (Source: TopRankBlog)
- 64% of B2B marketers outsource writing. (Source: TopRankBlog)
Here’s the catch: you must create content that matters. Content marketing is no longer a novel concept and many organizations have spent years fine-tuning content production. The result is that the market is flooded with information. Your content must shine above the rest and compel people to engage. This will require a thoughtful strategy along with a dedication to execution.
Start by conducting a content audit to take stock of what you have available. Consider where each piece of content falls in the flywheel and establish any gaps you may have. Next, take a look at content that can be repurposed for something else. Start with long-form content like white papers and ebooks and consider how they might be dissected into blogs, infographics, or social posts. Another option is to refresh content. If you have articles that are statistic-heavy, scan through to see where you may be able to find updated statistics. This is an especially effective strategy for content that is still relevant. Consider adding in a new intro paragraph to tie the article’s contents to the present day.
It’s also a good time to optimize content where you can. Take another look at the content audit to identify areas that are ripe for A/B-testing. Test out different headlines, images, colors, CTAs, and copy and record the results. Consider how those results may be applicable in other areas.
Use Email to Build and Nurture Relationships
Maintaining healthy communication with customers and prospects is critical during times like these. Email can be a great tool to foster engagement, empathy, and connection, especially when everyone is remote. Think about different ways you can connect with current customers while also getting information that can help you with customer acquisition in the future. Sending surveys can be one way to connect with customers while also discovering what motivates them, how they feel about your services, and other problems they are looking to solve.
Insights garnered from these exercises can be worked into the content marketing strategy. Perhaps you identify a new industry challenge that many of your customers and target audience is facing. That could make an effective ebook or article. Be sure to pass on any useful feedback to the correct people within your organization, too. That may include the sales team, product team, or customer service.
While your marketing budget may remain on lockdown even after shelter-in-place orders expire, that doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel. Be strategic and creative to discover unique ways to reach your target buyers and to establish a meaningful connection. Content can be one way to do that inexpensively and effectively. Content can continue to build trust and credibility for your brand while educating and entertaining an audience that is hungry for information. By staying the course, you’ll be in a strong position to pivot and continue to grow as we all navigate the uncertain path ahead.
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