Marketing budgets are hard to secure on a good day, but if you’re facing uncertainty in your business, it’s even harder to find the funds for marketing. The current COVID-19 pandemic is creating havoc in nearly all industries, leading many businesses to slash marketing budgets to stay afloat.
As a business owner, you’re juggling a looming recession and a significant change in consumer habits. While it’s tempting to cut your marketing spend during this uncertain time, this short-term survival strategy could hurt you in the long-term.
eCommerce sales have surged by 25% in the weeks since COVID-19 quarantined the majority of Americans in their homes. People are ordering online in droves, and if you aren’t investing in online marketing, you’re missing out on this big change in consumer behavior.
3 ways to handle your marketing budget through uncertainty
When a business feels squeezed for cash, the first place it often cuts costs is marketing. But that’s counterintuitive to your success: if you want to get more business, you still need to focus on marketing.
Give your business more stability during an uncertain time. Use these 3 tips to be thoughtful about where you’re allocating your marketing dollars.
Lean on the data
Tensions are running high right now, but emotion shouldn’t affect your marketing decisions. Use your marketing data to inform the best next steps.
Where are people buying right now? Is a particular SKU or service performing well? Pivot your marketing dollars to what’s working. It’s easier to go with the flow than it is to fight customer behavior. Pump dollars into how people want to shop right now.
You should spend money only where you’re seeing a return on your investment. Put analytics at the forefront of your marketing efforts. For example, if you run a PPC campaign and don’t see results after a week, it’s time to try something else. Data will lead you to the right path.
Now’s also a good time to invest in customer research, too. While your buyer personas might give you insight into customer needs, this data probably doesn’t include buyer behavior during a crisis. What do customers want right now? You can figure it out by:
- Looking at organic Google searches on Google Trends.
- Viewing your Search Terms Report in Google Ads.
- Conducting paid interviews with a handful of customers.
Audience data is critical to marketing. Know who you’re selling to and what they need; this will help you adjust your campaigns accordingly to boost ROI.
Got a limited budget? There’s never been a better time to invest in organic marketing strategies. While you’ll still need to pay for labor and technology, organic marketing strategies are effective and affordable.
If you’re running on a shoestring budget and PPC is out of the question for the foreseeable future, dedicate your time to low-cost, high-reward efforts like SEO and content marketing.
It’s tempting to write about COVID-19 all over your site, but now’s the time to invest in evergreen content. When the world returns to normal, you’ll have a collection of regular content that’s been maturing in the SERPs.
Organic social media is also budget-friendly. Customers are online much more today, and that gives you a lifeline to their social feeds. Have a staff member manning your social media at all times. Share helpful resources, ask engaging questions, and highlight good things that are happening in the world. Position your brand as a source of hope and help during uncertain times to boost engagement.
Advertise, but carefully
If you have the budget to do it, you can still run PPC ads during uncertain times. Many brands have paused their PPC campaigns because of the uncertainty, or because of new customer behavior trends. The good news is that ads are now much cheaper, thanks to a decrease in competition. If it makes sense for your brand, PPC advertising can be a good avenue for budget-friendly wins.
Of course, what was relevant before the pandemic won’t be relevant right now. Don’t run your old PPC campaigns. Adjust your landing pages, ad copy, and keywords to reflect customers’ new reality.
For example, don’t run ads telling customers to attend an event, travel somewhere, or to visit your physical location. If you run ads like these, you risk coming off as tone-deaf, and it can hurt your customer relationships.
Watch the tone of your ads, too. It’s okay to be positive, but irreverent or edgy messaging isn’t going to land well right now. Focus on empathetic, understanding language that’s more serious.
If you’re in an industry that’s been particularly hard-hit, like travel or real estate, it might be better to pause PPC for now. But instead of pausing all marketing efforts, reroute those dollars to different marketing initiatives, like content or email, to keep you top of mind to customers.
The bottom line
It’s tempting to slash your marketing budget during hard times. But that’s going to have the opposite effect on your business, diminishing website traffic and valuable business leads when you need them most.
Now’s the time to bolster your marketing activities to bring on new customers. Instead of being reactive, make a strategic plan. Follow these 3 tips to find more opportunities on a modified marketing budget. Long-term planning is essential in uncertain times. Let data and logic light your path forward as we find a new normal.
Feeling stressed from the COVID-19 fallout? We understand. You can make the most of limited marketing resources by partnering with an experienced team like Logical Media Group. Get in touch now for a no-strings-attached brainstorming session.