Six Digital Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners During An Economic Downturn

By Christina Martinez, CEO at Traject

The economic rollercoaster of the past few years has presented new challenges for small and mid-sized businesses. Businesses are being impacted by adverse economic conditions in various ways, from supply chain challenges to decreases in consumer buying power. Even in times of growth, but especially in times of turbulence, companies must evolve their marketing strategies to respond to fast-changing consumer behavior and fluctuations in demand.

Though digital marketing has been an important marketing strategy for decades, the pandemic dramatically increased consumer demand for digital excellence and resulted in rapid digital marketing adoption by businesses of all sizes. Gartner reports that marketing budgets account for 9.5% of total company revenue in 2022, an increase from 6.4% in 2021. However, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of vastly increasing their marketing budgets, especially in light of economic uncertainty. But, small business owners can leverage the scalability of digital marketing to help fill the gaps and make their businesses recession-resilient throughout the coming months.

Here are a few ways your small business can do that.

Be discoverable online

Decide on your hub – the main place to which you want to drive your customers. For most businesses, this is a website. But, it could be your TikTok account, your Etsy page – whatever you decide is the best place for you to engage with prospects and customers, as well as convert customers.

Once you have your hub, optimize the content on your hub to rank well when someone is searching for you. For example, if your website is your hub, what search terms should trigger your website to rank at the top of the search results? Make sure your site has useful content containing those search terms, and use a SEO ranking tool to track how your domain is performing.

Prioritize the customer experience

Digital marketing is the most effective way to interact with your customers at scale. You can provide tailored experiences to different kinds of customers as well as control where your target audience interacts with your brand.

It’s important to also remember that consumers are looking for a frictionless digital experience — digital expectations have risen as a result of spending more time online in recent years.

Make it easy for customers to get service, make it easy for them to buy from your business. And, often overlooked but critically important, make sure you ask for reviews. Reviews are a powerful way not only for you to understand the experience customers are having with your business but also for prospective customers to receive the social proof they need to feel comfortable buying from you. If you are a local business, a tool like GatherUp can dramatically help you automate review requests and analyze review content.

Stay connected with your audience

To optimize the customer experience, make sure you maintain engagement with your consumers. Ask questions, encourage feedback and actively respond to their comments and DMs online. This can inform your digital content strategy – you need to know what consumers are looking for, as well as which social platform resonates the strongest with your target customers, to offer the content they need in a place they will easily find it.

Remember all customer feedback is valuable. Positive feedback can be used as content on your website and social media. Constructive criticism can help inform your strategy moving forward.

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Standardize your brand voice

All brands have a personality linked to their market segment, target audience and values. This brand voice is necessary to create, strengthen and preserve your brand’s perception among consumers. Effective digital communication taps into this brand voice across mediums, including web copy, email newsletters, company blog content and social media posts.

It’s critical to be consistent with your brand voice and values, especially in times of economic uncertainty when consumers may be hesitant to stray from their trusted brands. Having a clear brand voice and values will guide how you communicate with your audience to ensure you’re supporting their needs and your overall business goals in tandem.

Stay active on social media

Being top of mind is especially important in a competitive market. Releasing quality content is vital to cultivating a reliable consumer base, and social media is one of the best distribution mediums for this content.

If you are a small business with limited bandwidth, consider using a tool like Loomly to help streamline your social media management processes and maximize your efficiency.

Consider video marketing

Video marketing has overtaken other forms of visual content to become the most engaging way to connect with your intended customer base. Social video content is generating 1200% more shares than image- or text-based content online.

Not only does video present the type of easily consumable, human-first content preferred by most social media algorithms, it also helps build authentic brand trust and connections in a way written content alone cannot. Consider live-streaming from your business’ social platforms or recording and posting short-form videos for TikTok, Instagram or Facebook. Using a video planner tool like PLANOLY can help you to schedule your videos with ease.

While economic turbulence is not a fun challenge to weather, it can be a powerful forcing function for a business to implement critical digital marketing strategies that can pay off in significant long-term growth. I hope these tips provide a good jumping-off point helping you create a resilient and sustainable business. And, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something different, as not all strategies work for all businesses. Digital marketing is constantly growing and evolving, so flexibility and a testing mindset are far more valuable than a one-size-fits-all strategy.

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