6 Digital Marketing Tips to Help Your Business Survive a Recession

With inflation hitting a 40-year high, many economists are sounding the alarm that a recession is nearing. They warn the recession could come as soon as early or mid-2023.

With ongoing talks about a looming recession, many businesses and organizations find themselves in unchartered waters and scrambling to find a strategy to keep their business strong.

When battling a recession, many businesses go straight to their marketing budget and begin to make drastic cuts. This is something we do not recommend you do amidst an economic downturn.

If you are scrambling to figure out a way to keep your business strong, keep reading. We will guide you in learning how to strengthen your digital marketing during a recession and help build a foundation to recession-proof your business.

Likelihood of a Recession in 2023

Raging inflation and fear of rising interest rates have people fearing an inevitable economic downturn.

According to Fortune, nearly 70% of surveyed economists believe that a recession will hit in 2023. 38% believe that it will hit in the first two quarters, while the other 30% believe the official start will be in the second half. Larry Summers, former secretary to President Bill Clinton, noted how he believes there is an 80% chance of a recession in 2023.

With so much riding on when this will occur, the best plan of action is to learn how to keep your business afloat during a recession.

Investing in digital marketing is investing in the long-term growth of your business. When thinking about how best to prepare your business for a recession, this is a time to make changes that will work long-term, so you are prepared for other difficult times. Making changes now to strengthen your business will make sure that you are not scrambling when the time does come.

Preparing Your Business for a Recession

Don’t wait until 2023 to start planning how your business will react. Planning early with plenty of time to spare will make you stronger if the time does come. While everyone else is frantically trying to fix their broken website or failing SEO, you will have a huge competitive advantage with your solid digital strategy already in place.  

If you are struggling to recession-proof your business. Follow these digital marketing tips to prepare and protect your business in a recession. 

1.      Don’t Cut Your Marketing Budget

We know the knee-jerk reaction is to drastically cut costs when faced with financial and economic troubles. For some businesses, it may make sense to cut your marketing budget slightly. After all, it may seem counterintuitive to keep advertising when revenue and demand are down. Even Google had to cut its marketing budget by 50% in 2020.

While you may be tempted to follow Google’s formula, this could be catastrophic for your business, especially if you don’t have the brand recognition or market share with Google. Google’s decision to cut their marketing budget is an anomaly compared to what most successful brands do when faced with economic struggles.

Think of this scenario: A recession hits and you keep advertising while all your competition cuts their budget, pauses, or decreases spending. Your business keeps your marketing budget mostly intact. Who is going to have an easier time acquiring new customers both during and after the recession: You, the company that kept marketing, or your competition who halted everything?  

If you answered your business, you are correct. When companies feel the reverberating effects of a recession, there will be less competition. This is the perfect time for your business to obtain new customers, so your business does not suffer during these uncertain times.

Instead of cutting your marketing budget, take this time to review and re-allocate. This may be a great time to invest more in your digital marketing rather than traditional marketing.

2.      Invest In SEO and Digital Advertising

One of the safest routes you can take for digital marketing during a recession is investing in your SEO and digital ads. SEO and PPC will work together to help your business thrive during a financial downturn, and SEO will position you strongly when you come out of the recession.

Making sure your SEO and PPC campaigns are aligned is always critical, but even more so in times of uncertainty. During a recession, user behavior shifts because needs and priorities change. While you always want to rank at the top of search results for your core service offerings, you also need to consider what people are searching for now. PPC campaigns can put you on top immediately before others start bidding on those keywords, and a proactive SEO strategy can help you dominate the rankings early.

You may be tempted to shut off SEO or PPC during a recession if the search volume is trending downward for your target queries, but this mistake will result in losing big on those new search terms that start trending.  By pairing SEO and PPC together, you can consistently show up when your target audience needs you.

One added benefit of keeping your digital advertising budget at full strength during a recession is that your dollars can go a little farther. With many companies pulling back on spending, advertising costs often drop with the decreased competition. That could mean more leads and more revenue without having to increase your spending, which is great news for growth-minded businesses.

3.      Focus on Consistent Branding

Branding is very important in marketing. Branding confirms credibility, builds loyalty and connects your audience to your product. Customers rely on the brands they like, especially in uncertain times like a recession. This is the time to put more effort into your branding. If you don’t communicate the value, someone else will.

During times like a recession, you may need to shift the focus of your messaging to relate to how your audience may be feeling right now. Target their emotions, show awareness, and let them know they can trust you. To keep your branding consistent, create a monthly marketing strategy you can revisit to make sure your activities are on track and consistent.

4.      Optimize Your Website.

Your website is your 24/7 working employee. It is always active and does not log off when you log off for the day. This means your website needs to be fully optimized. If it is not engaging, bringing valuable information to your customers, and easy to navigate pages. You’re likely missing out on potential leads and revenue.

An outdated website can hurt even more during a recession when consumer uncertainty and doubt are at an all-time high. Your customers need to know they can trust you, and one of the best ways to build trust is with a modern website that speaks to their needs and responds to their journey.

Before optimizing your website, perform an audit and analyze what is working and what is not working. Does your content need to be updated? Do you have good page speed? If you are not sure what parts of your website need work, have a web-design company help you rebuild your site.

5.      Keep Up Your Social Media

During a crisis like a recession, more people tend to save money and stay at home. This also means people will spend more time online looking for ways to connect. You need to be where your customers are, which is often going to be on social media. With smart social campaigns, your brand will be able to connect with your audience and ensure them you are still online.

While using social, experiment with video content. 86% of video marketers have noticed an increase in lead generation in 2022 so far. Videos can offer more engagement with your customers and can also provide a deeper understanding of what you offer. Static single images don’t provide the engagement and creative understanding like a video can.

Running paid ads on social media can help to boost your conversions and lead numbers.

Just make sure you are using the right channels for your audience. If your users are mostly spending their time on LinkedIn and TikTok, don’t focus your efforts on Twitter and Facebook.

6.      Continue Measuring and Reporting

Having a good analytics platform to measure your success will help you make data-driven decisions on what’s working and what you may need to adjust in your marketing strategy. While it’s always important to measure your results and put more money into what’s working, this is even more true during a recession when budgets can get tight.

Just make sure you aren’t too quick to cut something that isn’t driving immediate results. Lots of your marketing efforts may produce indirect results, so don’t confuse direct attribution with results (or lack thereof).

If you have Google Analytics, now is the perfect time to get set up with Google Analytics 4 to enhance your reporting and set you up for long-term success.  

Do Recessions Yield Results?

Turbulent times often create stress and anxiety for many business owners and companies. But it doesn’t always have to be like that. Many businesses that are prepared and strengthen themselves early on experience great outcomes and significant growth.

Let’s take a look at some success stories:

1.      Warby Parker

Warby Parker, the glasses company, can be touted as the great recession baby. This company was founded in the great recession of 2008 by leveraging wonderful digital marketing tactics.

They noticed a gap in the industry and delivered the perfect solution. They figured out it was hard for people to get fashionable, affordable glasses online. The products were affordable which is key during a recession. This is a great example of addressing pain points and showing up to solve them.

2.      Netflix

Netflix is a media giant with a lot of resources at its dispense, but they weren’t like this in 2008. In the time of the great recession in 2008, that’s when Netflix released its streaming service. Throughout 2009, they acquired partnerships with companies like Xbox to continue to grow and develop. In 2008 they were increasing memberships while others were decreasing.

This is a great example of how they used innovative and creative branding to gather new customers.

3.      Amazon

Amazon triumphed during the 2008-2009 recession through simple innovation and new products. Amazon introduced the Kindle around this time and saw massive growth on Christmas. More e-book sales were generated than printed.

Finding Marketing Success in a Recession

You don’t have to be a big company to withstand a recession, and you don’t have to create a new product either. As long as you are investing in what works and focusing on providing great value for your target customers, you will set yourself up for success.

Don’t wait to plan your marketing strategy for a recession. Start optimizing your website, strengthening your SEO, and utilizing social media and paid ads. While you are being proactive, your competition will be reactive, and you will come out at the top.

If you are considering a budget decrease, then it’s important to understand the potential impacts. Talk to a marketing consultant or agency who has experience predicting drops in results when you pull back on your spending.

We understand this is a turbulent time and that you may have no clue where to start. Leave all that up to Perrill. We are a full-service, in-house digital agency that will help you navigate all your digital needs to make sure you are fully prepared amidst a recession or any other challenge.

Written by

Amelia Opheim


Amelia Opheim

Post Type



Aug 09, 2022