By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
One of five advertisers are reducing their marketing budgets this year because of rising inflation rates and supply chain issues, according to a recent study from Advertising Perceptions.
What can you as a small business marketer do under such conditions? Just sitting out the next couple of quarters and waiting for 2023 to arrive is not the answer you want to give or to hear from your bosses. Instead, it’s time for you to deploy some effective marketing strategies that can keep your company visible during these tight economic times.
From sprucing up your website to sticking to your ad-budget guns, here are four ways that your small business can boost its digital marketing strategy during this time of economic uncertainty:
1) Give That Website a Bright Refresh
Especially if you haven’t redesigned in your website in the past year or two, it’s time to do so. Your website is a key component to your brand image, and an outdated website won’t help you stand out among your competitors.
Consider the last time you’ve added a web page, updated your products and services lists, or added a blog post to your site to boost your content marketing efforts. Is it time to replace images, gifs or memes with newer ones? Does your main page generally need more pop with a redesign that makes the user experience even more friendly?
Your website is the digital epicenter for your business, so you should make it easy for prospects to find additional information about you, along with contact information and how to contact you directly.
“In my experience, the half-life of a website is about two years,” Steve Ohanians, co-founder and CEO for WebEnertia, recently wrote in a Forbes Council post.
“Two years after you launch a newly designed website, it’s about 50% less effective than it was during the launch. Two years after that, it’s about 25% as effective, and it only decreases from there.
“ … Even further, if your website looks neglected, it demonstrates a lack of value for your customers’ digital experiences. The digital experience is everything in 2022 (and beyond), and every brand should prioritize their customers’ online experience.”
2) Build Community Relationships
Put those Lions and Rotary club fees to good use by attending meetings regularly and letting your small business counterparts there know that you’re still there for them, even during a tight economy.
This is a good time to give those counterparts a business card and tell them about that newly redesigned website your company just launched, perhaps.
Another avenue where you can keep developing relationships with your customers is through your social media marketing. You’re not conspicuously selling to customers here; rather, you are using your social platform of choice to listen and engage with your online clientele.
Figuring out which social platforms to use is key, yet tricky, notes Ella Ames, a personal finance and small business expert.
“Trying to spread yourself across a wide net of social media platforms can be difficult for small business owners with limited resources,” she recently wrote for The Balance Small Business, a division of the Dotdash Meredith publishing group.
“Instead, figure out which online channels make the most sense for your business and the customers you’re trying to reach. Are you targeting professional clients? LinkedIn might be your ideal tool. Does your marketing have a strong visual aspect? Instagram could be the best fit for your business.”
3) Stick to Your Guns: Keep This Year’s Ad Budget Alive
With one of five advertisers thinking about cutting back their ad budgets, this means less competition — and more opportunity — for those 80% of small business marketers who have convinced their company to keep their ad budgets for the year intact.
Nicole Perrin, VP of business intelligence at Advertiser Perceptions, suggests that businesses take such steps as leaning on retail media more, particularly advertising opportunities that might arise from closeouts from stores that are overloaded with inventory.
Businesses also can buy more in media where bid density has lowered, such as digital video, she says. “Less competition means active advertisers will likely get more for their budgets than they did last year.”
Applying first-party data to addressable and connected TV advertising, where it can reach precise audiences as efficiently as possible, is another step Perrin recommends.
“Media with first-party data can make the strongest case for upper-funnel or brand advertising, especially where it’s becoming less expensive than performance channels,” she says. “That’s a massive opportunity where the crux is context and audience rather than clicks.”
4) Outsource to Marketing/Website Strategists
We also are in a more privacy-focused era in digital marketing, which will affect where advertisers spend their digital-ad dollars while removing third-party data in the years ahead.
With that reality in mind, you as a small business owner or marketer might consider outsourcing to a digital marketing specialist — one who can help direct your precious advertising dollars into this new age of no third-party cookies.
This marketing specialist can help you identify what will work best for your business, perhaps with an updated programmatic advertising plan that brings more bang per tight budget buck.
Such a specialist also can direct you to other specialties to outsource, such as graphic design, video and content specialists to help you while you’re working on that website redesign.
With the removal of third-party data, a marketing specialist also can help boost your search engine optimization efforts with a plan that keeps the latest SEO strategies and algorithms in mind.
“If you want your website to reach people, you have to be aligned with the current SEO algorithm, and that means adapting when it changes,” says Steve Ohanians, the WebEnertia CEO who, we noted earlier, likes to see his company’s website refreshened every couple of years.
“If your site isn’t optimized for your most current SEO efforts (too), you’ll miss out on the opportunity to win attention from prospects and drive them to your website,” he says.