In June 2022, inflation rates hit a new four-decade high. Food, gas, and rent prices are rising, squeezing household budgets. As the government's consumer price index surged 9.1% over the past year, the greatest increase since 1981, business owners have become increasingly concerned.
Data shows that 84% of Americans plan to cut back on spending, which will cause a trickle-down effect. In response, companies are honing in on their budgets — and marketing budgets are often one of the first to get cut.
We previously published an article on Three Strategies to Grow Your Business in a Down Economy, and now we’re going a bit more granular with our marketing strategy by addressing some micro-marketing tactics that are small but deliver big results.
But first, let’s take a closer look at how marketers have been responding to the current economic climate and allocating budgets.
How marketers are responding to the macroeconomic conditions
We’re living in a complex marketing and economic landscape. As marketers, we can no longer live under a “spray and pray” model of marketing when every dollar is accountable for results.
The goal for many marketers at this time is to adapt and thrive, despite the uncertainty ahead. However, budget cuts are often out of their control. Marketers have reported increasing pressure to prove the impact of marketing efforts in recent years, which is frustrating when many CFOs are hyperfocused on short-term results. Bridging the marketing and finance department gap could spark a highly productive partnership.
A Gartner survey shows that marketing budgets have increased to 9.5% of overall company revenue in 2022. However, this figure is still down from the average budget between 2018 and 2020 of 10.9%.
Marketers are shifting back to an omnichannel strategy to make every dollar count, allocating nearly half (44%) of their available budget to offline channels. Although COVID encouraged a digital-first approach, tightening budgets will force marketers to focus on their most productive channels.
As reported in the Gartner survey, CMOs are embracing a back-to-basics approach, with the top three investments being campaign creation (10.1%), brand strategy (9.7%), and marketing operations (9.6%). The primary goal is to build awareness and engagement through effective marketing campaigns that connect with customers.
The rise of budget-friendly micro-marketing tactics
As we go back to the basics with our marketing approach, it’s time to be a bit more simple with some of the processes and best practices in our marketing efforts and make small changes to deliver bigger and better results.
Audit and implement
Google recently released the Helpful Content update and some websites are already seeing the impacts. Now is the ideal time to run a website or content audit to assess the health of your site and refresh its SEO for a better ranking in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
This process can also pinpoint what content topics are working and driving conversions so you can focus on that content on other channels you already own, like in your email nurture campaigns or social media campaigns. Having a report or document that lists out all the content available can help different divisions create new campaigns or optimize poor performers with newer content.
What’s in a campaign name?
Well, your campaign name can be whatever it needs to be but it better have UTM tracking appended any time it’s shared. Spreadsheets can be the bane of our existence but there should be a shared UTM tracking document so everyone follows the same protocols in naming standards and can quickly see what campaigns already have UTMs created. Then, these UTM parameters can be used for more granular tracking especially if a piece of content is shared on social organically and paid to see which version performed better.
Automate, automate, automate
As marketers, we invest a lot of money, time, and resources into our tools so use them to their fullest potential and put the automation back in marketing automation. From automating direct mail or email campaigns, such as welcome tracks, post-purchase communications, retargeting/abandoned cart, or segmented nurture tracks to automating social media posts and replies to direct messages, there are many ways to leverage automation to get the most return on your investment.
Don’t just run the A/B test, recap and apply the results
We generally love running A/B tests, on emails, landing pages, or in ads, but it often seems we run the test and then it’s off to the races on the next marketing campaign without taking the time to analyze the results and understand what those results are telling us.
Steal from the Agile framework and run a post-mortem on every A/B test or every marketing campaign so you can review results immediately and apply the learnings to the next campaign or iterations of your high performers. It often feels like marketing teams wait until yearly planning to look back at campaigns and results and could be missing out on opportunities to quickly optimize campaigns for better ROI.
Get to know your customers
We know that consumers are cutting back on their spending but not all consumers make cuts to their budgets the same way. Send out surveys to understand what’s important to them in terms of your products or services and what they want or would be willing to pay for. Plus, you can also use this survey data for further segmentation of your database, better personalization in your next marketing message, and can even send custom offers to drive action.
Celebrate your customers
A budget-friendly way to create great content for your brand is by searching for User-Generated Content (UGC). Sharing UGC is not only affordable as the customer has done most of the work for you, it’s also an easy way to increase your brand’s reputation as your customers are telling your brand’s story for you. Adding UGC to your social media calendar ensures you have great content to share without creating it yourself, and it can help prospects move into the next stage of the funnel.
Create relationships with your influencers
Spend time on social media engaging with those that have influence in your industry. You don't have to go all out with a formal influencer partnership, but comment on their posts on their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts to get your name in front of their followers, or simply share and tag their content on your own networks.
HARO or sponsor content
List your brand as a source for Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to build your credibility by being a valuable resource for journalists and their upcoming stories. If you prefer to own the narrative, look for sponsored content or advertorial opportunities with publications or websites in your industry, or see if you can sponsor content in trade email newsletters. You can batch this content upfront and send subscribers to your gated content.
Focus on proven ROI-driving marketing channels
To optimize marketing campaigns, marketers must rely on the data available — what will provide the greatest ROI? According to this State of Direct Mail report, 67% of respondents say their direct mail ROI is the highest of any channel they currently use, and 68% of respondents saw a measurable return on investment when using Lob to deploy their direct mail.
Related: How to Use Your Marketing Data to Influence Your Next Direct Mail Campaign
While direct mail has a 13x higher base response rate than email and an open rate of 90% vs. 29.55%, both marketing channels have a place in most businesses. The goal is to choose which channel best suits your message and current workflow.
For example, if you have a list of non-responsive email users but have their postal addresses, direct mail can bring them back. Similarly, if you plan to mail consumers a special offer, you can send an email to create hype. Knowing what channel to utilize is more than half the battle, especially when money is limited.
Why gamble on anything else when you're guaranteed a solid direct mail ROI?
Recommended: Take a deep dive on ROI by attending our upcoming webinar: Real-Life Direct Mail Strategies to Crush ROI and Budget Goals.
Unleash the power of intelligent, automated direct mail
If your budget is tightening, now is the time to invest in channels that will increase customer lifetime value, ROI, and revenue with personalized, connected, and measurable direct mail.
Lob is the only automation platform transforming direct mail campaigns into intelligent mail at scale. The automation process will allow you to reduce costs and supercharge direct mail ROI, which is imperative this year and beyond.
Want to learn more? Connect with a Lob expert to book a demo today!