HomeResourcesMarketing in a Recession: Ten cost effective marketing ideas

Marketing in a Recession: Ten cost effective marketing ideas

8th December 2022 - 9 mins


By Rachael Kotadia

, Marketing Director

It’s official. After months of speculation, the UK is now in a recession. How long it will last is still unknown with many international pressures having an impact, but what we do know is that behaviours will change and there often can be a scrutiny on marketing budgets.

A common question brands will try to understand is ‘will consumers stop buying or spend less’. Well not necessarily. After the previous recession, The Harvard Business Review grouped consumers into 4 segments which still sing true.

  • Those that reduce all types of spending are ‘Slam on the breaks’.
  • The ‘Pained but patient’ do save in areas but not as aggressively.
  • A third group is ‘Comfortably well off’ who purchase nearly the same as pre-recession levels but might be more selective.
  • The final segment they marked as ‘Live for today’ who pretty much carry on as usual.


Three quarters of customers are still looking to purchase

Out of four potential groups of consumers, three out of the four still do look to make purchases in some capacity. What we all do know, is that the vast majority will purchase with the brands they know, like and trust.
Therefore, as a marketer retention marketing and focusing on your current customer base is now more vital than ever.

Will your marketing budget decrease, stay the same or increase?

What also doesn’t help is that often reductions in marketing spend or budgets can often arise. Some can argue that marketing budgets should not be reduced in a recession but increased to capitalise on brand awareness for when the recession is over.
However, sometimes that decision is out of the marketer’s hands and so reviewing ways to be more cost effective, whether that be budget, time or resources – is a worthwhile activity.

So here are 10 ideas on ways you can get more value from your existing channels, customers, teams, technology or data!

Man using laptop dressed in red

1. Encourage user generated content

We all know that people trust other people, so take this opportunity to get help from your current customers for your marketing content.
Spend less on professionally created content and instead ask your customers to share pictures on social media of them using your product or service!
With the right permissions this content can easily be used in your marketing campaigns, and imagery or pictures that are from real customers can seem more authentic and trustworthy than carefully curated brand imagery.
A great way to do this can also be in collaboration with a competition, so those that do get involved, have the opportunity to get something out of it to.
Social Apps on a mobile

2. Use your followers

If your budget for advertising and acquisition is reduced, you should look to maximise your followers as it doesn’t cost you a penny to communicate with them!
Not only for retention marketing, but more often than not, a brands following can be made up of customers yet to purchase, so it can also be one of the cheapest for acquisition too.
The key will be to ensure you have a balance between promotional and non-promotional posts, but giving your followers special early access, offers or other rewards, could turn your social media followers into the most valuable audience in these times.
Also, remember to encourage your followers to share and tag their friends, as each follower has their own network which helps you with organic – (free) – additional reach on all your social posts.
Sale label on clothing

3. Be selective with discounts

In order to save money, you shouldn’t give broad discounts to everyone. You may think that this isn’t a cost saving idea as you are giving away a discount, however you will always have a subset of customers who may need a discount to nudge them to purchase.
But the key is to understand who a discount should be given to, because if you provide a discount to a customer who might have been prepared to pay full price, then your brand has instantly lost revenue.
A controversial example but do you need to give discounts to your VIPs or loyal customers, as they are the ones who are mostly likely to purchase with you anyway? A better valued added benefit or offer might be more appropriate for them.
And save your discounts for things such as enticing lapsing customers back, who are more likely going to need that draw back after being un-engaged with your brand for a while.
Women working on laptop

4. Increase the number of automations

The best thing about automation is that it can save the marketer a lot of time and effort in not having to set up multiple campaigns, to different groups of customers, on an ongoing basis.
Automations are set up to trigger off your customers behaviours making them much more relevant to each individual. Having automations set up and running in the background means they can help contribute revenue to your brand at any moment in time, and enables you to plough your efforts into more strategic tasks.
The more automations you have set up running in the background the better! Why not set yourself a short term goal to increase the number of automation campaigns you have running by a small %.
Each automated campaign set up has the potential to bring in additional revenue that you might not have achieved if that automation wasn’t in place!
Broadcasting live on social media

5. Use Facebook and Instagram Live

In a multi-channel world, customers engage with brands in all types of channels and mediums. And I am still surprised as to how many brands don’t maximise the use of a free tool they already have through their social channels, which is the ‘Live’ feature.
The real time, and un-edited way these live videos are performed can make them also more authentic then crafted posts.
They are great way to get instant eyeballs on your brands content and messaging as followers can get an instant notification when you go live, rather than you hoping your customer see’s your post while they are scrolling through their large social feed!
Try setting this up as a regular feature on a specific time and day so that you have a consistent time to get engagement from your followers, and watch your live views increase over time!
A/B Testing button

6. You must be testing

Now more than ever test to find the small refinements that will make a difference. Test subject lines, hero imagery, or the use interactive content just to name a few. All which doesn’t cost you a penny, but a subtle change could result in an increase in conversion rates.
Just remember to pick one element to test at a time otherwise you won’t clearly be able to differentiate the winning variant.
But also don’t just test once. Testing the same thing multiple times will enable you to a build a more solid set of data to conclude your findings from.
Colleagues working together on laptop

7. Lean on experts

Don’t get sucked into the trap of thinking the ideas, help and guidance has to always come from within. You must, even more so in these times, lean on the experts around you – whether that be any tech partners or agencies you are currently working with – for them to share their knowledge, experience and expertise to help your marketing.
Here at RedEye we pride ourselves in being there for our clients in terms of strategic support, ideas and creativity. We have years of experience between us, as well as knowledge that can be transferred across different types of brands and industries.
So ensure not only to you ask your Account Managers for any support, but make sure you are following the right brands and people on your LinkedIn, as that can be where lots of short tips and tricks can also be consumed to help with even the smallest of ideas to try.
Identical twins pointing

8. Use your data for lookalikes

With advertising becoming more expensive and the effectiveness of targeting becoming less accurate in social channels, it makes sense to use your own data for a cost saving exercise.
Creating segments of your best customers and using that within social platforms to find lookalikes means you are more likely to target the right sort of people who have similar attribute to your best customers, vs using social medias wider audience builders.
Another simple segment sometimes forgotten is to ensure you have a segment of current customers in your social audiences to make sure you exclude them from future advertising. As you don’t want to waste money acquiring the same customer multiple times!
Prepping food following an online recipe

9. Provide added value content

In the pandemic when purchasing behaviours took a dramatic turn, many brands shifted to add non promotional content into their communications, and this idea becomes more relevant again today.
This is value added content for a customer that has some relevancy to the products or services you sell. Think of the content you can provide your customers that can add value to them or their experience with your brand but doesn’t have a significant – or any – value to create.
This could be recipes if you sell food, local area information if you have a locational product or service, tutorials for makeup, style guides for clothes… the list is endless.
And these ideas can easily be sourced internally from all your employees who live and breath your brand and its products, and I guarantee they will have lots of ideas to share!
Happy loyal customer receiving a message

10. Lean on your loyal and VIP customers

Loyal customers are the life-blood of a brand during a recession. It’s cheaper and more effective to market to these customers, and they want to hear from you.
Go the extra mile and tell your VIPs just how much you value them during these uncertain times by reinvigorating a member’s journey with fresh content and exclusive competitions – which will have a much lower overhead than increasing that PPC budget!
If you run a loyalty scheme, now’s the time to offer bonus points and rewards. You’ll be communicating that you’re in this together and they will remember for you it.
Your marketing automation provider should be able to identify your most loyal customers, average order values and even use predictive modelling to identify when a customer is about to purchase or become a VIP member.
With these segments powering your campaigns, you’ll see a higher purchase rate from your most vital recession-proof asset – loyal customers.

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About the author

Rachael Kotadia Marketing Director

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