3 Recession-Proof Marketing Strategies for Turbulent Times

Published: Jun 12, 2020
Last Updated:
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Close your eyes and imagine you're back in 2019. Now, try to picture the aviation industry amid a crisis that grounds 90% of the global fleet. Or global commodity prices crashing by 20.4% in one month.

Even more absurd, envision the tourism sector falling by 78% the next year.

Open your eyes, because it's our current reality. The global COVID-19 pandemic didn't just attack the health of individuals; it also devastated national economies and local businesses.

It's a no-brainer that a global recession is looming, but what does that mean for your business? How do you keep your brand afloat in these turbulent times?

Let's find out—here are three marketing strategies to save your business from going under.

1. Get back to the basics—build your email list.

According to research from HubSpot, email marketing generates $38 for every $1 investment. Moreover, brands attributed 23% of their total sales to this customer acquisition channel.

These results aren't isolated—anywhere you look these days, you can easily see the profits of email marketing. But how exactly do you grow your email list in a short amount of time?

Here are just a few ways.

Blog Post Upgrades

A blog post upgrade is a supplementary content piece that delves deeper into a subject than the original piece did.

When you see that readers love a particular piece based on your analytics and your interactions with them, you can offer them a supplementary piece that goes more in-depth on certain aspects that the original article didn't cover in exchange for their email.

Here's how to go about it:

  • Come up with a content idea that requires extensive information and write enough to cover key aspects and entice your readers. Then publish it.
  • Craft additional content that delves deeper into the subject.
  • Offer your blog post readers the option to get the additional content in exchange for their email address.

This strategy is amazing because of its simplicity. Your audience has already shown interest in your content topic by clicking through to the post, after all. So why not take advantage of their interest by giving them the option to get more?

This is a powerful way to achieve unrivaled email list results, but it can be time-consuming. To reduce the time spent on ideating new content that users want, look at what others in your industry—then improve on it.

Host Giveaways

The more you engage with your audience, the greater the possibility of them signing up for your email list. And a giveaway may just be what you need to push your audience into interaction.

But how do you create a successful giveaway campaign?

  • The prize must be something your audience is interested in.
  • You should also offer a guaranteed reward for participating non-winners (an incentive you can afford to give for free).
  • Promote your giveaway campaign to your target audience.

You may think, sure, a giveaway will attract people, but only individuals who are interested in freebies. However, there's a way around this problem. Ensure your reward is something that only potential customers will pay for.

For example, in one of its giveaway campaigns, VideoFruit offered the winner a 10-year subscription to Leadpages, a popular industry landing page tool.

For potential customers of VideoFruit—online marketers—that's a $3,000 value gift, and one certainly worth winning. But it's a worthless prize to consumers not interested in marketing or ecommerce.

Giveaways are a super fast way to build your email list. And besides doubling up your subscribers, giveaways increase consumer goodwill towards your brand since consumers are getting a gift.

Tip to Maximize Your Email List After Building

The entire aim of sending out newsletters, updates, or blog posts to subscribers on your email list is to generate click-throughs to your website or service platform. So how do you maximize your email list after building?

A recent study showed that email subscribers are more likely to share content to social media than leads from other channels. So even if the people on your list don't click through to your website themselves, their shares will generate traffic, which translates to more reach for your marketing spend.

2. Focus on improving customer retention.

Did you know that by increasing your customer retention rate by 5%, you can boost your profits by as much as 95%?

How does this happen? Well, customers that keep returning are loyal customers, and studies show that when a customer shows loyalty to your service or brand, they're likely to spend more per transaction. For instance, in the fist quarter of 2016 alone, Starbucks received $1.2 billion of customers funds added to their loyalty cards.

The million-dollar question right now should be how do you improve your customer retention?

Here's the best way:

Induce Customer Loyalty

If you can keep your current customers and convince them to spend more, then you won't need to keep acquiring new consumers. By starting a reward or loyalty program, you can track and reward particular spending behaviors by customers.

The more a customer spends on your service or product, the more benefits they get. Over time, such incentives encourage loyalty from your current customer base. And the loyalty translates into retention, aka more sales, as the data above reveals.

Find Out Why Your Current Customers Leave in the First Place

Before you can actually improve customer retention, you’ll need to pause for a minute and find out why exactly customers are leaving.

Once you know why you're experiencing a dip in your customer retention rate, you'll be able to take steps that solve those problems and boost the quality of the customer experience of your company. And if fewer people are leaving, you'll be improving not just your customer retention rate but brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

So how do you figure out why customers are leaving?

An easy strategy to adopt is to obtain customer feedback from those who are no longer customers. As a customer closes their account, consider sending a personalized email asking the reason for opting out. Like this:

(Image credit: Groove)

Customer feedback is an excellent way to know if there are customer complaints you aren't aware of, and if there are, you can tackle such problems.

Everyone won't respond to your emails but those who do will provide valuable insight into what you need to do better to boost your retention rate. You must take into account everything that's put as a reason and work on them.

Alternatively, you can create a quick survey as a customer is terminating their account, so the individual can easily share why they want to end the relationship. Since the survey should be available right after the termination of the account, the response would most likely be an honest one, as the reason is still fresh in their mind.

However, unlike the email strategy, you won't get in-depth reasons, so it'll be more profitable to use the two methods on different customers to get a holistic view.

3. Work on your SEO strategy.

To stay afloat in turbulent seasons, you need to watch your marketing spend. And that's hard to do with paid advertising. For example, just have a look at the average cost per click for certain top industries:

(Image credit: WordStream)

You'll be paying a whopping $5.88 per click for promoting your service or product to a legal audience. That's crazy!

So it'd be a wiser financial decision to work on generating organic traffic via SEO data in these trying times than relying on marketing spend. SEO is a lot cheaper and only demands more time than finances, so if your marketing budget is tight, SEO may be your only choice.

Aisles from the monetary aspects there are also the results. The numbers show that when using a transactional query, 65% of web users would rather click organic results while only 7% would click ads.

People trust results more if they aren't ads and getting your brand up as an organic answer to a query increases the relevancy of your offer to the user.

To improve your SEO, try these strategies.

Craft Relevant Content

There's no substitute for quality content in your SEO journey. And by quality content, I mean, a piece that is created specifically for your target audience.

Google is big on user satisfaction, so when a web user inputs a query, lands on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and clicks through to your website but exits almost immediately, then visits the website below or above yours, it sends a signal that's terrible for your SEO.

It means your content didn't satisfy the user, so they had to check somewhere else to get what they were searching for. So you need to ensure that the articles you write are relevant and in-depth enough to satisfy web users.

And there are so many ways to know what's relevant in your niche. You can check the people also asked section on the SERPS for topic and subtopic ideas:

You can also check the search suggestions for the particular topic you intend to write about:

These strategies help you figure out the search intent of your target audience. When they search for a particular topic or keyword what are they looking for? And what do they expect to see in the article?

Once you have the search intent covered, you have little to worry about stuffing in keywords or what keywords to include because you'll cover them naturally in your content.

Link Building via Guest Posts

Other websites linking to yours is something that should come naturally if your content is in-depth, relevant, quality, and authoritative enough. But you can also be proactive about it and reach out to top blogs in your industry for guest posts.

The more links you have pointing to your article, the more Google views your content as worthy. Especially if these links come from high-authority websites. After all, if authority blogs in your industry use your content as a point of reference, it means your piece is authoritative enough in that niche and thus, worthy of being shown to web users searching for answers in your industry.


That's a wrap! Turbulent times are bound to happen but what you do at such times can make or break your business. If your brand is dropping in profits due to a recession, it only makes sense to amplify your marketing efforts.

However, not every marketing strategy is recession-proof. You don't want to spend massive cash on advertising when you're barely breaking even. Strategies like SEO, boosting customer retention, and building an email list are tactics that require minimal financial investment and can help attract quality customers.

About the Author

Emmanuel Egeonu is a writer for CandyBar and ReferralCandy, two SaaS products helping small- and medium-sized businesses increase their revenue through loyalty and word of mouth.


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