What All This Means For Your Digital Strategy

Leonardo Rasaki

Yael Klass is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Similarweb.

Just when you thought Covid-19 was behind us and life would return to normal, we’ve been struck with what some are saying could become a recession. While everyone debates what to call the current economic situation, you’re stuck navigating your business and employees through it.

Rather than arguing over how to define it, we should brace ourselves for what’s to come.

Implementing cost-saving measures such as layoffs and hiring cutbacks may stall profit loss, but it’s clear that we need to adapt in other ways.

Inflation may change consumer preferences, and uncertain times can have a lasting impact on how we spend our money. For example, my company’s research—conducted using public data, anonymous behavioral metrics from retailers, partner data and first-party customer data—found that online grocery services have continued to grow even after in-person shopping resumed.

Keep reading and learn how to rethink your growth strategy right now and how I imagine most businesses will adapt in the future.

The Changing Growth Game

The growth game has changed in light of the current economic climate. This is especially true for creatives trying to draw attention to their brand, get clicks and garner interest.

We used to askhow can I grow quickly,” “what’s the best tactic for going viral” or “how do I get more followers fast?” But with increasing competition, inflation and even war, these questions might not be the right ones anymore. What you should be asking yourself now is how you can grow … period.

Today, growth in and of itself isn’t enough. You have to be more efficient, effective and calculated with marketing spend.

The party’s over; now’s the time to get smart with your growth strategy.

The Challenge Of Inflation

The inflation rate rose to 9.1% in June 2022, the highest in over 40 years, according to a Trading Economics report of BLS data. Food prices are up over 10%, energy costs jumped 41.6%, and new vehicles cost 11.4% more.

Global economic recovery is stagnant, with global growth projected to slow from an estimated 6.1% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022 and 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund.

How does this all impact businesses? Well, for one, it could lead to lower consumer spending and fewer sales.

For example, my company’s research—which measured the year-over-year performance of 70,000-plus websites to see which have the highest growth across categories—shows that demand for consumer electronics has fallen rapidly as fears of a recession set in.

As a marketer, inflation’s impact goes beyond decreased sales. It could also mean a shift from paid advertisements and acquisition to organic marketing efforts as companies tighten budgets.

If you’re relying on organic social media, it’s all about being more focused and creative with your posts.

Be aware of your target audience and their specific needs. According to research from Jungle Scout, 72% of consumers are making fewer fun or impulse purchases right now, and if you want to succeed, you have to zero in on your market’s unique pain points in everything you create.

Achieving Small Wins

While the S&P 500 bounced back in July, some experts are warning that this improvement may not endure.

Stock prices were also dropping for some of the biggest tech stars as of April 2022. Case in point: My company found that the year-over-year traffic change for mass market retailers is down 3.12% for Walmart, 13.23% for Target and a whopping 21.9% for Best Buy.

Now’s the time to focus on the long run. You may not be able to produce significant ROI, but you can achieve small wins. Build out your SEO strategy to bump organic traffic, ramp up your blog with articles showcasing your expertise, or host webinars that speak to struggles your customers face.

Once this is all over, you’ll have put in the work where your competitors haven’t to win share of voice and earn a return on your digital investments.

Keeping Track Of The Competition

A lot of business is conducted online today. But having a digital presence alone isn’t enough.

You should also make sure you have a complete view of what’s happening online. Without access to data, companies operate in digital darkness. And I don’t just mean insight into your own internal analytics. I mean gaining a holistic view of your competitors, your market and your industry.

Even back in 2014, Accenture found that “almost eight in ten users (79 percent) agree that ‘companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive position and may even face extinction.’ Even more (83 percent) have pursued big data projects in order to seize a competitive edge.”

You can use market intelligence to boost engagement and traffic during difficult times. Tracking marketing channel performance can help you expand organic traffic and reduce acquisition costs. And conversion rate and customer retention will likely improve if you allocate resources to the right segments. You can also benchmark performance to determine where your strengths and areas for improvement lie. And of course, you’ll be the first to react to changes in your market. (Full disclosure: My company offers market intelligence, benchmarking and customer journey analysis tools.)

There are a few best practices when you’re benchmarking marketing channel performance. To start, see which channels generate the most traffic for your competitors or industry. It’s usually a split between unpaid channels (direct, social and organic search) and paid opportunities (referrals, display ads and email). How do you compare? What are the similarities or differences?

In addition to defining the “what,” find out why you may be ranking lower than the industry average. Finding the “why” will help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

Lastly, benchmark often because the data you collect doesn’t mean much as a stand-alone project. Benchmarking marketing channel performance should be a continuous process.

What You Can Do Right Now

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary out there right now for many people. We’re certainly in the thick of it, and if you don’t already have a game plan, you should act fast.

Brace yourself for short-term changes, but plan for the long term. Keep an eye on market health and what your competitors are doing. Don’t expect to grow fast right now; rather, focus your efforts on growing smartly.

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