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The Paid Media Plan To Weather Tough Economic Times

Economic downturns are an inevitable part of business. We’ve been through a recession or two, and helped clients put together digital marketing strategies to weather those storms. Here are some of the tactics we’ve found that help businesses maintain a smart and efficient paid media plan to stay competitive now and ready for when money is flowing once again.

First step: Get the information you need to build a smarter budget.

Knowing where you stand now is crucial to proper planning. You can find out which paid media efforts are performing well to lean into those audiences and messages, and which tactics aren’t giving you the return on ad spend (ROAS) you need to justify their part of the budget.

One of the biggest missteps we see, and an area of opportunity for most businesses, is the proper collection and application of conversion data. Without proper conversion tracking, you won’t be able to quantify outcomes or optimize campaigns to create more leads, revenue, or engagement. Here’s what you want to look for to ensure you’re getting accurate information:

Signs that a Google Ads account is capturing conversion data properly:

  • The Google Ads account is linked to Google Analytics with autotagging enabled.

  • Goal conversions are set up and actively recording data via a pixel or analytics integration.

  • Conversions have an established value to help determine ROI.

  • An attribution model has been selected for each conversion type.

  • Conversion Action Sets are used to group conversions and campaigns.

Without proper conversion tracking, Google Ads advertisers are not able to quantify outcomes or optimize campaigns to create more leads, revenue, or engagement.

Create a budget that ensures success

What works for one company may not work for the next. Calculating a good marketing budget in 2023 includes historical data, company objectives, strategic priorities, and economic realities. Following this four-step process will ensure you're on the right path.

Second: Determine the right budget mix to accomplish your goals.

When digital marketing budgets get tight, it’s more important than ever to examine where and how to apply those dollars to give your business the best chance at success. Once again, this step requires an in-depth understanding of some key details to get the absolute most from your digital marketing budget. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Cost per conversion and revenue per customer

  • The influence of historical data and trends

  • Your industry cycle

Once you’ve plugged in those key variables unique to your past digital marketing efforts, company objectives, and industry trends, you then need to include room in your strategy (and budget) for all the other unknown factors that may pop up over the course of the next few months and years. You want to be able to shift budget quickly and easily if you determine another channel or tactic would increase the return on your investment.

If you need to request your budget, you can increase your odds of winning full approval by showing your math. This can be done through practices like scenario-based forecasting, zero-based budgeting, and any other testing, learning, and refining that helps you pinpoint your numbers.

Keep current customers happy to add to the bottom line

Use this guide to build trust with current and prospective customers, and you can keep your brand top of mind during times of economic uncertainty. That way, you're ready to connect with new leads when they’re ready to begin buying again.

Third: Retention is cheaper than acquisition.

It’s much easier (and less expensive) to retain current customers than it is to find new ones, so it’s worth the investment to ensure you’re keeping yours happy. That means keeping open lines of communication with people currently using your products or services, which should be part of your marketing plan.

You can set up on-going messaging, like emails and newsletters, or keep your website updated with the latest and smartest articles and resources, but if you aren’t promoting those items in some way,

This free guide provides a lot of useful tips for how a business can use retention marketing to ensure they are poised for immediate growth following economic downturns. The recommendations you’ll find inside are applicable to almost any industry, but if you have questions about your unique business needs, contact us, and we’ll talk through a solution specific to you.

Make leads more valuable by spending less to get them

Even if you aren't spending more, you can find opportunities for growth by optimizing your existing programs. Here are some tactics we used to overcome a fixed budget and tough economy and to find new business.

Fourth: Find new leads when there are fewer to find.

When everyone is tightening their budgets, there are naturally fewer opportunities to connect with new leads. This makes it even more important to have a very clearly defined (and attainable) strategy and goals to make current lead-focused paid media programs as informed and efficient as possible.

We’ve weathered recessions and economic downturns before, so we understand how to optimize paid media to get better results from programs with set budgets. There were also many lessons learned during the pandemic, when supply chain shortages and other shifts in purchase habits prompted many businesses to shift their focus to efficiency to find new leads.

For one client, this meant finding ways to elevate conversion rates and lower cost per lead to get more leads from their existing budget. We accomplished this through testing and applying the latest conversion data to the paid media programs to keep them focused on obtaining the highest quality leads. By focusing on what makes a customer valuable to that business in particular, we were able to build a custom strategy and paid media plan that surpassed the desired results. It’s important to really know your audience and how they are responding to your messaging to make your ad dollars stretch as far as possible.

Close the sales loop to maximize efficiency

Connecting your sales and marketing teams can help you get better results from the digital marketing dollars you're already spending. Here's how to best share the right information to produce better targeting - and a higher quality lead.

Fifth: Bring all your teams closer together.

Establishing or expanding communication channels between internal teams, specifically sales or business development and marketing, is a crucial part of achieving an efficient sales funnel. When improving those channels can help free up ad dollars, it’s even more valuable.

One way to keep teams close is to utilize closed loop data. We’ve found ways to breathe new life into stagnant programs, as well as improve programs that are already successful. A key component to this success is using data about closed sales to better inform marketing tactics to constantly refine targeting. This helps us find higher quality leads and lower the cost to get them. You can also rely more heavily on your other major digital marketing channels, specifically SEO, to help alleviate any pressures felt during and economic downturn.

Connecting departments or individuals is made easier through data, especially when you can establish interfaces or dashboards to share the most pertinent information in ways that are understandable and actionable. This also makes it easier to share success to other stakeholders, and make further refinements, improvements, or additions to strategy when needed.

Use data to reveal new business opportunities

Data will help you make crucial decisions to maximize efficiency, but you need to know where to find the right information. See how to access the website data you need with this quick and easy GA4 guide.

Future Proofing: Get in front of trends with focused tracking and analysis.

Every tactic included in this guide is dependent on one thing: good data. Staying ahead of any issues means always knowing how your strategies are performing, and what adjustments you can make to meet your goals. Having access to as many pieces of information as you can about your audience and the actions they are taking will show you how to better serve current customers and leads, and how to appeal to more people like them.

Knowing where and how to find vital information about your audience is becoming more and more difficult. As marketers, we have to navigate consumer privacy laws, compliance issues, and the ever-changing nature of the technology that allows us to track this data.

Among the most commonly used tools is Google. Their shift from Universal Analytics to GA4 includes big changes in how information is collected, as well as in how and where that information is displayed. This guide will help you get started, and you should plan to regularly spend time educating yourself or your team on what’s needed to continue to analyze and track your programs.

“A company clicked one of our Google PPC ads and submitted an RFQ for around $47k. That'd be a nice win if the story ended there. But...

Then, two days later, the same company submitted a quote request for $1.6MM worth of [product].

Take a bow! Your work on our account continues to just be top-notch. That's a truly magnificent result.”

Nate B., B2B Marketing Manager

Get started today

When the economic forecast is dark, your digital marketing is a way to ensure your company's messaging shines through to consumers looking for your products or services. Contact us today to start a conversation about how a custom marketing strategy can help you get more from your budget.