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How marketers can prioritize digital marketing efforts during an economic downturn

In times of economic downturn, many businesses tend to make cuts to their advertising budgets as a way to reduce costs and manage unprecedented challenges that may arise as a result of inflationary pressures and a potential recession on the horizon. 

While it may be tempting for businesses to cut back on their marketing efforts, to remain relevant and competitive in the current digital landscape, digital marketing professionals have been advised to prioritize their digital marketing efforts to help businesses position themselves for long-term success.

“It’s time for the catch phrase ‘when things are not so rosy is when the marketing budget needs to come down’ to expire; because in the real sense, the budget may either need to remain the same or have a slight increase, depending on the channels and the platforms one uses for their marketing and promotions,” says Mary Jimoh, marketing manager at Olivora Cosmetics Limited.

Jimoh noted that volatile economic situations such as this is when businesses should keep the most engaging platforms with consumers active, and “try not to cut the budgets”.

By continuing to invest in digital marketing during an economic downturn, businesses can better position themselves to reach their target audience and stay top of mind with potential customers.

“In an economic downturn, businesses need to be able to adjust their marketing strategies quickly to respond to changing market conditions. Digital marketing provides this flexibility. With the ability to track and analyze campaigns in real time, businesses can adjust their messaging, target audience, and ad spend on the fly,” Helen Akue, a brands and marketing communications professional advised.

She explained that uncertain times call for the need for businesses to build trust and establish their brand.

According to Akue, optimzing digital marketing during harsh economic times will provide businesses with the tools to create engaging content, build customer relationships, and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

“This helps create a loyal customer base that will stand the test of time,” she said.

From customer retention to the content side of things, some ADMARP professionals highlight few tactics to help marketers achieve efficient digital marketing during an economic downturn:

Focus on customer retention

“Without a doubt, acquiring new customers will be more difficult in an economic downturn. This is the time to invest in existing customers by improving customer service, exploring loyalty programs and personalizing communication. It ensures brand loyalty and customer satisfaction to keep the business afloat.”-  Babatunde Alimi, Business Development Manager, Eskimi DSP.

“Find new ways in which you can continue to keep your consumers engaged and your product and service at the top of their minds.”- Mary Jimoh, marketing manager at Olivora Cosmetics Limited.

Prioritize performing channels

“Focus on cost-effective strategies – SEO, Email marketing & Retargeting campaigns.”- Adewale Ibrahim, Digital manager, PHD.

“Running a tight budget means you must prioritize channels that drive more performance and revenue. Such channels could be SEO, social media advertising or email marketing.”- Babatunde Alimi, Business Development Manager, Eskimi DSP.

“The rise of digital channels has made it possible for businesses to reach a wider audience than ever before. Companies can engage with potential customers globally with social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Whats App, Instagram, and Twitter. In addition, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can help businesses rank higher in search results, increasing visibility and driving more traffic to their website.”- Helen Akue, a brands and marketing communications professional.

“In lieu of cutting marketing budget, what businesses really should be doing is streamlining marketing efforts to digital channels which historically have proven to move the needle for the business. With the right strategy, prioritizing digital marketing efforts will help your business reach the right audience, get more bang for your buck, and justify every penny spent. Think about it, why cut your marketing budget altogether when you can optimize your marketing activities to digital channels and get even better results?”- Daniel Chukwu, Digital lead, Yellow Brick Road. 

“We also see a continuous drive towards automation across digital advertising and technology in general. Utilising AI, Machine learning and In platform automated features (Google’s PMax, Smart bidding strategies in PPC as an example) will save you time and provide room for scale at a beyond-human rate.”- Adewale Ibrahim, Digital manager, PHD.

“it is important to track and measure the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts. This means monitoring key performance indicators such as website traffic, engagement Rate, View Rate, and email open and click-through rates. By analyzing these data, businesses can identify which strategies are working well and which ones need to be adjusted or ignored par time. Too much information drowns the mind.”- Peter Adesanya, Manager, Digital Strategy · All Seasons Zenith.

Move away from traditional marketing methods

“Brands can effectively monitor organic/paid advertising efforts against key performance indicators across TOFU, MOFU, & BOFU and use this data to determine resource allocation from low-value channels to high-value channels driving needed results. This approach can also be utilised for forecasting exercises.” Adewale Ibrahim, Digital manager, PHD.

“Shifting away from traditional marketing methods such as TV ads and billboards and focusing more on digital marketing channels such as social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization. These channels are not only cost-effective but also offer the potential for greater reach and engagement with target audiences.”- Peter Adesanya, Manager, Digital Strategy · All Seasons Zenith.

Provide Value-based content

“Adjust your brand voice and messaging to become empathetic, kind and encouraging. Your customers need to feel that they’re not in it alone. Also, I would recommend going hard on the SEO because it’s cost effective, and will help cut down your future marketing budget if done right. So yeah, have an SEO strategy. If it’s true that 30-60% of web traffic comes from search engine inquiries, then there’s a lot of cheap visibility opportunities with SEO.”- Ayeesha Omadibi, CEO, Hustle Africa

“Businesses should focus on creating engaging, valuable and informative content that resonates with their target audience. This can include blog posts, social media updates, and newsletters. Most of these services are free! Well, until they get high MAUs and decide to add a premium. But by providing useful information and insights, businesses can position themselves as thought leaders in their industry and establish trust and credibility with their audience.”- Peter Adesanya, Manager, Digital Strategy · All Seasons Zenith

“Your content needs to be audience and product-specific in such a way that it addresses pain points, and educates on important product features and other valuable content that positions your brand as dependable.”- Babatunde Alimi, Business Development Manager, Eskimi DSP.

The rise of digital marketing has transformed the way businesses interact with their customers. With the rise of digital channels, businesses can reach their target audience in ways that were never before possible.

Peter Adesanya in his concluding remarks shared that prioritizing digital marketing efforts during an economic downturn requires a focus on cost-effective strategies, targeting the right audience, honoring men, creating valuable content, and tracking and measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts.


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