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Marketing during a recession

Marketing during economic uncertainty: let’s talk about it

March 7, 2024

It’s no secret that the past few years have been tough for the UK economy. And while the chancellor’s spring budget announcement yesterday has certainly brought hope to the situation, higher overall living costs means that many consumers will continue to tighten their purse strings. 

When consumer confidence wavers, it can be tempting for ecommerce businesses to batten down the hatches and stop investing in their website and marketing campaigns. But it’s times like these when a strategic, data-driven approach is more vital than ever, if merchants are to build trust, reassure customers that they’re getting value for money, and maintain a loyal customer base. 

Building trust

Transparent communication

Open and honest communication is key to building trust. During a period of economic downturn, consumers may have concerns about the financial stability of businesses. Address these concerns by being transparent about your company’s financial health, operational status, and any changes in policies or procedures. Regularly update customers via email, social media, or your website to keep them informed.

Exceptional customer service

Outstanding customer service can set your business apart from competitors, especially during challenging times. Invest in training your customer support team to handle inquiries promptly, efficiently, and courteously. Personalise interactions with customers to show that you value their business and are committed to addressing their needs. If you don’t have a large customer service team then consider adding AI chatbot integrations on your website, so potential customers are able to get their questions answered.

Secure payment options

Ensure that your ecommerce platform offers secure payment options to protect customers’ financial information. Display trust seals, SSL certificates, and other security badges prominently on your website to reassure consumers that their transactions are safe and secure. Consider offering additional payment methods, such as PayPal or digital wallets, to accommodate all preferences.

Flexible return and refund policies

Implement flexible return and refund policies to alleviate concerns about making purchases online. Make it easy for customers to initiate returns or exchanges, and clearly outline the steps they need to follow. Consider extending return windows or waiving restocking fees during periods of economic uncertainty to accommodate customers’ changing circumstances.

Integrate reviews & star ratings into your website

When times are tough, consumers are more discerning about where they spend their money. Highlight customer reviews, testimonials, and product ratings to showcase the positive experiences of past buyers. High customer rating are a key trust signal for first time purchasers. 

How to market your brand in an economic crisis

Don’t panic

At surface level, cutting advertising costs may seem like a logical move during an economic downturn. Consumers are spending less, so businesses make less, and therefore have less to spend on marketing, right? Well, not exactly. If you want to retain (or even strengthen) your position in the market, and continue to increase brand awareness ready for when the economy gets back to normal, you must continue to invest in your brand’s marketing. 

Provide value-added content

Shift your marketing efforts towards providing value and solving customers’ problems rather than focusing solely on sales. Offer helpful resources, such as how-to guides, tutorials, or product demonstrations, to educate and empower consumers. Helping potential customers to make informed buying decisions and allowing them to see the products in action can greatly increase the likelihood that they’ll complete a purchase.

Reward customer loyalty

Customers who already make regular purchases are more likely to continue to do so during tough economic times. If you’re putting all of your time and resources into customer acquisition, we’d strongly recommend shifting your focus to customer retention. Email marketing is a powerful tool for speaking directly to your most loyal customers, as you can use segmentation to craft highly targeted campaigns and automations. Use tactics such as discount codes and exclusive offers to encourage purchases, and be sure to use personalisation to make each customer feel seen and valued. If your business supports it, you may even want to consider implementing a subscribe and save buying model to drum up repeat business, incentivise existing customers and lower customer acquisition costs.

If you don’t already have one, developing a loyalty program in which you reward customer every they purchase with points, discounts or free gifts is fool-proof way to keep sales coming in. According to Oracle, Baby Boomers are most engaged in loyalty programs, while Gen Z are more open to trying new brands and products. A loyalty program can cement loyal customer whilst baiting new ones to make their first purchase from you.

Make the most of UGC

Potential customers are far more likely to make a purchase if they can see that it’s worth the money. Encourage user-generated content, such as reviews, testimonials, or user-generated photos, to foster a sense of trust among your audience. Incorporate UGC into your social media strategy and use customer loyalty to boost new customer acquisition. 

Worried about sending the right message? We offer a full suite of digital marketing services to help you increase brand awareness and foster customer loyalty. Send us a message to get started.