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4 Steps to Help You Build a Resilient Marketing Strategy

Businesswoman discussing resilient marketing strategies with her staff
Resilient marketing helps grow revenue and profitability while also giving your team the ability to innovate and outperform your competition in the long run. [STUDIO TAURUS / Stocksy]

Economic downturns often wreak havoc on marketing departments, but with some planning and flexibility, your company can be ready to take on what comes next.

Nearly every business is worried about — or already facing — slowing or declining revenue growth, as many experts feel we’re heading toward a recession. With this, the “growth at all costs” mantra of the past decade is quickly shifting to one of business resiliency and sustainable growth. Resilient marketing focuses on the ability to absorb stress, maintain healthy business operations, and adapt to new conditions.

Businesses that focus more on long-term sustainability can emerge from the current economic climate stronger than they were before. 

These are 4 ways leaders can build resilient marketing in their organizations.

How website personalization helps you in a changing economy

When marketing budgets are downsized, your website can do the heavy lifting with customers if you deliver what they need.

1. Realize how resilient marketing helps optimize your marketing spend

Marketing budgets are often under increased scrutiny during an economic downturn. You’ll need to defend your marketing efforts by validating their impact and demonstrating clear results.

Yet, 80% of marketers say their ability to track return for each marketing investment needs improvement. Investing in data analytics capabilities can help you:

  • Make the most of your marketing budget
  • Reallocate spend from low-performing campaigns
  • Quickly adjust current campaigns
  • Suppress marketing messages for customers with open service cases
  • Clearly demonstrate your team’s impact on revenue

For example, a large communications company faced challenges in their ability to effectively optimize their marketing budget. Their reporting was done with spreadsheets, making it challenging to quickly optimize campaigns and share data with stakeholders.

Using Marketing Cloud Intelligence, the company integrated more than 150 data sources for more than 80 stakeholders, freeing customer data from silos and giving the company a more holistic view of their marketing efforts. They were also able to repurpose 14% of their marketing budget, delivering $9.8 million in incremental growth. Best of all: this saves their analyst team more than 2,600 hours of manual data analysis each year.

2. Evaluate the efficiency of your current systems — and cut what doesn’t work

You’ve probably already felt the increased pressure to more strictly control — and in many cases reduce — marketing costs. Marketers are looking to reduce their spending on campaigns that aren’t resonating with customers and move that money toward bigger initiatives.

A great place to start is by evaluating your marketing technology tools to see how well they’re still working for you. Has it become increasingly complex and bloated over the past decade? Marketing teams use 23 different marketing systems, on average. Begin by evaluating your tech stacks to identify redundancies, inefficiencies, and tools that your team doesn’t really use anymore. Identify areas where you can:

  • Consolidate systems and contacts
  • Eliminate inefficient tools
  • Reduce maintenance & support costs

A great example of this in action is how a multinational tire manufacturer consolidated its multiple databases and systems into a single Salesforce platform, across sales, service, marketing, and commerce. 

Creating a single view of the customer helped the organization save more than $1 million in digital marketing spend annually and more than triple its speed to market.

Marketing leaders need to act now to optimize marketing spend with a slimmer budget, improve adaptability, and work to keep current customers.

3. Find more efficient ways to achieve your goals, despite shifting budgets

Most marketing organizations are not growing as fast as they previously hoped, and in many cases they are shrinking. You may be grappling with how to make your department more efficient and agile in these rapidly-changing times.

For example, 43% of marketers spend a week or more every month preparing data — that’s time that could be better spent developing and executing resilient marketing strategies. To remain agile as marketing budgets shift, you can: 

  • Automate time-consuming, error-prone tasks like Excel-based data integration and reporting, so your team is free to focus on bigger problems
  • Identify strategies to scale personalization efforts, like using AI to tailor newsletter content to each reader, improving campaign effectiveness 
  • Hold a call with your marketing team to identify bottlenecks like requiring IT to make basic changes to campaigns, so you can improve speed of campaign execution
  • Explore ways to better collaborate with remote teams, ensuring everyone is on the same page

For example, a few years ago, a leader in live event ticket sales was using a combination of outdated solutions that were developer-centric rather than marketing-centric. Marketers could not nimbly make changes to campaigns on their own. They constantly needed to go back to developers for every step of the process. 

By adopting Marketing Cloud Engagement, the company was able to streamline campaign timelines from two weeks to two days. They now deliver more than 40 million marketing and service communications each week.

Find ways to streamline your operations, placing a focus on agility. This way, you’ll be prepared — not panicking — when things change.

4. Lead with the value to the consumer

As new customer acquisition becomes more challenging during an economic downturn, marketers should adopt a strategy that focuses on retaining current customers and making sure they feel they’re getting the most value. This helps protect existing revenue and is one of the surest paths to continued growth during times of uncertainty.

To help customers get the most value from your products, you should consider investments in the following areas:

  • Developing a first-party data strategy, making better use of data you collect from customer interactions
  • Making sure customers have what they need after the sale, anticipating needs such as onboarding, education or complementary products
  • Identifying and re-engaging customers who are on the fence about purchasing
  • Improving customer experience through personalization
  • Starting a customer loyalty program
  • Building immersive and customer-first experiences, such as augmented and virtual reality

The company behind a powerful cloud-based typing assistant demonstrates how brands can use simple strategies to provide value to their customers. 

The company turned its weekly email digest into a powerful tool to drive engagement, retention, and upsells. It has personalized insights and trends to help users improve their writing and highlights the benefits of a premium (paid) subscription. Their weekly email digest drives 20% of the company’s free to paid user upgrade revenue and has a 99% subscriber retention rate.

Keep your focus on moving forward 

It can be tempting to pause innovation during times of economic uncertainty. However, research from McKinsey says otherwise. They found that organizations that maintained their focus on innovation throughout the 2009 financial crisis outperformed the market average by more than 30% in the following three to five years. 

Marketing leaders need to act now to optimize marketing spend with a slimmer budget, improve adaptability, and work to keep current customers. Resilient marketing helps grow revenue and profitability while also giving your team the ability to innovate and outperform your competition in the long run. 

Cory Davis, senior product marketing manager at Salesforce, also contributed to this article.

Daniel Newman
Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is a marketing strategist for the communications, media, and technology industries. He advises customers on how to build high impact marketing and CX strategies that address top industry and macroeconomic trends.

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