I think Jeff Rohrs from ExactTarget said it best when he ended the session by saying, “We as marketers should be used to a recession since we face one every fourth quarter.” So US recession or not, this session was great fodder to use when defending or renegotiating search engine marketing and even general marketing budgets.
The panel was very interactive so I’m going to recap rather than attribute every comment to the 4 wonderful panelists: Andrew Beckman of Location3 Media, Dave Davies of Beanstalk, Russ Mann of Covario, and Jon Miller of Marketo.
The panel wanted to get a few definitions out of the way with the first question of “How do WE survive a RECESSION?” First of all “WE” needs to be defined since not all sectors are facing the same issues with a recession. Manufacturing industries and consumer services like Real estate are certainly facing a downturn in revenue, while others such as green energy are expected to thrive. A downturn in revenue also depends upon the geographic location of your audience. Now is the time to expand to the Europe and Asia since the dollar is stronger there. The other definition that was needed was on “Recession” itself. And since we are marketers and not economists, a quick and dirty definition was given that a recession is a decline in GDP or negative real economic growth for two or more successive quarters of a year.
The question of where to put your first marketing dollar was asked and a few different answers were given. The most agreed upon was putting your money in the fundamentals of organic search optimization. This includes targeting the right terms with ongoing keyword research, integrating those keywords into your site structure, tags, and copy. The other place the panel would start with is investing in a robust analytics tool. While no specific tools were mentioned, we all know the main tools like Google Analytics, Omniture, HitBox, and the various other site analytic tools. Another place to focus is on activities surrounding customer retention since it takes less time and money to keep your customers than to win a new customer. Finally, continue to fund PPC activities since this is highly measurable, but be sure to focus your campaigns as much as possible. Put your money where the money is coming from.
Tactics to make sure your budgets don’t get cut:
- Put an ROI on everything and measure every activity that you do. This is relatively easy with site analytics and the tracking tools that we have today.
- Share those stats with everyone in your organization so they know the importance of what you are doing
- Focus on the growth of SEM such as keyword search query stats (impressions, clicks, and visitors from certain keywords), site traffic increases, conversion statistics, etc