Retail businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, but the current economic climate is no walk in the park. With a recession looming, many retail businesses are tightening their purse strings and often the first thing to go is the marketing budget for digital and PR campaigns. However, cutting back on marketing could be a fatal mistake for retail businesses during these challenging times.

As a PR and digital marketing expert with over two decades of experience, I can tell you that cutting down on activities that drive growth (like marketing and PR) is not a great strategy during times like this. Instead, I’ve compiled a few of my best pieces of advice to help any retail business maximise their digital marketing strategies in the current economic climate.

Embrace the power of earned media:

While paid advertising might seem like the easier option, building strong relationships with journalists and media outlets can lead to valuable earned media coverage and increased visibility. This is an economical way for retail businesses to reach new audiences without burning a hole in their pocket.

Go digital:

Digital marketing, including social media and email marketing, is often more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods. By utilising these platforms, retail businesses can reach a wider audience and drive conversions. In short, if you want to reach more people without dipping into your savings, go digital!

Integration is the key to success:

When it comes to digital marketing, it’s not just about doing one thing right, it’s about doing everything right and ensuring that all channels are aligned. Integrating your email marketing, social media, website, podcast, blog, and other marketing efforts creates a seamless experience for your customers and ensures consistent messaging.

Make data your BFF:

Tracking the success of your digital marketing campaigns through data collection and analysis can help retail businesses determine which tactics are performing well and which ones need improvement. This information can then be used to optimise future campaigns and maximise return on investment. For example, our real estate client doubled his website traffic since the beginning of his campaign with us, thanks to data-driven insights from Google Analytics.

Audit your website:

Conducting a website audit and benchmarking relevant statistics can provide valuable insights into website performance and identify areas for improvement. Google Analytics 4, and free tools such as Moz, and Semrush are your wingmen in this journey.

Set business impact KPIs:

Key performance indicators (KPIs) give retail business marketers a way to measure the success of their marketing efforts and see if they’re having the desired impact on the business. KPIs could be website traffic, conversion rates, or social media engagement. Measuring these KPIs regularly allows retail businesses to see how their marketing campaigns are performing and make any necessary adjustments.

Collaborate with other retail businesses:

Collaborating with like-minded non-compete retail businesses can help spread the cost of marketing and increase exposure. For example, one of our clients, a gin brand that recently launched in Australia, partnered with a bakery for a Valentine’s Day promotion featuring a gin-infused croissant. The campaign included earned media, sponsored content, social media, and influencer relations, increasing visibility for both businesses and reaching new audiences in a cost-effective manner.

In conclusion, retail businesses don’t have to spend a fortune to get the most value out of their marketing budget. By embracing earned media, utilising digital marketing, integrating channels, leveraging data and analytics, setting business impact KPIs, and collaborating with other retail businesses, they can reach new audiences and drive conversions without breaking the bank. So, even during tough times, don’t forget to invest in activities that drive growth.

Sharon Zeev Poole is founder and director of Agent99 PR.