2023 Playbook: Lessons From the Recession Part 3 of 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 we covered lessons from previous recessions and how to make sure you hit the mark with your current strategy during economic uncertainty. By now you should have at least a few valuable insights or confirmed your current strategies or trains of thought. Our last objective is to tie the whole series together and give companies some actionable items instead of just data to ponder.

Part 3

ROI Focus

Stick to tried and true strategies that deliver the highest return on your investment and are the cheapest to launch. Email marketing continues to bring home the ROI trophy each year. If you need help maximizing return on your email marketing campaigns, then check our page on email marketing.

It’s imperative that your messaging speaks directly to your audience's pain points, provides value, and drives them to a page designed to convert. You can’t just email prospects and hope they know what to do once they read your content.

If you're utilizing other digital marketing platforms, identify which ones are driving the highest conversion rates and allocate more budget to those while pulling back on others. If you’re on the display network, make sure you’re measuring customer interactions to create powerful remarketing campaigns. If you’re not sure what to do next, bring in outside help. Now is not the time to stop your marketing efforts. Now is the time to create a lean and efficient marketing machine that measures and delivers on your organization's goals.

Budgets will be cut, and heads may roll. Providing value and measurable results are a must.

Speed and Agility

Companies need marketing teams to respond on a dime to whatever is thrown their way. They’ll need a broad skill set, and can operate without a playbook, but have the agility and speed to operate in the gray to drive results. 

That means you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Double down on your strengths, and outsource your weaknesses. Going back to Part 1, speed of response was a huge factor in boosting performance during the last recession. For example, if your team needs two weeks to figure out how to launch a campaign in a new venue, then you need outside support.

Get outside help to fill in the gaps until you can hire and train the right people. The purpose of speed and agility is to be able to quickly capitalize on opportunities during economic times when your competitors may be slower to respond. In past recessions, first movers were rewarded significantly more than their competitors compared to periods of economic boom.

Customer Retention

We’re all overly familiar with the old marketing adage that it costs 5x more to acquire a new customer versus keeping an existing customer. Focusing on customer experience, and retention is key to thriving in an economic downturn.

First of all, it’s more cost-efficient. Second, customer experience expectations are higher every year and continue to rise. We’ve seen average bounce rates increase from 47% to 50% in 2021 while average page views during sessions with a conversion increased by 328%. The data is telling us that our users are happy to spend time researching to find the right product or deal, and happy (and likely) to bounce if they don’t get what they’re expecting. Focusing on customer retention means optimizing your user experience. If you’re not improving your customer experience strategy then you’re falling behind. 

If you need help optimizing your customer experience, then utilizing tools like on-site surveys, heat/click/scroll maps, user testing, live chat, customer service, sales team interviews, and a/b testing have the highest return on investment. If you need more information about how they can help, then check out our page on conversion rate optimization. 

Conversion rate optimization and its tools can be your best weapon against economic uncertainty. It addresses profit margins while increasing lifetime customer value and retention. Paired with a strong email marketing campaign will put you in a position to gain ground on your competitors while they try to figure out how to stop the hemorrhaging.


Forbes: What Challenges Will CMOs Deal With Most Often In 2022?

WSJ: Edgy Campaigns Are Out, TikTok Won’t Stop and Other 2023 Predictions for Marketers

McKinsey: Planning for 2023: How US-based businesses can succeed when capital and talent are constrained

WSJ: Marketers Must Be Flexible, Without Losing Identity, in Uncertain Times

WSJ: How CMOs Are Marketing Through a Turbulent Economy


There is hope for companies worried about the state of the economy and how they are going to survive. While easier said than done, it’s possible to come out of the next few years in a position of strength. If you’re curious about learning more about recession-proofing your business, reach out to the Media Contour team for some free insights.