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NewsDigitalHow Manchester businesses can maximise digital ad efficiency during a recession

How Manchester businesses can maximise digital ad efficiency during a recession

In times of economic downturn, many online Manchester businesses face the challenge of staying profitable.

This can be difficult as consumer behaviour shifts during an economic downturn, this leads to reduced consumer spending and a more risk-averse outlook to outlandish purchases.

Since the post-COVID boom in online spend, a lot of businesses are still facing higher cost per clicks, more competition, but now with less demand. 

The city’s digital ecosystem, supported by initiatives outlined in the Manchester Digital Strategy 2021 – 2026, offers resources and a network of support that local businesses can harness. It’s worth reading and provides insight into how Manchester plans to support digital businesses in the future. The rest of this article will dive into practical approaches to stay profitable during this period.

Being smart about your digital strategy

During lockdown, everyone was inside and on the internet. This was especially true for ecommerce brands who were perfectly equipped to support this change. During this period many brands doubled, or even tripled yearly turnover and cash was easy to come by.

The mindset was ‘scale, scale, scale’, however having that same mindset now will most likely put you in trouble. The focus now is on being lean and profitable. On the flipside you can’t just turn your ads off otherwise your revenue will drop, so ultimately the key is to be smart about where you end up investing your resources.

Prioritising high-ROI channels

Ultimately your goal is a business is to make a profit. One of the great features of digital advertising platforms such as Google ads and Facebook ads is that you can see exactly how much you’re spending, your conversions and revenue.

This means you have the data to turn keywords, ads, campaigns and even whole channels off if they’re not working. A lot of people can get shiny object syndrome, testing Tik Tok Ads, Snapchat, YouTube but this isn’t always the best use of resource.

Ted Parry of Amoredigital.co.uk who runs a boutique Manchester PPC Agency said: “The key right now is to really hone in on which channels are working for your business right now. If you’ve been testing a channel for a while and it’s not been working, now is the time to keep the focus on channels that are tried and tested. When cash is tight that may even mean focusing on servicing your existing customers more, and focusing on highly profitable remarketing segments across Google ads and Meta ads.”

Redistributing funds to campaigns that have a history of strong performance or potentially higher margins can lead to more efficient use of scarce resources. You can then look to test newer channels once the economic conditions pick up.

Get a digital marketing audit

If there ever was a time to get a digital marketing audit that time would be now. Even though you will be paying upfront, it will pay dividends long term. If you’re running Google Ads for example it would be advised you work with a Google Ads specialist who understands the platform inside and out. 

The audit should uncover:

  • Where you’re wasting spend at each level
  • Which landing pages aren’t converting and how to improve them
  • Which channels you need to focus on
  • Advice on how to tweak your bid strategies

Out of all the industries’ ecommerce ppc has a lot of different moving parts, different channels and types of targeting you can run. This is one area we advise enlisting someone to help you see the woods from the trees.

Improve landing page conversion

When cost per clicks rise, and demand drops across the board, there’s no doubt one the highest ROI activities you can undertake is to improve your current website. By improving your website’s conversion rate you’ll essentially be getting more revenue for your business while keeping your spend exactly the same. 

Bridget Louile who runs ITQ Digital said: ”If you improve your overall sitewide conversion rate of 1% to 1.5% you will be getting 50% more customers for exactly the same budget. This means that if you have to be lean, then you can be more profitable even in spite of lower spend. It also means that when the economy picks up you’ll be in a much stronger position to take advantage.”

Lean on machine learning to help

The days of doing manual cost per click bidding changes on Google ads is over. Google and Facebook are now very machine-learning heavy. This means that you will say you are willing to spend £30 max per conversion, and it will go out there to look for customers who can be acquired at this cost. That often means going after less competitive keywords, and keywords that historically work well for your business. 

One of the downsides however is that if you’re too conservative it means the platforms will spend less because they don’t think they can acquire customers at that cost. So it’s always worth being realistic to what you can afford to spend to acquire a customer.

Look to outsource

In times of economic tightening a lot of companies look to downsize or look to cut costs, which is understandable. If you’ve downweighted your core team it means you may be more stretched. However one of the solutions may be to look at outsourcing. Outsourcing your digital marketing enables you to be more flexible as often the price you pay will be linked to your ad spend, less ad spend = less fee for your business. 

One other thing to note is that some companies can be allured by very large agencies who send in suited and booted sales teams with flowers and chocolate to woo you. However, the reality is if your ad spend is less than £5,000 per month, it’s likely you’ll be treated at the bottom of their totem ranking … while also paying extortionate fees. If you’re looking at cutting your budget then it could make sense to go for a more boutique agency or individual consultant, it’s likely you’ll get more time into your account and the relationship overall.


The reality is what worked yesterday may not yield the same results tomorrow. Businesses that become adept at quickly pivoting and adopting innovative advertising practices in response to the real-time climate will stand a greater chance of thriving during the recession. Staying lean, enlisting the help of domain experts, and serving your existing customers will put you in a much stronger position on the other side.

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