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Invest in your website during recession

Published: 8th December 2008

Author: Andrew Hart

There are many very sound reasons why overall spending should be tightly controlled during a recession. The trick is knowing where to cut back, and more importantly, where not to.

Slashing the budget on marketing (and vital trade-channels such as websites) is a common, but highly detrimental, reaction to a recession. If you want to know why - and learn how you can:

  • Get excellent value for money
  • Increase your market share
  • Decrease your running costs
  • Decrease customer attrition

…then read on!

Market evidence

There is substantial evidence1 that an economic downturn is a great time to increase a company's efforts in the field of marketing with significant opportunities to increase market share.

Far from "battening down the hatches" when the economy is performing badly, the best performers are those that actually increased spending in marketing activity.

To understand why this is so we need to look at number of factors surrounding return on investment and the market in general:

  • Being heard - During a economic down-turn where the 'traditional-thinking' competition is cutting back on marketing, the end consumer is hit by less advertising. Under normal circumstances you need to shout to be heard amongst the competition, but now your efforts will be heard loud and clear by your target audience.
  • Retaining and strengthening image - Recession is a lot about perception and fear. Companies that reduce their marketing efforts are often seen as poor performers, frightening off potential customers or even being forgotten about. Meanwhile, those companies that use this opportunity to strengthen their image are viewed by consumers as a safer bet. This effect is not short term and will affect perceptions long after any recession is over!

Why focus specifically on your website?

Businesses always want good value for money but during a recession this factor becomes a priority in decision making. When considering value for money in any marketing campaign we consider all the factors that make up the return on investment, not simply the short-term cost:

  • Websites are typically much cheaper than most other forms of advertising such as TV or radio
  • Traditional forms of advertising increase awareness in the short-term whilst web-sites provide a more persistent presence
  • Websites can decrease your running costs long-term: providing information such as your latest catalogue or special offers on-line can significantly reduce (or in some cases eliminate) the dependance on printed media and its associated distribution costs

In addition to this there is also a hidden "green" factor. By making more of your products/services/information available online you can make a significant reduction in your carbon footprint over more traditional methods of marketing. This fact can be used as part of a bigger campaign to improve your company image in relation to environmental matters!

The role of usability and accessibility


Understandably in a recession, there is increased pressure to hold onto every last customer. Carrying out simple usability testing and making improvements that make it easier for visitors to use your website will help hold onto more customers (especially true for eCommerce sites), reducing the attrition rate. And remember, making a one off investment in usability can lead to your company reaping the benefits for years to come. The overhead in retaining customers in this case will prove exceptionally good value over the lifespan of the website.


With around 20% of the population suffering from one disability or another that could affect how they use a website, it makes excellent sense to cater for this particular section of the market. This fact is overlooked by the vast majority of websites, despite detailed legislation and the trend towards more ethical trading practices.

In any economic climate it makes sense to make sure your website is accessible to as many people as possible. During a recession this is even more critical when every last customer counts. Also, as mentioned above, investing during a time of recession can put you in a very good market position when all around you the competition is battening down the hatches and losing market share.

For a more in depth look at the topic of accessibility please visit our accessibility page.

In conclusion

It might not be spend, spend, spend, but neither should you restrict your marketing budget during a recession. Marketing is critical during these difficult times, and a well-focused investment in your website can help to ensure both the short-term and future success of your company!

Contact Simius Web today to find out how we can help your business make the most of your website marketing efforts during recession. You can find our contact details here.

  1. "The McKinsey Report" - 2002
    "Turning adversity into advantage" published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing - 2005 back to 1

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