Recession marketing: connecting with your audiences through digital experiences

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 3 2023
recession marketing
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated May 3 2023

Two-thirds of the economists polled by the World Economic Forum said a global recession was likely in 2023. We know marketing budgets often get cut during economic downturns. But marketing is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Especially during a recession. You need marketing to keep the lights on. You need to keep driving sales and awareness and communicating with your customers. So how can you make the most of your budget, cuts or no cuts, to ride out the tough times?



Here are four practical steps you can take.


      1. Rethink your marketing mix

With fewer of your competitors speaking to consumers, the recession is an opportunity to improve your market share. So, be smart and focus on the most cost-effective marketing options. Digital experiences like webinars and virtual events are great tools here because of their personal, interactive nature. They allow you to connect with your audience in a way that makes them feel more valued and closer to your brand, strengthening relationships and increasing loyalty. Doing this on a wide scale with minimal resources is just not possible with traditional advertising. Plus, digital experiences give you tons of valuable data for lead generation, nurturing, and ROI reporting.

      1. Empathize with your audience

As you keep advertising, it’s important to consider whether your brand position and marketing messages are appropriate in the current economic climate. It may come across as tone-deaf if you don’t adjust your messaging even though your customers are feeling the pinch. Your approach will vary depending on if demand for your product or service goes up or down during the recession. Discount stores, for example, see increased demand and can campaign accordingly. While travel companies experience a drop off in sales and might find promotions and discounts are the way to go. Whatever tweaks you make to your messaging, make sure the new approach is adopted by all departments, so your customers have a consistent experience, with empathy at every turn.

      1. Trim your tech inventory

Now is a good time to think about the tech tools you use to create, manage, and analyze your marketing efforts. Software inventories tend to become bloated. This is a chance to get rid of the tools that are not making or saving you money. And replace specialized tools that handle a single task with more capable tools that manage multiple tasks and serve different departments. The Kaltura Events platform, for example, can handle multitrack events, webcasts, and webinars, and comes with event promotion and landing page building capabilities built in.

      1. Take a test-and-learn approach

Don’t hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. Embrace the uncertainty as an opportunity to experiment. Be proactive, get out there, and try a new messaging strategy or channel strategy. Start small, examine the data, and invest more in what works. This means being flexible and moving fast. The marketing plan you made at the beginning of the year might not survive the quarter. You need to be able to adapt to constantly changing circumstances.




Virtual events can help you do all this

Virtual events are a cost-effective method of reaching and engaging many people with your latest messages. They allow you to use your best tools and deploy a test-and-learn approach to marketing in a fast and flexible way. Not only that, but virtual events also give you access to huge amounts of data. By measuring engagement, attendance, number of interactions with a speaker, and so on, you can report effectively on ROI.


Virtual events are more flexible than the in-person variety, so you can choose the right format depending on the needs of your campaign and audience. An all-day brand event, perhaps, or a simple webinar to answer customer questions. Because virtual events have lower overheads and less logistical complexity, you can easily scale your event and reach a wider audience. Plus, with on-demand content available after the event and repurposed for other channels, you’re engaging your audience for longer, too.




Case study: Reaching thousands of marketers

In November 2022, Kaltura ran Virtually Live – a digital thought leadership event bringing together thousands of marketers from around the world. The event included sessions on the theme of doing more with less. These included a session on how to market to global audiences while still reflecting local interests, and another on how to create customer experiences that deliver what customers want and need. You can access all the sessions on demand for free here.


Despite its limited budget, Virtually Live allowed us to reach almost 5,000 people, many of whom we converted into sales leads. As well as practical marketing insights, our audience got a well-produced and memorable brand experience. 84% of viewers watched more than one session, demonstrating the type of engagement that you can’t track at an in-person event. Our virtual event had important sustainability benefits too, including .




What’s with the webinar?

Webinars are cheap, easy to produce, and extremely versatile. And, as our research shows, growing in popularity. Marketing teams use them for demand generation, getting existing customers excited about new products, as a funnel conversion tool, and for establishing thought leadership. This versatility makes webinars popular across organizations, from marketing and sales to finance and HR.


Webinars are no longer a niche channel; most businesses use them as part of their marketing strategy. Webinars help you speak to customers directly in a more personal, interactive way than traditional marketing videos. For sales teams, webinars are a great lead magnet – helping to get more potential customers into the sales funnel. At the same time, webinars allow you to nurture loyal customers by demonstrating products and answering pre-purchase questions.




Once is not good enough

As part of Kaltura’s drive to share useful insights with our audience, we run a series of webinars focusing on topics including accessibility in the digital age and scaling up your training strategy. We even run webinars about webinars. We see a high level of interaction during the sessions. Attendees are keen to learn and get involved, asking questions, and sharing examples from their own experiences.


In the battle for hearts, minds, and eyeballs, making your marketing process efficient is vital. To that end, content you can repurpose from one channel to another is highly desirable. Efficient and cost-effective, repurposing webinar content for, say, a blog post, allows you to meet several goals at once. Both virtual events and webinars offer ample opportunities for repurposing. Webinar content—made up of text, images, and video—is one of the easiest forms of content to repurpose. Extracting, editing, and republishing webinar content on your website or social media channels is straightforward.




Into the storm with your head held high

With a potential recession coming, marketers are understandably nervous. Heading into the unknown is scary. But there is no need to be passive and wait for the storm to dash you on the rocks. Instead, take a proactive and multifaceted approach.


Firstly, don’t stop marketing – that would be disastrous. Secondly, adjust the tone of your messaging – your customers are feeling the recession too. Thirdly, trim the fat – which software and tools are not serving you anymore? Finally, test and learn – now is the time to experiment and find better ways of reaching your customers.


Digital experiences like virtual events and webinars are a great opportunity to employ all these tactics while creating a wealth of content to be used across other marketing channels. In this way, you and your organization can emerge from the recession stronger than ever.