Do you believe the economy is now ready to recover or that we're in for a double-dip recession? Have you been worried about your business's survival? Are you simply looking forward to consumers becoming happier to spend their cash again?
Whatever your opinions and concerns, it's time to give some very real thought to your online marketing strategy and what you will do once the economy does finally pick up.
So how can you ensure your organisation is ready to market online within a recovering financial environment? Well, here are a few areas I think are important to look at. As always, if you have any to add then please use the comment facility and share your advice.
Start justifying your budget now
Marketing endeavours are always hit by recession and online promotional work particularly so. Within so many companies, spending money selling online is a new development, so it was easier for them to justify ditching it when the downturn began.
So, work out your plans now. Figure out how much those plans will cost and find the pre-recession figures to back up your potential spending – show them your anticipated returns.
Remember that online marketing is simply the most targeted and cost-effective way to promote your organisation. That means online work should even take priority over other marketing efforts, it is the most efficient way to reach consumers.
Work out your arguments, back it with statistics and real costs, and start making the case now. You don’t want to be behind the competition once your customers start spending.
Optimise your website
The world has changed. Never again (or at least not for a long time) will we have the same level of consumer confidence and debt-happy spending we saw over the last ten years.
In the post-recession world, we're instead going to see a much more careful consumer base. People will be hunting bargains instead of thoughtlessly spending. That means they're more likely to look online than on the high street – the web is still known as a place for finding bargains.
So, make sure you're ready to be found. Undertake work that will boost your pages' positions in the search engine results pages and make sure potential customers find you first when they're hunting down decent deals.
Plan for the short term
Search engine optimisation can take time, but you will want to move quickly to take advantage of potential customers' increased spending power.
One excellent way to put your company in front of potential customers immediately is pay-per-click advertising. Bid for advertising space with Google – and other search engines if you want – and you can drive relevant, interested traffic to your website straight away.
Consider a viral campaign
Even once recession lifts, it's going to be a long time before people are entirely happy that it's safe to spend money on frivolities like going out.
Brits are going out less (seriously, Durex and Cadburys both say sales have soared as people, ah, entertain themselves more at home), and that means many will be spending more time online.
So, offer them something entertaining. Provide content that is simply so hilarious/thought provoking/bizarre that they'll share it with their friends and colleagues.
It's easier said than done – but done well, it works brilliantly.
Consider cost campaigns carefully
There's a lot more distrust out there since the financial crisis hit, don't let it bleed onto your business. If you make a claim in a campaign then you need to back it up.
This is most obviously true of promoting on price. If you decide to make use of people's hesitance to spend by marketing yourself as a low-cost option then make sure you are the best value company doing whatever it is you do.
Consumers talk, in person and online, and generating distrust by failing to live up to your marketing claims will damage your brand.
Of course, it's very easy to flippantly recommend something like viral marketing or search engine optimisation in three paragraphs, but the truth is that I could spend three blog posts talking about each and still only cover the basics.
In order to be effective, any online marketing tactic takes a hell of a lot of hard work, determination and expertise. Do use these tips but do some research first to make sure your hard work works.