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11 Recession-Proof Internet Marketing Methods

The R word is in the American air again: Recession. Hard to believe it hasn’t already hit, given the money pouring out of the USA, the lack of money coming in, and our, cough, leadership.

OK, I just got political for a second. I’m sorry. Note that I’m not specifying any particular leaders, though. Republicans and Democrats can choose who to blame.

Don't panic!

If you run a web site, it’s easy to sit back and shut your eyes as we start the long downward roller coaster ride. But there are some things you can do to recession-proof your internet marketing:

  1. Make every customer happy. It’s easier to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. If something goes wrong, or if someone’s blasting you via e-mail, think before you respond. Of course, you should always do this, but maybe think a little harder this time.
  2. Focus on content. Go back over your site. Is every single page a perfect sales letter? If not, go over it again. Edit and re-edit. Post your edits each time. This is an iterative proces. But constant improvement will mean better conversion and better search rankings. If you’re not sure what to do, GrokDotCom’s new guide is a great place to start. Click here.
  3. Think search engine optimization. Pay attention to the basic principles of search engine optimization. Have great content. Make sure your site is easily ‘crawled’ by the search engines. Don’t engage in any tricky stuff that might get you banned.
  4. Measure everything. If you’re spending money on advertising, measure every ad for effectiveness. If it’s not converting sales, dump it. No sense spending money that doesn’t generate a return. Just keep in mind the latency of your customers: If it takes 4 weeks for someone to make a buying decision, don’t delete the ad after 2 weeks.
  5. Go back to fundamentals. Some marketing methods have worked for decades: Honesty. Clarity. Research. Don’t get cute – stick to the fundamentals.
  6. Find safety in numbers. Seek out your favorite competitors and work with them. Sounds nuts, but think about it. Find the customers you don’t want, but they do. Have them do the same. Refer them back-and-forth. Even do some co-marketing. You’ll both make more money that way.
  7. Go wild. This is not a time to get conservative. Your competitors probably will. This is a good time to stand out, not by being silly or overspending, but by making sure you have a particularly effective message, and that you carry that message everywhere. Remember, internet marketing is always cheaper than other media. So expand, don’t shrink, what you’re doing online. OK, I’m biased on this one. But you don’t have to hire me. Just go do it.
  8. Expand lines of communication. If you aren’t blogging yet, start. It’s access to ‘soft dollar’ marketing that only costs you time. And it gets you access to an entire world of social media. Then get yourself an account on one or more social networks (Facebook, 9Rules, MySpace, etc.). Don’t spam. Just make friends. If something exciting happens in your business, communicate it there. If you have 100 friends, and they each have 100 friends, that’s 10,000 potential listeners.
  9. Go deep. Deliver more information than ever on your web site. Be sure that visitors can learn every detail of your product or service online. That means fewer phone calls, and less of your time. Time costs money, so this saves you money in a time when money’s a bigger concern.
  10. Be careful about price cuts. All of your competitors are going to cut prices. You may have to – I’m not an idiot – but try talking about value first. Does your product save money in the long run? Talk about that before you slash prices. Or, offer discounts for bigger purchases. Give customers ways to save money that help you earn more, not less.
  11. Panic calmly. Trust me, the word ‘recession’ scares the bejesus out of me, too. I’m a small business owner with a family, and I’m the sole wage-earner. But panicking – laying off staff, reducing marketing, shutting down distribution channels – will do irrevocable damage that costs far more to repair than it saves in the short term. So do what I do: Panic, but panic calmly.

Now I’m going to go have a beer and try to remember my own advice…

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Thanks for the advice. I am not an economist but I really think this is going to be a short lived recession. Seems like it happens every 8 years in conjunction with an election year. Coincidence or by design? Good luck riding it out.

  2. I’m a history geek – I always wonder why the 8-10 year cycle. But it does seem to happen. They come and go. The good news is that, afterwards, there’s a boom.

  3. The cycles run politically, economically, you name it. It’s kinda like the old weather adage: If you don’t like the , wait .
    I like the “focus on content” bit. In any line of work, substance is what draws people. It doesn’t take a genius to determine empty promises from realistic offers.

  4. This is a great list. I’d like to expand on a few points.
    “Make every customer happy.” I suggest going beyond that, and make them EXTREMELY happy, to the point where they’ll be EVANGELISTS for your product or service!
    I sell all of my products online, and I’ve often generated new sales simply because potential customers have asked, “What do you think of X…” (where X is one of my products) on a forum, and have gotten great responses 🙂
    “Measure everything.” Absolutely – I’m a strong advocate of “split testing”, both in advertising, on web sites and even on blogs.
    Always let visitors and customers vote for the best marketing messages, with their credit cards 🙂
    Paul Hancox
    P.S: In terms of politics, the candidate I would recommend to you has my first name as his last name 🙂
    Paul Hancox

  5. Solid advice. I am a small business owner as well and it’s terrifying, obviously, but interesting as well. I think this so called recession may propel the internet business boom even further, if that’s possible. At least I sure hope so.

  6. I agree this is the perfect time for businesses to embrace the web as one of their main marketing channels.
    For the business who already have already embraced online marketing… take it to the next level and the next and the next…

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