Digital Single Market: The €415 billion idea many haven't heard of

This is a contributed piece by Amir Jirbandey, UK Marketing Manager at Mailjet

The creation of a digital common market for online goods and services could add as much as €415 billion to the EU, the equivalent of 3% of its GDP. At the forefront of digital sector innovations, Britain stands to gain hugely if such plans were taken forward, the only problem is barely anyone knows about them.

New research from email provider Mailjet, has revealed three in five senior marketers across the UK admit they had never heard of the Digital Single Market policy guidance. Of those that have, a third admitted little or no understanding of its contents.

Certainly cross-border internet buying and selling isn’t a conventional place to look for immediate marketing impact. Complicated by varying VAT rates, business nuances and protectionism, businesses must be constantly mindful of the privacy concerns among consumers buying online in another country due to the amount of personal information being passed over.

In this current climate, it’s unsurprising that a country which has for more than four decades existed within the European Union is approaching a genuine crossroads with the referendum. And yet policies such as the Digital Single Market sit at odds with the status quo, willing to challenge the complexities and red tape to streamline cross-border activity.


The knowledge gap

So why isn’t more of a fuss being made about this? If we look back at the survey’s findings, it’s all down to a simple knowledge gap. Well over a third of senior marketers in the UK refuse to believe the Digital Single Market will have any real impact on their business whatsoever, despite the majority having little to no understanding of its contents.

This feeling was strongest among start-ups, nearly half of whom (45%) couldn’t see the single market initiative having any positive effect on the running of their business. Similarly, just under half wrote-off the idea of a single marketing strategy between the 26 European Union countries as impossible.

The implications are not to be taken lightly. When asked about the Brexit, one in three senior marketers across the UK believe leaving the EU would be beneficial for their company.


Following the leaders

Feelings change towards the higher end of the spectrum. Big businesses and conglomerates with teams of dedicated marketing professionals show much greater sign of awareness, with nearly three quarters of senior marketers (72%) having some familiarity with the contents of the policy.

Standing at odds with the views expressed by smaller companies, four fifths of these professionals believe the policy guidance will have a positive effect on their business, and the same proportion also believe it will be at least somewhat effective in driving change across Europe.

Looking at the opportunities the Digital Single Market could present British companies in the retail sector; one third of businesses sell online, but only 7% of these do so beyond UK borders. This is a drop in the ocean compared with the €415 billion expectation for the entire region, but highlights the potential for international growth the Digital Single Market presents UK businesses.


Taking Europe seriously

The priority for UK businesses is to review their sales and marketing strategies under the new light of the Digital Single Market plans. The research shows that many currently aren’t in good shape to capitalise on the changes this policy would make, directly as a result of their multichannel strategy.

Only one in 10 senior marketers see in-app and push notifications to mobile devices as having the power to deliver personalised content to prospects at scale and into new territories. Whilst email marketing, the most capable channel for creating truly bespoke consumer interactions in overseas markets, is only understood in this way by less than a quarter (24%) of respondents.

More worryingly, one in five companies with an income of over £100m mentioned they don't have a multi-channel marketing strategy. While start-ups focusing more on just one channel makes sense due to their budget and resource, for larger organisations this indicates a more strategic cause for concern.

As key investors in the Digital Single Market, the UK government needs to do more to help raise awareness about the relevance and strategic implications of the new policy guidelines amongst UK businesses. Starting this dialogue now holds the key to sparking greater questions within organisations about the strategy with which they are approaching new market audiences and the channels being used to engage individual consumers. In particular, SMEs currently reviewing the pros and cons of a ‘Brexit’ must make sure they understand how their campaigns and results across the continent might change in a world where Britain sits outside the EU.



Related reading:

Tech experts have their say on the EU Digital Single Market


« Eight big problems with cloud computing


African SMEs to benefit from improved digital payment solutions »
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?