Josie Scotchmer, UK Marketing Manager, Mailjet explores why low awareness of the Digital Single Market could drive some marketers to back a Brexit and question whether the UK can be a world leader in digital.
In her parliamentary address, the Queen declared a new initiative for the UK to be seen as a ‘world leader in the digital economy’. However, with the vote on Brexit looming this month, there are questions about Britain’s membership in its most immediate international community and concerns about whether the UK is able to be a world leader without Europe in its shadow.
The decision on the EU Referendum amongst marketers is far from clear cut, with most of the industry divided on whether the UK should remain in the EU. A recent survey commissioned by Mailjet, posed the following question: ‘Do you think the UK exiting the EU would be good for your company?’ 31% of senior marketers said yes.
However, in the same survey, as many as 59% of senior marketers in the UK had never heard of the Digital Single Market (DSM), a major initiative to remove regulatory walls between the 28 member states to enable pan-European initiatives.
There is a clearly a knowledge gap amongst marketers between the reasons to Leave or Remain in the EU when it comes to the Digital Single Market. In fact, over a third of senior marketers in the UK refuse to believe that the Digital Single Market will have any real impact on their business whatsoever, despite the majority having little to no understanding of its contents.
So what value does the DSM bring to marketers in the UK?
Reportedly, a digital common market for online goods and services could add as much as €415 billion to the European economy. According to research from taxation experts Taxamo though, US-based online services account for 54% of the European digital market currently. This highlights that right now European economies are missing out on a great deal of revenue to US companies. In fact, of the 10 largest digital companies ranked by revenue, none are headquartered in the UK – all are either run from the US or China.
World leaders irrespective of the EU Referendum outcome
The Queen wants UK digital businesses to becomes world leaders, but research shows that regardless of a Brexit or not, we still have a way to go. For example, a recent electoral commission report found that the UK is lagging behind other markets in areas such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology. The 2016 digital economy and society index found that while the UK score is above the EU average, it is growing more slowly than the average. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland are leading the way, while Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria and Portugal are the fastest growing. The UK needs to continually invest in education around technology and provide incentives for businesses to upskill their staff in digital. In addition, we need to ensure that the Culture, Media and Sport Committee continues to investigate and improve the coverage, delivery and performance of connectivity in the UK.
After more than four decades within the European Union, the UK is fast approaching a crossroads that carries different implications for every company. We’ve seen from our research that big businesses expect to see benefits from a Digital Single Market that is promised to ease international trade and allow new efficiencies across their European campaigns. However, for smaller businesses and start-ups that lack a dedicated marketing function, there are bigger questions about whether the Digital Single Market will contribute to Britain’s world leading position in digital, as well as their own company’s.
It is down to the government to help raise awareness about the relevance and strategic implications of new international guidelines. 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.
There is a huge potential for business large and small to improve international expansion and unlock new revenue streams. Whether the UK leaves the EU or not, there is still a lot of uncertainty with marketers as to what the Digital Single Market is and what will need to happen in the future for the UK to become a world leader in the digital economy. In order to capitalise on the strength of UK businesses, help from the Government is required to educate organisations on how to seize the great opportunity that digital presents.
By Josie Scotchmer
UK Marketing Manager