According to a new study* by The Reference, Belgian marketers are choosing the path of digital marketing. In 2012 they will focus on social media marketing, mobile sites and monitoring performance, their main challenges being turning data into actionable insights and creating sufficient return on investment. Companies that claim to be leading in terms of digital marketing are planning to invest significantly more in social media monitoring and social / mobile advertising.
Despite the fact that satisfaction about the effectiveness of digital marketing initiatives needs to increase, Belgian marketers attach high importance to digital marketing. On average, 20% of the total marketing budget is invested in digital marketing initiatives. The share of online marketing in the total marketing budgets tends to drop among large industry players. Digital marketing budgets grew with 5,5% in 2011 (compared to 2010) and the same growth rate is to be expected in 2012.
The current main areas of investment for the Belgian marketing budgets are corporate websites (brand and product sites included), social presence, SEO optimization and e-mail marketing. Establishing a social presence is a key priority for most companies and claims up to 12% of the total digital marketing budget. Mobile marketing is still fairly new for most companies, but more than 2 in 5 are considering to optimize their site for mobile. Mobile sites are as popular as apps in 2012, but Belgian marketers tend to favor mobile sites in the future. Mainly larger companies have started fine-tuning their online presence for mobile devices.
Looking at the current adoption rate of the different domains in digital marketing, web analytics and e-mail marketing are ranked higher compared to their respective allocated budgets. This indicates that most companies invested more in these areas in the earlier stages of their digital marketing efforts. Social presence is a key area of investment with 55% planning to invest more in 2012. Also lead generation via search engines (seo) and e-mail marketing are strategic pillars in the digital marketing plans of Belgian marketers.
One of the main challenges for Belgian companies in the future is the ability to turn a vast amount of company data into insights. Furthermore, 45% of Belgian marketers agree that ROI calculations are hard to determine. Finally, 4 out of 10 companies have difficulties finding or retaining workforce with digital marketing skills.
For this reason, more than 4 out of 5 Belgian companies are outsourcing at least 1 digital marketing activity. While website creation / maintenance, bannering and search engine marketing are being outsourced, social media monitoring and creating a social presence are often done in-house. Next to the main reasons for outsourcing – being a lack of internal resources and expertise – most companies stick to outsourcing to keep up with the latest trends and to get new ideas from digital marketing experts.
Objectives: Give an overview of the digital marketing landscape in Belgium in terms of budget, resource allocation, satisfaction and plans for 2012.
Target group: Decision makers of digital marketing initiatives (budget allocation, schedule, supplier selection, coordination of initiatives) within their company
Geographical scope: Belgian companies
Sample information: Data collected through self-administered online survey
Field work conducted between 2 – 30 November 2011
Sample size: 150 respondents responsible for digital marketing within their company
Error margin of results: +/- 7,8%
Founded in 1993, The Reference was the first Belgian Web Agency and a European pioneer. Today it is an established and leading full service interactive agency, part of the Emakina Group, listed on Alternext. It focuses on building brand experiences that work. The Reference is located in Ghent, Belgium, from where it services its clients internationally. A team of >85 highly qualified professionals explore and extend the borders of strategy, creativity and technology, mixing these heterogeneous skills in attractive, usable and powerful web projects.