Europe is, without a doubt, a digitally sophisticated region. As our infographic shows, 20% of the world’s internet users are European – not bad when we only make up 12% of the world’s population. Investment in broadband and technology has contributed to this share. Internet penetration, especially broadband, is significantly higher than the rest of the world.
Europe is also rapidly adopting smartphones and tablets. By 2014 there will be an estimated 35 million tablets in the area. Multi-screen browsing is becoming normal behaviour.
Similar but different
Taking too broad a brush to Europe would be wrong. There are still countries that lag behind in accessing the internet (e.g. Greece) and there are notable differences in country behaviours for social networks or even web design trends.
Language also plays a huge role. Russian is one of the fastest growing internet languages and this is shown in its millions of users, participation in social media and the number of searches it conducts. English is also popular but you cannot assume that everyone is speaking or reading in it.
Developing for desktop, phone and tablet screens would be the best approach if you are trying to reach more than one country in Europe.
Facebook is the most popular social network and has slowly been encroaching on native websites such as Hyves (the Netherlands) and nk.pl (Poland). However, in Russia, the popularity of VK has held. While VK holds more than a passing resemblance to Facebook, it’s popularity is partly due to its integrated BitTorrent file sharing so films and videos can be viewed and downloaded from the website.
The UK, Germany and the Netherlands love shopping online but Italy doesn’t. Broadband penetration will play a part in this (Italy has less than 60%) but offline challenges such as reliable delivery methods and distribution channels also contribute to whether habits are taken up.
Planning a European digital marketing strategy
While you can broadly take Europe as a region and apply general assertions, you should always look at the country you are targeting. In particular:
- Language – make sure you communicate in the right one.
- Behaviours – what countries currently exhibit the behaviours you want? For example, if you want users to buy online, Italy is probably not the best country to start in due to its low ecommerce rates.
- Screen sensitivity – Europe looks mobile-centric on the face of it, however, in some countries such as Turkey, desktop browsing is increasing as more and more of the country has access to broadband. Developing for desktop, phone and tablet screens would be the best approach if you are trying to reach more than one country in Europe.
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