Almost half of SMEs in Hungary are engaged in digital marketing activities, but most of them are spending randomly without a well-thought-out strategy, according to the third comprehensive Digimeter survey, conducted in spring 2021. In addition, post-campaign evaluation and the management of marketing data, in general, are not carried out in a professional manner, which clearly makes it difficult to plan consciously. The research also looked at whether companies plan to improve the situation.
The Digital Competitiveness Index (Digimeter) research series, launched in 2020, aims to examine the digital competitiveness of the Hungarian SME sector and its development potential, in the long term through comprehensive annual surveys. The latest research, conducted in April 2021, examined the online marketing activities of SMEs with the expert assistance of INTREN. The nationally representative survey was carried out among companies with 5-249 employees and a turnover between HUF 100 million (€281 thousand) and HUF 18 billion (€51 million), with a sample of 200 companies surveyed via telephone.
The research shows that 45% of SMEs in Hungary carry out digital marketing activities, typically on Facebook (40%), while the second most popular option is advertising on individual websites (28%). However, the vast majority of these companies (88%) have no pre-defined targets to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing, 75% do not have a budget allocated to digital marketing and a further fifth (18%) have only an aggregate marketing budget. At the same time, they generally (66%) try to follow their competitors' activities and current trends, which is the task of a dedicated employee for almost half of the companies (47%).
A third of companies engaged in digital activities do not evaluate the results of their advertising. Of those that do, most (83%) check the results of advertising by monitoring their advertising account, they may use analytics software (18%), or have an external partner that provides them with a report (11%). Half of the companies (52%) do not keep track of data that can be used for online marketing, while a further third (36%) only store contact and purchase data on customers. Only 4% of companies use data to reach their target market, while only 3% store data beyond contact details and completed purchases.
As a summary of the research, the "Digimeter INTREN Marketing Index" was defined, which indicates on a 10-point scale how advanced SMEs are in terms of digital marketing, considering all the areas of the survey. The overall sample scored 2.6, while the top 20% scored 6.0.
The above results show that while the essence of online marketing should be data-driven planning, implementation, and evaluation, few SMEs are yet able to apply this data-driven approach. At the same time, it also means that with a small investment of resources, rapid improvements could be achieved: either by training a dedicated staff member, hiring a competent specialist, or contracting an external agency. However, the survey results show that only one in eight companies plan to train staff digitally, 2% are looking to recruit new staff, and only a quarter of them use an external specialist. Companies that invest in obtaining digital marketing know-how can gain a significant competitive advantage.