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How the Nordics have embraced digital marketing

(Image credit: Ditty_about_summer)

The Nordics is one of the most connected regions in the world, with internet speeds generally much faster than that of the UK. In Norway, over 97 per cent of the population have access to the internet, making it second only to Iceland in global connectivity. Sweden has a connectivity rate of over 92 per cent and Denmark comes ninth in the world, with 89 per cent of the country having access to the internet. The region has also embraced mobility; in Denmark there are more mobile phones than people (7.8 million phones vs 5.5 million people). 

This push for connectivity is driven by the desire to connect people; in comparison to the rest of Europe, the Nordics is sparsely populated and communities are often separated by huge distances. One particular way that the rise of the internet has helped those living in remote Nordic regions is the access to internet shopping and, as a result, Scandinavians are some of the biggest online shoppers. If you combine this with the fact that countries such as Sweden and Norway are amongst the wealthiest in the world, is it not surprising that many businesses with an online presence see immense opportunity in this region. 

How to approach digital marketing in Scandinavia? 

Digital marketing and internet advertising is a booming industry in the Nordic region; in Denmark alone it is valued at £440 million. So what do brands need to consider in order to be successful in this market?

It is important to note that whilst Scandinavia tops the tables for connectivity and internet speeds, it is vastly different from other Western countries when it comes to rules and regulations around advertising. The restrictions on advertising across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are among the toughest in the world - certainly the toughest in Europe - and include a complete ban on advertising to children in some markets, restrictions on alcohol ads, limits on healthcare product promotions and a total ban on political or religious advertising on TV. 

These tough rules and regulations come from the belief that restricting advertising will help to improve society. However, this doesn’t mean that brands should be put off. These rules very much fall in line with the culture of the Nordics, so brands should see it as an opportunity to use creativity to win over their audiences.  

Just like other Western nations, social media is huge in Scandinavia. Facebook is the most popular platform. In fact, Facebook is the second-most visited site in Sweden, just behind Other existing social media platforms, such as Twitter and YouTube, are also popular, so these three digital channels should form the basis of any business’ digital marketing strategy. 

Nordic social media users are accustomed to rich media content such as images and videos and are known for responding well to interactive content via computers and mobile, so these are both important considerations for brands looking to make an impact in this market.  Another growing mobile trend being seen in this region is free mobile gaming apps, such as Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans. 

This presents two ways of generating revenue for a business: in-app purchasing, where players are encouraged to pay for extra levels or items, and in-app advertising, where brands to pay for advertising within the app itself.  The huge number of mobile devices in this region is a key factor to consider, so brands must ensure that all their websites and online content is mobile optimised so that consumers can access it all on the go.

Things to avoid 

In the grand scheme of things, digital marketing is still relatively young in the Nordics but, just like the development of the internet, it is rapidly growing, meaning that in recent times many common practices such as paid search campaigns have already become outdated and ineffective. What is becoming apparent is that the things that used to work are no longer good enough. 

For example, the activity typically produced by large media agencies pushes out the same messages to a wide audience, which can often mean that these messages end up being seen by the wrong people and at the wrong time.  As a result, the content will have little or no impact on the target audience of the brand. 

A recent study by Kantar TNS emphasised this exact point. It found that across the global over a quarter of consumers (26 per cent) will actively choose to ignore brands on social media. On top of this, 34 per cent feel constantly followed by branded content online. This survey, which polled 70,000 global consumers, really highlights how much of the content which is being pushed out is being ignored, even though such huge numbers of consumers can be reached via online channels such as social media. This means that businesses need to reassess how they approach digital marketing, using a country-by-country strategy, and consider whether ‘less is more’.

The secret to success

With the vast number of mobile devices in Scandinavia, alongside the huge appetite for online shopping, the Nordic region presents massive opportunities for internet marketers who are prepared to go the extra mile and create digital marketing campaigns that are creative, targeted and, ultimately, well planned and executed. It is therefore vital for all brands to ensure their content is 100 per cent relevant to the dialogue they want to have with consumers. It is all about "the right message, at the right time, to the right person, on the right device/platform" – this is the key.

Programmatic buying and marketing automation is now helping brands to make sure they are meeting these demands. Creativity and content at every touch-point on the consumer journey is also fundamental to success. A lack of this is exactly why big brands are beginning to move their budgets away from the more traditional media agencies, many of whom rely upon automated campaigns that lack sufficient levels of 1:1 creativity, content and relevance. Instead, brands are increasingly opting for agencies that understand the latest technology in this area and are able to make it come alive with the right targeting, relevance and creativity. 

Jens Nielsen, Head of UK & Nordic Operations & Group Management at NetBooster
Image Credit: Ditty_about_summer