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The state of email marketing and CRM in Belgium

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InSites Consulting

In its recently published e-business study Ghent-based research firm InSites Consulting found that the usage of email marketing and CRM in Belgium is on the rise. A closer look at some of the findings.

Belgian companies use the Internet in an increasingly professional way for business and marketing purposes. In a nutshell that’s the the main conclusion of the e-business study by InSites Consulting, commissioned by the federation of Belgian businesses.

The growth of email marketing is striking but not really a surprise, given the fact it’s one of the most proven, popular, cost-efficient and measurable digital marketing techniques.

The need for CRM in email marketing

According to InSites Consulting, which surveyed 500 managers, 25% of businesses are using email marketing. A further 27% of respondents is considering to set up email marketing actions soon and 7% was about to launch its first email marketing campaign at the time of the survey.

Regarding the main reasons for the uptake of email for marketing and sales purposes, InSites quotes the traditional reasons such as the speed, low cost and immediacy of email. InSites did not look at the different ways companies are using email marketing as LUON does it in its well-known annual email marketing survey.

Among the sometimes overlooked benefits of email marketing and any form of digital marketing really is the possibility to connect customer and prospect information, behavior and preferences. Without CRM or at least built-in CRM features email marketing doesn’t make too much sense as it’s not just about blasting mails to ‘lists’ and more than the direct marketing alternative for postal direct campaigns. There is a dimension of reciprocity.

CRM: targeting small and medium businesses

InSites also looked at the use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in its e-business report. Allegedly 15% of companies have a CRM system with the majority of companies having introduced CRM applications in the past three years.

Sales force automation systems (often confused by many with CRM but only a very small aspect of it or rather a different flavor) have a similar success: 13% of respondents have an SFA (Sales Force Automation) platform in use.

Obviously there are differences depending on the type of company and its activities, as well as on the ‘size’ of the organization. While 15% means there is still quite some work on all fronts, it’s expected that the main growth in the Belgian CRM space will happen in the SME segment. That’s not really a surprise as most Belgian companies can be categorized in the SME segment.

However, there is another factor that will contribute to the rise of the small and medium enterprise/business market in general: the fact that vendors start launching CRM solutions, tailored for SMBs.

Earlier this week Oracle announced the launch of such a solution and Microsoft is set to follow very soon.

Last September IDC reported that the European CRM market year will grow by less than 8% this year. In 2001 growth was 22%. It’s a solid decrease for some reasons we all know. Of course the CRM market will pick up again, given the importance of knowing the customer. According to IDC growth should resume to more than 14% in 2003 and 2004.

Originally posted in Dutch