How are EU businesses using internet and social media?

In 2016, 8 out of 10 internet users in the EU searched online for information about goods or services. As a response, businesses (at least 10 people employed) are increasing their internet presence, for example by having a website, using social media or targeted advertising.

24 % of EU businesses with a website offer online ordering or booking

In the EU, 80 % of businesses with internet access had their own website in 2016, compared with 71 % in 2010. Among the EU Member States, this share was highest in Finland (95 %), Denmark (93 %), Germany and Sweden (both 91 %).

Looking in more detail, the share of businesses with their own website is linked to the size of businesses: almost all large businesses (95 %) in the EU had a website in 2016 compared with 79 % of SMEs. Internet presence, measured by the share of businesses with their own website, is also linked to the economic sector in which a business operates: almost all businesses in the accommodation sector (96 %) had a website compared with 67 % of businesses whose main activity was in transportation & storage.

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Businesses use their website to provide different information and functionalities to their customers or business partners. Most commonly, those businesses which had a website in 2016 provided product catalogues or price lists (72 %), while 35 % advertised jobs or accepted online job applications, 24 % offered online ordering, reservation or booking options, and 11 % had website functionalities that provided for online tracking of orders.

Social networks: the most widely used social media of EU businesses

In addition to websites, businesses can use social media channels to spread information or for marketing/promotional purposes. Almost half of all EU businesses with internet access (46 %) reported in 2016 that they used at least one social media channel: most common were social networks (such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Xing) that were used by 43 % of businesses with internet access, followed by multimedia content sharing websites (such as YouTube, Flickr or Picasa) which were used by 15 % and blog or microblogs (such as Twitter) used by 14 %.

Among the EU Member States, the highest share of businesses with internet access which use social networks were recorded in Malta (73 %), while the largest share for multimedia content-sharing websites was registered in the Netherlands (27 %) and for blogs or microblogs in the United Kingdom (39 %).

There are a variety of reasons why businesses in the EU may choose to use social media: the most popular uses included developing the image of their business or marketing their products (79 % of businesses which used at least one social media channel in 2015), obtaining or responding to customers’ opinions or answering their questions (52 %) and recruiting employees (38 %).

Reaching the right audience: 26 % of EU businesses use internet ads

Especially for the online marketing of goods and services, just over one quarter (26 %) of EU businesses with internet access reported in 2016 that they used the internet for targeted advertising. Among the EU Member States, internet advertising was most popular in Malta (47 % of businesses with internet access), followed by Sweden (42 %) and Denmark (40 %).

A closer look at the types of internet advertising used by businesses shows that contextual advertising was the most widespread form (78 % of EU businesses which advertised online in 2016). Less common forms of internet advertising included geo-targeted advertisements (30 %), behavioural targeting (27 %) and other methods (35 %).

Source: Eurostat

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