Where Are We Now? A Year on From the Brexit Vote; What are the Opportunities for Digital marketing in the UK?

A year ago, marketers across the land were faced with the question of how Brexit was going to impact them; their activities, their budgets, their customer-base… pretty much their entire world. And so, I wrote a piece about what Brexit would mean for digital marketing activity.

Its almost 52 weeks later, and to be honest, we’re still asking the same questions. Though Article 50 was “invoked” on the 29th of March, there have been next to no details about what Brexit will means for the UK or, by association, for the rest of the EU. And with yet another election looming over us, things are as unclear as ever.

What does this mean for digital marketers – including those at agencies and their clients? What could happen? What definitely will happen?

FX Risks and Rewards

Immediately after the Brexit referendum, exchange rates shifted and the pound took a tumble. Instantly this was an opportunity for brands to sell more of their product aboard where their prices suddenly became much more attractive.

For many brands, this is still a massive opportunity with untapped markets out there – and there is no reason they shouldn’t be moving to seize that opportunity for all it’s worth.

However, there is a flip-side; many brands who buy their products from other markets are suddenly finding their imports are costing significantly more. For these brands, simply driving international revenue may not be enough to plug the profit gap.

Data Privacy – An Opportunity for Change?

Current data protection laws come from the European Data Protection Act. This governs how data can be transferred, used, and ultimately collected. In a post-Brexit world, a government serious about helping businesses could make the sharing and use of data easier.

This might not be popular with the public, but if changes were phased in gradually and ultimately this lead to ‘Joe Public’ having a more personalised online experience, it could become the new normal without too much fuss.

The Rise of the Silicon Kingdom?

If a government were to make the UK a more “desirable” base for international companies, then we could see the UK become the global hub of international digital marketing.

Not only would traditional client-side businesses be persuaded to move here but there would also be major benefits for tech companies to locate in the UK. The Silicon Kingdom could eclipse Silicon Valley.

And this could only be a positive for driving creative thinking in digital marketing.

Cutting Ourselves Off from International Talent

To continue to grow, the UK’s digital marketing sector needs the best and brightest minds, and in recent years, we’ve had the pick of not only the EU but of the world.

Though if work visas and international recruitment become issues, the UK may struggle to acquire the talent it needs. However, that’s not necessarily a dead end. In today’s digital/gig economy, your team does not have to sit in your office. Remote working and even project-based employment/contracting could be the answer.

The Known Unknowns

Until we know, one way or another, whether Brexit will turn the UK into an economic wonder or wasteland, there will be caution at all levels.

Consumers and brands will hold off on big projects requiring heavy investment – whether that be installing a new home bathroom, or launching new products and services.

And everyone will be guarding against a potential cataclysm by saving and cutting back as much as possible – both at home and the office. As agencies, we need to make sure we continue to make sensible marketing decisions on behalf of clients and focus on driving efficiency as we always have done.

The Importance of the Basics

With efficiency being increasingly important, it’s vital for digital marketers to hold true to the core principles of efficiency, flexibility, and transparency.

Producing best-in-class work remains the objective of any good agency and that doesn’t just mean sexy new projects, it also means remembering to cover the basics from the bottom up to make sure that every pound and penny is pulling its weight.

 

I leave you now with the closing statement from the article I wrote last year on this subject as, even though we’re 12 months closer to Brexit, we’re still a long way off:

“Ultimately, we won’t know a lot about what the future holds for a post-Brexit Britain until it’s upon us. But if the digital marketing industry holds true to its core concepts of flexibility, efficiency and transparency then we should be able to ride out any storm and continue to drive success for our clients.”