Small business “invisible” in the digital era

According to the Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report out of the 2.1 million small and medium businesses in Australia a staggering 58 per cent still don’t have a website. The report also states that 48 per cent of customers won’t consider buying from a business unless they have an online presence. For small businesses to be invisible in the midst of the digital revolution is literally ‘leaving money on the table’.

It really is surprising just how many businesses are still not properly set up online. Running a business in today’s day and age without a presence on the internet is not only a missed opportunity but is actually a huge risk that will only continue to grow.

Australia’s population has around 21.74 million active online users, that is 87 per cent of the overall population spending an average of five hours per day connected to the internet. Come to social media, Australia has over 16 million Facebook users alone plus LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat, spending an average of 1.5 hours per day on their preferred platform.

Not having a social media presence, a website or even just a basic ‘Google My Business’ account means you are missing out on a massive amount of traffic and business. With one in three businesses not surviving the first year of trading and those that do, standing a slim chance to make it past the year five mark, one has to wonder why so many business owners still haven’t invested in their online presence.

eCommerce in Australia has grown into a $32 Billion industry annually, with online purchasing growing exponentially while its brick-and-mortar counterpart continues to shrink. And, while not every business can or does sell their services or products directly online, most can find, capture and nurture prospective customers online and then convert them offline. Yet, too many small and medium businesses far under-utilise this.

Furthermore, the PwC’s Geospatial Economic Model predicts that small businesses can unlock an additional $49.2 billion over the next decade by embracing mobile and internet technology, with over half of this destined for regional and rural Australia. This translates to around $10.6 billion over ten years for around 200,000+ small businesses across the state of Victoria alone.

Talking about future-proofing your business in the age of digital disruption – you’ll struggle to survive or be a benefactor of this projected growth without being able to be found and interact with your potential customers online.

We suggest that the bare essentials for a digital footprint of a small business are:

  • A website that is mobile optimised & search-friendly
  • A Google my Business listing
  • Relevant Social Media platforms set up & active
  • Relevant directory listings (local business finder & review sites)
  • Professional content including imagery, written & video
  • A simple promotional strategy to attract new customers

While many small businesses already have a website and social media pages, due to the fast-changing digital landscape, changing consumer behaviour and evolving algorithms, most websites are still not set up to capture leads, be user-friendly, or optimised for viewing on different devices. Additionally, we find that more often than not, brand congruence, content quality and frequency are not there and often undermine how the business is perceived.

There is a grave difference between “having” digital assets and actually making these work for you. Creating a strong presence across social media, search engines and the web considerably boosts target audience engagement and can fast-track the multi-touchpoint experience most customers require these days before making a purchase decision.

Josh Klein, Founder and CEO, Agency Promotr

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