Sad state of the digital nation

The report reveals shockingly low levels of digital engagement with only 45% of businesses having mobile-optimised websites, despite Australia being sixth in the world when it comes to smartphone ownership.

Only 22 % of Australian businesses are digitally engaged and using technology to grow their business.

That is the finding of our newly-released report, State of the Nation – 2016, Small Business Digital Engagement in Australia, which looks at how Australian small businesses are performing in the digital economy.

South Australia scored the highest national average of digital engagement –37%, followed by Tasmania – 29%), the Australian Capital Territory – 29%, Western Australia – 24%, New South Wales –22%, Queensland – 21%, Victoria –16%, and the Northern Territory – 11%.

The research sample covered 1000 small businesses around Australia categorized by state and industry – medical, legal, professional services, trades, and hospitality.

The report defined 17 parameters* for full digital engagement, in which two analytical modules were used, namely Digital Index – overall digital presence and engagement – and Web Index – whether the website was functional and competitive.

Shockingly only 45% of businesses were found to have mobile-optimised websites, despite Australia being sixth in the world when it comes to smartphone ownership with a penetration rate of 64.6%. This means that 55% of businesses are performing poorly when people search Google for their services and products.

In addition, only 62% of small businesses had clear service offerings on their homepage, which means that 38% of the businesses still confuse their website visitors on what services they offer.

Australia is fifth in the world for social-media penetration, yet the report found that only 18% of small businesses are engaging with their customers on social media.

Only 28% of businesses are using Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – efficiently, which means that over 70% are not easily found online when potential customers look for the services they offer on search engines.

We would strongly encourage SMEs to use technology to grow their business. Small businesses that make full use of the internet grow their businesses by over 20% each year, which is quite significant. Additionally, more than 50% of all searches are now done via smartphones and increasing, so if a business doesn’t have a website that is mobile friendly they are losing half of their potential customers.

The digital world opens up huge opportunities for small businesses, which holds the potential for generating billions of dollars in economic growth and reducing unemployment in the country.

Dinesh De Silva, CEO and founder, NetStripes

*Digital index parameters:

  • Functioning Website / Mobile-optimised website / Active social-media engagement / Facebook / LinkedIn / Blogs / Email marketing and newsletters / Regular and consistent updates – 15 per month on average / SEO for 1st page ranking on Google.

*Web index parameters:

  • Mobile-optimised website / Functioning homepage – not busy, user-friendly & simple to operate / Homepage caption that conveys brand essence / Design quality – strong, integrated visuals, well-written content, consistent use of logo & branding elements…etc. / Trust signals – awards, accreditations…etc.) Website speed – fast & easy to load / Clear list of service offerings / About us with photos / Testimonials.


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