Businesses across a wide variety of sectors are actively harnessing digital technologies to drive business growth, and those that don’t may be missing out on opportunities and falling behind their competitors.
Recent research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics for the federal government and its Small Business Digital Champions
Project has highlighted increasing small business adoption of digital technologies. The research, which classified digital engagement as basic, intermediate, high and advanced based on use of varying social media, websites, marketing and data analytics tools, found that:
- In 2019, 55 per cent of small businesses achieved high or advanced levels of digital engagement, up from 39 per cent estimated in similar research in 2017
- Small businesses moving from basic to advanced digital engagement see a 60 per cent increase in revenue per employee, having earned on average 28 per cent higher revenue growth in the last 12 months
- Cost is the most commonly cited barrier to small business digital engagement
- Of businesses with basic levels of digital engagement, 51 per cent don’t understand the potential benefits of engagement
- More businesses are using social media to maintain their online presence before establishing a website
Of course, the nature of digital engagement will be determined by day-to-day business operations, and it makes sense to carefully consider how engagement can complement operations in your business.
Making your business visible: the importance of an online presence Maintaining an online presence is a fundamental component of business digital strategy, essentially providing a reference point for potential customers.
The 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report points to the importance of being active online, revealing that for 71 per cent of consumers traditional “word-of-mouth” referral comes behind online search and online reviews.
The report additionally found that 89 per cent of customers want a website that’s easy to navigate, while 48 per cent will stop considering a business if it doesn’t have one.
Meanwhile social media platforms are another important tool via which businesses can establish an online presence, with last year’s Yellow Social Media Report revealing 79 per cent of Australians use social media, with 47 per cent of small-to-medium-sized businesses on social media.
Without an online presence, it becomes more difficult for potential new customers to find you, while utilising the range of online tools available can help businesses not only advertise, but also build credibility and encourage customer engagement.
For instance, via a website or social media platform, you can provide an overview of your business, along with photos and videos of different projects worked on and other relevant information, allowing customers an insight into your experience, approach and range of services.
Where to Start?
It is certainly worthwhile keeping up to speed with the ever-evolving range of digital tools that can potentially help grow your business.
As a starting point, a number of state government websites provide information on digital strategies, and may also have information on relevant workshops for small business owners.
It is also worthwhile referencing the business.gov.au website, which provides a range of information about digital tools, including information on creating an online presence. Information on the Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) Digital Solutions program can also be found at business.gov.au, with the ASBAS program designed to provide small businesses with advice about a range of digital solutions.
In the next issue we will look at how a small business in Arboriculture can make the most of the Small Business Digital Grants Program and how to be eligible for a government sponsored ‘digital makeover’