For SMBs it pays to be digitally engaged

LAN647 For SMBs it pays to be digitally engaged

Deloitte Access Economics says its survey of Australian small and medium businesses shows those that have reached 'advanced' levels of digital engagement to be much more successful than those that have only 'basic' levels of digital engagement.

It found the digitally advanced SMBs to be 1.5 times more likely to be growing revenue, eight times more likely to be creating jobs, seven times more likely to be exporting and 14 times more likely to be innovating. They were also found to be earning 1.4 times more revenue per employee and to have more diversi??.ed customer bases.

“In today’s economy, many Australian consumers now expect to be able to engage with Australian businesses through online channels,” Deloitte Access Economics said. “This is particularly important for SMBs, who may not have the size or reach to engage with existing or new customers without a digital presence.

However, on Deloitte Access Economics’ assessment of what constitutes a ‘digitally advanced’ SMB, only ninepercent of those surveyed made the cut, and many that fell short saw no need to change, according to Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony.

SMBs don’t see need to be digital

“Despite the benefits we have identified, almost half of all SMBs at lower levels of engagement don’t regard digital tools as relevant for their business,” he said.

“This suggests that there is still work to be done in helping some understand the value associated with increased digital engagement.”

In addition, those SMBs striving for digital advancement are reaching for constantly shifting goalposts, O’Mahony said. “The digital landscape is continually evolving as new technologies change existing markets, drive increased competition and shift consumer expectations.”

The study identified a lack of digital skills as one of the main barriers to SMBs striving for digital advancement.

For the survey Deloitte Access Economics created four levels of digital engagement. However it looked only at the use of digital tools for outward purposes such as marketing and customer engagement. Technologies used for internal management or mobile capabilities for employee collaboration were not considered.

The four stages of digital engagement

Basic: Businesses that have only a business email address and use traditional methods of marketing (eg post, newspapers); that have neither social media or website. Twenty three percent of businesses surveyed were at this level.

Intermediate: Businesses with a website and a listing on an online directory that they control. They may also be listed on an online marketplace or third party e-commerce platform (eg eBay). They make some use of social media and basic online marketing (eg webpage ad banners). Thirty four percent of businesses surveyed were at this level.

High: Businesses that have a mobile-responsive website, which may also have e-commerce or booking capabilities; businesses that make extensive use of social media and higher level online marketing methods (eg search engine optimisation, automated email advertising). Thirty four percent of businesses surveyed were at this level.

Advanced: Businesses that use data analytics to analyse customer information and inform decisions. They make use ofadvanced online marketing toolssuch as search engine marketing,social media advertising and videoadvertising. Only nine percent of businesses surveyed were at this level.

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