A new report has found fewer than one quarter of Australian businesses (22 per cent) are ‘digitally engaged’ based on set criteria to determine how firms use technology to stay competitive.
The State of the Nation 2016: Small Business Digital Engagement in Australia report by tech startup, Netstripes found that only 45 per cent of businesses surveyed have mobile-optimised websites. This was despite Australia being sixth in the world for smartphone ownership, with a penetration rate of 64.6 per cent.
This means that the 55 per cent of small businesses without mobile-optimised websites will not be performing at optimum levels when people search Google for their services and products.
Only 62 per cent had clear service offerings on their homepage, meaning 38 per cent may still confuse their website visitors on what services they offer.
Twenty eight per cent of businesses are using SEO (search engine optimisation) efficiently, thus more than 70 per cent are not easily found when potential customers seek their services on search engines.
Meanwhile, Australia is currently fifth in the world for social media penetration, yet only 18 per cent of our small businesses are engaging with their customers on social media.
The parameters explored by Netstripes to determine digital engagement included website quality, social media engagement, digital marketing efforts, consistency of updates, and demonstrated SEO capability.
On a state and territory basis, South Australian small businesses were with 37 per cent of small firms found to be digitally engaged, followed by Tasmania and the ACT (20 per cent), Western Australia (24 per cent), New South Wales (22 per cent), Queensland (21 per cent), Victoria (16 per cent) and the Northern Territory (11 per cent).
In a statement released with the report, Dinesh De Silva, CEO of Netstripes encouraged small businesses to use technology to grow their business, noting that creating more digitally savvy businesses could lead to the creation of 700,000 new jobs in Australia which would benefit the overall economy as well as that business.
“Small businesses that make full use of the Internet grow their businesses by over 20 per cent each year, which is quite significant,” he said.
“Additionally, more than 50 per cent 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.”