A fascinating article in The Age recently suggests that having an effective website may be a key differentiator for small-to-medium businesses (SME).
Tim Reed, CEO of business software producer MYOB, commented at a business meeting in Sydney last week.
Mr Reed said while some companies have seized the opportunities of an increasingly connected community, the majority of Australian businesses are “struggling”.
“It’s still less than 40 per cent of Australia’s businesses that have a website,” Mr Reed said.
“We did some research recently and it showed most Australian businesses are struggling: two businesses are having revenue decline for every one that is having revenue growth at the moment.
“But you are 50 per cent more likely to be in the group where your revenue is growing if your business has a website.”
Mr Reed warned the business community was approaching a point of “digital divide”.
“It’s going to have nothing to do with infrastructure, it’s going to have to do with the ability of business managers to cope and prosper in this environment.
“Those that put it front and centre as a core part of their strategy are already doing better than those that don’t.”
Mr Reed said the gap would widen as bandwidth and internet speeds, which will grow with the NBN, improved and consumers conducted more business online.
In an article earlier in the day, The Age further expanded on MYOB’s survey results, with results that should be of interest to any small business owner:
- 38% of Aussie businesses have websites
- Those using online transactions, email marketing and social media declined to 24%
- 37% of businesses with websites reported greater customer satisfaction
- 34% said a website improved their customer interaction
- A third reported greater conversion, with a 32% saying it improved their bottom line
- 30% said it allowed them to compete more effectively
A point that wasn’t made in the article is that it’s likely that in a longer run these factors would combine synergistically, yielding even better results over time.
Perhaps another useful point here is that having a website is not a magic cure-all for everything wrong with your business or industry. These figures do suggest though that there are benefits from good communication.
Mr Reed further commented:
‘‘With Australia’s internet audience reaching 16.2 million in May 2012 it surprises me that so many business operators have not yet realised the value of having a simple website containing their contact details,’’ Mr Reed said.
‘‘Websites are a great way to attract new customers and to keep existing customers loyal, which can only have a positive effect on cashflow.’’
Read the full articles here: