Newly released research from MYOB has found a significant decline in proactive online business activity among Australian SMEs, despite an increasing number of SME business owners running their own website.
The research, released as part of MYOB’s July 2012 Business Monitor survey of 1,004 SME operators, found the proportion with a business website rose slightly, from 36 per cent in March 2012 to 38 per cent in July. However, it also discovered online business activity (online transactions, email marketing and social media) was in decline, with only 24 per cent of SMEs having used search engines to promote their business, down from 31 per cent in March. Social media activity, such as connecting with consumers via Facebook, YouTube or Google+, had also dwindled, as had networking on LinkedIn (15 per cent versus 18 per cent and 13 per cent versus 19 per cent, respectively).
MYOB CEO Tim Reed, pictured right, says the decline in popularity of online business activities was completely unexpected, particularly that of online marketing and social media.
“Many of these tools, such as a basic LinkedIn page, are free and can be used to raise the profile of a business and to communicate with customers,” Reed explains.
“We also found more business operators are experiencing revenue falls than are experiencing rises, and the majority lack confidence in a short-term economic recovery. I suspect this has seen many shy away from online activities as they focus on the health of their business, whereas embracing them could reap productivity benefits.
However, Reed was quick to praise the growing number of SMEs with their own websites.
“I encourage all business owners to consider creating their own if they haven’t already,” he continues. “Getting a website started is within every small business’s reach.
“Last year, those with a business website were 53 per cent more likely to experience a revenue increase – 23 per cent saw their revenue rise versus 15 per cent of those without one. They also said positive business changes were more likely a result of having a website than using other promotional media, or a result of utilising both.”
For more from MYOB on how your business can get online click here.
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