For all the lip-service that going digital is receiving these days, one would be tempted to think that the overwhelming majority of business owners understand the importance of such a move. Yet even in a country that’s generally regarded as tech-savvy and mostly literate in all things Internet, such as Australia, the reality is somewhat different. According to a recent survey, undertaken by one of Australia’s Big Four banks, 53 per cent of the one thousand businesses polled do not even have a website. Of the remaining 47 per cent, they are firmly convinced of the benefits that being online brings to their business: 75 per cent of business representatives, of those that do have a site, claim said site has all but worked miracles for their business. 73 per cent claim it has increased the levels of awareness about their business, 69 per cent say they now get better sales leads and more in-store visits from clients, and 61 per cent can swear their sales figures and income levels have gone up ever since they went digital.
While the enthusiasm professed by those who have gone online already is encouraging, the poll does speak of a more worrying reality. It seems that the Australian business scene is becoming more and more polarized, with a clear divide becoming apparent, between those managers who understand the perks of the Internet and those who resolutely refuse to consider it. While some start-up owners are implementing cutting-edge virtual office software suites, which allow them to work remotely, others are completely clueless about such solutions. They are missing out on what has been aptly described as a whole new world of possibilities, which also includes faster, safer, and more efficient methods of payment, as well as of collecting money via digital invoices.
And it’s not just those who have discovered the Internet that are attesting to its benefits. Another recent survey, carried out by a major market research company, says businesses that are online and engage thus with their clients earn an average of $100,000 more per employee than those who aren’t there just yet. Furthermore, a third survey even says the rate of businesses with websites is even lower – currently at 38 per cent. Of those who aren’t online already, some 30 per cent say they plan on building their site within the coming two years. In the meantime, though, they’re missing out, largely because of a lack of access to education, support and information in digital matters.
At the same time, the Internet is constantly a-changing, as are the users’ preferred modes of engagement. Another poll, which looked into Australians’ online habits, found they are spending less time on social networking platforms than before: fifteen minutes of every hour for social media, nine minutes for entertainment, and four for shopping. This, of course, will come to alter the way in which businesses choose to engage with their audiences. Those businesses which are already online, working actively toward providing their followers more of what they want to see, will clearly get a head start in this digital race for the prize.
There is a bit of hope for non-digitalized businesses in this above-mentioned survey, in the sense that it proves TV to be just as effective for marketing purposes as mobile devices. In other words, there is still a good chance to reach would-be consumers, aged eighteen to 64, since 94 per cent of them watch TV each week. However, TV ad space is becoming more and more pricey, while mobile and digital marketing is still relatively affordable. After all, it has been heralded as that one great marcomm unifier, pitting small and big businesses against each other, with equal odds at going viral. Bottom line: if you’re not online, get with the program, until online advertising starts to cost as much as offline publicity.