These small businesses also have better growth prospects, more diversified sources of revenue and a bigger customer base.

Are you the type of small business owner who, although internet literate and not indisposed to an occasional online browse here and there, has sworn off the need for a website, let alone ‘that Facebook thing’ and other related ‘wastes of time’?

If so, it's time to wake up, because this whole digital craze isn't going away and if you're not convinced, a look at some of the statistics available point to the fact that the hype is well and truly believable.

For example, a 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics, which surveyed 500 small businesses to measure their level of digital engagement, found that those that made full use of the internet with a high digital engagement, enjoyed better business outcomes and typically saw a $350,000 or 20% increase in annual revenue.

“These small businesses also have better growth prospects, more diversified sources of revenue and a bigger customer base,” the report says.

The report says that small businesses that have neglected the digital realm can still can still adopt a digital presence by taking small steps such as creating a simple, informative website for customers, which can increase business performance.”

“While these businesses tend to prioritise survival over growth and view the internet as peripheral, increasing digital engagement can increase the efficiency of business operation, giving small business people more free time,” the report surmises.

Low digital engagement, as described by Deloitte, completely rules out any form of social media marketing – perhaps the most cost effective and far-reaching form of digital marketing in 2015.

A recent Sensis Social Media report (May 2015) found that social media provides businesses with huge potential to engage and interact with the public.

“From a commercial perspective, a solid minority of Australians who use this media follow brands and businesses (32%), access offers and promotions (20%) or conduct research about products and services they want to buy (19%), which means they are willing to engage,” the report says.

It says stories about a brand or its product and services, shared in a compelling format (i.e. video or imagery), ‘help to establish a positive connection’, and this is one of the major advantages of social media.

Facts and figures aside, retailing expert Nicole Leinbach Reyhle simply says: “Customers are online, which mean you need to be, too,”

“With an estimated one in four Americans making at least one online purchase a week... and the average Smartphone user picking up their phone about 1,500 times a week, there are countless reasons that being online is not just important – but rather a must when it comes to connecting with consumers,” said Reyhle.

“The reality is consumers turn to the internet to discover what to do, where to go, who to buy things from and more,”

“Keeping this in mind, shopping online isn’t the only reason people go online. Instead, being online leverages multiple avenues for small businesses to gain visibility among consumers,” she said. 

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