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Are you switched on? Digital Ready for Small and Medium Business

Kate Stokes – Monday, February 15, 2016


Last year the ‘internet’ celebrated its 25th birthday in Australia. Since its so called birth in 1989 around 96% of Australians access the internet daily (1) and a similar amount have access to it right in the palm of their hands (by means of their smartphones and portable devices).

Strangely enough however, the stats say that only around 64% of Australian businesses are online (1). In regards to social media, two thirds of Australians are on Facebook, but only 30% of small business have a social media presence (2). So there’s a fair few missing out on business simply by not being in this digital space. With this in mind it might be time to ask yourself – are you digital ready?

Late last year we were fortunate enough to take part in our local governments new “Digital Ready | For Business” initiative. A set of short conferences followed up by two one-on-one meetings to help you take charge of your online presence and develop online strategies that really work for you – your specific business.

We found it an incredible resource and gained a great insight into what difficulties small/medium businesses are facing getting themselves online. So below we thought we’d share with you what we learnt…

Common concerns faced by small business:

  •     •    Not knowing where to start
        •    Being time poor
        •    Not understanding the different social media avenues and which ones to use

Everyone was concerned with how they would fit this ‘extra’ role into their daily lives (being a small/medium business they all were hands on and had little time to run a website or publish email campaigns). The biggest question by far was “do we need a website” and in short, the answer is YES.

When it comes down to it you just can’t afford in today's world not to have a website and a social media presence. So with that said it was quickly on to how to achieve this.

Steps in getting your business digital ready

1.    Branding.
Firstly, before you go ‘digital’ we were advised to have an established brand and logo. Getting these bits right first means you can go full steam ahead exposing your business online. Communication will be coherent and your business will be recognisable. So – be happy with your logo and business name, with your brand before you start. You don’t want to have to re-brand later once you go ‘viral’! (Luckily for us they also recommended using a professional to help you with this! “Well worth the money to help you get it right” (3) … naturally we agree!)

2.    Get online!
    ⁃    Get a good reliable connection
    ⁃    Use a service provider that understands your needs
    ⁃    Understand the types of data plans and choose one that’s right for you

Useful links:
    ⁃    Why Go Online – Help?

3.    Create an online strategy
(This includes a website!) Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (3). Key points to consider are building a website (one that is responsive), social media, digital marketing and email campaigns. Remember to be SMART:
    •    Specific
    •    Measurable
    •    Attainable
    •    Relevant
    •    Time-bound

Useful links:
    ⁃    Digital Ready Tas Resources
    ⁃    Digital Ready Strategy Kit

4.    Build a website.
Yes I said to consider it above but really it’s non negotiable!
    ⁃    Plan your website, what type of website do you need? E-Commerce? Static or interactive? Should I have a blog?
    ⁃    Work out your budget
    ⁃    Set a time-frame
    ⁃    Hire a professional OR go it alone. There are some great online free tools (or ones that charge a small fee. Some to look out for are Squarespace, Weebly, Bigcommerce and Shopify)

Useful link:
    ⁃    Planning and Creating Your website

5.    Social Media.
Having a social media presence allows you to promote your business, showcase your products, generate leads and listen directly to what your customers are saying about said services, brand and products. You’re spoilt for choice these days which can be a hindrance or a help! In discussions at the conference it was more of a hindrance with people dumbfounded on where to best invest their time. In short we were advised to start off small and be good at one or two of the big players, who are:
    •    Facebook
    •    Twitter
    •    LinkedIn
    •    Instagram
    •    Pinterest and
    •    YouTube

To shine they recommend you post regularly, be consistent, be responsive, tailor your content and drive traffic back to your website. For detailed information on these and to work out what suits you best visit here – Digital Ready Tas Resources (Social Media).

If you do wish to be on a few platforms there are programs to help you save time and post just once to many avenues. You’ll find some help here – Digital Ready Tas Useful Tools.

6.    Online Marketing.
Once you’ve established an online presence, effective online marketing is a beneficial way to get the most out of your investment going online. Take the time to look into SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Email Campaigns, Maps (e.g Google places.) Note we can help with all of this! View this link for some additional help and direction – Online Marketing Tools

For SEO try these:
    ⁃   Digital Ready Tas SEO
    ⁃   Digital Ready Tas Search Engine Advertising 

For EMAIL CAMPAIGNS this will get you on the right track:
    ⁃    Email campaigns

And that about sums it up!
With the exception that there are some legal considerations you should make (legal considerations) and a whole lot more information required if you are planning on setting up an e-commerce business (e-commerce help). You should also be familiar with online communication tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts and consider if these are relevant for your business.

There’s heaps of tools out there to help you improve your business and get you digital ready if you aren't already. You just need to get started! Our local government Digital Ready course, offers some great resources (some of which I have already linked to this post) but all of them are available online for everyone, even if you haven’t done the course. Check them out here: Digital Ready Tas Resources.

Haven't had enough - here's some more useful links

They also list some general useful tools you may find helpful, these include design tools, analytics, document sharing and accounting, plus event management, point of sale and customers surveys (to name a few) and can be found on the Digital Ready useful tools page. The Australian Government has this awesome site to help out too – Australian Government Business Tools.

Want more information? Here’s a good article from www.web.com’s blog -  Digital Marketing 2015 Recap: Is Your Small Business Ready for 2016? It's a really good read.

Lastly here are some successful Facebook marketing examples.

So if any of this sounds interesting contact us for assistance in getting you online or locals take advantage of the help from the Business Tasmania Team for future events in 2016. You can call them on 1800 440 026 or email ask@business.tas.gov.au.


Click the images below to view our digital ready examples a little larger…

References

(1) The Examiner, Tuesday 5th January 2016
(2) Yellow Media Report, 2014. Figures would probably be a little higher now for both instances.
(3) Rebecca King, KingThing Marketing
(4) www.digitalready.org.au



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