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Half of NZ SMEs missing out online

08 May 2013

New Zealand small to medium enterprises (SMEs) aren’t harnessing the power of digital marketing, with only 50% of Kiwi businesses currently having an online presence.

According to the 'Yellow SME Digital Readiness Survey' released by Colmar Brunton, only half of SMEs across the country have a website with nearly 20% claiming they don’t use any online tools in their marketing mix.

Commissioned to understand how savvy Kiwi businesses are in a digital environment, Yellow marketing director Evan Lawrey was shocked by the findings.

“Surprisingly, we’ve found it can be SMEs in the main cities that lag behind," Lawrey says.

"For example just 40% of Auckland businesses are using social media tools such as Facebook, versus 65% in Southland."

While there was digital strength in Otago and the Tasman region too, with over 90% of businesses having at least one online tool, the Northland fared the worst with just 71% businesses having an online presence - considerably below the 81% national average.

Lawrey points out that it’s the low uptake of websites at just 50% and the fact that one in five businesses use no online marketing that is of most concern, especially when compared to the latest research into consumer behaviour.

“Each month 57% of Kiwis use the web to search for businesses, products and services and of those 17% use the internet exclusively," Lawrey says.

"If half of all small to medium businesses aren’t online, they’re missing a huge opportunity."

The findings have drawn the attention of Tenby Powell, a SME advocate who is convener of the Government’s Small Business Development Group and founder of the New Zealand SME Business Network.

“Business owners know they need a digital presence, but often they’re time poor and not sure where to start," he says.

"But, to succeed in the current climate, it is vital business owners keep abreast of digital channels.

The findings indicate of those businesses that do have a website, around a third are considering boosting their digital presence with the following tools:

· 28% plan to invest in mobile channels (either ensuring their website is mobile optimised, building an app, or using text messages to communicate with customers)

· 38% plan to start using search engine marketing

· 32% plan to start using search engine optimisation

· 31% plan to invest in video

Lawrey says that the findings suggest businesses with a digital presence are seeing the benefits. “These businesses are realising that it’s important to keep adding layers to their web offering, be it mobile or search marketing."

Does your business have an online presence? Tell us your methods below