The 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report delves into the complex relationship between consumers and small businesses – exploring the various challenges and opportunities in how they find, communicate and transact with each other.
Telstra Executive Director, Small Business, Brendan Donohoe said the evidence showed small businesses were missing critical opportunities to meet the wants and needs of the contemporary consumer. “Digital technology is helping create big opportunities for small businesses – but only for those who embrace it,” he said.
“Our report shows small businesses are trying to meet customer expectations but are at times falling short, often acting on ‘gut feel’ or relying on traditional ways of doing business.”
“The gap between what customers want and what small businesses are delivering shows up in how customers find businesses, how they prefer to interact and what keeps them loyal and coming back.”
Mr Donohoe said while digital technology was a key opportunity for Australia’s small businesses to be more competitive and find more customers, change was required. “Where we see a real opportunity for some small businesses is being open to change, safely putting a toe in the water with digital technology and in return, delivering a great experience for customers,” he said.
The report was released at the launch of the Telstra Business Awards. Now in its 26th year, the Awards has been a program that shines a light on Australia’s most innovative small and medium businesses to gather, explore their dreams, celebrate their achievements and to become ‘that’ business.
Since 1992, the Awards have showcased some of Australia’s best business talent, with over 45,000 businesses nominated to date. Nominations for the next round close 28 March.
Key findings of the Telstra 2018 Small Business Report
Perhaps the most insightful and scary finding was that only 50% of small businesses have a website, but 62% of customers have or will stop considering a business if they can’t find information about it online.
So, does your business have a website? If the answer is no prepare for disaster now. If yes how can you get more of the digital pie?
Another interesting future trend was that 45% of customers plan to use a voice assistant over text searches. But 77% of businesses have no intent to use voice commerce technology including Google Home/Amazon Alexa/Apple HomePod to enhance customer experiences.
The report also explains how the internet can be a source of business. It is not just a website but social media and clever use of things like AdWords, AdSense and reviews (content marketing) to drive traffic to you. Some 83% of web traffic is now driven by searches, but only 23% of businesses use any form of search engine optimisation!
It also shows how mobile (smartphones) are overtaking desktop searches yet only 57% of SMB’s have mobile-friendly sites. One screen size does not fit all.
And the old word-of-mouth referral has been overtaken by reviews and mentions in social media posts. Paid social, such as advertising on Facebook, is a cost-effective way to increase the visibility of social media content, promote offers and reach more people. However, 67% of SMB say they have no intention of using paid social.
And finally, your reputation online is vital. Some 67% of people won’t use a company that has had a bad review, and 55% believe product and company reviews are vital to purchasing decisions. It is about building building credibility online.