In the last week, the IE Domain Registry released their SME Digital Health Index 2018. The report is based on a survey of over 1,000 Irish SMEs investigating their attitude to their online presence and how they use digital content.
A business’s online presence should not be tokenistic, or a “digital business card” as referred to in the SME Digital Health Index. A SMEs digital presence is an important part of business growth. Not utilising this is a missed growth opportunity. The report highlights the barriers SMEs see to scaling their online presence and specifically being more active online with 24% citing a lack of time and 11% answering a lack of technical skills as a barrier.
To reflect the growth of our business InvoiceFair has recently undertaken a brand transformation. Our online presence, assets and website were central to this change. Redesigning our website gave us a real opportunity to explain our value proposition and clearly set out the features and benefits to SMEs of our various products. Our case studies and knowledge hub articles to bring to life how we have solved real problems for SMEs that are on a growth trajectory but need that critical working capital finance to fund this growth.
SMEs can leverage their online presence to increase brand awareness, provide value to customers, explain their product and service offerings and acquire new business. Below we provide some advice to SMEs to overcome barriers to building your building a strong online presence.
Social Media allows you to communicate with your customers
One of the key points that emerged from the SME Digital Health Index was that 83% of SMEs agreed that social media has grown the awareness of their brand and overall business. Social media also can create a channel of communication with customers, which builds an online rapport with them. Social media allows your customers to follow your business and over time they move from being just customers to your advocates.
In relation to time constraints being a cited as a barrier to SMEs undertaking a social strategy, it is interesting to note that there are many scheduling tools such as Hootsuite that assist with the scheduling of posts.
There is value in promoting your business through the coverage of events and general activities. These posts will demonstrate to potential customers the progressive nature of your business and the problems you solve thus overall increasing your credibility online.
Talk to the experts
SMEs have stated a lack of skills as a barrier to online success. There are many ways to overcome this issue. Many organisations and agencies such as the various Chambers of Commerce, IRDG and Enterprise Ireland offer support to their members for example workshops, training or specific events focused on in building an online presence. Building your teams digital skills through training can help you achieve your online goals. However, if this is not an option, there are many websites that can connect SMEs with relevant professionals for example experienced content writers, graphic designers and web developers. Websites such as UpWork and LinkedIn can connect you directly to professional experts locally and from around the world.
Get your website working 24 hours a day
While some SMEs stated that they have a website because they have to, your businesses website can be a 24-hour lead generator. A good website shares your brand while a great website converts leads. Ensure that your website content features the most up to date product information, focusing on the benefits that you can provide to customers rather than just the features. Ensure you can be found by prospects through implementing the right keywords within the content and adding metadata to your website. Finally, once you have your content up to date and highly engaging, ensure prospects can contact you easily. Add a form to your website that will allow prospects to request a demo or follow up call, just ensure you are capturing and storing their data securely in line with GDPR regulations.
Implementing changes can significantly improve your online presence and drive more leads. Rethink the perceived barriers and how you can overcome them to grow your business.
To read the IE Domain Registry’s SME Digital Health Index 2018 please check it out here.