If you are one of the almost 20% of Irish SMEs who don’t have an online presence, you may find the following article of interest.
The Digital Health of Irish SMEs
The IEDR recently commissioned a study of 500 Irish SMEs and 1000 consumers in research that looked at the “digital health” of 500 Irish SMEs and also researched 1000 consumers regarding their online buying habits. The ‘dot ie Digital Health Index’ was commissioned by the IE Domain Registry, the body responsible for the management and administration of Ireland’s official Internet address and was carried out by Ignite Research.
The extensive study had many interesting findings. We have listed some of the key findings below as reported on www.rte.ie See more here.
Some Key Findings
-Almost 20% of Irish SMEs have no online presence.
-Of the almost one-fifth who are still not on the web at all, over half said they did not intend to go online in the near future.
-Two-thirds said there was no need to do so in their industry, and one third said they did not have enough time to do so.
-Almost a fifth of small and medium enterprises in Ireland still do not have any online presence”
Is being off-line like being “ex-directory”?
The IEDR chief executive, David Curtin says the following “in 20th Century terms, being a business without a web presence is like being ex-directory.
Irish consumers spent €6.5bn online in 2015, and they are more than happy to look abroad for products if they can’t get them here.
Indeed, the research for the dot ie Digital Health Index found that only a minority of Irish SMEs’ websites can take sales orders online and even fewer can process payments. This is a glaring missed opportunity.”
So who’s right and who’s wrong?
Is David Curtin’s view correct or as one of the offline business owners, are you correct in not prioritising an online presence for your business? After all, you’re working in the heart of your business and you don’t have unlimited time or finance to spend on a resource that you don’t know or think will help your business. Yet it’s hard to dismiss the evidence – Irish consumers spent €6.5bn online in 2015 and the evidence in your everyday life.
Try to find somebody who hasn’t looked online for a product or service at least once in their life and you’ll find that more difficult than finding the proverbial “hens teeth”. Yes, a lot of people look online for a solution for their product and services needs. Ah yes, I hear you say, but they aren’t looking for my type of business online –for example, you may say “they’ll just walk into my shop/ ring me up/most of my business is word-of-mouth referrals etc. and my business is doing just fine as it is.”
Nobody knows your business like you do – you are the leading expert on your business. Therefore, any outsider advisor such as myself should be very slow to dish out blanket advice such as, “get online or your business will suffer”.
Here’s the thing though, unless you are also an expert in all things online/digital marketing, can you truly make an informed decision about whether or not your business can benefit or not? If your business is not online, I would venture to say that it is more than likely that you’re not an expert in digital marketing.
Therefore deciding not to go online is a decision that is being made in the absence of full information. Obviously the best decisions are made when you’re fully informed – so my advice is not to tell you to go online or not, it is to inform yourself.
What should you do?
Most marketing consultancies offer free, no-obligation first consultations. Meet up with three consultancies. Give them as much information as you can about your business and your objectives before you meet them, tell them where your marketing is at presently etc.
When you meet them, sit down with each of them individually for an hour and let them explain how they think an online presence (otherwise known as digital marketing) can help you. They are the experts in online or digital marketing. It is important to meet at least 3 marketing consultants. Each one will have a different angle but after you have met all three, you will be considerably better informed and it won’t have cost you anything.
If you decide to go online, make sure that you fully understand the work involved in creating and maintaining an online presence. As with any project in life, you will get out of it what you put in. You may want start small – such as a simple website and then progress to being more involved as you learn how to get the most from your digital marketing efforts.
Here are just a few key pointers. More information can be found on the Marketing Guides section of our website here.
-Be clear about what you hope to achieve from having an online presence – ask yourself, “What do I want to be different in my business a year after my business has gone online?”Make sure that the marketing consultants you hire provide you with a full marketing plan that incorporates all your existing traditional marketing and sales activity – going online is not simply a case of creating a website and/or social media page and then forgetting about it. Your digital marketing plan will need to fully integrate with your existing sales and traditional marketing activities and involve all your sales and service staff. Your social media will need to be regularly “fed” with useful, interesting content for your customers and prospects (your target audience). If you constantly only “feed” your social media pages with self-promoting tweets or posts about your company, your target audience will quickly decide that they are just being “sold to” and will stop reading or engaging with your social media. To regularly create good content takes time and effort and always requires a fully thought out plan.
-Your website needs to be “responsive” i.e. it needs to adjust itself so that it can be easily viewed in mobiles, tablets, laptops etc without the user having to pinch or scroll.
-It is better to start small and build up, don’t take on several social media platforms only to find that you don’t have the resources to maintain them and end up with an out-of-date website or a social media page that hasn’t had a post in 6 months. (Note: it is a very good idea to have a CMS (content management system) on your new website as this allows you to update the text on your website pages yourself. It will require a small amount of training that your website designer can provide)
-Make sure that the marketing consultancy provide you with benchmarks and controls so you can measure the success of your digital marketing.
-Make sure the digital marketing plan is for a full year and addresses all the “who, what, where, why, when, how, how often” questions associated with a digital marketing plan.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your marketing with Yellow Ruler, please contact us for an initial, free consultation.