Online-savvy businesses experienced more revenue growth in the year to February 2014, reached more customers and created more jobs compared to businesses that didn’t use online technologies, MYOB’s March Business Monitor survey reported.
Cloud technology was used by more than half of the 1,032 SMEs studied and over 40 percent with a website and a social media presence reported increased sales. SMEs without a website or online presence spent more time finding potential customers, the survey found.
Cloud computing usage shot up to 33 percent from 16 percent in six months, followed by websites and social media sites. While the use of tablets had risen by 25 percent, the use of smartphones dropped slightly.
“What’s clear is that businesses with an online presence reach more people and are more engaged with their customers. For example, those with a website are 56 percent more likely to see annual revenue rise and those who use cloud computing are 30 percent more likely to do so,” said John Moss, MYOB chief strategy officer, in a blog post.
Western Australia were the most connected with 37 percent of businesses using cloud computing and 19 percent with a business website and social media presence. South Australia was the least likely to use cloud computing, have a business and social media website. Businesses were increasingly using search engine marketing for promotion and were adding the ability to purchase within their site and on other websites.
Job opportunities for Australians looked to increase with online businesses. “Eighteen percent of businesses with a website and 18 percent with a social media site are planning to increase their full-time staff this year. That’s a considerably higher number than the 7 percent of businesses without a website and the 9 percent without social media who are looking to hire this year,” Moss said.
The top two online services were email and online banking which were used by over 70 percent of respondents. A third of businesses surveyed used social networking, while a fifth of respondents bought products and services online, used email marketing, internet telephony and file sharing.
LinkedIn was the most popular business social media platform followed by Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and YouTube respectively.
The finance and insurance industries used cloud computing the most at 42 percent, while retailers and hospitality markets had the most business websites and social media activity at 25 percent. Those in agriculture, forestry and fishing were least likely to be involved in the online sphere.
“We strongly believe it’s time for more business operators to take a look at the benefits of easy-to-use online technology,” Moss said.