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Australia is a country that supports small businesses. We have always been an entrepreneurial nation and small businesses make up the backbone of both the economy and the labour force.


Of all businesses in Australia, 88% employ four people or less. This spirit of entrepreneurialism is still very much alive and kicking but in order for businesses to survive and thrive, they need to be looking at where to focus their marketing efforts in order to raise brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately, drive sales.

Why small businesses need to embrace digital marketing

According to a report by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, “the vast majority (over nine in ten) of Australian businesses are small businesses. They account for 33 per cent of Australia’s GDP, employ over 40 per cent of Australia’s workforce, and pay around 12 per cent of total company tax revenue.”


Whilst these statistics are certainly a glowing indictment for the entrepreneurial spirit of Australians, sadly, there is another side to the story. The small business sector is very

volatile, with non-employing small businesses having the lowest survival rate of all businesses in Australia.


In a recent report by McCrindle, they found that, “of all the new businesses started 4 years ago, almost half (46%) are no longer operating. Of the more than 2 million businesses operating in Australia 4 years ago, one in three no longer exist (36%), with established businesses being more likely to survive than new businesses. The longer a business is in operation the higher its chances of survival.”


In order for small businesses to improve their chances of survival, many are turning to digital platforms in order to help their business to grow and to provide them with an opportunity to reach more people through digital marketing tactics that are proving to be extremely successful.


In a recent research report, Amazon Web Services found that the number of https://men.com.au/technology/39307-australia-needs-6-5-million-more-digital-workersworkers in Australia requiring digital skills will need to increase by 79% from today’s levels. This indicates that there is a shortage of digital expertise, not only in small businesses but in businesses of all sizes throughout Australia.

How can digital help?

One thing that most small businesses have in common is a lack of resources. Whether this is financial backing or simply time, one of the major reasons why more small businesses don’t survive is a lack of time and money to invest in marketing their own business.


Usually, and this is especially true of non-employing businesses, all of the time resources are taken up carrying out the actual work itself. 


Construction continues to be the leading industry when it comes to small businesses with over 380,000 small businesses within the sector. 


Typically, all of a person’s time is taken up doing the actual job, however, a lack of marketing in the short term can lead to long term problems for these types of businesses. Whilst things may go well at the beginning, with new jobs coming in through word of mouth or friends, this work can quickly dry up if no one can find out about your business.


If your business is not online today, they don’t really exist. The first thing people do when researching any product or service is to go online and find out more about the options that are out there, especially in a local market.


Small businesses need to invest in a website from the outset and ensure that the site is packed full of relevant information that helps to sell their business - think of your website as an extra member of the team - an online salesperson that can drive highly relevant leads in the way of contact forms of phone calls.


Where relevant, small businesses should also invest in social media presence as well which can help with visibility in local markets as well as acting as an excellent channel for customer service enquiries and reaching out to potential customers.

Learn from the big brands

Whilst you may only be a small business, there is plenty you can learn from bigger brands. These brands are also trying to squeeze as much return on their investment as possible so many will engage in activities that are free or low cost in order to maximise their marketing budgets.


Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one such tactic. Whilst you may need to invest a little upfront, the long term returns of having an optimised website that appears in organic search, especially in local search listings, can be invaluable to the long term success of your small business.


Social media marketing is another channel used by big brands to maximise their reach and engagement, as well as acting as a way to engage with customers directly. Whilst there are paid options on social media platforms, simply having a presence, posting regularly and responding to all comments and messages can go a long way towards helping to build your brand online.


Here are some great examples of big brands that use SEO and social media to drive their business:


Nike uses Facebook sparingly, specifically for their big campaigns. This is possibly due to Facebook’s algorithm that prioritises posts from family and friends on the users’ feeds.


Nike’s Facebook account still has a substantial number of followers, but their Instagram account is where a lot of their fans go for inspiration. This company posts high-quality images of their athletes in action, videos of people working on their fitness, and a lot more. Nike also uses consistent filters and their popular hashtags, like #justdoit.


Online casino Betway uses a combination of search engine optimisation, content marketing and social media in order to gain an edge in a competitive marketplace. Instead of simply providing odds on a variety of sporting events, Betway is on a mission to “provide quality betting insights” with “the most informed betting tips of any online media outlet”. This commitment to content and social media promotion has seen them grow rapidly since they were formed in 2006.


Starbucks’ Facebook account is designed for providing information. They upload a lot of eye-catching photos of their drinks, and plenty of fun and colourful videos. Their Facebook also contains tabs for their store locations as well as job opportunities.


Just because your business is small doesn’t mean you can’t compete with the big brands. Make your content highly relevant to your audience and be personable and friendly and you will be amazed by how far you can go by having a digital presence.


If you are feeling inspired by this post to either get stuck into digital marketing for your business, or you’re even thinking about setting up your own business, make sure you check out a recent post providing 6 tips for launching a start-up in Australia.

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