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It's business time—and it's increasingly done online

The MYOB Business Monitor Internet survey of more than 1000 local businesses of various sizes across New Zealand examines the wide-ranging ways businesses now use the internet. And, according to latest results, the biggest e-transformation the digital world has led to is in where Kiwi businesses now choose to advertise. 

"While traditional media like industry magazines, letterbox drops, direct mail and, in particular, newspapers are still part of the marketing mix, its clear that the Internet is now the dominant choice for local businesses looking to promote their goods and services, with 66 percent believing it is a critical marketing channel.”

A quarter of business advertise online, while 20 percent choose newspaper advertising and 19 percent promote their business through search engines like Google. At the other end of the spectrum, just three percent of local businesses advertise on television (the same number as use door-to-door sales) and four percent use outdoor.

“Kiwi businesses’ use of the Internet is surprisingly mixed,” says MYOB general manager Julian Smith. “While only 30 percent of businesses have a website, 77 percent use internet banking and 25 percent use Skype or VOIP to make free phone calls, a relatively new technology. So while the convenience of key services is really driving businesses online, many are still not taking the opportunity to market their own products and services through the internet, despite the fact that 50 percent of Kiwi businesses believe they would sell more and get more work if they used the internet more effectively for marketing.”

Manufacturing and wholesale businesses are leading the way online in New Zealand, with 49 percent having a business website, followed by retail and hospitality businesses, and the finance and insurance industry on 39 percent. Least connected is the primary sector (agriculture, forestry and fishing), of which only 11 percent have business websites.

However, despite few of them operating their own websites, rural businesses have embraced the convenience of the internet to overcome the barriers of distance, with 50 percent buying goods and services online, compared to only 38 percent of city/metro businesses. When it comes to paying bills on the internet, the same applied, with 38 percent rural and 32 percent city/metro.

There are some areas, however, where the internet may not yet be living up to the hype, he says. Only 18 percent of those surveyed business belong to online networks such as LinkedIn, while only 14 percent use social media like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or YouTube to promote their business. Similarly, just 12 percent of all business owners write online newsletters or blogs to promote their business to existing and prospective customers.

The survey also highlights a significant generational difference in Kiwi’s approach to the internet, with 22 percent of Kiwi business owners aged 18-39 using social media, compared with just 11 percent for those aged 40 years and older.

Smith says he expects this trend will change over time as more business owners, particularly those who are older and those who are less technologically savvy, build trust and see the value in social media marketing.

While the survey illustrates Kiwi business owners have a long way to go before they reach the full potential offered by internet marketing, Smith believes it is encouraging that more than one-third (35 percent) of all business owners surveyed search the web for information and updates on their own industry, while one third use the it to monitor competitive activity.

“New Zealanders are finding new ways to work, new ways to sell their products and services, and many valuable sources of critical information online,” he says. “MYOB is working with New Zealand businesses to provide a wide range of options to make doing business better online and this survey shows there is a real opportunity for Kiwi businesses to become more engaged in the global online economy, while making productivity gains. Particularly as the global economy continues to improve, it makes sense to maximise any opportunity to reach local and international clients.”

 

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