In the past a key to building any business has been ensuring a constant focus on cash flow.
But since the advent of Google and then Apple’s introduction of the smart phone a decade ago, a vitally important part of any business today is having a mobile ready website that downloads quickly and boasts search optimisation.
A key to being searchable for any website is to have a site map in the background that Google Analytics can talk to.
Providing an easy link for visitors to send messages quickly is also important as is limiting the number of pop-up advertisements that appear.
They are some of the points being discussed at Illawarra Mercury Digital Workshop being run at the innovation campus this week by a global expert in the field.
Fairfax Illawarra sales manager Steve Sutton said Neil Tanner and Ric Camilleri, of NRS Media, had been runnuing information sessions for local businesses about using digital media and the interest has been high with many more small businesspeople than expected attending each session.
The workshop series on developing digital strategies for small businesses finishes on Friday at iC Central.
Mr Tanner grew up in Ireland and still lives in Dublin where his mum who ran flower shops while his father worked as an engineer. He then set up his own business when he was 24 before working with Microsoft for 10 years.
Mr Tanner is still involved in the family flower business and has started another five businesses himself.
The one thing he has always kept abreast of is the change in people’s buying behaviour. That is why he knows that in 2018 a fast easy to use smart phone friendy website is extremely important for any enterprise.
Mr Tanner said if someone gives you a business referral now the first thing you do is check out the website. If they don’t like what they see or it takes too long to download they start looking elsewhere. So an effective website is a really important key to running a successful business today.
“In the past most local businesses like our family flower business grew through referrals. If I did a good job supplying flowers for a wedding I got a referral. But that has all changed because now when someone gives you a referral you go online and check out their website and does it represent who they are,” he said.
Mr Tanner said many small businesses don’t have marketing, IT and HR resources. So he travels the world telling people about the changes in consumer buying behaviour and how if they engage the right partner they can get a good website that represents what they do.
“Then they can figure out how they can use online marketing. I am a business owner who is trying to share my experiences with others,” he said.
Mr Tanner is also advising the digital advertising team at the Illawarra Mercury on how they can help clients.
“Fairfax is investing heavily in providing staff skills to help these businesses by highlighting what they need to do and then keep engaging with them. They will help give them what they need and educate them even more,” he said.
“I and my team have been here for about seven weeks. What we have been doing is training the sales force on what a good website looks like. And training them in using things like Google Analytics to assess what people are doing when they come onto a website. We are also teaching them about Facebook advertising and how Google works from an AdWords point of view and the advent of Google Shopping.”
“From a consumer point of view everyone knows what a good website looks like when they want to buy something for themselves. But we don’t apply that thought concept to our own websites.”