UK SMEs to spend £53m on digital by 2017

By Louise Mulgrew | 6th May 2015 | 5 min read

Small and medium businesses are set to increase spending on digital by £53m by 2017 a new survey has found.

The research by Santander Corporate and Commercial further found that the bulk of this investment will be focused on the development of websites rather than technology for mobile, even following the "Mobilegeddon" which took place after Google updated their algorithms to favour mobile-friendly websites in search.

The research based on a survey of SMEs found that on average, firms have committed around £33,212 to digital investments in the past year and it is found that this will grow an additional £28,224 in the next two years.

Furthermore, the importance of a digital presence has been shown with around 8% of the companies surveyed spending over £100,000 on digital in the last year and 6% explaining that they plan to increase investment by more than £100,000 in the future.

In terms of digital investment per sector, the highest grossing were those in the financial services and IT sectors and on average, IT companies invested £46,429 in the past year while financial services companies spent £49,500.

So what does this mean for businesses?

There are many things to consider for small businesses when it comes to spending on digital. With a fully functioning and responsive website, the user experience is greatly enhanced meaning that the browsing (and shopping for e-commerce sites) experience is smoother and more favourable for the visitor.

With this in mind, greater website conversions can result from simply decreasing the amount of steps a user has to take in order to purchase something.

The security of a website is also extremely important to the confidence of the user visiting it and if a website appears unsecure; especially with payment information; there is less likely to be a valuable conversion for the business.

The interesting statistic with the website however is the lack of prominence in mobile optimization spending. Perhaps simply having a website is the main priority for smaller businesses with 16% of those surveyed explaining that they do not even have a website at all.

If you keep yourself in mind and put yourself in the shoes of a customer, the beginning of your journey will usually start with a search on Google or any other search engine. Research from Google Think Insights shows that 48% of all purchase research started on a search engine. If your business does not show up here due to a lack of Search Engine Optimization or even a lack of website, potential customers will never find you.

Investing in digital innovation will not only make your business easier to find but it will also increase brand awareness, brand perceptions, open up a platform to a global audience, allow you easier payment methods, could give you access to buyer behaviour and decision making and even help you decide which of your products sells the best.

A further study at Johnston Press and Buzzboard last year found that many British SMEs are still not digital ready with around 71% saying that they are incapable of handling customers online which could potentially see them miss out on millions of pounds in revenue per year.

If you are a smaller business that can't massively afford large sums of money investing in digital innovation, here are three quick tips to ensure that you are making the most of the digital environment:

1) Sign up to social media

This is completely free to do and all it really takes is a few pictures, your logo and you're good to go! This is a great way to share your business experiences, offers and promotions and also testimonials from existing customers. People are more likely to buy a product if they see that it has been recommended and if it has been recommended by a friend of theirs on Facebook, they are even more likely to make a purchase! If you are a business that has lots of picture-worthy merchandise, Pinterest and Instagram are perfect for showcasing new designs and getting the buzz going around your products!

2) If you have a website and don't know where to start, bring in the experts!

As previously mentioned, a website can be your key to business success and allow you access to a much wider audience. But if you don't have much knowledge around websites at all then it doesn't matter. You can get someone in to do it for you at a cost that is greatly affordable. The return on your investment into a website could be great after your business has been opened up to a wider audience. IRIS offer a great service for creating websites for accountancy practices, increasing the online earning opportunities with a modern way to market your practice.

Find out about IRIS OpenWebsite

3) Try new things out!

If you already have a website and social media then try different things on both and see which brings in better results. There will never be a bad outcome because every experience is a lesson that you can learn from. Try videoing the process of creating a new product to share on YouTube and other social media or testing variations of landing pages to see which one has a better conversion rate. If you don't try these things out, you will never find out what does and what doesn't work for you and your business.

You could even go digital with the adoption of IRIS OpenPayslips and completely innovate your process of sending out payslips and P60s to your employees. Payslips can be accessed on the go through the use of a dedicated smartphone app. They can also be viewed via a tablet or on a dedicated web portal on a PC.

This flexibility allows you to cut down on the use of paper as well as having the peace of mind that your employee's payslips and P60s are stored securely and for the required 6 year period (as dictated by legislation for auditing purposes).

Find out more about IRIS OpenPayslips