Despite today’s economic climate, one industry is thriving – website development. James Greig (pictured), managing director of national website development franchise Bloomtools, explains why the internet is so vital to businesses in these economic conditions and what this means for
IT’S a fact - more people than ever are using the internet for business and personal activities. There are 11.3 million internet users in Australia alone, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and recent reports state that around 83 per cent of these users research products and services online before buying (Swinburne University, 2008) and around 54 per cent make regular online purchases (ACMA, 2008).
Statistics like this have led to most small to medium businesses having to re-evaluate their online presence. Originally, they just had their neighbour’s cousin build them a basic site with their products and their phone number on it. That would have worked fine five years ago, but now it just won’t cut it if the business is serious about getting results from the internet.
Now it is essential that they have an online presence that reflects their business professionalism and their point of difference, is functional and interactive for new and existing customers and adds real bottom-line profits to their business.
The importance of the internet and having a strong online presence has really been driven home in the recent unstable economic times. The market is tough and the internet is the most cost-effective way for businesses to ensure they get whatever business is out there over their competitors.
So smart businesses are finding themselves a reliable, experienced internet partner that can build them an up-to-date website that gets results and help them implement internet marketing and search engine optimisation strategies to get more customers and grow their business.
This is causing changes in the website development industry – the small backyard developers can’t provide the level of technology and service that businesses are demanding so they are losing out to more established companies. Bloomtools has been busier than ever over the last few months as more and more businesses come to us seeking the functional, results-focused tools that they can’t get from smaller developers.
While we’ve had plenty of new clients coming to us, one of the main things that has kept us busy is our current clients adding more tools to their sites to add value for their own existing clients. They have realised that their current customers are their biggest asset in these tough times and want to use their internet presence to keep these customers.
Adding value for existing clients makes them feel appreciated, which in turn makes them loyal to your business and gets them to spend more with you and refer their friends to you. It’s such a great strategy to focus on when money is too tight for huge advertising campaigns to attract new customers - and the internet is the most cost-effective way to do it.
For example, an accountant client of Bloomtools recently added a database marketing system to his online presence which allows him to communicate with his customers regularly and really add value for them with email reminders, newsletters, workshop invitations and information guides.
We’ve also recently had a bricks and mortar retailer create an online shop which allows time-poor customers to research their products prior to buying in-store and also expands their market to customers across Australia with online sales.
So no matter what business you are in you need to have a strong online presence and if you want to grow your business in these challenging times, you need to be using the internet to maximise your existing customers.
And as far as the website development industry goes, all we can say is ‘what economic crisis?’, because all the Bloomtools franchisees around Australia are experiencing huge growth.
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