MORE regional small to medium businesses are capitalising on Australia's rapid use of smartphones and tablets than their metropolitan counterparts, a report to be released on Thursday shows.
Christena Singh, the author of the annual Sensis e-business report, said smart regional businesses were making it easier for consumers to do business with them via portable devices with companies offering mobile optimised websites.
"The number of regional SMEs that have optimised their websites for mobile devices is 19%, beating the national average of 17% and the metropolitan average of 16%," Ms Singh said.
Ms Singh's research found 96% of Australians were online and the proportion accessing the internet via a tablet or smartphone increased to 50% and 68% respectively, up from 34% and 58% last year.
While 58% of Australian consumers downloaded mobile apps in the past year, just 5% of SMEs introduced an app in the last year, although 13% intended to develop one in the next 12 months.
The proportion of businesses featuring independent reviews of products or customer testimonials on their websites increased to 36% (up from 27%), 40% (up from 37%) include pricing information and 76% now feature product images, a three-point jump.
Despite being ahead in mobile optimised sites, the report found that regional businesses lag behind metropolitan SMEs when it came to traditional websites.
A little more than half (56%) of regional SMEs had a mobile optimised website compared to 70% of metropolitan businesses.
"Although there is more work to be done, these are encouraging signs that SMEs intend to capitalise on the opportunities that portable devices present with a further 24 per cent planning to introduce mobile sites in the coming year," Ms Singh said.
"Consumers in higher income brackets are more likely to use their portable devices to research and purchase so it's important that businesses can be easily found online if they are to make the most of this trend."
- 72% of Aussies own a smartphone (up from 59% last year)
- 44% own a tablet (up from 30%)
- Tablet use was highest amongst users aged 40-49 years while smartphone use was favoured by teens and 20-somethings.
- Nationally, the number of SMEs using internet marketing increased to 45% (up from 38%). Regional and metropolitan business using internet marketing ranked at 46% and 45%.
- 28% of regional SMEs are using search engine optimisation, compared to 35% of metropolitan businesses and national average of 32%.
- 30% of regional SMEs are advertising on social networks, compared to a metropolitan and national average of 29%.
- 16% of regional SMEs are using paid search engine marketing, compared to 23% of metropolitan and a national average of 21%
*Information taken from 2013 Sensis e-business report.