I’m positive that many small business operators believe that the digital world is some kind of techie conspiracy designed to either make fools of them or fleece them blind.
I mean just when they thought they’d got their online presence up to speed, another development comes along to set them, or their finances, back another year or two.
And who can really blame them?
Compared to the pre-digital age, the pace of change in the online world is simply staggering.
Faster than a speeding bullet train
To put it in some perspective, just twelve years ago the all-conquering Facebook didn’t exist, the revolutionary iPhone and its now commonplace app technology is just over eight years old and iPad is just five years old.
That’s an awful big leap in personal technology in just 12 years.
For time-poor small business, whilst digital technology can provide outstanding marketing, automation and productivity benefits, being able to bone up on it to any meaningful degree is proving to be more than a handful.
They simply don’t have the resources to keep on top of this ever-evolving world.
And that could cost them dearly.
Playing catch-up football
One of the biggest challenges SME owners face is ensuring their online presence is not only up to date from a content perspective, but increasingly is keeping up with technology standards.
As if it wasn’t enough for the digital device explosion to render their websites cumbersome at best, earlier this year Google rubbed salt into their wounds by announcing that any website that wasn’t ‘responsive’ (structurally adaptive) to smartphones and devices would be penalised whenever a user searched from a smartphone or device.
This meant that if you didn’t invest in altering your website to be responsive, a huge and rapidly growing chunk of your market wouldn’t be able to find you on Google – at least not easily.
But this wasn’t the only penalty facing smaller business.
Are you worth the effort?
From a fundamental customer service perspective, offering a website that was cumbersome to make your way around was not a great look. Sure users could still find out about your business, but when your competitor had a website that adapted to different screen sizes beautifully, making their ‘user experience’ easy and elegant, there were no prizes for guessing who time-poor but digitally savvy consumers would spend their time and money with.
Now – some nine months after Google’s decision, there is a third concern for those still dragging their technological feet.
It’s fair to say that its now de rigeur to have a responsive website. That’s right, consumers are now judging your business simply on whether or not your website is responsive to their favourite devices.
If you don’t have such a website, your business is now seriously looking dated and out of touch with the needs of your customers.
And this isn’t just tech-snobbery. It is simply the nature of a fast moving technology.
Responsive is the new black
I mean who doesn’t – consciously or otherwise, judge someone with a non-smart mobile phone?
As much as we try to avoid it, we find ourselves looking down our noses at someone who hasn’t upgraded to this sexy new technology as yet.
And what about television sets? My wife and I were recently snubbed when we invited some guests to watch the Grand Final without a massive wafer thin, wall-mounted screen.
Try as we might not to, we just get in the habit of judging people’s technology.
And now websites are going the same way.
It’s yet another reason to ensure that you upgrade your website as soon as you possibly can.
Or suffer the financial hit of another lost customer.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.