From little to large, digital spending continues to rise

WA businesses will spend 58 per cent of their marketing budgets on digital advertising and activities this year – a 6 per cent increase on last year – according to a new study.

Commissioned by local digital marketing agency Bang Online, the WA Digital Marketing Report 2014 is the first major study of its kind and shows both small and medium sized enterprises and the big end of town are increasingly spending their marketing dollars online.

Perth-based research company Painted Dog surveyed 191 businesses across a range of sectors, including professional services, not-for-profit, mining and construction, retail and hospitality and education.

The study found SMEs planned to increase their spending on digital marketing from 37 per cent of their marketing budget to 42 per cent, while big businesses would leap from 53 per cent to 59 per cent.

Bang Online managing director Renae Lunjevich said the study found 80 per cent of organisations considered digital marketing as important, if not more important, than traditional “offline” marketing. Digital’s share of the marketing budget was growing at the expense of those traditional channels.

“Three out of four WA businesses are using social media and two out of three are using mobile phone apps, websites and/or email marketing,” she said.

“These are more commonly used than any offline strategies.”

But WA businesses have not completely abandoned traditional marketing options, with 58 per cent still using print media, 56 per cent opting for sponsorships, 48 per cent for direct mail and 47 per cent on phone book listings.

Radio was used by 16 per cent of those organisations surveyed and television by 8 per cent.

Ms Lunjevich said more than 70 per cent of WA businesses saw search engine optimisation, social media and search engine marketing as the most important online activities to get right.

But she said they were falling behind by not having their website optimised for smartphones and tablets, which would allow their sites to automatically adjust the content to suit the size of the screen on which they are being viewed.

“With a continuous increase in mobile usage year-on-year, businesses are losing clientele purely because their website doesn’t cater to this type of user,” she said.

“Another area WA businesses are finding challenging is not having the organisational knowledge, with 39 per cent saying they are finding this a key barrier to succeeding with their digital strategy.”