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The degree of digital engagement directly impacts business success

Are SMEs that use a range of digital engagement tools in their business likely to be more successful? Find out in this article by Bruce Billson.
Coins holding sales letters
© Deakin University
Welcome to the second week of the course. This week we explore a number of SME case studies to illustrate how digital engagement strategies respond to SME-specific challenges and business objectives.
The evidence is clear: those SMEs that incorporate a range of digital engagement tools in their business are more likely to be successful than those that have a business email address, use traditional tools for marketing and no website or social media presence.
The ‘digital engagement ladder classifications’ (Deloitte Access Economics 2017) categorises SMEs according to levels of digital engagement: advanced, high, intermediate and basic. The advanced category includes the use of ‘data analytics to analyse customer information and inform decisions [plus] use of advanced online marketing tools such as search engine marketing, social media advertising and video advertising’ (Deloitte Access Economics 2017, p. 8).
The results of Deloitte’s surveys in the UK, the US and Australia indicate that generally businesses in the advanced group:
‘were more likely to have experienced revenue growth, created jobs, diversified their customer bases and offered new products and services … each step on the engagement scale – from basic to advanced use of digital tools – resulted in an average increase in revenue growth of 11 percentage points’ (Collins 2017).
Australian SMEs with an advanced level of digital engagement are:
  • ‘more than 8 times more likely to be creating jobs, creating an average of 12 additional jobs in the previous year
  • 7 times more likely to be exporting
  • more than 14 times more likely to be innovating by offering new products or services’ (Deloitte Access Economics 2017, p. 4).
The results of the Australian survey indicate significant benefits to be gained from higher digital engagement:
‘When businesses incorporate digital tools into their business strategy, they become receptive to new technologies that can present opportunities … businesses that are engaged now are more likely to be engaged in the future, keeping ahead of the curve and potentially pulling further ahead of competitors’ (Deloitte Access Economics 2017, p. 12).
This evidence, and others in a similar vein, indicate the importance of digital engagement to the success and potential of SMEs. How on board is your SME?

Your task

Access a report on the benefits of SME digital engagement specific to your country or region.
In the comments share the impact of this information on your thinking about the ways you deploy digital engagement in your SME.


Collins, G 2017, ‘Digital engagement propels small-business growth’, The Wall Street Journal, 24 August, retrieved 25 June 2018,
Deloitte Access Economics 2017,* Connected small businesses 2017*, Google, Sydney, NSW, pp. 1–25, retrieved 30 April 2018,
© Deakin University
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SMEs and Digital Engagement

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