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UK SMEs are held back by digital immaturity according to research conducted by BuzzBoard forJohnston Press has found that 71% of SMEs in the UK are not meeting the needs of mobile shoppers and 44% still don’t have a website — despite the fact that 75% of British consumers shop online and 30% of online orders made on Black Friday came via mobile devices.

The study analysed seven key “digital readiness” indicators across more than 960,000 SMEs in the UK in September 2014. Factors included: website and search engine readiness; online marketing; and multi-screen compatibility. For each indicator, the majority of SMEs were not maximising their potential for sales because of what the report calls “digital immaturity”.

The research also found that SMEs are making scarce use of other marketing resources. Only 15% use email marketing and many have limited social media presence – 69% had no Twitter account; 70% had no Facebook page and 89% were not on LinkedIn.

In addition, many SMEs have low search engine visibility; 91% had not invested in AdWords; and 95% had no shopping cart.

Chris Brake, managing director of Johnston Press’ Digital Kitbag service, said: “Digital opportunities offer huge potential for SMEs so it is shocking to see so few are getting this right. SMEs are in a prime position to drive the UK economy, but to fulfil their potential they must recognise the importance of digital and also take advantage of the numerous sources of help and advice available to them.”

Trevor Nadeau, BuzzBoard managing director EMEA, said: “There is a clear need to address the misconception that digital strategies need be complex, and educate small businesses about the options available to help boost their digital presence.”

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