Press Release: LONDON, 17 December 2014

UK SME success hampered by digital immaturity
Johnston Press & BuzzBoard reveal the shocking levels of “digital unreadiness” holding back UK SMEs.

LONDON: 17 December 2014: Research unveiled today by Johnston Press & BuzzBoard highlights a vast gulf between the way consumers engage with products and services online and on mobile, and the information SMEs provide on these channels.

While 66% of consumers use the internet to discover information about goods and services, and 75% shop online[1], the research revealed that a huge proportion of small businesses are restricting revenue by failing to maximise their full online potential, let alone accommodate the massive transition from online to mobile.

With 30% of online orders for Black Friday, and 22% of online orders on Cyber Monday made on a mobile device[2], the study shows that a staggering 71% of SMEs in the UK remain incapable of handling mobile shoppers.

The study, commissioned by Johnston Press’ digital marketing service for SMEs, Digital Kitbag, carried out by Buzzboard, analysed seven key ‘Digital Readiness’ indicators across 960,350 SMEs in the UK in Sept 2014, looked at factors including website and search engine readiness, online marketing, and multiscreen compatibility. For each indicator, the majority of SMEs were failing to maximise their potential for sales.

Just under half of SMEs – 44% – don’t even have a website, and of the ones that do, 93% do not use the homepage to provide a local contact number, 94% fail to use it to offer a map or location, and 79% do not publish their address. Only half of websites belonging to small to medium businesses have a contact form, and even fewer – 39% – provide a contact email address. Given these results, it is perhaps not surprising to find that 71% are not mobile ready, and 80% of websites are not compatible across multiple platforms.

The research also highlighted that the majority of SMEs are making scarce use of the marketing resources available, including those that are free. Only 15% of respondents use email marketing, with just 11% sending promotional offers via the medium. Many also have limited social media presence; 69% had no Twitter account; 70% had no Facebook page and 89% had no LinkedIn.

A huge proportion had low search engine visibility and 91% had not invested in AdWords, meaning SMEs are missing out on search based sales and failing to maximise the potential of search engine marketing to generate leads, meanwhile, 95% had no shopping cart – suggesting that there is an urgent need to educate entrepreneurs in how to use these simple but effective services. In fact, 66% of those questioned claimed that they would prefer to seek external advice, but only 24% have actually done so, suggesting that the majority don’t know where to find it.

[1] Office of National Statistics
[2] Stats from Custora, published on Marketing Land

Chris Brake, Managing Director of Johnston Press’ Digital Kitbag service, said: “Digital opportunities offer huge potential for SMEs and 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, Managing Director EMEA, BuzzBoard, said: “With 9 in 10 people in the UK now using the internet, there is huge potential for small businesses to compete on a much larger scale than ever before, so it is almost unbelievable how many are failing to capitalise on this. 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.”

SMB DigitalScape is a powerful new website auditing engine that uses proprietary BuzzBoard technology, to perform an automated audit of live SME websites. For the purpose of this research it analysed over 400,000] SME websites in the UK in Sept 2014 looking at more than 120 different parameters to generate a comprehensive picture of their characteristics and capabilities.

– ENDS –

For more information please contact Emily Jones on 0759 272 1518 or

About Johnston Press
Johnston Press is one of the largest local and regional multimedia organisations in the UK.

We provide news and information services to local and regional communities through our portfolio of publications and websites – 13 paid-for daily newspapers, 195 paid-for weekly newspapers, 40 free titles, ten lifestyle magazines and 198 local news and e-commerce websites.

Each month our news brands touch the lives of 24.5m people across our publishing regions, delivering extensive coverage of local news, events and information.

Our online audience continues to grow and we have the largest monthly digital audience of any regional publisher in the UK.  We also provide regional and national advertisers with access to reach and engage with local audiences and serve as an important advertising platform for Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs).

About BuzzBoard
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, BuzzBoard, is a global development leader in cloud based SMB sales engagement tools and SMB data analysis services to local media agencies, newspaper and directory publishers, digital media and advertising agencies. For more information please visit:

UK SME success hampered by digital immaturity

Scroll to Top