Most of us are experts at managing our personal lives online, but when it comes to business the opposite is often true. And the more we neglect the web at work, the more it can affect the bottom line.
A new study for Internet NZ shows Kiwi businesses who use the internet extensively are more productive than their less-connected peers, and are four years ahead of their industry average in terms of competitiveness.
So with more and more customers turning to the web for their goods and services, getting the most out of the web for your business isn't a 'nice-to-have'; it's an absolute necessity.
1. Stop hiding from customers
One in five searches on Google are related to location. If you're not showing up on Maps, local business directories or other online listings, you're as good as invisible to potential customers.
Registering is simple and almost always free - you just need to submit a website link and enter your details. Check out Google Places to be found on Maps, Google+ and mobile devices and sign up to popular options like Finda, NZS or the Localist.
2. Go on. Get a website
Yes, websites are still the primary means by which customers learn about all the great things your business has to offer. Even for businesses that consider themselves to be primarily offline, having a website where people can learn about what you do and get in touch with you can significantly drive sales.
3. Work your web traffic
Website traffic is the heartbeat of your business's online presence. And every one of those clicks can be turned into pure business intelligence goodness if you have the right tools.
To work out how visitors are finding your site and what they're doing when they arrive, sign up for Google Analytics and Webmaster tools. Both provide free insights and tips which can help you tailor content and create a great user experience - leading to more people talking about your site, sharing your content and linking to you.
4. Go mobile
New Zealand is going mobile. The country has 5.4 million mobile subscribers (that's a million more than there are people!)
Kiwis love their phones and check them more than 120 times a day. Research shows 89% of smartphone users in New Zealand have looked for local information, and 87% have taken action as a result.
Bottom line is that mobile is a goldmine for business. But it has to be done right. Click here if you want to see Google's thoughts on how best you can show off your business across all the different screens people use.
5. Embrace the cloud
Workplace technology is changing. It used to be something that tied you to a desk, a process, and a particular way of thinking. Now, it's becoming something that defines a company, its culture and its success.
The most exciting and fast growing companies today are those moving toward cloud technologies that make them more collaborative, creative, and help put customers first.
More and more Kiwi businesses are using Gmail, Google Calendars or Google Docs at work. They're sharing large files quickly on the cloud, and working on projects together in real-time, from across town or across country.
Whether you're installing insulation or baking cheesecakes, cloud technology can save you money and help you work smarter.