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SMEs swoop on free website offer

Small businesses have swooped on a free website offer by Westpac and accounting software firm MYOB.

The joint venture partners in GetOnline.co.nz say more than 11,000 free sites have been created since the offer was launched a year ago, surpassing their goal of 10,000.

GetOnline.co.nz gives local SMEs a free domain name and helps them build a website, which is free of charge for one year.

It was a response to a finding that more than two-thirds of New Zealand small businesses did not have a business website.

Yet MYOB research has found 44% of SMEs with a website say it has led to more customer inquiries and interest, and 36% say they have increased their income or revenue as a result.

“Three-quarters of New Zealanders research their purchase decisions online, yet only one-third have a business website,” MYOB general manager business James Scollay says.

“This means a significant number of New Zealand business owners are missing out on sales and marketing opportunities.

“Helping another 11,000 kiwi businesses get online is a great start and we hope to have even more SMEs take advantage of this initiative in the coming year.”

Industry sectors most keen to take up the offer so far have been business services (27%), retail (25%) and construction and trade (16%).

After the free year, SMEs are asked to pay about $5 a month in maintenance costs and about $30-$40 to renew the domain for another year.

Websites can cost anywhere from $1000-$20,000 to build.


Monday, October 29, 2012:

Westpac and accounting firm MYOB say 8400 free websites have been created since their joint venture offer GetOnline.co.nz was launched in June.

The launch goal was to create websites for 10,000 businesses the first year.

Uptake so far has increased the volume of websites in businesses by 5%, MYOB chief executive Julian Smith says.

GetOnline.co.nz follows a similar project between Google and MYOB in Australia.

Westpac and MYOB are targeting the 70% of New Zealand businesses that do not have a website, as calculated in an April MYOB Business Monitor survey.

Weak online business presence is despite high rates of internet consumption among New Zealander’s generally – 80% of Kiwis surveyed use the internet to research products and services before they buy, MYOBs research shows.

It was hoped the economy would notice the difference if more of New Zealand’s 457,000 small- to medium-sized enterprises have an online presence.

Most firms without websites say cost is the biggest reason they are not part of the online economy.

Websites can cost anywhere from $1000-$20,000 to build.

There is no charge to make a website using GetOnline.co.nz. The only cost to build the website and hold the domain name for a year is the 15 minutes' set-up time.

After the free year, businesses will be asked to pay about $5 a month in maintenance costs and about $40 to renew the domain for another year.

The free websites are made using the MYOB Atlas product.

Research reveals businesses with websites do better

Using the internet improves business productivity, the latest MYOB Business Monitor suggests.

The survey of 1000 businesses reveals those using cloud computing are 13% more likely to have had revenue growth over the last few months and are 43% more likely to have more work in the pipeline for the next quarter.

Employees are likely to see the benefits, too, with businesses using cloud computing 61% more likely to boost staff wages and salaries in the year ahead.

Cloud computing lets you access files and applications over the internet

MYOB general manager Julian Smith says cloud computing supports a new way of working – allowing businesses to become more mobile and their teams to work remotely and for teams and businesses to collaborate.

“These businesses also found lower costs in a range of areas, from reduced IT management to scalable technology costs.” 

Customers could also benefit from increased use of the cloud, with 29% of surveyed businesses saying they would pass on any administrative cost savings directly to customers.

NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says the results of the MYOB survey highlight the potentially transformational effects of the internet for the local economy.

“Reduction in communication costs and the expansion of networks brings the world closer to New Zealand. It also offers opportunities to collaborate and drive efficiencies and the potential for greater innovation.”

New Zealand had fallen down when it came to adapting and diffusing technology through the economy, he says.

SMEs provide 30% of all employment in New Zealand and contribute almost 40% of GDP.

MYOB has just spent $30 million in research and development in creating a cloud-enabled platform of its accounting software package, to be released launching early next month.

More by Georgina Bond

Comments and questions
16

What a load of bollocks - I built my site using Google apps. The website creation application was point and click WYSIWYG and sufficiently idiot proof that even I managed to build a site from scratch. Total cost was peanuts. Registering a domain cost about $20, a paltry sum really.

I know that as long as I pay the $20 my site stays mine. I suspect that the banks have yet another piece of leverage over small businesses now. Question is, what happens to your website if you want to change banks?

The GetOnline.co.nz initiative is available to any NZ business regardless of who they bank with. The website is free for the first 12 months and comes with a free .co.nz domain name. After the first year, a website costs from $5 per month to maintain. The domain names are the property of the business owner from day one, and if they'd like to renew it, they can do so with any .co.nz domain registrar in NZ.

Kind regards

Julian Smith
General Manager - MYOB NZ

this is a great initiative to help small businesses - why mock it?

Man oh man..... You would know if you'd bothered to do your research that this offering is bank / MYOB agnostic.

fantastic idea. Keep it up. That is a way of thinking out of the box. I wonder what is Xero doing?

Those in the business of building websites will not be amused by this initiative. I guess they do get business picking up the pieces from the disastrous c*ck ups free website offers produce.

A website with no thought or strategic thinking behind it is worth exactly what they are charging, nothing. Best of luck....

Kevin
Are you speaking from experience or simply having some sort of rant.
I didn't have a website before. I do now, thanks to GetOnline.co.nz. I have won more business. I'm doing well. And guess what? Nothing wrong with it either. Perhaps you're one of the web developers who are ripping off small business and adding very little, if any, value?

I think I read somewhere that the websites were very low quality from a SEO perspective. You get what you pay for.

Having said that, have a basic site is better than nothing and a good start. There are some business you just need to be able to search by name to find their contact details/ hour etc.

Hi Harvey

GetOnline is powered by a web builder called MYOB Atlas, which was developed in conjunction with Google. SEO processes are embedded in the solution and each website owner is encouraged to complete 5 specific steps to maximise their search results. Detailed analytics are also provided so a business owner can track their site's performance. We're finding that those folks who have completed their SEO activities are getting solid search results.

You'll find detailed information on the SEO recommendation and functionality at the online learning centre: http://learningcentre.myobatlas.co.nz

Cheers

Julian Smith
General Manager - MYOB NZ

@Harvey Specter - These sites do have a very poor SEO profile - that however may have more to do with the business, less so the platform. (ie off-page SEO / Linking vs on-page SEO / Site construction)

I do however disagree that you get what you pay for. My company (www.webwonks.co.nz) encounters clients on a weekly basis who have paid large sums for websites that have virtually no lead generation potential - they just look pretty - Most have issue that can be resolved, but if you dont realise its broken, it cant be fixed.

MYOB & Westpac seem to be on the right path with their offering. Once a business starts to see tangible results coming from their site, they will be more inclined invest in a higher end site.

If MYOB/Westpac can offer an entry level product, encouraging more business to trade online, this can only be a good thing. Plus it means more business for companies such as mine - Thus meeting the goal of increasing economic output.

Hi Jeff.
You are bang on the money. I wish that other web developers would take the positive approach you've taken and see this as not only a great thing for small business but also a downstream opportunity to build on the funnel of future development opportunities for web developers who offer real value. Not just charge exorbitant fees for what is just a pretty site. Me thinks that those who criticize this initiative have had their true colours more than exposed.

Jeff - Agree with your last two paragraphs. A website is better than no website. Once people see the benefit, they can decide if a more comprehensive offering is worthwhile.

I am amazed that telcos are not offering this - free website & domain if the SME signs up with them??? How about it Telecom/Voda???

I'm amazed that Xero hadn't / isn't offering this. I thought they touted themselves as the online gurus? Maybe its just 'cloud'? I guess Westpac and MYOB just understand small business better. Bottom line is that my clients couldn't give a stuff about my accounting package, but they're pleased they found me on the web. It's simple but the ROI is definately there for me. Thanks.

A static 5 web page offering will very nearly do the trick if your social media strategy is sharp and targeted - and social media is cost neutral apart from your time

We have made 10 of thousands in revenue specifically from social media where as our web presence never made a marked cash increase and we record where every sale originates from

I'm sure lots are different, but they are the runs on the board we have tracked and cashed in on

Web sites are yesterdays news, social media is on the pointy end when key decision making is involved

Scoffing aside, this initiative is for those businesses who don't have a digital marketing guru, a social media expert or a marketing manager. A great initiative that looks like it's achieving what it set out to do - "It was hoped the economy would notice the difference if more of New Zealand’s 457,000 small- to medium-sized enterprises have an online presence."
Good on you, Westpac & MYOB.