By Daniel Hunter

New research, commissioned by Bdaily, has revealed that only 1 in 4 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) (27%) are carrying out any kind of online marketing to drive local business, in spite of the importance of local custom and supplies to their success.

The importance of grassroots business communities was firmly underlined, with the majority (56%) of the 1,000 small business owners surveyed by OnePoll stating that local custom is vital to their business. Recent research backs this up, finding that more than half (57%) of all SME businesses use suppliers all or mostly from within a 10 mile radius of their location.

The nation’s fragile recovery could be under threat, as the vast majority of SMEs, who contribute £1,000 billion to the economy through regional business, are neglecting the internet as a crucial business tool to reach their most important customers and support and network with each other.

One major reason for the disconnect between the value of regional sales and the failure to use the internet to target local customers is a lack of skills when it comes to digital marketing and online networking. Two thirds of businesses surveyed (67%) cited a lack of expertise, confidence or understanding of the different sites and opportunities available, as a reason for not venturing online.

Whilst businesses that have no facility to sell goods online are missing out on their share of the £68bn British shoppers spent on the web in 2011, those that fail to promote their firm online to their target market are putting themselves at serious disadvantage to the 25% that do. This is emphasised by further research showing that the 43% of Google’s search queries are now local4, a 20% rise over the last two years, largely driven by an increase in mobile usage and geotagged content.

For those small and medium sized business that are investing in online marketing, budgets are extremely tight. Nearly half (45%) are spending less than £200 a month, with fewer than one in 10 spending upwards of £1000 per month.

This pressure is leading to more cost effective methods being chosen, with PR and content marketing the number one choice (31%), with display advertising (28%) and then email marketing (24%) proving the most popular.

These are the factors behind the national launch of Bdaily, with hubs that will deliver locally tailored content and connections for businesses across Britain. Bdaily is designed to act as an online network that supports grassroots business, providing an easy to use platform that allows them to connect with other businesses and support organisations, promote their own business, and share their stories and expertise.

“I’m astonished that given SMEs account for 99 per cent of all enterprise in the UK and more than half of them rely on local business to survive, so few are using the web to connect with their local business communities," Bdaily founder and managing director, Siobhan Bales stated.

"SMEs really should be looking at the web as a local resource, not just a worldwide one. Bdaily was created so regional businesses can connect, showcase their expertise and find immediate and accessible news, advice and opinion articles as well as events and jobs. We’ve had a phenomenal response from the business community in the North East of England, and I’m incredibly excited to expand our network so that we can support local businesses across the country.”

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