As many Australian SMEs are forced to close their bricks-and-mortar stores and turn to online platforms, experts are warning business owners of digital traps and unscrupulous operating pushing metrics that result in dead website traffic and no revenue.

Pitcher Partners digital director, Terrence Teh said metrics like reach can impress small businesses who are new to digital, but conversion rates and website architecture are better indicators of profitability and should be the focus of digital strategies.

“Money is being spent by SMEs trying to find digital traffic but not all spend is being used in ways that create tangible business outcomes,” he said.

“There’s been an enormous appetite for ecommerce during and post Covid-19 but, because many are jumping straight into it, they don’t always know what questions to ask or where they should be spending their money.

“Agencies often use jargon to create complexities in digital sales and marketing, using any metric that sounds impressive. Metrics like impressions and reach are used but what does that mean in terms of revenue impact.”

Teh believes an important element in digital is focusing on conversion – turning website visitors into sales – and employing an approach tailored to their business and market, not just a cookie cutter approach.

Fashion retailer, Femme Connection founder, Raj Singh, is prime example of how a tailored approach to digital marketing can propel an online business, with revenue jumping by 50% over the last three months since engaging Pitcher Partners.

“When our bricks-and-mortar stores started suffering during Covid-19, it got to a stage where we couldn’t afford rent and thought now is the time to get online,” he said.

“Despite over 20 years of experience in the retail space, I am a total novice when it comes to ecommerce. My first thought was ‘How am I going to compete with the big players? How do I get Femme Connection higher up the rankings?’”.

Since working with Pitcher Partners to assist with digital marketing strategy, organic searches for products on Femme Connection have grown exponentially and actual revenue has increased by over 50% in the last three months alone.

In terms of achieving these results, Teh explains mere webpage traffic is not revenue, and neither are leads.

“It’s what happens after the user lands on a page that matters; how much traffic is actually being converted to sales. So a digital and marketing strategy has to revolve around understanding how to help customers find what they’re looking for. This is one of the fundamental principles to conversion optimisation.

“The first step is gaining a solid understanding of business strategy and growth objectives. You can’t effectively advise a business on decisions regarding digital if you don’t understand the objective, purpose or service.

“Secondly, being found on Google search is one of the most powerful ways to grow leads. Many clients use paid search to drive traffic, but they need to understand the cost of acquisition to use it effectively. Having strong search visibility is crucial if you want to be relevant when people search for a solution to their need or want.”