Online SMEs are performing better than nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of their peers who do not have their own website.

The March 2012 MYOB Business Monitor report revealed businesses without a website are missing out on higher revenue, better sales conversion and a greater number of customer leads – benefits enjoyed by their online peers. Businesses with a website also had more sales in their pipeline and were more positive about the economy’s future.

But the proportion of website owners has declined slightly, with 36 per cent in the latest report, a drop from 38 per cent in the October 2011 report and 39 per cent in March 2011. Instead, it appears business are option for using social media for business, which rose to 25 per cent in this report from 22 per cent in March 2011.

MYOB CEO Tim Reed said: “I am surprised the proportion of SMEs with a website has not risen in the past year, and the proportion of those using social media for business has increased only slightly.”

“All business owners should consider creating their own website and improve their chances of success in an increasingly digital economy. Our research shows that in doing so they‘re more likely to improve their business performance across customer acquisition, revenue and more.

“Being an effective online player is not about having a complicated website; it's about enabling your business to be found. With around two thirds of consumers searching the internet before making a purchase decision, if a business has no online presence it’s denying itself some serious firepower.

“Getting online is a key strategy for attracting new customers, building customer loyalty, creating new revenue streams and increasing your visibility, credibility and competitive edge. The results are clear. Building an online presence is a business move that should be a strategic imperative for most operators.”