Leveraging the Internet for growth

Date:   Wednesday , October 08, 2014

GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business.

The Internet is becoming increasingly intrinsic to people’s lives in developing markets around the world. In India, where Internet penetration, while accelerating, is currently less than 18 percent, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Even with this currently small penetration in the marketplace, the Internet is disrupting business models and giving rise to a new generation of startups.

India has the world’s second largest base of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but many have yet to fully embrace the Internet as a means of transforming their business to better meet evolving customer demands in today’s always-on world.

SMEs in India cumulatively account for almost nine percent of national GDP, 95 percent of its industrial units, 45 percent of its manufactured production, 40 percent of its exports, and provide 69 mil¬lion jobs. But the majority of small businesses in India don’t even have a website. According to a study by advisory firm Zinnov, India is home to around 50 million SMEs, of which only 20 percent (about 10 million) are considered technology-ready – just 500,000 have a website and two million have access to Internet.

By its sheer size and diversity of industries and services, India’s SME sector has remarkable potential to lead the charge for the Internet in India, but a low level of awareness of its benefits coupled with significant challenges around connectivity, bandwidth, security and privacy issues have constrained adoption of the latest IT and digital technologies. What is encouraging, however, is this scenario is changing, albeit slowly. SMEs in India are slowly stepping away from their traditional pen and paper business culture – and becoming more tech-savvy.

Medium is the Message - Being Online 24/7
Besides being a powerful medium for branding and marketing your business, promoting businesses online helps organizations connect with the right target audience. Not only does it enable incremental growth in business by reaching customers anytime, anywhere, a presence on the Internet doubles-up as an online store to display products and services. For a would-be entrepreneur or a mom-and-pop store planning to ramp-up, online visibility is a great way to differentiate their business and build customer loyalty. Establishing a website presents a cost-effective way to make a business credible while attracting potential customers through better search engine results.

The Right Domain Name = Top of Mind Recall
Having decided to establish an identity online, the next step for a small business is to secure the right domain name for its website. A domain name is a business’ identity on the web. Businesses should focus on securing a domain that fits with what the business does and is easy to find and promote– think catchy and memorable keywords and avoid numbers and hyphens. It makes sense to have a domain matching the brand customers recognize and the SME worked hard to create. Keeping it short and simple makes it easy-to-remember and facilitates quick recall.

Selecting a domain name is only a part of the story. Having an appropriate domain name extension is equally important. While a generic top-level domain (gTLD) .COM is the most popular extension globally, it is not the only one. TLDs like .NET, .INFO, .BIZ, .ORG, .CO, and country-code TLDs such as .US or .CO.UK are also popular. Recently, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released a slew of new generic TLDs like .PHOTOGRAPHY, GURU, .CLUB and .WIKI among hundreds of others, opening up new marketing and branding possibilities for businesses through not just an ideal domain name, but also an extension that can describe the type of business.

Protect your brand online
Once you’ve acquired the right domain name for your business, it is essential to protect it. The easiest way to do this is by acquiring the same domain name with various popular domain extensions, so that no one else can get a website with it. Another important step can be to acquire misspelled versions of the domain name. This prevents competitors from registering other versions and ensures customers are directed to your website, even if they mistype it. With domain names as cheap as Rs. 99 per annum, this is a relatively low investment for a business to protect its brand.

The Internet is at an inflection point in India. SMEs will drive the next wave of growth. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the digital commerce market in India grew by 33 percent from 2012 to 2013. Currently, India has 25 million online buyers. The opportunity is now for SMEs to take advance of these growth drivers. It is imperative for small businesses to establish a robust online presence that will enable them to leverage the power of the Internet in this increasingly hyper-connected world, for long-term, sustained success.