A Booming Online EconomyIn these gloomy and financially uncertain times where news headlines are full of job losses and strikes, it was heart warming to see the BBC’s Technology News running with a really positive story regarding the rosy health of our UK based internet economy.

Google commissioned their “Connected Kingdom” report from independent consultants The Boston Consulting Group. The report makes great reading and shows the UK’s online economy to be worth a staggering £100 Billion which equates to 7.2% of the UK’s G.D.P, outstripping the performance of more established sectors such as utilities (2%), transport (5%) and construction (6%), what’s more the forecast is for further growth to 15% by 2015.

Internet based companies in the UK are now really coming of age with 73% of households connect by broadband and half of last year’s first time internet users being over the age of 50, bringing a whole new segment of the population into the market as a prospective customer. Connection preferences are analysed and show the latest technology is really starting to make itself felt with 30% of people accessing the internet through their mobile phones.

There are more interesting figures to be gleaned from the report that shows small business online sales growing by 43% every year (out performing larger organisations). Internet companies now employ a quarter of a million people at a time when every other sector seems to be shrinking. The report encouragingly shows e-commerce exports are currently three times the rate of imports, proving that a well designed website can really be an effective global platform for business.

The implications for all UK businesses are positive as they are lucky to be situated in what the report views as the number one country for e-commerce, however “you have got to be in it to win it” as they say. All businesses should take a close look at their online presence to ensure they are making the best of these opportunities, the time has gone when SEO and PPC can be seen as luxuries or fads. They are an essential commodity that every business needs to invest in to ensure they are reaching out to new and established customers alike.

At a time when most UK based companies are (quite rightly) tightening their purse strings this report seems to indicate that people need to re-evaluate their marketing spend and direct resources to where they can generate the best return on investment. Search engine optimisation and conversion  rate optimisation combined with other high performing options such as paid search management are an excellent way for any company to increase performance in a (fully reportable) way that conventional marketing just can’t do.

This report makes compelling reading as it focuses on a hidden strength in the UK economy and should highlight the path ahead for any businesses that have yet to invest in unlocking the potential of their web presence.