Over half of trade businesses are being left behind by the digital revolution, allowing more tech savvy competitors to win new customers at their expense, according to a study by IronmongeryDirect.

The online and mail order ironmongery trade supplier invited 10,000 tradespeople to take part in an annual study to examine the marketing habits of trade businesses across the UK.

The findings show a clear split between those companies investing in growing their business using digital marketing, developing effective websites and harnessing the potential of Google ads and social media, and other less technologically involved businesses.

59% of businesses admitted that they currently spend nothing marketing their business online, with just under half this number (25%) wanting to harness digital marketing but admitting that they didn’t know where to start.

A hardcore of digital deniers (13%), were insistent that they didn’t need anything more than word-of-mouth to bring in new work.

In contrast, 33% of businesses are using digital marketing to grow their customer base, spending on average between 1 and 5% of their annual turnover on digital. A smaller number were also using social media as a tool to bring in new business. The most popular was Facebook (12%) followed by Twitter (5%).

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: "The results of the study clearly show the growing importance of digital marketing within trade businesses, but also show that many feel they are being left behind as customers use digital media more and more to find tradespeople with a good reputation.

"There are simple things all tradespeople can do, even if they are just a one-man band, to help them keep up with the changes in how people use the Internet to find and choose people for jobs.”