Every business in Canada needs a digital presence. Consumers and businesses are online, and they expect you to be there too. It's really that simple.
Canadians are the world's most active Internet users—both in terms of the percentage of the population engaged (more than 80% of Canadians are online) and in terms of volume of information consumed.
Consumers and businesses go to the web first to get the information they need—and they expect you to reach out to them where they "live" online, with the information they need, when they need it.
Your competitors are online
And if you're not taking care of your customers online, you can be sure your competitors will. In fact, 75% of Canadian businesses are online, and almost half are using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
That's why developing a digital strategy for your business should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.
Being strategic will help you to make the right decisions, the first time. Do I build a website or a Facebook page, or both? Do I advertise online or send out email newsletters, or both? Lots of important decisions to make. Getting them wrong can be expensive in terms of time, money and, most importantly, lost opportunities.
How to create an online strategy
So how do you go about creating an online marketing strategy for your company?
First, you need to invest time and energy in thinking about what your business objectives are—what you want to achieve. Do you want to sell online? Generate more sales leads? Improve customer service? All of the above?
Once you know your goals, you need to come up with a plan of attack, including how you will measure whether your tactics are working. Then, it's time to implement your plan and regularly evaluate how it's working.
Finally, if you are smart, you will take what you've learned from your first efforts and rework the plan to ensure a better return on your investment the second time around (optimize). This is not an easy one‑step‑and‑it's‑done activity.
Is your company ripe for a digital overhaul?
Do a quick test now. Go to Google and pretend you are a customer looking for a company that sells the kinds of products or services you sell. Type in a typical search phrase that a prospective customer would use. Does your company come up on the first page of the search results? Anywhere in the search results?
If the answer is yes, you're on the right track. If not, you need to start getting strategic in your approach to the web so your company can be found online.
More signs you need a strategy
Here are some other signs that you're in particular need of strategic digital thinking.
- Your company is not online at all.
- Your company is online, but you don't know if or how your website or social media properties (your digital "assets") are adding to your bottom line.
- Your company is online, but you're not actively working to use your digital presence to support your strategic business objectives.
Can't afford to get it wrong
The marketplace demands you be online. At the same time, building or revamping your digital assets, or investing in ongoing e‑marketing tactics, is expensive. It shouldn't be done without some serious reflection because no business can afford to get it wrong.
The conclusion: Every business needs a digital strategy.