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Ways to Reach Consumers Online

From reading email over morning coffee to cashing in a mobile coupon at the supermarket, we’re living in a digital age. With each new device, website and social media platform comes a new opportunity to connect with consumers and attract them to your business.

When it comes to reaching consumers online, it’s helpful to learn a few simple practices, and then jump right in and join the conversation.

Begin with a website

A website can be vital to your business and is an important marketing tool. In addition to spending more time online, consumers rely on the Internet to conduct pre-purchase research. Up to 64% of surveyed Canadians reported researching products online before making a purchase1. You may be surprised how easy it is to build a website these days. Whether you work with a local business or use a template from a company like Intuit or Webs, you can have a basic website up and running in a very short time.

Your website should be the foundation of your online presence, and it’s helpful to think of it as something to build upon. As you grow digitally, you can make enhancements to help you engage more customers.

Set up and maintain social media profiles

Does your business have a Facebook page? A Twitter profile? A Pinterest board? A YouTube channel? Depending on what you do and where your customers hang out virtually, any one of these can be a good way to reach people online. Just remember, you don’t necessarily need all of them. Browse the platforms and check in with your customers to see what they’re using.

Additionally, social media offers businesses the rare opportunity to connect with customers in a more personal way. Think of it more like a friendship, and each of your posts is a conversation starter. Sure, you want to sell your products and services, but with social media, that process involves more casual interactions over shared interests – including your products, services or the lifestyle associated with your business.

Explore digital advertising

Online advertising can target customers in highly specific ways, which can help small businesses reach the right customers at the right time. Using web analytics, online ad servers can direct ads at people who are pre-qualified for your products or services. For example, if a person in Toronto is searching for plumbers, an ad server may display an ad for a local plumber on the next page they see.

As with websites, there are some companies, like Banner Snack, that have templates you can use to create online ads for your business. However, web analytics and ad placement can be complicated, so it may be best to hire an expert to work with you because their knowledge can help you get the most out of your ad dollars.

Grow with Google’s tools

Google has several resources you can use to grow your business online. From tips on setting up your online presence, to free marketing resources and interacting with your community, you can find ideas to improve and the steps to take to get started.

In addition to tips, Google also offers a comprehensive suite of digital advertising services, including web analytics, search engine marketing, display advertising and more. Some of these are free to use and others are paid services. Google provides training and tutorials for all of its products, making it easy to learn how to use them.

Learn as you go

Connecting with consumers online has a learning curve, but the more you engage, the easier and more natural it becomes. The key to success is implementing your digital presence at a pace that you can maintain.

Get comfortable with having a website before you move on to social media, and then explore digital advertising. If you want to move faster, consider hiring a specialist or investing in training your employees. The advantage to having someone on staff responsible for digital initiatives is that you can manage your websites and profiles as readily as you would process a sale.