In this day and age, there are still many businesses that rely solely on their brick and mortar location(s). However, many business owners now realize how essential it is to push their operations into the online community. Though most enterprises can still generate profit offline, the impact that the digital age has had on Canadian business is very clear.
Looking to introduce your business to the universe of online marketing? Here’s how to successfully move your business online.
Why Should You Move Your Business Online?
As mentioned, it’s no secret that e-commerce is a booming industry and that many businesses all over the world now rely on digital marketing strategies to stay ahead of their competition and earn as much income as possible.
Whether you run a large product wholesale business or are looking to start a business in Canada, having some form of online presence is a key to success.
Luckily, creating your own website and building your online reputation is relatively easy. Essentially, the goal is to introduce your business to various online media outlets and, in doing so, establish a line of communication with your customers using many different platforms, rather than just in the physical sense.
That said, producing and expanding the e-commerce portion of your business will definitely not be free and will require a lot of time, effort, and planning from you and your employees. However, the further you push, the more access you’ll have to your share of the digital market and the faster your business will grow.
After all, more and more people are purchasing things online out of sheer price and convenience, so that’s where you should aim to be if you want to maximize your profits and keep your business going for a long time to come.
Need extra funds to move your business online? Check out these business financing options.
Build Your Website
Another good thing about the internet is there are plenty of simple software that you can use to build and manage your website. Unfortunately, the more extensive and potentially income-generating programs will cost a regular fee. Nonetheless, the first way of moving your business online is to set up a user-friendly web portal that’s easy to navigate and has clear information about the products and/or services you’re selling.
While you can do all of this and monitor your website alone, all that work will be more manageable if you hire the right crew to customize and update it regularly. Make sure to research the latest market trends and that the data within will catch your customers’ eyes without becoming too complicated.
Depending on where your business is located and who your clientele or subscribers are, you may also want to consider utilizing multiple languages on your website.
Here are a few other elements that can help an e-commerce website grow:
- A “Question & Answer” page
- An email and live instant messaging system
- Pictures, GIFs, instructables, and videos
- Advertisements from endorsers, partners, and other companies
- Database integration (storage of customer, employee, and corporate information)
- A blog covering a variety of products, services, and subjects
- A mobile application or other downloads
- Links to social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- A contact details page (company address, phone/fax numbers, etc.)
- Keywords, descriptive copy, and other SEO methods
Test Your Website Before You Launch It
When all is said and done, the only way to know if your e-commerce website will be a hit is by launching it and seeing how many clicks, sales, and prospective customers you get. However, you must first test it properly to make sure all the kinks are ironed out and that everything is functioning the way it should.
Although there is always time to fix glitches, unappealing features, or other problems, remember that first impressions are often the most important, especially for new clients. As tempting as it can be to launch your website quickly, the process will be more fruitful if consumers don’t have trouble understanding or buying your products and services.
Do you know what your small business liabilities are?
Set Up Your Payment Processing System
Once your website is running and projected to do well, you can start generating income by accepting various payment methods. Some online businesses even earn a small percentage per click or view that a particular article, download, or video receives.
Make sure your business bank account is set up and that you have a viable way of collecting whatever income comes in. Thankfully, there is a ton of software that allows you to automatically process customer transactions, send invoices, and accept various payment forms, such as credit/debit cards and e-Transfers.
For instance, many smaller online businesses use third-party websites like Paypal and QuickBooks to process customer payments, while some larger ones will work directly with their bank through whatever merchant services they offer.
Whatever payment processing system you choose, be sure to consider:
- The monthly costs and fees that may be associated
- How trustworthy your payment service provider is
- Sending out automatic reminders for late or missing payments
- Forming an IT department to monitor and update your system
- How often your business must make payments of its own (some merchant service programs will charge you daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)
Need help finding the right payment processing provider for your business?
Traditional vs. Online: Comparing Marketing Strategies
Remember, there are countless businesses that still thrive using traditional offline marketing. Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny the convenience and saving power of advertising that’s done online.
Let’s break down some of the key differences, benefits and drawbacks of both these marketing methods so you can decide which one works best for your business:
As you can imagine, offline marketing refers to any form of advertisement that’s done without the internet, such as radio or television segments, newspaper or magazine pieces, seminars, signage, direct mail, and other print-based media.
Many business owners choose to integrate and may prefer traditional marketing over online methods because:
- Strategic placement of an advertisement can ensure more people will see or hear it within a reasonable amount of time.
- It can get potential consumers to visit your physical sales outlet(s), especially if you give out coupons, discounts, and other incentives.
- There is greater versatility in terms of the type of advertising you can select and many of these methods are more effective than some online ads, which consumers will simply scroll past without viewing or clicking.
All these factors can make traditional offline marketing a better choice for businesses such as:
- Food & beverage services (restaurants, bars, etc.)
- Automotive services (repair, sales, etc.)
- Various labour services (contractors, plumbers, etc.)
- Real estate providers (mortgage brokers, condo developers, etc.)
- Office environments (law firms, telemarketing companies, etc.)
If placing advertisements in the physical world is too expensive or isn’t working the way you’d hoped, the other option would be to implement digital marketing via websites, webinars, social media posts, viral videos, and other forms of online publishing.
More and more businesses are moving into the digital age and choosing online marketing because:
- The production and monitoring costs are typically much cheaper than having to rent, lease, or purchase physical advertising space.
- Marketing softwares and programs can help your business maintain and update your advertisements over a longer period than most physical ad spaces permit.
- These online advertising tools also allow you to gather information about your potential clients, which makes it easier to hone your target audience and modify your marketing habits accordingly.
- Unlike most physical signage, online marketing can help you earn small amounts of income from whatever clicks or views your pages get.
- Unlike many physical ad spaces and providers, your options will be less limited in terms of the subject matter you can post about online.
All these positive features can make online/digital marketing a more effective tool for businesses such as:
- Retail providers (clothing, items, etc.)
- Financial institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.)
- Medical facilities (hospitals, doctor’s offices, etc.)
- Event venues (clubs, concert halls, etc.)
- Travel services (hotels, airlines, etc.)
The Bottom Line
Even with all this information on hand, the type of marketing you pick will still be based mainly on what kind of business you’re running. Nevertheless, there are a few things that you can take away from studying both offline and online advertising.
Here’s what you can take away from Offline Marketing:
- Overall, it seems that physical marketing, while suitable for the majority of businesses in Canada, is more costly to produce and may be more limited when it comes to the space and time most advertisements require to be truly effective.
- However, there may be a greater range of marketing solutions to choose from. In addition, physical advertisements often have a more significant impact on the viewer and better chances of being seen or heard.
Here’s what you can take away from Online Marketing:
- Online advertising, while cheaper in most respects, is still a growing industry, and as such, your options could be a bit more restrictive and less impactful than some physical methods (since it’s easy to scroll by or click the ‘skip’ button).
- Then again, with a good team of employees and the right software, it can be much easier, more cost-effective, and less time consuming to create, manage, and update online advertisements.
- If you wish, most marketing softwares can allow you to program online advertisements that consistently update themselves over multiple years and can be viewed or clicked on by potential consumers 24/7.
- Using the appropriate online strategies, you can gradually gather information about your customers, then use the data to target specific audiences, promote your products/services, and tweak your business as you go along.
What is the difference between a short-term and a long-term liability?
Typical Expenses For e-Commerce Businesses
Overall, setting up your website, bank account, digital marketing strategies, and payment system can be cheaper and more convenient than finding and paying for physical ad space. However, it’s still important to consider the possible costs of establishing an e-commerce business, which are numerous.
In fact, depending on what methods you implement, it can take thousands of dollars just to create, manage, and update most web pages and advertisements, especially if you want them to be high quality and continually effective in the long term.
Here are just a few of the major starting and recurring costs that an e-Commerce business will encounter:
- Website development = $100 – $30,000 (design, SEO, copywriting, etc.)
- Website maintenance = $500 – $2000 yearly (for management and updating)
- Database integration = $5,000 – $25,000 (customer, employee & product info)
- Domain name = $5 – $15 yearly (cost of buying your website name)
- Hosting = $75 – $200 yearly (fee for the company/program that you use to develop and display your website)
Trying to Develop Your Online Business?
Whether you’re looking to partially or fully integrate your business into the online world, it’s clear that you’ll have to invest a lot of time, money, and resources toward the process. Don’t worry, because all that effort will be worthwhile once you’re able to digitally market your products or services to the right clients for decades to come.
If you’re looking to develop your e-Commerce business and are looking for the right type of financing, Loans Canada can help.
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