Why Being Online is Important for Ontario Small Businesses

The Importance of an Online Presence in Small Town Ontario

Sometimes, having success as a small business in a small town can feel impossible. Larger cities have a larger population, and the chance of people stumbling upon your business are higher. In smaller areas such as the Barrie, Orillia, and Muskoka region, your best bet to increase awareness for your business is to advertise online. Whether your business is brand new or you’ve been around for a while, every business can benefit from having a strong online presence.

Advantages to Having an Online Presence

In today’s world, almost everything is done online. Especially with COVID, more and more people are switching to online shopping and are looking to the internet to find exactly what they need. In order to compete with bigger stores that are household names, it’s important to make yourself easily-discoverable online. Here are some reasons why:

  • It allows customers to interact with your business directly.

Businesses who interact with their customers receive a lot of attention. Your web presence lets people know that you exist, are active, and are available. It lets people know when and how you’re available to talk via phone, email, or social media. It also tells potential customers where they can find you, and provides them with information to learn more about your business hours. Having a web presence makes it easy to interact with your customers, and it allows your potential customers to interact with you.

  • It makes your business reachable to people.

Another advantage of having a website, specifically, is that it can help link your customers to your social media sites, giving you more exposure. The more exposure you get, the better your chances are of converting those people into customers.

  • It gives you an opportunity to market your products and services better.

Having an online business can help you market your products, service, and business. By having a look at other websites, you can see how every aspect of the website reflects and sells their brand. Even small things, like the colour choice of your website, speaks volumes about your brand. By making your web presence cohesive and thoughtfully-designed, any kind of social or online presence can be used as a tool to market yourself better. Try reaching out to an expert brand builder or marketing specialist to have a look at your website to ensure it reflects your brand the way you want.

  • It builds a strong brand reputation for your business.

Another benefit to having an online presence is that you can build your reputation. Loyal customers and potential customers can see that you’ve been around for a while and can see what is being said about your brand. This gives them comfort and confidence in your ability to provide them with quality goods or services. Building a reputation for your business means that people can trust your products, services, and expertise.

  • It helps generate traffic.

Having an online presence drastically increases your chances of attracting new customers. With the ability to reach customers through your website, you can optimize different marketing tools to ensure that your chances of reaching the right people at the right time are high. This will then convert customers to repeat buyers.

How Online Shopping Has Changed Shopping Altogether

Even without the pandemic, online stores and websites generate tons of traffic that is then turned into sales. Whatever you sell, people are searching for it online. Online shopping has blown up over the years – everything from computers and cars to food and services can all be found online. Since online shopping doesn’t have a closing time at the end of the day, customers are able to access your product whenever is most convenient for them. Many people now prefer to shop online due to convenience and ease. It plays a very important role in everybody’s life, especially to those with a busy schedule. It provides a comfortable service for customers.

Selling online also increases your reach. With an online store, you’re no longer limited by the number of people that can physically visit your location. You can sell to different tows, removing that key geographical limitation. Online shopping can save time for both your customer and for the seller by reducing phone calls about availability, specifications, hour of operation, or other important information found easily on the store’s website.

There are a lot of reasons why customers today prefer shopping online, including:

  • Convenience. Where else can you comfortably shop at midnight in your pajamas? There are no lines to wait in, and customers can do all their shopping within minutes. It cuts down on their travel costs and time, so customers love being able to shop online.
  • The ability to send gifts easily. Sending gifts to relatives and friends has never been easier. Simple make a purchase and send it to their address. This opens up the opportunity for companies to make more money off of holidays, too!
  • Price comparisons. Comparing prices and items online is way easier than in-person. Instead of going back and forth from physical stores, customers are able to make decisions between two products or stores with the click of a mouse. Also, we have the ability to share information and reviews from previous buyers so that customers can make an educated decision on the items they are choosing to purchase.
  • No crowds. With holidays such as Black Friday and near Christmas time, crowds at malls and retail stores can be overwhelming. Instead of waiting in line, customers can easily make purchases online.

An online retail space provides customers with what they need, while also providing the retailer with consumer information that they need moving forward. Many sites offer built-in analytics that help retailers understand their customers better. This way, they can advertise certain products that are popular, offer deals to upsell products, and implement many other marketing strategies to increase sales.

Why an Online Presence is Important for Small Businesses

Every business needs a website. Today’s world is all about online shopping, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Due to the pandemic, small businesses in Ontario have been struggling. Unfortunately, many smaller towns in the Barrie, Orillia, and Muskoka areas have seen hundreds of small business closures. By switching to online shopping, curbside pickup, and delivery options, many small businesses have managed to stay open. Small boutiques now offer pick-up and delivery options for their merchandise and coffee shops partnered with other providers such as Uber Eats to offer delivery options. All of that was made possible by the addition of an online presence.

Outside of the pandemic, small businesses in Ontario have been mindful to make their online presence more substantial. Barrie, Orillia, and Muskoka are known to be more tourist-driven and thrive off of word-of-mouth advertising. While this method if getting your name out there is great in a small town, what happens when someone from Toronto comes to visit?

The first thing people do when they look for a product or service is research it. They Google the product or service and find out where they can buy it. With bigger retailers spending thousands of dollars on web marketing, big box stores are destined to pop up first on the results page. Thanks to blogs and review websites, smaller towns are able to get free advertising to promote local coffee shops and other small businesses. Without a website, it makes it very hard for potential consumers to find small businesses. By having a working website and social platforms, a business’ chance of reaching customers is increased exponentially.

Still Not Convinced?

If you’re a small business-owner who has survived the pandemic and new online-focused preferred method of shopping, and you still are unsure about whether or not you should invest time and money into developing an online presence, think again. The reality is that consumers now expect all businesses to have websites. Now more than ever, customers want to find out about you through your website. Most consumers do research online, even if it’s to buy something from a local shop. If you don’t have a website, it sends the message that you aren’t open to new customers – and that is certainly not the message you want to send!

With the addition of a website, you look more reputable and trustworthy. Consumers are learning to be very savvy when they do their online research. A sleek, modern designed website speaks about how you see yourself as a brand and how you want to be perceived by others.

Additionally, a website is a lot less expensive than traditional advertising. Most businesses who don’t have a website still rely on newspaper ads or traditional advertising to get their name out there. If most shopping is now online, why would you spend money promoting yourself on a shrinking form of advertising? Websites cost much less and they provide a wider reach.

How to Create a Social Presence

Every good online presence starts with a website, but doesn’t end there. Social media has drastically changed how businesses can build and maintain a social presence. With so many online platforms and strategies, what does it take to get noticed on the internet? Here are a few tips on creating a strong web presence.

  1. Build a great website. Your website should be captivating and entice potential consumers to stay. Even if you’re active on social media, a poor website can risk your chances of getting customers. A good website should be user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and well-suited to driving conversions.
  2. Create a social media strategy. Creating a strong, clear, and visually enticing social media is the best way to align your business goals with your online presence. Simple being active on your social media platforms doesn’t cut it anymore; you should plan out your posting schedule, your posts, and how you plan on interacting with customers.
  3. Media production. If your goal is to entice people to visit your website, you need to make sure you’re creating strong visual media. This is the best way to grab attention and get people into your marketing funnel.
  4. Use paid ads. If you’re already used to paying for traditional media, this should be a no-brainer! Paid ads are designed to reach the audience you want it to reach. With a few dollars, your ads can be seen by more people than you thought possible.
  5. Use SEO. Search Engine Optimization helps your business reach the top of the results page of search engines such as Google. With people spending time on Google looking for the “best local coffee shops,” you want yours to show up as a top choice.

Build Your Online Presence

Now that you know why an online presence is important and how to build one, go out and do it! Building your online presence can be time consuming, but it’s completely worth it. With new customers, you’ll be happy you decided to expand into the web.