Canadians continue to be heavy Internet users and to embrace technologies that make it faster and easier to gather information and communicate with one another. By keeping on top of usage trends, you can better hone your online marketing efforts. And you can tap into new technologies to make doing business easier.
During the 2010 Wisdom Exchange conference in Toronto, presented by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade for high-performing firms, Mike Miller, Head of Online Sales, Google Canada, emphasized that the web is increasingly used for business. "It's more important than ever for business owners to stay abreast of trends and take advantage of available technology that is dramatically changing the business landscape," he said.
He highlighted some of the major trends that will radically shift how businesses market and operate and offered these tips:
Understand how customers are searching online. Search volumes have been steadily increasing over the past two years and search patterns are changing, The increase in B2B (business-to- business) searches by buyers looking for information on the web prior to purchase and the more targeted nature of their searches point to the importance of regularly refining keywords and enhancing search engine optimization (SEO) so that buyers can easily find your products or services.
Tap into social media. There's a trend toward more business material appearing on YouTube. "Social media are useful tools, but you have to understand if your customers are there." Developing a community of followers on social media sites requires investing time in developing and sharing content people will find valuable. He recommended that having a video on YouTube is good for businesses with complex products in order to demonstrate how they work.
Watch the mobile space. The B2B (business-to-business) mobile search sector is growing rapidly. Mobile usage among professionals is rising, with 49% of C level executives using mobile technology to search. Businesses should stay on top of where the industry is going and how people are using mobiles to not only email, text and browse the internet in their spare time, but increasingly to search for B2B products and information. That's why it's important to optimize your website for mobile viewing. Business owners should "really pay attention to the mobile space in the next one to two years. You will see huge strides that will affect the way we do business."
Use technology to make it easier to conduct business. "Whether you are using Google or competitive apps, it will fundamentally change the way you do business." Through Google Apps, for instance, you can run applications like gmail, calendar, documents, slides and spreadsheets that used to reside on your desktop and you can store your files and data on a remote data centre via the internet. Through such "cloud computing", files can be accessed, worked on or shared with anyone with access to the Internet. It's a powerful and economical way to operate and collaborate in real time. A hard drive becomes unimportant because your data is securely stored at a data centre elsewhere.
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