Google engages small business

On August 16, in Vancouver, Google hosted the Google Engage Conference. The conference brought together over 200 digital marketing professionals to learn about the Google Engage program, which is designed to encourage digital marketers to offer Adwords services to their clients.

Speaking to the Canadian market, Chris O’Neill, the Director of Google Canada, pointed out that only 40% of Canadian businesses have websites. In contrast, a whopping 86% of Canadian consumers have done research online before making a purchase. And then there’s the rapid ascent of mobile marketing; it’s forecast that by the end of 2014, half of all Canadians will own a smart phone. Clearly then, consumers will be searching online for information to inform their purchase decisions, and with mobile web-enabled smartphones, those searches will often be focused on finding local, immediate results.

With all the choices, and all the work, that small businesses face to integrate digital marketing effectively, Google offers up a handy list of ten popular marketing options businesses can choose from today to boost their online marketing.

1. Local listings and classifieds

Add your business to listing sites. Listings are typically free, and a business does not have to have a website to take some advantage of localized directories.

2. Search advertising

Google Adwords, for example, can be a very effective marketing tool to get a message in front of consumers when they are considering a purchase. It is a simple process to create these text ads that appear on web search results pages. This tactic does require some sort of online presence, like a company website or company blog.

3. Contextual ads

These are ads you place on websites that are relevant to your potential customers. For example, if your store sells pet supplies, an ad on a website dedicated to caring for puppies could provide your business with qualified prospects.

4. Display ads

These take it up a notch from text ads, with images or even video clips embedded in the ads.

5. Geotargeting

That’s a fancy word for restricting your marketing to a very local market. A free first step is for a business to claim its location on Google Places – no website required.

6. Group buying

This may not work for everyone, but with the huge popularity of these programs today, it’s worth investigating.

7. Mobile marketing

As Google put it, it’s not too late to be early on mobile marketing. The trend is crystal clear – mobile has huge momentum, and offers opportunities for creative marketing. Getting a jumpstart on it now will place most businesses ahead of their competitors and prepare them to take better advantage of mobile marketing opportunities as this market rapidly develops. According to Google, right now 59% of the people who search for a local business on their mobile devices end up in the store.

8. Social networking sites

It’s free, you don’t have to have a business website, and your customers are already spending a lot of time on social networking sites. Three steps to get started are Listen, Learn, Engage.

9. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a system where you pay for other businesses to drive prospects to your website. Some affiliate sites are designed to allow you to set up a store on their domain.

10. Online videos

Posting short (under three minutes, ideally) videos on video-sharing sites, with a call to action, can be a cost-effective way to drive business.

Mediative’s Chris Pinkerton was a speaker at the Google Engage Conference in Vancouver. We will be writing a lot more about local and mobile marketing as we focus on this industry trend.