The average Canadian spends 45 hours online per month, more than any other nation and almost double the global average. It's clear that Canadians love the Internet. The most recent CIRA Internet Factbook explored the online purchasing behaviours of both Internet users and small businesses in Canada and found that e-commerce is on the rise in Canada. The findings in the Factbook indicated that we're not only seeing an increase in the volume of purchases, but also in the breadth of good and services purchased online.
Not only do we love shopping online, but many Canadians also rely on the web to research and to compare products and prices before purchasing.
We're a savvy, educated group of consumers. That's for sure. But what about Canadian businesses? How do they stack up? It turns out, not as well as you'd think. Our research showed that over 40% of Canadian small businesses still did not have a website. This is a problem. This not only puts your brand and reputation at risk, but puts your business at a competitive disadvantage.
Why do so many Canadian small businesses not have a website?
In a recent study, GoDaddy and Redshift surveyed over 4000 very small businesses (defined as 5 employees or less) to get a better understanding of how they are (or aren't) utilizing the Internet for their business. An astonishing 59% of Canadian respondents reported that they don't have a website, and only a third of those plan on building one. So this begs the question: Why? Why is it that in 2016, a year in which we all walk around with smartphones in our pockets, are constantly looking for a Wi-Fi network, and turn to Google with every question we have, does a business not have a website?
“My business is too small to warrant a website”
Among the expected responses of “I don't have the time”, “it's too expensive”, and “it's beyond my technical expertise” (all of which are common misconceptions), 35% of respondents reported that the reason that they didn't have a website was that they were simply too small. Furthermore, only 33% of them plan on getting a website in the next 2 years.
Why no business is too small to have a website
The Internet is an open place. Websites are not reserved for large, brand name businesses and enterprises with multi-million dollar budgets. Every business, big or small, old or new, global or local, should have a website. Whether you're a five person retail shop, an independent consultant, or something in between, getting a website for your business is a no-brainer in 2016. Here's why:
You can protect and build your brand online
Not having a website —let alone a domain name —puts your brand at risk. Given all of the hard work, time and money you've invested in your small business, protecting your brand should be in your best interest, especially online. The first step in protecting your brand online is registering your domain name. This gives you ownership of your brand and will allow you to protect it moving forward. Consider registering multiple variations of your brand name and common misspellings as well. This is a common domain name strategy as it is not only relatively inexpensive, but it gives you full control of your brand online.
The next step is to create a website and build your brand online. Understandably, many small businesses don't have a large marketing budget and websites can get expensive. But they don't have to be. There are several free or low cost website services out there to choose from and many Registrars offer website templates and website builder tools at a very affordable cost. There are also several other ways that you can use your domain name other than for a website. For example, you can use it to host a professional email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can use it to point to another web property, like your company's Facebook Page. The bottom line is that your brand is valuable and you should be protecting it online.
Your customers are online
Like it or not, your customers are online. Sure, you may not sell products or services online, but this is where your customers are doing the majority of their research, discovery and price comparison. It's also where they go to look up your phone number or store location. As it turns out, consumers care about your website —or lack thereof. 63% of consumers believe that having a website makes a business look more credible, and 26% don't trust businesses without a website.
What do you think happens when a potential customer looks up your product or service online and doesn't find you? They find your competition. Game over. Go where the fish are and get your business online.
It gives your business a competitive advantage
If your business isn't online, your competitors that are will always be found in a Google search ahead of you. Why are you making it so easy for them? Now, what if they aren't online? By getting your domain name and website, you can begin to outrank them in a search and get found by customers. Now that's a competitive advantage. The GoDaddy and RedShift study showed that 83% of the small businesses that already have a website feel that it gives them a competitive advantage over their competitors who don't have a website.
It doesn't have to be expensive
This is one of the most common misconceptions about domain names and websites. Our recent research shows that Canadian Internet users think that domain names cost $131 per year. On average, .CA domain names cost about $14 per year, and sometimes can be as low as $1.99 with certain Registrars. As for getting a website live, as we mentioned earlier there are plenty of free or low cost website builders like WordPress, Wix, Weebly and SquareSpace. Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, many of our Registrars also offer easy to use website creation templates that can sometimes come free with the purchase of a domain name.
The bottom line is that no business is too small to have a website. Stop making excuses and start taking action. Get your perfect .CA domain today to begin building and owning your businesses brand online.