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How to market your local business as Canadian

By Meghan Graham
Digital Marketing Manager

Learn how to grow your Canadian business by investing in your online presence.

If you run a business in Canada, positioning yourself as a Canadian business is key to attracting loyal customers that will keep coming back.

As a brick and mortar business you’ll want to create a blend of online and in person sales to maximize your potential revenue streams in 2021.

Going online 

Many local business owners never considered opening an online business until recently.

According to an interview with Forbes, Shopify saw a lift of 46 per cent gross merchandise volume in the first quarter of 2020 when the pandemic began. According to their research, the number of consumers who bought something from a merchant they had never shopped at before has spiked to 45 per cent. Even more impressively, Shopify found that brick-and-mortar stores had been able to replace 94 per cent of their in-store sales online during the pandemic.

Although those numbers were directly correlated with forced closures, the online retail trend has continued to accelerate, and many local businesses are considering how to position themselves online to take advantage.

Setting up an online store using a service like Shopify is a relatively low-cost way to test out going online.

Finding a domain name 

When setting up your online store, making a choice about your domain is one of the first steps and most important decisions along the way.

If you have a brick and mortar business you will want your domain name to be a match with the name of your business. You can use a free tool like a domain name generator in order to search available names and name ideas that could work for you.

For Canadian businesses there are many advantages to using a .CA domain name. You can use CIRA’s domain name registry to register it directly, then transfer your domain to connect it to Shopify or any other e-commerce platform.

Why is it so advantageous to use a .CA domain? According to research conducted recently in 2019, 65 per cent of Canadian internet users agree that Canadian businesses and organizations should use a .CA domain because it’s a signal of security and trust. Canadians also reported wanting to give back to their local community, so .CA domains are doubly appealing.

Be smart with search and SEO 

In order to get your business discovered, you’ll have to be strategic about how you position your business in search engines like Google by using smart search engine optimization (SEO).

Think about the keywords that a potential customer might use to try and discover your business. You’ll want to draft a list of keywords relevant to your industry, the products you carry or services you provide and where your business is physically located to ensure you can be found easily.

Many websites simply don’t contain enough text or information to be picked up meaningfully by search engines. The first place to focus is your store or company’s about page. What information do you provide about what your business does, when it was established, and why it continues today? Start here and consider adding helpful contextual information  that could improve your discovery and customer loyalty. More than just keywords, it’s a chance to tell stories about your business that help add a human touch.

Next, you’ll want to revisit your product or service descriptions. Include as much relevant information as you can, including where things were sourced, features and benefits and a call to action. Ensure you explain the “what” of what your product or service can do for your customers and write in short, compelling sentences.

Partnerships and collaborations 

If you’re starting a new business or looking to expand, consider teaming up with another local independent business. This could take place in the form of a marketing collaboration, a co-produced online event, a co-branded piece of merchandise, or many other creative options.

By teaming up with a local business, you benefit from their customer network and loyalty. In some partnerships, you can even share costs on goods and services that help you double down on your own business in the future.

Partnerships and collaborations are especially important for new businesses that don’t have a local reputation built up yet. If you aren’t ready to collaborate with another independent business, consider collaborating with an influential individual in your sector to do some influencer marketing.

Milkjar Candle Co. based in Calgary often runs these collaborations with partners like Sweater Weather. These partnerships also allow merchants to position their relationships with their collaborators positively which brings good sentiment to both brands.

Getting started 

Now that you’re armed with these tips, the best way to test out your business idea is to just get started. The sooner you begin investing in your online presence, the sooner you can generate revenue from e-commerce sales that will help you grow your business.

Looking for even more tips on finding and choosing your domain name? Check out this ebook.

About the author
Meghan Graham

Meghan Graham is the Digital Marketing Manager at CIRA. She brings over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications in non-profit, technology, SaaS, and UX. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa joint program with Algonquin College.