Consumer demand hasn't gone away, it's gone digital

Over the past year, many of us accomplished everyday tasks that we would never have thought possible from a distance. We simultaneously worked and homeschooled our kids from dining room tables. We blew out birthday candles on video calls, with virtual wishes from our family and friends. We celebrated landing a coveted grocery click and collect slot with the enthusiasm of Raptor fans. We exercised, meditated and learned new skills with the help of coaches on screens. What has been clear since the start — online has been a lifeline. 

Having an online presence has helped businesses of all shapes and sizes across Canada during these volatile times. For retailers big and small, their digital storefront became their largest and most important flagship store. For car makers, adding online booking for at-home test drives and turning their YouTube pages into virtual showrooms, helped capture pent up demand from consumers who are looking for cars online at an unprecedented level. The restaurant industry pivoted to online ordering with curbside pickup. And the entertainment industry released major blockbuster movies, like Trolls World Tour, to digital first with incredible results. 

Since the first appearance of COVID-19, teams across Google have launched many new products, features and initiatives in an effort to help businesses and consumers adapt. We’re focused on keeping people informed with trusted information, supporting them as they adjust to a changing world, and making our contribution to recovery efforts across the globe. We introduced resources to enable remote teaching and learning, and pledged to bring 50,000 Canadian SMBs online with Digital Main Street. We expanded our free digital skills learning offerings and provided emergency funding to help local news organizations in Canada.

Over the past few months, it’s become clear that life is not the same. And consumer demand isn’t the same either. Consumers are looking for businesses to meet them where they are —and that’s online. Here’s how marketers can help their companies meet the evolving consumer demand and become leaders in digital excellence.

Build the right skill set for your teams

The advertising industry is evolving at a fast pace, with new technologies and features frequently being introduced to meet consumers where they are at. To equip the next generation of marketers with the skills needed to succeed in the marketing industry, we are investing in CMA NXT, a career development platform developed by CMA with the support of RBC as the founding lead sponsor. Google will join as an Advocate Skills Sponsor, and our investment will go towards developing technical and digital skills training modules for CMA NXT members. We’re proud to work alongside CMA to build for the future of Canada’s marketing industry, together. 

Prioritize e-commerce and the online customer journey 

Companies need to quickly rethink customer journeys. With many brick and mortar stores pivoting, we are seeing an increase in e-commerce adoption, curbside pick up and online media consumption. This year, Canadian e-commerce sales are estimated to grow 20% year over year. With this drastic shift to online purchasing, it is important that brands rethink their marketing strategies to continue to be present and top-of-mind for consumers as they spend more time online. Toronto-based stationery store, Laywine’s did just that. Like so many other small business owners, COVID-19 forced them to close their doors and invest in their e-commerce presence. They set up a Google Ads account and launched campaigns in North America, so that as people working from home started to build their home offices, they’d find Laywine’s. Within six weeks, Laywine’s digital sales increased by almost 18X, and 70% of customers came to their website from outside Toronto, when previously, almost all customers were local.

Plan your marketing strategy now, with digital at the core

Take the necessary actions now to plan your long-term marketing strategy, and how you’ll keep up with digital trends the rest of the year and beyond. Try to anticipate future trends by thinking about the ways people’s lives are changing, and what they may need a month from now. Google Trends can help you monitor and track search interest in your product and category, so you can capture that new interest in products like bread makers, patio heaters or the latest tie dye trend. Grow My Store will recommend best practices within your website along with tips on how to position yourself to customers across the web, and Find My Audience helps you understand who your most valuable customers are on YouTube — so you can discover new audiences and learn how to reach them individually with relevant messages. The CMO also plays a critical role in creating and managing strategy to achieve sustainable, profitable growth. The CMO has become the chief growth officer of their businesses, tasked with building resilience into their organizations and becoming leaders in digital transformation. 

Infuse Data and Measurement Everywhere

Especially in tough times, investing responsibly in measurement is critical. More than ever, marketing budgets need to drive measurable results. Put your measurement strategy at the forefront and identify the right KPIs with your partners. Be flexible and nimble and leverage the power of automation to capture unexpected bursts of demand and do more with less data. We can’t always predict the future but we can build smart, resilient, privacy-forward marketing that drives the most efficient and effective results. 

Throughout the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Canadian consumer habits immensely. We don’t know exactly what the future will hold but we do know that more Canadians will continue to turn to online channels. Companies that invest in, and lead the accelerated digital transformation in their sectors will be the ones that see long-term success. 

Author: Sabrina Geremia | VP & Country Manager, | Google Canada

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Tags: e-commerce, online shopping, data measurement, customer experience