Canada's proximity to the US and overall eagerness to do business with America make it ideal for market entry, and you can start online today!
But careful – this does not mean that you should treat Canada as an extension of your US marketing efforts. You need dedicated resources to ensure you will be found and understood by customers across the northern border. A localized website is a perfect way to start, and it will make it easier for your target market to do business with you and buy your products.
By having a dedicated, optimally localized website you will see your local traffic explode, your engagement increase, and your sales will grow exponentially!
How, you ask? IBT Online specializes in building localized websites and this includes Canada! Over the years, we’ve learned how to maximize online visibility in Canada, and we are sharing some of our secrets here. Specifically, why Canada is a critical global market and the top tips on how to showcase your company online, growing your exports, sales, brand, and business.
Canada is the USA’s Second-Largest Trading Partner
Did you know that over $2 billion in goods and services across the US-Canada border every day? After China, Canada is the USA’s largest trading partner and the number one importer of US goods.
Canada has a population that is well connected, close-by, and ready to do business with US companies. With a large population of English speakers and 90% of them on the internet, it is a great market to enter.
Large markets need dedicated resources. To effectively enter the market, you’ll need a localized website that your potential customers can find on Google Canada and connect with the content.
Canadians Spend More Money Online Than Americans
Canadians spend $400 USD more online than US shoppers. And they are spending a lot of time online, too -the average person in Canada spends 6 hours on the internet each day. Many are browsing and shopping on their smartphones. Last year, mobile phone web traffic increased by 16%.
Canadians are very digitally-minded and spend a lot of time on social media. 68% of the total population are active on social media, with YouTube and Facebook being the most popular social media platforms used in the nation. In order to reach your buyers in Canada, you, therefore, need to know which social media platforms and ecommerce sites they are visiting and make sure that your website pops up for them, front and center, on their favorite platforms.
Canadians Can’t Find Your USA Website on Google
Google is Canada's most popular search engine with 92% of the market share. Your target buyer in Canada is searching on Google for your products and services. However, you can’t assume that your USA-based English website will show up in their search! Actually, your US website is essentially invisible to Google Canada, it’s just how Google works.
There are subtle differences in the keywords used by your prospective buyers in Canada. If you want them to find you, your website needs to be localized – that is, customized to the local market. We can do this through several strategies:
- Top-level Domains: In the USA, most website URLs end in “.com.” In Canada, the standard is to use “.ca.” Canadians prefer “.ca,” because it’s perceived as trustworthy and indicates that this website is dedicated to viewers in Canada.
- Keywords: Using the right keywords is essential if you want to be found online. The keywords your Canadian customers type into Google are likely different than the words your USA customers use. You need a dedicated Canadian website that’s optimized with the right keywords so it will show up first in search engines. Keyword differences are another reason why it is vital to have dedicated websites, localized for each market to be found and understood by your prospects.
- Dialect: Different English dialects use different words and phrases. It’s important to know your target customer and write your website in their version of English. When your website content is written in the local dialect, it builds trust with the reader and helps convert them into buyers.
Want to find out more about the importance of website localization for Canada, and how this works? Check out our blog!
Canada is the Second-Largest French-Speaking Nation
We’ve talked about why your US-English site is invisible to Canadian’s English speakers, but let’s not forget about their French-speaking population.
French is the 6th most widely spoken language in the world and one of the major global trade languages. After the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canada is the second-largest French-speaking nation.
Approximately 21% of Canada’s 36 million inhabitants speak French as their first language. If you discount the French language in your international marketing efforts in Canada, you will miss over one-fifth of the population.
Unfortunately, a simple website translation from English to French will not be enough.
There are significant differences in dialects between French spoken in France, known as Metropolitan French, and that spoken in Quebec, known as Quebecois or Quebec French. According to linguists, the differences between Metropolitan French and Quebecois are greater than that between American and British English.
A localized website that takes into account the nuances of the French-Canadian language will foster the trust needed for the buyer's journey. Linguistics, grammar, syntax, and dialect all need to be considered in order to make sure that your website truly is understood and relatable to the prospective Canadian viewer.
Canada is a large global market full of opportunities to grow your exports and increase your sales. You will need dedicated resources, a localized website, and expert knowledge of the local dialect to reach this sophisticated audience and be found and understood by your prospects. More importantly, your dedicated website needs to build trust with your viewers and convert them into buying customers.
IBT Online has equipped hundreds of companies with dedicated, localized Canadian websites. Our team has experience with the complex linguistics involved and can help develop your online strategy in Canada, that is tailored to the behavior and habits of the Canadian prospect. Reach out to our team today to get started selling in Canada.