Google officially launched their Engage Canada program yesterday in Toronto at an all-day event at the Carlu. Advertising agencies, small business owners, webmasters, and search engine marketers were invited to attend and learn more about the program - which helps small businesses with their online marketing campaigns.
The Google Engage Canada partner program comes at a crucial time when more and more Canadian small businesses are getting online and seeking guidance for their digital marketing strategy and campaigns like Google AdWords.
Chris O’Neill, Country Director at Google Canada, kicked-off the event by speaking about current trends in the Canadian digital landscape. O’Neill discussed the “new power of small” and argued that “small companies can do amazing things because of the Internet.” He referenced the Google Canada “Get Your Business Online” program that is currently underway to help the more than one million small businesses in Canada who do not yet have a website.
O’Neill described three Google predictions:
- ZMOT (the Zero Moment of Truth) has become the new battle ground. O’Neill referenced an e-book published by Jim Lecinski, Google's Managing Director of US Sales & Service and Chief ZMOT Evangelist. The eBook argues that the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. The “Zero Moment of Truth” is the moment between shopper stimulus and your point of sale – which often starts with search.
- Local matters more than ever. According to O’Neill, 42% to 50% of in-store sales in Canada are currently influenced by online research. He says that daily deal sites like Groupon are changing the way consumers shop locally. He also suggests that small businesses should list their companies on Google Places, in order to ensure that they get found online when consumers are looking for stores nearby.
- Mobile is the new interface. O’Neill told the audience that by 2014, half of Canadians will have a smartphone. He then offered five things that small business marketers can do today with mobile, which include: creating a mobile-specific site, thinking local, getting personal with customers, tracking mobile independently, and iterating.
Cruisin’ with the Google Engage Program
Nectarios Economakis, Agency Lead at Google, introduced the new Google Engage Canada program to the audience. According to Economakis, anyone who provides digital marketing support to small and medium-sized businesses in Canada can apply to join the program and receive support from Google. Engage members will receive free access to educational resources, online training material and promotional vouchers to help their customers get started with online advertising.
Here's a link to help you get started with Google Engage Canada today.
Economakis also announced that if you sign-up for Google Engage and meet certain qualification criteria that will be shared with you by email, you will be invited on a Google cruise in February 2012. So, when you sign-up for Google Engage, make sure to opt-in to email communications to receive more details about the cruise in the near future.
In the afternoon, Google Canada hosted “fundamental” and “advanced” AdWords training workshops to help agencies and digital marketers to get the most out of their Google search campaigns.
The company has definitely taken some good first steps in supporting Canadian small businesses this year. Hopefully, they’ll continue the momentum and host further small business workshops in Canada. It would be great to see a dedicated team in Canada to support small business advertisers in the near future.
Google Engage Canada will also be hosting a launch event in Vancouver on August 16th. Registration for the Vancouver event can be found here. Registration is open until end of day today (August 10).