Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a tech geek, but I find it fascinating to be a child of the 80’s. We live in a time of unparalleled technological advancement, and the world of 2013 is only a shadow of how we grew up in the 80’s. And even though that technology has advanced at a lightning pace throughout the 90’s, the changes that have taken place since the advent of the smart phone have turned the traditional business marketing model on it’s head. A recent
Your Customers ARE Online and Mobile
Recent research from the Pew Research Center has shed additional light on the increasing number of Americans who are using the Internet to search and shop. In a recent study, it was determined that “15% of Americans Aren’t Online”. From a business perspective, I prefer to see the glass as half full, and point out that “85% of Americans ARE Online”. And when you break those numbers down by age, you’ll notice that 45% of those ages 65 and older aren’t online, but of Americans aged 18-29, 98% are online, which means that the number of Americans using the Internet on a daily basis will only continue to rise. (CNN, September 25, 2013) Furthermore, these statistics, published in May, 2013, might just surprise you:
Internet Usage Statistics
- 85% of Americans use the Internet
- 91% of Internet users use the Internet to find information or business listing
- 71% of Internet users shop online
(Source: Pew Research)
Cell Phone Statistics
- 91% of American adults own a cell phone
- 81% of cell phone owners send and receive text messages
- 60% of cell phone owners use the Internet on their phones
- 49% get directions, recommendations, or other location-based information
(Source: Pew Research)
And while these statistics probably don’t come as a shock to most people, the “a-ha” moment for me came when I realized that these statistics are further skewed by age. Every day, new, tech savvy customers enter the marketplace, while older customers leave. While many more older Americans are reluctant to use the Internet, the younger generation has grown up in the Technology Age, and almost exclusively use online and mobile media to access information on a daily basis. This means that the numbers shown above are only going to continue to rise.
As a result of this rapid evolution in technology and communication, businesses that refuse to evolve and embrace technology are finding it more difficult to reach new customers, while businesses that embrace new and innovative technologies are not only flourishing, but are also expanding their reach to a nationwide audience and customer base.
Tips That You Can Use To Reach Your New Audience
Gone are the days of placing an ad in the local paper or Yellow Pages. Fewer and fewer Americans are using these traditional means to find information, so the forward thinking entrepreneur must adapt to new technologies just to keep pace, and for every day that you wait to make that switch, a new, young customer enters the marketplace and chooses to spend money with your competitor.
Develop Your Web Presence
Step one to increase your presence is to develop a professional website. Search engines place more value on websites that have been in existence longer, so all other factors equal, an older website will rank higher than a newer website. Does it need to be professional? YES. Be weary of simple site builders, because an unprofessional Web site can do just as much harm as good. Does it need to be expensive? NO. Building a simple, clean, responsive website can be very inexpensive, and well worth the cost of development. A well built site will allow you to post specials, sales, photos, videos, and give your audience a reason to visit you.
List Your Business On Free Directory Services
Services such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Manta, Yelp, and any other number of free listing services will allow you to build a free listing to promote your business. Many of those services will also allow your customers and clients to leave reviews and recommendations.
Embrace Social Media
Social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, and the host of others offer you the ability to reach out to a wider customer base. The more “inroads” that you can make to your website, the wider your potential audience. A website that’s simply launched and never promoted is like building your business in an open field. No one will ever find it. Promoting your business in the 21st century means finding ways to drive traffic to your site, and since social media sites have millions of visitors a day, you can use that to interact with your audience and direct them to your site.
Are you an expert in a given field? Offer tips, tricks, and useful articles to your audience. This not only gives them a reason to come back to your website, but it will also give search engines valuable page copy to scan and index. Those articles, just like the one that you’re reading, will help your site reach a wider audience.
Perform Periodic Search Engine Optimization
Your competitors are trying to get to the top of Google, just as you are. With your competition constantly jockeying for that all important “Google Page 1”, you must fight to keep the position that you’ve fought so hard to earn. Performing periodic search engine optimization on your site helps to keep you relevent to search engines, as well as your audience.
Don’t Abandon Traditional Media
While it is necessary to embrace the Internet to continue to grow in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean that you should abandon traditional means of print and television media. A 15 second commercial at your local movie theatre, a well designed business card, sponsoring a local little league team, and a newspaper advertisement can still help you promote your business, however, always remember to include your website address, and even a QR code in your printed advertisements to drive traffic to you.
Evaluate and Refine
Today’s audience will only return to your website over and over again if it has a reason to do so. Having a 4th of July Sale? Announce it on your site. Post it on Facebook. Tweet it on Twitter, and post it in the local paper. Then use Google Analytics to track your Web traffic, and see which methods of promotion have been effective and which others need work. It’s only through testing your online effectiveness that you’ll be able to expand your reach and grow online.