Effective use of the internet requires a meld of two factors: what do you want to get from it and what does your audience want from you?
You don’t have to take your audience’s current needs as an absolute given – you can hope to alter them over time – but similarly you can’t take your own online needs as absolutely set in stone, because they need to reflect the realities of what your audience is like.
So what does your audience want? One useful piece of information to consider is their internet usage habits. How often are they online? What do they look for online? And so on, including most basic of all, what tools do they use online?
The latest report from Enders Analysis gives some overall figures for the UK:
- 87% of internet users have used email in the last three months
- 77% of internet users have used social networks in the last three months
- 45% of internet users have bought a product or service online in the last three months
- 23% of internet users have downloaded or watched a video in the last three months
These figures are not surprising, but are easy to overlook. Think of the number of times, for example, when someone talks about wanting to do a ‘viral video’, but never mentions doing anything with email. Or look at how few local council websites have a prominent email sign up box.
There is a role for a wide range of tools, especially when targeting specific audiences with different habits from the overall internet population, but your mix is going to be more effective if you remember what people like to do (email) rather than what is currently the in thing to talk about (anything but email).