The Internet is a great equalizer, giving all who use it virtually the same access to a vast vault of information, from the relevant and vital to silly minutia. Yet how we use the Web and behave in the digital world varies greatly, depending on our age, familiarity with digital media and other demographic factors, a new survey reveals.
“Real people populate the digital landscape and many companies are looking for ways to connect with consumers by incorporating the digital world into their marketing strategy,” says Bill Tancer, global research director of Experian Marketing Services, the company that produced the “2010 Digital Marketer” report. “Understand how different groups use digital media not only helps marketers make offers that are relevant to you, it helps us better understand ourselves.’
Many of the differences in how people use the Internet are age based, yet other aspects of our use are universal. For example, the Internet is the most important digital media channel and e-mail the most preferred messaging channel across all age groups, according to the report. And online shopping is mainstream for a large portion of the population – adults ages 25 to 49.
Yet we vary on other types of digital communication. Adults 18 to 34 prefer instant messaging or text message to converse in the digital world, and mobile phones and social sites are their main sources of information and entertainment. Consumers 50 and older, however, prefer the Internet to their mobile phones, and engage in online activities such as researching financial and medical information.
We respond differently to digital advertising as well, based on the generation gap, the study shows. This is important information for marketers, as industry experts anticipate spending on online advertising will continue to increase in 2010.
There are, however, areas where the generations are like-minded. Fifty-three percent of online adults of all ages say they are very likely or likely to open an e-mail that contains promotions or coupons. And 30 percent say they are likely to forward such e-mails to others. And nine or more of the top 25 keywords used in subject lines in 2009 referred to a sale or an offer, with words such as free, sale or percent off drawing consumer attention.
Our interest in social media is high among all age groups, with younger adults more likely to frequent social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. More than half of all visits to social networks are from users younger than 39. Yet visits by users 55 and older rose 7 percent from 2008 to 2009. In fact, the Experian study reports that more than 5,500 social networks exist, making social networking one of the most popular activities online. And a growing number of older Americans are using social networks, according to the study.
“Consumers want to be – and are – constantly connected,” Tancer says. “Knowing where to reach them in the digital landscape helps marketers better connect with their customers.”
To learn more about digital marketing or to download a copy of the Experian report, visit http://Experian.com/digitalmarketer.