Monday, March 17, 2008

Digital Lifestyle: How Does It Impact Your Business?

The Digital Lifestyle

The idea of power in consumers’ hands is a key component to marketing in the new media and the basis behind the continued growth and evolution of the digital lifestyle. Successful new media marketing has two primary goals: to reach a very targeted audience at the right time, when they are most likely to take an intended action and to encourage the growing trend towards consumer control of media and content.

Internet Usage by Age, Education, and Income Level

Media marketing strategies target almost everyone. According to Pew Internet & American Life Project in the US alone, more than 172 million people (77 percent of the adult population) are regular internet users. There is also a direct correlation between higher education/higher income and using the internet more frequently. For example research shows that 91 percent of college graduates regularly go online while only 40 percent of adults with less than a high school education do so. As income level rises, so does the likelihood of having an internet connection at home and using it frequently. Households with an annual income of less than $30,000 are only 53 percent likely to be online while households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 are 80 percent likely to be online. That percentage continues to increase as income level rises.

Breaking down the internet usage numbers even further, by age group, shows that nearly everyone is an active part of the digital lifestyle. (Madden, April 2006)

*12-17-year olds: 87 percent online
*18-29-year olds: 88 percent online
*30-49-year olds: 84 percent online
*50-64-year olds: 71 percent online
*65+ year olds: 32 percent online

What are people doing online?

So what are all these people doing online? Based on a 143 million Americans Pew/Internet survey found that 91 percent of online time is spent reading and sending e-mails, followed by using search engines or map sites. 79 percent of users are looking up health and medical information, followed by 78 percent of people researching products, services, weather, hobby information, or travel information. 68 percent of users are getting news online. Shopping is another primary activity for internet users, whether directly purchasing a product over the internet or researching a product before they buy offline. A study for conducted by Forrester Research, projects that online sales will exceed $200 billion in 2006. (eMarketer, May 2006)

Using the Internet at work

During the workday, the average employee spends about 13 hours per week accessing the internet, 24 percent of which is spent visiting non- work related sites. Top sites visited include map sites, news, and weather. These finding are consistently reported by both employees and IT managers who monitored staff internet usage: however as you get further down the list of non-work related sites, the numbers start to conflict. For example, 3 percent of employees admit visiting dating sites, while IT managers found the numbers is actually closer to 18 percent. Gambling and sex sites were reported at 1 percent but actually measured at 10 percent.

When looking at upper-level executives and decision makers, 77 percent believe that the internet is the absolute best place to find out about new products. 66 percent recommend online advertising as the best way to reach target audiences. 90 percent of executives who use the internet regularly at work log on from home as well. This makes the internet use during the evening and late hours second only to television viewing.

The Importance of Social Networking Channels

Think of social networking websites as the reality TV of the Internet. Although often guided and monitored by the website’s creator, the majority of the content and growth of the site is created directly by the users. Think of these sites as the ultimate consumer generated media (CGM) model.

The social networking sites are growing so fast that as of April 2007 they have captured the attention of more than 45 percent of active web users. The top 10 social networking sites have grown 47 percent in one year, with MySpace showing a one-year growth of 367 percent and more than 38.4 million unique visitors. The very nature of social network sites makes them attractive for marketers because they create very loyal users and account for some of the highest retention rates among regular Internet users. On average, even the most successful banner ad campaigns generate a less than 2 percent conversion rate. Advertisers quickly find that these highly experienced consumer eyes simply skip over blatant advertising altogether. Any effective marketing message today must have relevant, useful and/or interesting content that will encourage users to take action and get involved.

As with all things there are risks associated with social networking sites. Here are a few tips to reduce your risks and make this tool successful for your business.

1-Define your brand and ensure that your character profile accurately and consistently reflects that brand.
2-Be ready to address any feedback or posts, particularly if they are negative
3-Remember that the most successful social networks are those with he most collected “friends”
4-Develop a thick skin and remember to use the comments you get as feedback to possibly help you better refine your message or product
5-Show benefits to people who visit your space and reward the loyal friends you collect

The growth of Blogs

Most famous people have a blog, and so do many executives and companies. So how does that help your business? Why post non-technical information in a diary format?
Since 2003, the growth rate of blogs has doubled about every six months, reaching close to 40 million in 2007. According to Techno-rati ( , a blog tracking site, the Internet world sees an average of 1.6 million legitimate blog posts every day.

Blogs are an important marketing tool for your business for many reasons. First, they allow you to develop a closer connection with customers, to generate feedback, and to provide customer support. The second reason blogs are important piece of marketing is because it is a great way to help increase search engine ranking for your site. Because blogs are largely text based, they are easy for search engines to index. And since every entry includes a date and search engines look to post most recently updated sited first, your blog has a good chance of ranking high. If your blog entry contains relevant key words , a recent date and links to more pages of your website, you have a good chance of increasing your rankings.

Promotion through RSS Advertising

RSS technology has been in the traditionally used by news professionals to syndicate content online primarily by organizations such as Reuters, CNN, PR Newswire, Business Wire, and the BBC. These providers allowed other websites to incorporate their headlines or headline-and-short-summary feeds under various usage agreements. Today anyone with a website, blog, press release, product announcement, or other marketing promotion can benefit from RSS technology, and because there are so many niche content sources now available, using RSS feeds to send out targeted content is an excellent way to get results. RSS feeds are providing more effective to advertisers than e-mail marketing because it is such a new and uncrowded medium.

To help ensure that your RSS feed gets picked up by the right sources remember these tips:

1-Spark interest with an attention grabbing title
2-Use keywords in your title and your feed description
3-Show benefit to the consumer
4-Using the RSS feed image option to help strengthen your brand

Engage Consumers in Your Brand

New media marketing is less interruptive, more targeted, and relies on a person’s genuine need to socialize and to seek and share information. Compared to letting content of television come to them, Internet users are actively engaged and more likely to take direct action when they see your marketing message. This is not to say that traditional media are ineffective; in fact the opposite is true. In order to create a successful campaign, you can no longer choose new media or traditional advertising campaigns – you must work to incorporate both.

Here is an interesting example: a March 2006 survey by Burst Media found that nearly half of consumers said television most effectively captures their attention, but those same consumers admitted that when it comes to actually making a decision to purchase a product or service, the internet ranked first. They went as far as to say that the internet was their primary source for this information (eMarketer, April 2006).

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