Targeting the Right Audiences – and Reaching Them

May 31st, 2015 | By | Category: Marketing, News, Public relations

Scanning the news today, a simple item caught my eye: The story delved into the fact that the Head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to make it a little easier for all Americans to get online. The headline to the article I noticed read “Why Helping the Poor Pay for Broadband is Good for Us All.” (

Coming from a country whose fast-internet penetration is only second in the world standing at 86.4%, according to a 2012 PwC Research (just behind Switzerland at 86.5% in top place), it made me stop to think a bit. How many of us (both abroad and in America) are completely overlooking the percentages of audiences that are NOT online?

I hear time and time again how important it is for companies to have a digital media strategy, own a Facebook page, be “socially media” savvy and “always connected” online. Many companies will only hire marketing managers whose predominant experience lies in the digital marketing field. I also keep on hearing how access to the internet via mobile phones is fast overtaking broadband. However, are we just assuming that everyone has access to the Internet somehow – either through broadband or mobile devices? What about all those people who do not have either?

The statistics are very interesting. The US Census in 2013 showed that out of 83.8% of Americans who own a computer at home, only 74.4% use their computers with access to the internet, and 1% of these people not having high-speed internet either. On the other hand, many Americans do access the internet via their mobile devices instead (87% of American adults used the internet via a mobile device i.e. not necessarily mobile phone) with 64% or two-thirds of Americans owning a smartphone.

The trends are definitely clear and looking at the numbers, one cannot help but think that a digital marketing strategy and online communications program is critical. But wait! What happens when you are trying to reach those 15% of the population that do not have access to the internet at all?

A few years ago I had a client whose target market was predominantly senior citizens.  As the internet and social media was gaining momentum, the owner of the company decided we must have an online strategy to reach this market. The only problem was that the majority of this market, especially at that time, was not online. A Pew Research study in 2013 revealed that amongst the 15% of Americans who do not have internet access at all, a large group includes senior citizens. The US Census backs this up by revealing that the majority of smart phone owners are in fact younger Americans. Also noteworthy however, is that although the majority of those accessing the internet are young, many are in fact highly intermittent due to financial and/or technical constraints.

Keeping up with the “trends” may make you look “tech savvy” and it may even make you feel good that you have this online strategy, but if the audience you are trying to reach is not “tech savvy” itself, is not online and not accessing digital media – then no amount of online strategy will help reach those audiences.

Delving a little bit further into who your audience actually is, where they “are” and what makes them “tick” will help you not only reach them, but also help affect their behavior and influence spending patterns to really achieve ROI.

Remember, the numbers do not always speak for themselves. Do not assume you know your audience. Spending more time researching your markets and audiences can help go a long way.



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