A recent study by the Pew Research Center reported that 15 percent of American adults ages 18 and older don’t use the Internet or email. That’s a pretty significant percentage of the population. What’s really interesting for those of us engaged in marketing in this digital, Internet age is why this portion of the public avoids the Web.
There are, of course, a number of reasons that people don’t engage, but the two biggest reasons given are particularly worth noting for those of us who create content for potential customers.
The biggest reason given for not using the Internet (34 percent) is that these people simply feel that what’s on the Web is not relevant to them. They say they’re not interested—or have no need for it.
The second most frequently cited reason for avoiding the Internet is that it is not easy to use. This group finds it difficult or frustrating to go online. They also worry about other issues such as spam, spyware and hackers.
You could conceivably argue that this segment of the population is not your target audience—and that may be true. But their reasons for avoiding the Internet are valid and represent obstacles others who do use the Web face. And they raise questions that we need to constantly address.
Is Our Content Irrelevant? We may think the content we post on our websites is wonderful, interesting and engaging. But unless the people reading it feel the same way, it doesn’t matter. If our content doesn’t address their concerns and doesn’t provide answers for their questions, it’s irrelevant (even if we think it is “cutting edge”).
Is Our Site Easy to Use? Sure, you can find your way around your website easily—you put it together! Is it easy for your customers to find what they want? Is the information that’s important to them out in the open where they can find it? Or do they have to dig for it? And what about taking action—about engaging with you? Do readers know what to do? Are your calls to action clear and unmistakable? Or do you lose people because they don’t know how to respond?
We may never reach the 15 percent of the population that doesn’t use the Internet. And perhaps that shouldn’t be our goal. But we shouldn’t let the things that keep them away keep us from reaching the 85 percent who are on the Web daily.