The number of people in the world that use the internet has surpassed 1,000,000,000. According to Comscore, a company that tracks web usage, December 2008 was the first time that one billion internet users went online within a single month. It could be as soon as 2015 that this figure exceeds two billion.
There are a number of predictions regarding the implications that this growing user base has in store for businesses. It might be worth bearing these in mind when looking at your digital marketing strategy:
E-commerce will carry on growing. It typically takes people a few years from their first internet experience to when they are confident enough to start spending online. With this in mind sales are expected to more than double from where they currently stand, as more and more users start to shop online. Many of the early adopters thought nothing of spending money on websites, no matter how they looked or worked, but the same isn’t true of the new users. To take advantage of the whole user base an e-commerce site must be user friendly, approachable and built with the needs of technophobes in mind.
User demographics will change. In the 90’s the main internet users were people already in the world of technology, often referred to as geeks, and eager to embrace the web. This isn’t so true these days. The number of older people browsing the internet is in the hundreds of millions and quickly growing, as is the number of younger users, with digital media a part of the curriculum in many primary schools. Another change is in the education of surfers. People without higher education and IT qualifications are becoming heavy internet users, and as services such as broadband continue getting cheaper and more widely used this will continue.
International usage shifts. It is believed that by 2015 over 85% of internet users will be from outside the US. China and India, in particular, have seen huge growth, and this doesn’t show any signs of slowing. English will start to be used less and less and foreign money will become more readily available online. Businesses that have separate websites, or pages, that target and attract people in various countries will flourish, and international sites that don’t match what local sites offer will not retain the interest, or receive the money, of surfers in that locality.
It was only a decade or so ago that in order to present and sell your products to someone from the other side of the world would have cost huge amounts of time and money. These days though you only need to find out what people are looking for and make sure your website comes up the next time they search for it. With the minimum amount of cost and fuss, technology can take care of all the time, currency and language differences that have previously plagued international trade. With a few clever tools, your website can act as a 24 hour, international salesman.
The beauty of the internet, and the reason why so many businesses use it as their main marketing avenue, is that any company, including yours, has the ability to sell to this gigantic market. Just make sure that you take the needs of the second billion users into account when trying to win the first.