Knowing Your Customers and the “Digital Divide”

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(Gawkwire.com) – Despite many marketers’ beliefs to the contrary, nearly 25% of Americans still have no access to the Internet, according to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. An additional 13% are still connecting primarily via low-speed dial-up modems rather than faster broadband services.

The fact that such a substantial percentage of the buying public isn’t yet online has significant implications for marketers, says Christopher J. Mulvaney, principal of CMDS, an online marketing, web design company and NJ SEO agency.

“While there’s certainly no disputing the power of the Internet as a marketing tool, that doesn’t mean it’s the only tool you should use,” says Mulvaney. “To ensure that they’re reaching the majority of their intended audience, businesses have to incorporate a variety of online and offline methods into their marketing plans.”

Additional channels for communicating with customers can include direct mail, print advertising or direct response TV, depending on a company’s budget and target audience.

“While online advertising is more trackable than offline channels, there is still great value in traditional postal mailings and print advertising,” according to Mulvaney. “The key is knowing the best way your customers like to be reached, and the selling messages that are most likely to resonate.”

The Pew report found little demographic distinction between dial-up users and those with broadband, making the dial-up segment one that most businesses can’t afford to ignore. “You can never assume that all your customers are viewing your website under optimal high-speed conditions. Businesses have to maintain a careful balance between graphic-intensive design and real-world functionality.”


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