|Before you can
do business online, you need to understand a little bit about
the people that you'll be marketing to. The online world is a
unique marketing environment because of the way users group
themselves together. This is called segmentation of segmenting
If you've ever purchased a
mailing list to use in a direct mail program, you might already
know something about segmentation. When you order a list you can
request names of people from a specific zip code, people with a
specific income, people who work in certain occupations, or
people who subscribe to a certain magazine or trade journal.
All of these criteria can be used
to create a single list of people that have similar interests
and lifestyles. When you're marketing products or services, it's
always more effective when you focus your marketing efforts on
the most qualified group of people you can so the response will
One of the great things about the
online world is that users tend to group themselves into highly
defined groups all by themselves. You can't go online and
request a list of people to send an offer to, but if you know
where to look, you might be able to find a place where those
people hang out and then get a marketing message in front of
One of the things that any online
business owner needs to do before starting an online business is
determine how well his products and services fit the interests
and lifestyles of the typical online user. Later in this book
you'll be able to go through an exercise that will help you
determine if your product or service is suited for online
marketing, but right now we want to point out to you a few
general demographics for the online world.
Keep in mind that people do the
exact same things online they like to do off-line. If you like
NBA Basketball, you would probably visit one of the NBA or
general sports sites on the Internet or one of the online
services. So targeting your message to a group of qualified
prospects is easier in the online world than in any other
So that you will better
understand the nature of the online user, here's some
information to consider. This information was gathered from
information provided by online research studies. Since the
online world changes rapidly, you may want to get a current look
at online demographics by checking one of the sites listed at
the bottom of this document.
The average age of all web users is 36 years old. European users
are a bit younger at 30 years old. Unlike past years when the
average age of women users is younger than their male
counterparts, there is no longer an age discrepancy.
The online world is still a predominately male environment.
About 61% of the users are male. However more and more women are
coming online to balance this out. Just a couple of years ago
the percentage of women users was only about 15%. Women now
account for nearly 39% of the users in the US. The percentage of
women users in the US is nearly double that of Europe.
Everywhere you look, the number of women users is on the rise.
A whopping 86% of online users have attended College with half
having earned a degree. People online are smart and
One thing is for sure,
online users have money. You might think
this has something to do with the fact that you need a computer
to access the online world and note everyone has one or knows
how to use one. The average household income for online users is
We're seeing a decline in the
income levels as more and more people come online. Just over a
year ago, the average household income was almost $60,000. As
you would expect, the younger the user, the lower the income.
This is due to the high number of students who use
high speed Internet.
The average income of the higher are groups is actually much
higher than the total average.
If you are selling something
online, it's nice to know that the people you're selling to have
some money to spend. Wouldn't you agree?
The US has the best phone system in the world and more computers
per capita than any country in the world. So it's only fitting
that 84% of all Internet users are in the US. About 7% are from
Europe, and 8% from Canada and Mexico.
Most people consider the Internet
an International medium, but reality is still primarily a US
medium. The Internet reaches every continent. The growth of
Internet use is faster outside of the US than inside, but the
shear number of new users is significantly higher in the US.
Fast growing areas include Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and
South and Central America.
The online world is pretty split between married (40%) and
unmarried (41%). The rest are either divorced or living with
someone. As you would expect, the younger crowd (under 25) is
about 75% single, while the older crowd (50+) are 75% married.
Those in the middle (26-50) are about evenly split between
married and single.
About 23% of web users work in education to top the list of
career choices. The next highest ranking occupation is Computer
and Technical workers at 21%. A few years ago the ranking for
these two occupations was just the opposite. Considering the
penetration of the Internet into all levels of education, this
is not too surprising. Now we know what all those teachers are
doing during recess, right?
Next in line are professionals
and management occupations at 21% and 12% respectively. Overall,
women are more likely to be involved in education career, while
men are more likely to be in computer careers.
Most users consider themselves to be political moderates (30%),
with 21% being conservative or very conservative, and 35%being
liberal or very liberal. Women are more likely to be liberal and
men more likely to be conservative.
Democrats lead Republicans online
at 25% to 21% respectively. Another 16% said they lean towards
the Democrats, while 10% lean toward the Republicans.
As a whole, online users don't like to say much about themselves
and resent those that share personal demographic information
with others for personal gain.
What this really means is that
Internet users don't like to have their names and email
addresses sold to others for the sole purpose of sending an ad
or offer. On the other hand, most realize the need for
demographic information for designing an online business and
marketing a site to advertisers.
About half said they would give
personal information in return for some value, like a reminder
service, or to get access to private specialized information.
Over half (55%) of online users get their access at home. The
50+ crowd is more likely to be paying for their access and
getting it at home, while the younger crowd is more likely to
get free access at work or at school. This explains why the
busiest days online are Monday-Thursday and why the weekends are
about 20-30% slower traffic days than any other days. Many users
only access the online world from work or school and both are
out on the weekends.
About 72% of women who use the web, do so every day, while 87%
of men are daily users. These numbers are on the rise , which is
good news for online business. About 45% use the web 1-4 times
per day, while 41% use it more frequently and 15% use it less.
This category illustrates that the online world is an
entertainment medium as much as anything. The most common use of
the web is to surf (79%), followed by entertainment (65%) and
work (51%). I would even consider most surfing as entertainment,
so that is really the number one use right now. Shopping is on
the increase, going from 11% a year ago to 14% now. Older users
do more work online, while younger users are playing online.
The biggest frustration of web users is speed. Online users
don't like to wait for things download and even though modem
speeds are increasing, the number of users complaining about
speed keeps increasing. We're just never satisfied.
Another big complaint is not
being able to find information that they know is out there.
Other problems cited are not being able to find a site after
visiting it once and paying too much for access. Basically we're
all impatient and cheap.
The standard for connection speed continues to rise as new
modems keep coming on the market and prices keep falling. The
most common connection speed is now 33.6 followed by 28.8 Kbs.
This is exact opposite of a year ago.
About 40% of users have a
connection faster than 28.8. This would be those who are using
fast dedicated connections at work or at school. This type of
high speed connection might include such things as T1's, DS3's,
56 Kbs lines, Frames relays and ISDN. Another interesting
statistic is that about 60% of users also have an account with
one of the online services, but only about 8% use it to access
If you had to take all this information and put it together in
one body, here's what you'd get.
A 36 year old man who lives in
the US, works in education, makes about $53k per year, votes
Democrat, gets his Internet access at home through a 33.6 modem
and at work with a T1, uses the Internet 1-4 times every day for
work and fun, also has an America Online account, hates giving
out personal information unless its for a good purpose, and
thinks the Internet is just too slow and unorganized. Sound like
someone you know?
This is a good, broad picture of
the online world, but many studies focus more on specific niches
of the online world. If you can identify the traits of your
audience more specifically, you're much more likely to have
success in your online business.
This demographic information
presented here relates to users of the Internet.
There are also some great demographic profiles of America Online, CompuServe,
and Prodigy subscribers on each of those respective online
This demographic information was
obtained from the Graphic, Visualizations and Usability Center (GVU)
at Georgia Tech.