Every online business needs to know who its target audience is. More importantly, they need to know where they are and how best to reach them. We’re all aware that more and more people are now accessing the internet on the go, as it were, and checking out their favourite brands and websites via mobile phone data connections. The only problem has been that until now it’s been impossible to put an exact figure on these numbers. Well, the Office for National Statistics has now put a figure on this, and produced a survey which has found that nearly half of the UK adult population are accessing the internet on a daily basis via their mobiles. This will indeed be encouraging news for every business involved in internet marketing, or mobile website design.
45 percent of the 1800 random people surveyed stated that they used mobile internet services whilst they were out and about and never liked to be too far away from the brands and businesses that mattered to them most. These figures demonstrate a dramatic increase over the preceding 12 month period: statistics for 2010 show the figure to be just over 31 percent for the year. This increase should come as welcome news to internet marketers. They now know their users are available at all times of the day, not just peak periods. As you would probably expect the most rapid rate of rise was seen in the 16 to 24-year-old age group. The figures also show that domestic internet usage also grew to 77 percent of all households, though the ONS points out that that rate of growth was significantly lower at a mere 4 percent, which represented the slowest rate of growth since 2006.
Of the remaining 23 percent without internet access, 50 percent claimed that they didn’t need it and were therefore not interested. This statement will make worrying reading for many businesses and also the government which has stated publicly its desire to get everyone online, particularly the 65+ age group. So fierce is this determination in fact, that it’s appointed the former dot-com entrepreneur, Martha Lane-Fox to spearhead its digital champions network, Raceonline2012, in a bid to increase internet uptake amongst the elderly.
As for the mobile revolution, well it continues to carry all before it. 3G has certainly helped in this by making internet access quicker and more effective, as has the incorporation of applications like AJAX into web designs. However, the ONS was keen to point out that these mobile connections were not to be taken in isolation: most people accessing the internet via mobiles were already connected online at home. They simply found mobile access more convenient and useful. 71 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old age group stated they used mobile broadband all the time: unfortunately this figure was significantly lower for the 65 +age group targeted by the Race Online programme. Only 8 percent of this age group used mobile broadband. The ONS also found that there had been a dramatic, 7-fold increase in the use of wifi hotspots, suggesting that the rise of 3G has done little to slow down the demand for free and paid-for wireless access.
So what’s the significance of these latest figures for businesses and internet marketing? Well, it’s simply this. Target audiences are now willing and able to be reached at any time. Users are accessing information 24/7, and expect to find the information they’re looking for instantly. It’s therefore incumbent on businesses to provide this information, and to capitalise on the mobile revolution. Those that don’t will reap the consequences and fall further and further behind their competitors.