The Hostway Blog

Why People Go Online

By Hostway

Segmenting customers by demographics has become second nature to any small business owner whether they realize it or not. If you're running a retail store, you know what area most of your customers live in, how old they are, etc. and tailor your products and services to them. But a recent, and quarterly updated study by the public relations company Ruder Finn adds a new twist to customer segmentation in the online world--segmenting customers by intent.

The company created an interactive tool that maps the reasons why people go online and allows you to narrow the data down from all customers to just men, women and by age group.

Intent as Strategy

One of the interesting findings of the study is that most people do not go online to shop. Only 33% of respondents said they go online to buy something and 28% said they go online to compare products or services. That may seem like bad news to a small business trying to drive traffic to its Web site. But what it really suggests is a shift in strategy for your Web site. If simply selling your product isn't drawing visitors, maybe addressing people's true intent can drive traffic.

Here are some ideas:

  • Learn
    The good news is that 96% of people go online to learn. That means you can attract people to your Web site with good educational information about your industry.
  • Have Fun
    Consider that 100% of people said they go online to pass time. If it fits your business image, why not create an interactive game, funny video or cool Flash animation on your Web site to draw visitors and increase exposure to your brand?
  • Socialize
    Finally, 92% of respondents said they go online to socialize. Make sure your business has a Facebook page and Twitter account with links to your Web site.

The great thing about Ruder Finn's tool is that it's updated quarterly. So if you're not ready to make any change now, check back when you are.