Earlier this week, eMarketer reported on the population size and online activities of "heavy users" – individuals that have accessed the Web at least 11 times in the previous seven days. According to Universal McCann, who conducted the research, as many as 100 million people fit this description in the US alone. That's one third of the population! This number, to me, is staggering. Sure, 11 times per week is par for the course for industry folks, including myself and most of the people that subscribe to this blog, but we "industry folks" don't number anywhere close to 100 million. This number means that the Web and, more importantly, online activities like instant messaging, social networking, and file sharing have long gone mainstream. And not surprisingly, online marketing spending is following the massive herd of "heavy users" as it swells in size and spends even more and more time, attention, and money online.
My favorite chartdata from the report is posted below:
The #1 online activity of "heavy users" is researching a future purchase online, an activity that is heavily – no pun intended! – facilitated by customer ratings and reviews and other forms of online word of mouth. #2 is actually purchasing online. Ditto. And #6, at an impressive 68%, is reviewing a product on a shopping or review site! So in addition to driving Web traffic and commerce, "heavy users" are an opinionated and communicative bunch as well. What a combo for marketers to address.
While devising campaigns to claim the attention and online spend of "heavy users", marketers must also address the group's substantial information, communication, and socialization needs as well. For instance, it seems logical that "heavy users" would prefer to transact on sites that offer peer reviews and other relevant forms of user-generated content, since they spend so much of their own time sharing their opinions.
Furthermore, the report states that 40% of respondents use price comparison sites, a finding that underscores the importance of a "beyond your site" strategy to customer ratings & reviews – something that Bazaarvoice is pioneering with our recent release of SyndicateVoice, which leverages two of the things that "heavy users" are most interested in – online reviews and shopping research.
In summary, the "heavy users" are big in size, busy with online activity, and will soon become the "normal users" as general Web usage and usage of social technologies/media continues to grow. As a rugged individualist, it's hard for me to say this, but marketers, you must follow the herd!