Natives or Immigrants? Your Digital Target Market

Martin Hansen-Lennox

Published Fri 23 May by Martin Hansen-Lennox in Perfecting Your Website's Design

Looking at different perspectives of target audiences from varying technological backgrounds, this article shows you how to design your website to appeal to people across the spectrum

For your web presence to have any significant impact, you first need to understand your target audience. It might take some time to research, but it will be worth it in terms of SEO, making sure you reach the right audience, in the right way.

So, Who Are Your Target Audience?

Are they natives to the world of digital technology or are they digital immigrants? And how can you and your web presence engage them by giving them what they need?

Who Are Digital Natives?

  • The term digital natives was coined in 2001. It refers to those who have grown up with digital technology being part of their landscape and their learning
  • They learn and communicate through digital technology such as mobile phones, gaming and social media
  • Though some define digital natives as those born since 1980, we would argue that people of any age can be digital natives. Culture, economic status and subtle individual differences can influence a person’s status as a digital native or an immigrant
  • But one thing is for certain: whatever age they are, digital natives are the biggest influencers online today. So ignore them at your peril!

How Can Your Web Presence Please Digital Natives?

  • Digital natives learn through multi-media in a non-linear way. Your content should be a combination of videos, audio podcasts, social media posts, visuals and text
  • Go easy on the text: punctuate your articles with images and bullet points so they can be scan-read easily. Leave clear white space to give readers a natural pause as they read
  • Join their community: interact and involve them. As well as providing information, ask them questions and get their feedback
  • Make sure your web presence is accessible via mobile phones and tablets as well as the traditional PC

Who Are Digital Immigrants?

  • Some define digital immigrants as those born before 1980 but we do not believe it is as simple or exclusive as that
  • Digital immigrants are those who dabble in digital technology and adapt to it, but it is not their first port of call
  • They may have social media profiles but they are updated sporadically

How Can Your Web Presence Please Digital Immigrants?

  • Make sure your content follows a linear sequence and teaches them something/gives them a useful tool
  • Offer one to one services: make them feel valued and individual, not just a cog in a wheel. You could offer them a free exclusive newsletter or e book, both of which are traditional methods of communication with which they are familiar
  • Respect their privacy and don’t be over-familiar: your content should be approachable and friendly in tone but don’t overstep the mark in terms of aggressive advertising or marketing or asking for too much personal information to sign up/subscribe
  • Make your site accessible: Don’t make the mistake of restricting your online presence to social media sites. This will exclude those who do not use these platforms

But What if My Target Audience Consists of Both Natives and Immigrants?

We thought you’d ask this, so here’s an answer we made earlier! It’s common sense, after all: if your target audience is a combination of natives and immigrants, make sure your approach covers all bases. Be holistic and zen about it!

Approach the task with a wide-angled view: incorporate traditional methods of communication into emerging online trends. Have a presence on social media, post videos, send free e books to your valued and loyal subscribers, and don’t forget to keep giving. Natives or immigrants, we all love something that’s free!

What do you think? Use our comments section below to share your ideas and suggestions.

Want to ask us anything, about the issues raised in this article, or anything else web-related? Visit our ask an expert page!

2 Comments on Natives or Immigrants? Your Digital Target Market

  • Left at 11:23 Paul Bullock

    Being a digital immigrant doesn't stop you from coming up to speed with and even surpassing digital natives when it comes to technology.

  • Left at 11:25 Jeanette Helen Wilson

    Yes I agree, old dogs can definitely be taught new tricks! It just takes a little willingness!

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