Research reveals ‘Digital State of the Midwest’

Feb. 20, 2018

This piece is presented by Click Rain.

The key to marketing is knowing your audience. But too often, we rely on national data and coastal trends to make decisions here in the Midwest. How well do we really know our customers?

In November, Click Rain conducted a landmark survey of 1,000 people in the upper Midwest to get real data from real people in our region. We wanted to find out how our audience uses technology in their daily lives and what trends are going to shape the future of marketing.

Some of our findings confirmed the traditional marketing wisdom, but plenty of data surprised us. We’re sharing a few of our interesting findings here, along with insights for how businesses should react.

Mobile trends

It was no surprise to see the dominance of mobile devices in people’s day-to-day lives. Eight in 10 people in our region regularly use a smartphone, compared to 77 percent of people using a computer and 45 percent of people using a tablet.

Most people obviously use multiple devices in a day, but the number of “mobile-only consumers” is on the rise. Eleven percent of people in our region don’t have access to a desktop, laptop or tablet device, and are interacting with your business only on a smartphone. As you might expect, that trend is increased by the younger generations, with 16 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds falling into the “mobile-only” category. Make sure that your 2018 marketing strategy can target this growing group.

Voice search

Along with growth in mobile device usage, we also saw a small but significant group that uses smart home speakers, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Seven percent of people in our region use these speakers regularly in their homes.

These combined device trends correlate with a growing use of voice search. Our study found that 12 percent of all age groups in our region — and 16 percent of millennials — use voice search daily. Ensure that your website is visible for these voice search trends by following the tips in this video.

Multichannel content

Our survey asked several questions about content preferences of people in our region. Would people rather interact with your business through articles, social media, video or other content types?

Sixty-five percent of Midwesterners enjoy reading short articles, compared to 59 percent for social media and 57 percent for video. But age is a strong factor in these trends. All age groups indicated an affinity for reading short articles online, but videos skewed heavily younger. Seventy-seven percent of 18- to 34-year-olds like watching online video, compared to 33 percent of those 55 and older.

This video trend is more evident in another question. We asked how often respondents watched videos on YouTube or other video platforms. More than 65 percent of millennials indicated that they watch YouTube multiple times per week or more. Does your 2018 content strategy account for the differing needs of these separate audiences?

Reputation management

Customer feedback can come in a variety of channels, via phone, email or social media. But that’s only a portion of what people are saying about your company. What about all the feedback that you can’t see directly, like customer reviews, forum posts and personal recommendations?

In our region, your customers are 55 percent more likely to talk about your business online than to talk directly to your business. What’s your strategy to track the online discussion about your brand?

One interesting finding from this part of the study concerns online reviews. Twenty-nine percent of the people in our region have left an online review about a business in the past year. What’s even more interesting are the reasons why people are leaving reviews.

Three out of four people who have left a review said that they are likely to leave the review after a good experience. This compares to 53 percent who leave a review after a bad experience. Your customers want to give you good reviews, but it’s your job to make it easy for them. Claim your Google My Business listing and encourage your customers to return a positive experience with a positive review.

Ad blocking

One of the most surprising findings from our survey concerned the use of browser extensions to block ads across the web. In our region, 38 percent of respondents indicated using an ad blocker on at least one device. This crossed gender, age, income and education boundaries — ad blocking is not limited to one demographic but rather extends to everyone.

If more than one-third of your audience can’t see your paid media, the best counter is to focus on your other digital efforts. Consider the budget you are putting toward your website, your content strategy and your search engine optimization — channels that are not affected by ad blockers. No matter what happens with technology, you will never go wrong investing in yourself.

Go deeper with the data

With 1,000 individual responses and more than 154,000 data points, we learned a lot more from this study. If you’re interested in the detailed insights gained from our survey, sign up to receive the Digital State of the Midwest here.

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Research reveals ‘Digital State of the Midwest’

The key to marketing is knowing your audience. But too often, we rely on national data and coastal trends to make decisions here in the Midwest. This new survey from Click Rain will go a long way in changing that.

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