Stop Selling – Try Helping

Have you ever stopped to think about how your audience spends their time online and how much of their attention is focused on shopping? 

According to the 2020 Global Digital trends report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, the average adult human now spends 6 hours and 43 minutes a day online – that’s over 100 days per year! Clearly the internet and digital media account for an enormous share of where our target audiences attention is focused but have you ever stopped to think about how your audience spends their time online and how much of their attention is focused on shopping?

Lori Lewis (@lorilewis) and Chadd Calahan’s (@officiallychad) Internet Minute infographic provides a great illustration of how we spend our collective time during the hours we are connected to the internet. It’s like a pie chart of your target audiences attention during those 100 days when they are connected online.

According Lori and Chadd’s model over $1M is transacted online every 60 seconds – that’s a lot! Online shopping is clearly an important part of what we do online. 

Buying stuff online is something that we can obviously do today that we couldn’t do before the internet – and because we now do the majority of our online buying on smartphones that we weren’t even carrying around with us a little more than 10 years ago, it’s all the more noticeable – so much so that it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that shopping accounts for most of the time we spend online.

Think of the 200 or so hours you spent online last month – what percentage of that time was spent engaged in activities that were in any way related to buying stuff? This is a question I often ask my clients or when I’m delivering group digital marketing workshops. I always get a spread of answers – anywhere as low as 10-15% all the way up to as high as over 80% and it tends to average out at around 50%. But just look at all the other things that happen in 60 seconds of the internet.

We use the internet as an information tool – 4.1 million Google searches and 4.7 million Youtube videos viewed… every… single… minute! We use it as a social tool – with almost 2M interactions on Facebook and Instagram alone. A communications tool – 59 million instant messages and 190 million emails sent; an entertainment tool – all those hours binge watching the crown on Netflix count too – and even a relationship tool – with 1.6 million swipes on Tinder every 60 seconds.

The truth is that shopping related activities probably account for less than 10% of the total amount of time we spend online and here’s the kicker…

If the busy digital citizens – whose attention and trust you crave – spend less than 10% of their time online thinking about buying stuff in general… what percentage of their time do you think they spend thinking about – or receptive to hearing about – the things you sell?

The answer is a fraction of a fraction of a percent.

One of the biggest mistakes we all make with our digital marketing is that we sell too much. If the main thing you are talking about with your digital marketing is how great your products and services are the best case scenario is that you will fail to engage with your audience 99.999999% of the time – and the worst case scenario is quite a bit worse than that.

The people you are trying to reach live in a hectic world where there is always too much to do and not enough time to do it. They are just trying to get through their day and achieve the things that are most important to them so unless your marketing offers something of genuine value that helps them in some unique way you are at best irrelevant and at worst an annoyance. 

Stop selling. Try helping.

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