Have you ever had a friend tell you a story so outlandish you made them show you a picture before you would believe them?
If you hunt or fish, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
“You’ll never believe the size of this fish I caught!”
“It was a 10 point, looking right at me.”
You’re right, I won’t, so save us both some time and show me a picture.
One of my employees regularly exaggerates his stories and it has led many of his friends to interject with, “Pics or it didn’t happen.”
This is a phrase millennials often employ. They don’t have to convince their friends when something unbelievable happens because they can’t remember a time when they didn’t have a high-resolution camera in their pockets.
To millennials, if you don’t have an online presence, you might as well be a 15-pound fish. This is my go-to analogy to convince brands to strengthen their online presence.
If you aren’t online, you don’t exist.
Well over half of American adults have access to almost any imaginable shopping option in their pockets — readily available and easy to use without ever having to get in the car or ask mom for a ride to the store.
This isn’t just a fact about Millennials (a far higher percentage of young people use smartphones). I just took a break in the middle of the previous sentence to order a book off Amazon. That’s how fast we can find most things online — so fast it doesn’t interrupt our train of thought.
The Pew Research Center reported 90 percent of American adults owned a cell phone, 64 percent owned a smartphone, and 42 percent owned a tablet computer in January of 2014. Between 2011 and 2014, the number nearly doubled.
If Vegas will give you odds on that number increasing over the next five years, take them.
So what makes you think purchasers will have the patience to seek you out when you make it more difficult for them?
And when it comes to the next generation of consumers, you have to be ready for a digital audience. The average millennial consumer spends $2,000 each year on digital retail sites according to e-commerce solutions company PFS Web.
Even if a Millennial wants to go purchase a product from a brick and mortar store, 72 percent will shop around online for the best option first. One third rely on online media, whether it’s a review site, blog or social media, to get other opinions on the products and brands in which they’re interested.
When they aren’t shopping or purchasing online, 79 percent of millennials report finding new products and brands online.
But those of us older, more refined shoppers cannot consider ourselves excluded. Internet Retail sales hit $175 billion in 2010 (12.6 percent higher than the previous year) and were estimated to hit $279 billion in 2015, seeing about 10 percent annual growth.
No matter what you’re doing or selling, if it’s not online, you’re making it more difficult for well over half of your potential market to interact with you on their preferred terms — whether that means simply researching or actually making purchases online.
This probably isn’t news to anyone, but for some reason this isn’t always how we think about our online presence as businesses.
Just think about not being online at all to this audience. Let’s say you decided you don’t need a website because all of your work is done in person — maybe an oil and lube place, where a customer has to be present to do business with you. When a family moves to your town, needs an oil change and performs an Internet search, your business doesn’t show up. You’re outside the decision set. You’re not in the conversation. You saved some money, but your business doesn’t exist to this family.
I’m just as bad as the next business owner. I was talking to an employee earlier today about how our best work isn’t even on our online portfolio. If someone was looking at our portfolio as a part of shopping for a new agency, they would probably only think we’re as good as we were a year ago.
To the modern audience, you are who you seem to be online. If you have a website that looks like it came straight out of the 90s, then you look outdated and silly.
If you don’t appear when a potential customer searches for you online, then you don’t exist at all.