Gen Xers, Yers and millennials currently make up the largest proportion of those working in the digital space, simply due to the fact that they grew up with the internet. But as a result of this, older generations are frequently ignored or discounted when advertising online.
Common misconceptions include thinking all old people are digitally challenged – in fact, in the U.S., 57 per cent of 65+s now use the internet (according to Statista). Other young marketers assume seniors never shop online – in reality, one in four mobile shoppers is now over the age of 55. Finally, there is a misguided assumption that the 50+ market is too set in its ways when it comes to new products – in actuality they are less brand loyal than millennials, since they grew up being advertised to.
The grey market therefore represents a huge and lucrative group: baby boomers in particular are 80 million strong in the U.S. and hold 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income. How can you reach this powerful segment via the online world? Read on to find out.
Older people are willing to try new products, however, they first want the brand to build their trust: educating consumers via content marketing is an effective way to do this. Seniors tend to research more extensively than younger consumers, due to the fact they often have more time on their hands, so you will want to make your content as informative and engaging as possible.
Internet banking, for example, appeals to older audiences, but many are concerned about being scammed. A great way for a bank to reassure these people would be to offer downloadable guides that teach customers the benefits of online banking, as well as how to set up an account and keep it secure.
Travel booking is another popular online activity for older generations looking for cruises or other types of leisure travel. Online booking companies would do well to create compelling content that helps older people craft their dream trip using digital tools.
Just like younger generations, seniors view the internet as a highly convenient way to shop. However, what puts many people off this activity is the lack of human interaction.
As Bhavesh Vaghela of ResponseTap explains, “the senior market cares about personalities – 36 per cent of those aged over 55 use the internet for research but prefer to talk to someone on the phone before they buy. Almost 60 per cent of those aged over 55 are more likely to return to a store or brand after speaking with them on the phone. It is therefore crucial that your senior potential customers feel that they had a good experience.”
The solution for marketers is to first of all have a toll-free number clearly visible on each page of your website. In addition, call extensions should be added to all search and display ads for mobile and desktop, with a phone-based call-to-action – you may even want to experiment with call-only mobile ads.
Although younger digital natives currently have a more positive attitude than older, less educated consumers with respect to mobile entertainment, in the UK, mobile internet usage between 2012-24 showed the fastest growth among those aged 55+.
As older generations become more comfortable with mobile devices, digital marketers need to be thinking about provide great mobile experiences. Over-70s are in fact leading the way when it comes to consuming YouTube videos via tablet and web-enabled TVs. Eight per cent claim to use an interactive TVs to access online videos, compared to just two per cent of 30-49 year olds.
You can create some truly engaging experiences with interactive TVs, which essentially beam the internet onto a giant screen on the wall, with smartphones and tablets acting as the remote. Perhaps build a few responsive rich media ads that work on much larger screens.
Luke is digital marketing executive at AccuraCast – a London-based search agency – who writes extensively about CX and trends in the search marketing industry.