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Making assumptions about an entire generation is usually inaccurate, but alas marketing tactics need to be tailored for every demographic. In this regard, one of the most challenging consumer group bases for businesses to market to is the older demographic, be they defined as baby boomers, seniors, or anyone with more candles than icing on top of their birthday cake. Why is it such a challenge?

This consumer segment was brought up on traditional advertising, including outdoor, print, radio, and TV. But now that you’ve wisely decided to replace these antiquated forms of marketing and instead spend on digital you may be wondering how to customize your strategy for the older crowd. It’s worth it after all, as they represent the fastest-growing consumer age-group in the world. Euromonitor reports that the spending power of consumers aged 60 and over will reach at least $10 trillion (USD) globally by the end of 2020. Their spending is also more resilient to events (i.e. COVID 19) as many are already living off of pensions and investments and are therefore not as concerned about losing their source of income. Even better, is that they are online and using advanced technology more than you may think. For example, smartphone ownership and usage for the age groups of 55-64, 65-74, and 75+ is 96%, 92%, and 81% respectively. The 75 and up category is especially surprising, with over 20% having social media profiles and actively viewing streaming content. These numbers will invariably grow as younger populations age.

So how to you approach this lucrative group? Carefully. More so than most because they are a savvy lot and tend to distrust marketing content even more than hip-to-be-jaded millennials. That said, some practical tips will go a long way towards getting their attention. Here they are:

4 Practical Content Marketing Tips to Engaging Older Consumers Through Digital Marketing

1. Be Direct in Your Marketing Messaging

There is no polite way to put it – this consumer base has no time for B.S. in marketing messages. Don’t use colorful language and play it too lose with semantics when delivering digital content and subsequent calls-to-action (CTA). The word “click” “is a content marketers best friend in this case, as older generations are more likely to take a suggested action such as “click to buy“, “click here to claim offer” or “click here to sign up“. Take travel companies (huge senior demographic) for example. Let’s say there is an offer on the table for a 7-day stay in Honolulu. Instead of anchoring the link to your offer in text such as “Whisk me away to paradise” you’d be much better off with “Click to claim your 7-nights in Honolulu“. Always get right to the point with this target market.

2. Provide Instruction for Claiming Offers

Don’t take this the wrong way. This consumer base does not need more instruction than younger generations because they lack cognitive facilities. This is a shrewd and experienced demographic. What they don’t have however, is patience. A lack of patience leads to a high drop-off rate in the digital purchase funnel.

When you need them to claim an offer on your website, be sure to provide detailed instruction on how to do so if they are required to take a series of steps to complete a purchase or book an appointment (etc.). These instructions can be provided via a YouTube video tutorial or infographic and possibly by providing a live chat feature on your website. Links to these instructional prompts should be clearly displayed near the CTA button or contact form.

3. Make Sure They See Themselves in Your Digital Content

Even though there is more work to do, companies have progressed quite a bit when it comes to gender and racial diversity in marketing media. Where most lag however, is with age diversity. Businesses often feature digital images and video of what they perceive to be “young and hip”, neglecting a very large consumer segment in the process. These marketing messages fall flat and can’t get up when it comes to reaching their older and often more profitable audience. If you want to engage older generations, consider them in your online content marketing plan. Use more age diverse models when choosing photos, stock imagery, and so forth, and consider “pop culture” references from both today and the past. The good news for you is that “retro” is always trending online, so content the draws upon things that were popular in the 80s, 70s, 60s, and before still connect to online consumers in 2020 and beyond. Step into the shoes of older generations and imagine what your content looks like to them, and make adjustments accordingly.

4. Make It Sharable on Social Media

Like most consumer segments, the older generation responds well to word of mouth (WOM). If they hear good things about a product or service from their social circle they are more likely to proceed with the required action (purchase, etc.).

However, there is a problem when it comes to WOM marketing and older demographics. Studies show that WOM received by both genders decreases with age, and falls substantially with those aged 65 and older. Historically there is a reason for this. Evidence indicates that many older consumers experience a degree of social isolation, which affects their consumer decision-making ability. If they aren’t out mingling with peers how are they to receive these all-important WOM marketing messages? This is where social media comes into play. Even if less time is spent amongst peers in a physical setting, social media can help them maintain those connections. And guess what – they are already very active on social networks. Data show that nearly 70% of adults between 50-64 and 40% of those above 65 use social media, with Facebook seeing more than a fair share with 41% of its active users in the 65 and up category. They are there, but it’s up to you to get social media WOM working to your benefit.

How? Make your content sharable on social media, especially Facebook. Social sharing functions must highly visible with the sharing action an instantaneous click/tap away. Provide a very clear prompt to “Share on Facebook” for all marketing messages. This should be included in your email campaigns in addition to website landing pages that drive traffic through SEO, PPC, and most certainly social networks.

Providing sharing functions is not enough in itself, however. You will want to incentivize this consumer base. They appreciate a discount as much as anyone, if not more so. Attach refer-a-friend types of bonuses and discounts that can be claimed when they share an offer on social media and watch WOM spread like wildfire. If you can identify the social media “influencers” in this age category and engage them first, you will see even greater success.

Strategis Consulting Group will help you reach the world’s fastest consumer group through smarter digital marketing. Contact us today for a consultation.