The folks at MediaPost Publications maintain a number of blogs and email newsletters, many of which I subscribe to and read religiously. One such blog is Email Insider, which you can read and subscribe to here.
Today I received in my inbox a very interesting Email Insider blog post giving tips for effectively using online new media tactics to reach the senior market. Growing numbers of people in this market are online and can be reached through new media, and we definitely want to reach them since, according to this blog, “between 2005 and 2030, the senior market will grow to over 95 million people,” and those 95 million folks “control over 70% of disposable income and currently spend over $7 billion online a year.”
So how do we effectively reach the senior market online? The author of the Email Insider blog, Whitney Hutchinson, gives some great tips, which I’ve included below (italicized). Hope they’re as helpful and thought-provoking to you as they were to me!
Offer special discounts. Seniors are often on a fixed income and, especially now, may need a bit more incentive to act. Make special offers specifically to this segment — test and track to see if this makes an impact.
I underscore this recommendation wholeheartedly; there is nothing that gets people’s attention faster than a discount. In fact, while it may not be right for everyone all the time, the conventional wisdom of offering discounts and coupons doesn’t just apply to seniors, either.
Adjust creative. Think about your creative from the perspective of an older consumer. Is your font large enough to be easily read? Are you ensuring that calls to action are obvious, in plain sight, not diminished by overly stylized creative? Are you using images of young hipsters — or more mature, responsible-looking people? Make sure that users feel that they can relate to the products, services and consumers depicted.
I’ll call attention to the bit about font size because it’s something we as an agency wrestle with often. From business cards to Websites, what’s aesthetically pleasing for the design isn’t always best for a senior audience. The point is–if your target audience can’t read it, it’s no good. So consider who will be reading your creative when designing it.
Provide clear, step-by-step directions on how to purchase. We may be desensitized to the complications that some registration and/or purchasing processes possess. Think about it from the perspective of a parent or grandparent. Is the process intuitive? Is it transparent? Is it simple?
Yes, yes, yes! Excellent advice! For generations that have grown up with technology, few instructions are necessary. For seniors, the presence of directions (or lack thereof) can make or break the sale.
Offer purchasing options in more traditional channels. Many older consumers are skeptical of the Internet and specifically of digital purchasing channels. They are hesitant to share personal information, especially credit card numbers. Give them other purchasing channel options — a toll-free number, an in-store coupon — anything that will allow them to convert somewhere else, if they are nervous about the digital channel.
This piece of advice can be applied to all target audiences. The moral here–give people choices and options so that they are in control, and they’ll be more likely to buy.
Provide phone numbers for questions/follow-up. In the same vein, sometimes consumers can get confused, may have questions or need further information before they purchase. Give them a toll-free number they can call for help. Again, the key is to allow them to engage with you in the channel in which they are most comfortable.
Even the most Web-savvy folks get annoyed when email or online support is the only way to get help. Give me a support phone number, please! All of us, seniors included, will thank you.
Establish credibility and respect privacy. It’s vital that you establish credibility and respect with this audience segment. If they don’t know you, trust you or like you, they won’t do business with you and they certainly won’t refer you to their friends or family. Make this a key tenet for your dealings with them — establish yourself as a trustworthy business, and then do exactly what you say you’re going to do.
Seniors can often be suspicious of the Web. To gain their trust is tough. To lose it, easy. Be smart.
Hold back on the hype. Stick to the facts. Be transparent in your dealings with this consumer group and don’t over-hype. This is an incredibly smart, mature and rational demographic. Give them what they want, and don’t try to sell them on something they’ll see right through.
In the world of Web 2.0, transparency is becoming more and more important. Just think of how often President Obama mentions it.