Luke Fitzpatrick is a Forbes contributor and a guest lecturer at Sydney University—in his past, he worked for startups in both South Korea and Australia.
The seniors demographic in Australia is huge; statistics show that more than one in seven people in Australia are aged 65 years and older. It’s also a demographic that’s often ignored or gets paid little attention by brands that assume they can achieve more by targeting the younger generations.
But this isn’t true at all. With a properly tailored marketing strategy, the seniors demographic can be very receptive and loyal to brands. The challenge for brands is in understanding that what motivates seniors is fundamentally different from the rest of the population, and that necessitates a change in the approach they take to marketing to them.
1. Understand that seniors are online
There’s an ongoing assumption that seniors aren’t technologically savvy and therefore they can’t be reached through digital and online marketing methods. But this isn’t true. In fact, four in five seniors use social media platforms and they spend, on average, 12 hours per week on them.
Seniors use social media to keep in touch with family and friends and to stay up-to-date on news and current affairs. This means that seniors that are online are more inclined to pay attention to what they see that many of the younger demographics, which flit through social media looking for whatever catches their eye. So, while you need to have a marketing campaign that uses multiple platforms to reach seniors (as with any demographic), digital is an important one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
And while the internet can seem daunting to some seniors, it’s important to note that migrating online can also enhance senior confidence – especially when it comes to big purchasing decisions.
For example, Jonny Sommers, founder of the Sydney-based home-improvement platform, Houseace, says that seniors often feel pressured into buying decisions over the phone or face-to-face, so there is an air of comfort with shopping around for quotes online:
“We’ve found that by enabling our senior users to generate home improvement quotes online on the Houseace platform, we’ve empowered them to make better informed buying decisions, free from the high-pressure sales tactics that, unfortunately, some home improvement contractors engage in.
Our senior users appreciate transparency in pricing–and feel much more confident picking up the phone to talk through the quote once they know how much the service will cost and whether they can actually afford it.”
2. Segment and personalize email lists
When setting up mailing lists, use A/B splits to segment the seniors into a separate mailing list. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it will help you understand what it is about your brand that appeals to seniors.
Secondly, it allows you to better target your message to the specific needs of seniors because, as you’ll see below, they do look for different things from brands and want to interact with them in a different way. Segmentation and personalization are also essential as personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.
3. Make everything easy
While two in three seniors consider themselves to be tech-savvy, a large percentage (35%) of them also find their experiences online to be more frustrating than fun. It’s important that your marketing campaign doesn’t add to their frustrations.
Make sure the information is presented clearly, and if something does catch the eye of the audience, make sure there are a few steps as possible between their decision to purchase and the completion of the purchase—the closer you can get to a one-click purchase, the better. Pay particular attention to the shopping cart experience. Statistics show that the rate of shopping cart abandonment for online brands is as high as 81.8%—you can expect that number to be even higher for seniors if the purchasing process isn’t streamlined and efficient.
4. Cut the nonsense
With all their life experience, seniors aren’t going to fall for tricks. What resonates with them is simplicity and honesty, so make sure to keep advertisements and copy to the point and informative. Minimize the hyperbole, and don’t promise something the product won’t deliver.
A good example of this done well is insurance tailored to seniors. While insurance companies targeting the young demographics focus on showing aspirational lifestyles, implying that if you sign up for any given insurance package you’ll be able to live an exciting and vibrant lifestyle, those same companies adopt a very different tone for their products that target seniors. Seniors insurance ads are no-fuss; there’s simply a warm face on the screen or page and an explanation of the specific benefits that the insurance covers.
5. Seniors value interaction
One area where marketing to the younger demographics has changed a great deal is in the way people interact with brands. It’s fine to have chatbots answer questions on a website or to set up auto-responses over social media for dealing with a millennial. But for the seniors demographic, you’ll need to have people available on the phone that they can call for service and support inquiries.
6. Use a multi-channel approach
Seniors are the ones most likely to flick through a printed catalog and purchase magazines and newspapers. Increasingly, they’re also the target demographic for free-to-air, advertising-supported TV as millennials move to paid-for, ad-free subscription services for their entertainment.
Studies show that there is a wide range of verticals where seniors comprise a lucrative percentage of the overall spending. Healthcare and pharmaceuticals are the obvious ones, but with more time on their hands, seniors are also keen on travel and dabbling in investments and housing. It’s well worth any brand’s time and effort to come up with a marketing strategy that’s specifically designed to reach, and attract, seniors.
7. Don’t treat them differently
Your tastes and interests don’t change the day you celebrate your 65th birthday. In fact, once you’ve retired, you’ve got a lot more time to enjoy the hobbies and interests that work had a pesky habit of getting in the way of. For marketers looking to reach the senior demographic, the lesson here’s very simple; don’t treat your audience as special insofar as what they want to purchase is concerned.
While seniors want the same stuff as everyone else, you do need to adjust the messaging to them. They’re less interested in consumption for the sake of consumption and want to see results of what they’re considering purchasing instead. A senior person’s buying decision is made on the basis of what the thing that they’re buying will do, so be sure to tune your message to highlight results and benefits from the project, rather than the features of the product itself.
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