Older generations are often misunderstood or unfairly stereotyped by marketers, especially when it comes to the online world. This seems like a huge missed opportunity considering the size and wealth of the grey market, so let’s dispel some of the myths:
- Firstly, they are not all digitally-challenged technophobes – in the US, 57 percent of 65+s now use the internet (according to Statista), and in the UK, 55+s account for more than 20 percent of all people who go online.
- Seniors are also not out of touch with the modern phenomenon of internet shopping – 50 percent of the 55+ age group in the UK are comfortable with purchasing online, and one in four mobile shoppers in the USA is now over the age of 55.
- Finally, older people are not a homogenous group – they encompass consumers from all walks of life who just happen to be over a certain age. Today’s ‘baby-boomer’ generation, in particular, are an incredibly diverse and affluent group, having reaped the benefits of high social mobility, rising property values and good pensions (they are also used to being marketed to, having grown up with the advertising industry).
Understanding how to attract and retain these people – who don’t fit a stereotype, and who are becoming just as comfortable around modern technology as their younger counterparts – is clearly no simple task. Here are a few tried and tested methods for ensuring you are able to make the right impression online.
Create Online Campaigns That Drive Phone Calls
Just like younger generations, seniors view the internet as a highly convenient way to shop. Online grocery shopping, for example, is especially useful for older people who might find it difficult to get to a supermarket by themselves.
But what puts many people off this activity is the lack of social interaction – something that older people value greatly about the in-store experience. Research from ResponseTap has shown that 41 per cent of those aged over 55 use the internet for research, but say they prefer to talk to someone on the phone before purchasing; this is an important consideration when two thirds of retail spending growth over the next ten years is expected to come from this age group.
Offering high quality customer service over the phone is the next best thing for those brands who want to drive brand loyalty amongst the older generations. Ecommerce may offer convenience, but being able to speak to an actual person during the purchasing journey is a key driver among older shoppers who still value the personal touch in an age of retail technology.
Use Content Marketing to Educate and Entertain
Older people take their time to research products and services, hence why content marketing needs to be an important part of your inbound strategy. They want to truly get to know your brand before they make a purchase or investment.
Internet banking, for example, is one of the main categories in which older generations are migrating online. The issue for many internet newbies, however, is that they are very apprehensive when it comes to online scams and security.
In order to combat this, Barclays, a UK bank, decided to offer downloadable guides that taught their customers the benefits of online banking and how to set up a secure account. This made the bank more personable in the eyes of seniors, whilst giving Barclays the opportunity to teach five million people how to do online banking – potentially generating millions in revenue.
Barclays continue to demonstrate their value to older customers online, launching a campaign in 2013 that asked customers to submit and share ideas for improving their services. This was one of the banner ads from the campaign:
Make Your Brand Message Resonate Across Devices
Not only are more old people using desktop computers to get online, but they are also becoming familiar with smartphones and tablets. In fact, mobile internet adoption has shown the fastest growth among those aged 55+ in the past two years, as younger groups hit saturation levels.
As older generations tend to research extensively across multiple devices before making a purchase, digital marketers need to be thinking about how to provide a personalized, omnichannel experience for these users.
Here’s an example of an ideal purchase path that connects touchpoints and offers a seamless brand experience:
An elderly customer begins researching holiday ideas online and discovers your brand via a great piece of content (e.g. a blog post). A couple of days later they decide to browse hotel reviews on their tablet, and a banner ad pops up with a personalized offer pulling them back to your website. Instead, they decide to click on the phone icon and speak to a sales rep, who is fully prepared to answer all their questions. As a result of receiving excellent customer service, they purchase a package deal over the phone with confidence.
Omnichannel is the modern grail of marketing automation and is a way to truly impress your multichannel customers, regardless of their age.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community