A PEW Internet & American Life Project reveald that 22% of American Seniors (65 & older and over 7 million in number) have regular access to the internet, and go online often. Seniors internet access is growing in leaps and bounds – up 15% from the PEW study just four years earlier.
And to make this group even more attractive, they tend to be more educated, and have more disposable income than the average American senior citizen. And while smaller in numbers, Canadians seniors are very similar to American internet seniors in characteristics.
So, why are they online? The Pew Study finds that both men and women, over the age of 65, use the internet to email and chat with family members, to perform online banking, to make reservations and book travel, to research products (window shop), to stay involved with their community and to shop online. They are especially interested in websites that talk about pharmaceuticals, health, travel, leisure, hobby and recreational solutions for their specific lives. So as a smart marketer, shouldn’t you design a comprehensive online marketing plan that appeals to seniors and their needs?
But, before you start devising your new Marketing plan to ‘NetNana’, there are some specific requirements and techniques to consider:
- Keep the Website Navigation Simple – make your website very easy to navigate, and try to keep the site very “flat”. Also, limit the use of complicated technology and keep the pages clean and simple. As an alternative to complicated navigation, consider N5R’s VisuWeb product, which allows seniors to watch a video segment (like watching TV), explaining your product or service. Flash also lends itself well to marketing to seniors.
- Use Large Fonts – if you’ve ever gone for dinner with grandma, you know she has difficulty seeing even a restaurant menu! Help her out by developing your site with larger-than-usual fonts, limit the amount of text on each page and build in a feature that allows her to adjust the font, according to her eyesite. Seniors love the written word – especially when they can see it.
- Explain Your Web Functionality with Action Words – for example, if you wanted your senior audience to watch a VisuWeb video segment, you would use an action button titled “Play Video”. Use action words to direct seniors all the way through your site, for maximum impact.
- Make linkable image-areas larger – if you have clickable graphics on your website, make the clickable area around the image larger, so shaky hands and weak eyes can click-through on the first attempt. Also, if your product is complex or technical give seniors additional links to more information sources in a separate browser window.
- Use images & content representative of the target market – for instance, try to avoid using trendy words and only use graphics that are relevant and that “speak to” seniors. How about going the nostalgia route when targeting seniors? For example, adding audio functionality to your site with an oldtimer’s song will encourage seniors to linger and enjoy their pleasant web experience.
- Use testimonials – nothing says “CREDIBILITY” more to seniors than real testimonials from other real seniors. Just be sure to use real testimonials from real seniors, that these testimonials are verifiable and that they are sincere. Also, be sure to refresh your testimonial content often to add credibility.
- Prominently display internet privacy rights and your site security policies – seniors are wary of the inaccuracies of information online and are nervous about identity fraud and misrepresentations on the ‘net. Be honest and upfront with your seniors and you will develop the trust needed for seniors to use your site.
- Give the Web Some Personification – in the end, you want a loyal customer – and the best way to get loyalty from a senior is to develop a two-way interaction with them. Give them 1-800 numbers so they talk with someone from your company. Ask them what they think (they love to be heard). Be honest and personable and you will develop a strong bond between your company and its target audience.
Growth of the senior generation shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. And as the baby boomer generation enters the retirement stage (you know, current senior level managers), online marketing strategies will become a necessary component to your marketing mix. But make sure your online marketing plan to seniors incorporates the above tactics to ensure a successful campaign.