Marketers put a lot of thought into recognizing the best audiences to reach and understanding what appeals to them. Yet many are overlooking a huge audience with significant buying power: seniors.
The senior population is growing at a rapid pace. People over 65 currently make up an estimated 8.5 percent of the world’s population and that percentage has been on an upward trajectory for years.
Via The World Bank
Not only are the numbers significant, but seniors also have more money to spend than many other demographic groups. Bloomberg predicts that by the end of this decade, seniors will have $15 trillion in buying power, a significant increase from the $8 trillion they had in 2010. Clearly, seniors aren’t an audience you want to overlook.
Inbound marketers may hesitate to put emphasis on the senior market due to the common perception that seniors simply aren’t online as much as other demographics. Tactics like blogs, digital assets and downloads would be lost on an audience that doesn’t go online much to begin with.
Seniors are spending time online, though. They aren’t quite as tethered to the internet as their kids and grandkids, but seniors are taking advantage of the web’s many benefits.
In a 2014 survey, 59 percent of seniors said they go online. But when you look at seniors in the 65 to 75 age range, the numbers are much higher, suggesting that we can count on senior internet use to grow considerably with each coming year.
The numbers of smartphone adoption are lower; 27 percent of seniors surveyed said they had a smartphone in 2015. But for a population block that huge, 27 percent is still a lot of people. The seniors who have smartphones like them—82 percent said they found them freeing—so we can presume their phones get some real use.
And busting even more stereotypes, almost half of seniors who use the internet are active on at least one social media site, drastically increasing opportunities to reach a senior audience.
All that adds up to inbound marketing having real possibilities for reaching the senior market.
As with all other demographic groups, seniors aren’t a homogenous unit. You need to put some work into figuring out which seniors are most likely to be a good fit for your product. A company that sells an app that helps you track your exercise routine could find a lot of value in marketing to active 65-year-old women who live in the city and regularly go to spin and yoga classes, but get little benefit from focusing on 85-year-olds in a nursing home who have mobility issues that make exercise difficult.
You’ll likely benefit from creating several personas within the senior demographic so you can craft unique approaches to each. There are so many smaller demographics within the larger senior demographic that getting specific can pay off here.
While a bad website or product design will lose you customers in any demographic, you should be thinking about some specific design issues when designing for seniors. Larger fonts will make it easier for seniors to read text. Colors that provide a higher contrast will make it easier for them to see and follow what they’re looking at.
If you create video content aimed at seniors, it’s important to include captions or a transcript for those with hearing issues. And when it comes to mobile design, seniors are, if anything, more likely than younger people to get annoyed at buttons that are too small or pop-up ads that are hard to close (although frankly, that annoys everyone).
Seniors typically will respond best to the simplest explanation. A lot of complicated features or instructions will merely serve to frustrate. Boil the benefits of your product down to a simple message. Make your content straightforward and easy to understand.
Also, avoid industry jargon and modern slang. Stick with widely understood language so you don’t risk losing your audience. If there’s a chance your average senior would have to Google a term you’re using, find a more accessible way to say it.
While seniors haven’t typically been top of mind for most inbound marketers, in some ways inbound makes perfect sense as a way to reach them. The goal of inbound marketing is establishing long-term relationships with your prospects by building trust and providing value. That aligns well with the values of many seniors and is an approach they should have no trouble appreciating, but only if marketers include them in their inbound marketing strategies.