How to market

How to Market to Seniors: Digital Marketing Agency Reveals All

Since launching a senior’s finance business in 2006 and then a specialist digital agency in 2014, it’s safe to say we’ve learnt a lot about how to market to seniors.

Before we get into the specifics, it’s important to realise the scale of the seniors market and it’s projected growth. Check out these numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

Since its inception in 2014, our Australian digital marketing agency WebBuzz, has helped dozens of clients reach consumers in the retiree or senior’s market. These businesses have come from industries as diverse as Aged Care, Mortgages, Fintech, Lending, and Financial Planning, Legal services and Healthcare.

I got started with the senior’s demographic with the launch of my first business, Seniors First, in 2006. Back then I was desperate to learn how to connect, at scale, with older customers. I really wanted to understand the psychology of the senior consumer. If there was a marketing channel or event that could help me reach large groups of over 60s, you can be sure we tried it!

Here’s just a few seniors marketing activities we tested:

  • Seniors Card
  • Seniors Expo
  • Yellow Pages
  • Direct Mail
  • AM Radio
  • Seminars
  • National Seniors Advertising

Although these channels still have their place, these days nothing beats digital. It turns out that in many respects Australian seniors are not that different from other demographics – they’re now spending a huge amounts of their time online.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), at least 79% of older Australians have accessed the internet at some point in their lives, and 5 out of 10 Australian seniors are going online three or more times a day.

So yes, online marketing to seniors is obvious, but you need to hit certain parameters to get it right.

Here are some key things you should consider adding to your marketing strategy to effectively reach the older demographic in Australia.

Mind Your Language When Marketing To Seniors

Using the right language is core when it comes to marketing to any demographic.

If you want to reach out to this age group, don’t use internet slang, trendy language, or anything millennial!

This isn’t a licence to be boring. You can still come up with clever campaigns.
But when it comes to how to market to seniors, just avoid using YOLO, SHOOKT, or FOMO. And please, don’t call them GOAT even if you mean that they are the ‘Greatest Of All Time.’

Unlike marketing to younger demographics, seniors are not drawn by internet acronyms, slang or jargon.

CASE STUDY: Another point with marketing to older people is the question of how we refer to them. In this article from the New York Times, the author argues that seniors don’t want to be called elderly, and instead they prefer being called older adults or seniors.

KEY TAKE-AWAY: Really get to know your customers by developing ‘customer personas’. This will serve as a blue-print in formulating a concise marketing strategy.

Personalise the Experience

With the rise of AI technology, Australian businesses are starting to use applications such as chatbots to automate their customer relations. Big brands such as Jetstar, Domino’s Pizza, NIB Health Funds are now using virtual assistants to engage with their customers.

Even Australian banks are using chatbots: AMP has Rosie, CBA has Ceba, NAB has “digital virtual banker”, and UBank has RoboChat. So too Government agencies such as IP Australia and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Leading Australian universities are also not immune to the trend: University of Canberra, Deakin University, and the University of Adelaide are all jumping on this bandwagon.

How useful are chatbots anyway? In our experience many seniors value good old fashioned customer service by actual people. Remember seniors grew up in a different version of the country than the one we now inhabit. You may find that some of the old analogue channels like the telephone work better for them.

CASE STUDY: Retirement Essentials is a fintech service that helps Australian senior citizens apply for the pension, thus avoiding a frustrating process provided by the government, for a small fee.
While the company is using technology to assess the needs of its clients, it is still using good ol’ local phone-based customer service.

KEY TAKE-AWAY: Find a balance between using the latest tech and providing personalised customer service.

Seniors Can Decide For Themselves

There are usually only a small portion of seniors that aren’t making their own purchasing decisions. Of course, many are assisted by their children or younger relatives, but for the most part seniors themselves are still the decision makers. Some may also have physical or technological limitations due to old age, but they are not helpless. Most Australian seniors are healthy adults who are still very much engaged in issues that affect their quality of life.

The point here is to remember to frame your message directly to seniors and not to the younger generation of their children. Developing some content aimed at their caregivers or children is okay, but should be secondary. When looking out for their older parents their children can often become responsive to the messaging aimed at their elderly parents as a matter of course.

CASE STUDY: Seniors First is a leading reverse mortgage broker in Australia. In 2014, it did a re-launch with a fresh brand to reposition as the preferred online channel for equity release finance.
As part of its marketing strategy, the company focused its message on Australian seniors. Its website, blog and free guide were all directed towards educating seniors about its reverse mortgage products and services.

KEY TAKE-AWAY: Make sure that your marketing content aligns to your brand values, and that it’s developed with clear and measurable goals.

seniors blog post screenshot

There is always plenty in the news to write about when it comes to seniors marketing

Remember to KISS (Keep It Simple for Seniors)

Australian seniors didn’t grow up with the Internet and smartphones, so asking them to perform several actions on a web page might mean you stand to lose a chunk of would-be customers if the general onsite customer journey is not kept simple and straight-forward.

The beauty here is that keeping it simple works for all demographics and can only improve your conversion rates for everyone, regardless of your market.

Take note that the average attention span on a website is now is only 8.5 seconds. So you need to make sure that your website or app is easy to use so visitors don’t get frustrated and leave.

CASE STUDY: Heartland Seniors Finance (HSF) is a leading lender for reverse mortgages in Australia. It has helped over 17,000 Australian seniors release their home equity. In late 2015, HSF engaged WebBuzz to work on its digital marketing strategy, which included design work to make its website clean and easy to use. The strategy resulted in 873% uplift in organic website visits, and other significant performance improvements.

The Heartland Seniors Finance homepage

The homepage dropdown was a significant UX improvement on the orginal homepage

KEY TAKE-AWAY: If you’ve developed an amazing product or service for Australian seniors but the experience is complicated, you need to go back to the basics. Among other things, engaging a digital marketing agency can help you simplify the process of delivering value to your customers.

How to market to seniors key insight: provide value

Seniors are good online. They can be quite willing to fill out a daunting web form that a younger cohort wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. But you can boost the response rate from seniors online even further when you provide them with a ‘free gift’. Try something with perceived inherent value.

There are many things you can offer here and it all falls under the banner of lead generation. The most common online freebie is an eBook or whitepaper (you will have certainly seen these on your travels). Contrary to some opinion eBooks still work, especially in the seniors market. I think people just like free stuff. All you need to do is make it valuable to your visitors. Often that simply means providing a packaged up version of your service offering in the PDF download. Website users are often busy and don’t have the time to read your service pages. Some will be happy to provide their name and email in exchange for exactly what they are looking for.

Our basic approach to seniors marketing is to focus on their strengths and provide useful information that will empower them to make better life decisions.

CASE STUDY: Below are some of the eBooks Webbuzz have created to generate leads in the seniors market for our clients.

Seniors lead generation ebooks developed by Webbuzz

KEY TAKE-AWAY: Even with the explosion of video and audio content online, most seniors still love to read. Publishing an ebook will not only allow you answer your website visitors’ most pressing questions. It can also position your business as a trusted brand in the seniors space.

BONUS TREAT: The best advertising campaigns show how to market to senior citizens.

As a reward for making this far, we are leaving you with a bit of inspiration – the best ever video advertising campaigns featuring seniors.

WebBuzz has helped many Australian brands to effectively reach out to the older demographics, so if you need help with your marketing campaign, call us for a chat: 1300 41 00 81.

Cheers, Darren

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