Digitally Connecting with Tech-Savvy Seniors

by Katy Mena-Berkley, Copywriter - 11/15/17

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When building your digital marketing campaigns, don’t discount seniors.

As you create your digital campaign, it can be tempting to ignore the senior demographic. After all, the stereotypical senior doesn’t own a computer or a smartphone and doesn’t know how to use the internet, right? These generalizations couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to Pew Research, about 67 percent of those age 65 and older use the internet—a surge from 2000 when only about 14 percent had the ability to go online. Today, an estimated 40 percent of seniors own smartphones—a number that has more than doubled since 2013.

Reaching the Tech-Savvy

It’s always a mistake to overlook demographic differences in your target audience. For the age group of 65 to 85, you’re working with twenty years of variety. According to the Pew survey, the seniors most inclined to utilize digital technology tend to be:

  • affluent — 94 percent of seniors making more than $75K a year were regular internet users, and 81 percent of them had a smartphone
  • educated — 92 percent of college-educated seniors used the internet, with 65 percent of them owning smartphones
  • younger — 75 percent of seniors under 75 regularly used the internet, compared to 44 percent of those over 80 (still nearly half!)

The older seniors with lower income levels and levels of education are less likely to be comfortable with computers, smartphones, and tablets, and they may not have the skill set they need to find medical information, make appointments, or refill prescriptions. To reach your entire audience, you’ll want to use a combination of print, digital and broadcast media.

5 Ways to Connect with Your Older Audience

Even though those age 65 and older make up only 13 percent of the population, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reports that this group was responsible for about 34 percent of all healthcare expenditures in 2012.

Connect with this profitable population with these five tips:

  1. Understand their needs. As you market online to seniors, focus on the life goals you’re helping them achieve. The benefits of a joint replacement program, for instance, allow your patients to painlessly travel, push a grandchild in a stroller or have the ability to remain in their homes independently.
  2. Make the experience personable. While today’s seniors have adapted to tremendous change in the digital age, they still remember a time when customer service was king. Touch on the one-on-one relationships they can develop with physicians and office staff, and emphasize any opportunity they have to bond with others in the same situation—whether that’s through a joint camp program, a support group or a healthy cooking class. They’ll also benefit from patient testimonials.
  3. Have the right tone—both in words and images. When you’re trying to reach seniors, don’t pretend like they are all wrinkle-free with beautifully coiffed silver hair—as many of the people featured in stock images are. Instead, use images that accurately portray your audience. The words you use matter, too. Avoid slang and jargon that they wouldn’t hear in daily life.
  4. Acknowledge their independence. Seniors don’t want to seem helpless, so don’t include unnecessary digital components that will make them ask for help. While you might think that a hamburger menu is an easy way to clean up the screen, people who aren’t as familiar with websites don’t know that it’s a drop-down menu. You might also think QR codes or apps provide a great user experience, but a senior who has to ask a child or grandchild how to use one might find it degrading. Provide them with information they need to make their decisions without consulting loved ones.
  5. Keep it positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 32 percent of seniors ages 65 to 74 will still be in the workforce by 2022, so this population is a contributing part of society. Actively communicate with seniors in a positive way, and help them feel like they’re a valued audience.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Audience Segmentation & Targeting, Healthcare Industry Insights & Trends

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