The idea of older people being mystified by the internet is long gone. Despite this, many brands and businesses still haven’t reacted to this growing audience of web-savvy people who are researching ideas and engaging with brands and each other online.
In fact, recent research conducted by SunLife has revealed that 59% of over-50s feel that brands aren't interested in them, illustrating a remarkable disconnect between how over 50s feel about their age and how much interest marketing communities are taking in them. With the over 50s now representing over a third of the UK's total population, there is an obvious opportunity for brands to target this crucial market.
As mature market specialists, we understand how digital marketing can deliver real results to businesses with an over 50s majority audience demographic. If you’re starting from the beginning and are thinking about which digital marketing channels are right for you, read on.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the art of improving your website to rank higher in search engine results for certain queries relating to your business. For instance, you may be a specialist provider of travel insurance for the over 50s, in which case you’d probably like your site to appear on the first page of Google results when people search for over 50s travel insurance. What’s important to understand is that a lot of over 50s are carrying out pre-purchase research on the internet and search engines are a popular place to start, once someone has decided they know roughly what they’re looking for. An example of two successful SEO campaigns can be seen in the search rankings below:
Establish a relationship with over 50s when they’re researching – SEO can help you get eyes on your site. If they can’t see your brand appearing when they’re searching for what you do, why should they give you a second thought?
Establish or maintain a relationship when users are close to purchase – you can optimise your site for a range of keywords and more specific keywords (e.g. cruise travel insurance for over 50s) could mean that you appear in the search results for people who are quite sure of what they want.
Pay per click advertising makes the most of people who are in the research stage of their purchase, just like with SEO. The difference is that your listing is paid for, with Google or Bing charging you each time someone clicks on your ad, and your ads appear at the very top of search results pages. You can see where they appear in the image below, as well as the Ad disclaimer that appears next to them.
Instant visibility – as you’re bidding to appear you could make your bid so high that you are in the top spot, but we wouldn’t always recommend this as there are other ways to help your ads rank better that are all to do with careful management rather than expensive bidding! Regardless, you can get your name out in front of people quickly, whereas SEO is more of a long-term strategy.
Visual impact – with PPC ads you can take up quite a bit of space when you’re in the first few positions with some helpful and persuasive extras. In the example above you can see that some have phone numbers, star-rating reviews and links to other parts of their site.
Perhaps someone has already encountered your brand. Don’t just leave it there! Email marketing is a great way of maintaining relationships with people who like what you do and by signing up to receive emails from you they are making it very clear that they want to know more about you.
Make the most of an engaged audience – they already like you. Relationships are not easy to establish so don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of what you’ve already got.
Personalisation – email marketing can be very persuasive when the customer feels like you’ve paid attention to who they are and what you can do for them. You could send them only specific emails of their choosing, like a select area of the wide range of products you offer, or you could send them a gentle nudge if they almost completed a purchase but didn’t make the final push – is everything ok and is there anything you can do to help? Many over 50s feel advertising isn't aimed at them and email marketing is a chance to very clearly tackle that.
Reminders – give people a reminder that you exist. Maybe they signed up to your email list ages ago. Remind them why they shouldn’t be clicking that unsubscribe link!
Not all social media platforms are currently a hit with mature audiences, but some have really been taken to by the masses. For instance, 70% of those aged over 50 have a Facebook profile according to the latest Silver Travel Advisor Industry Report, with usage among the 65+ group rising by 33% in the last six years alone. Although these figures are not as high as with younger age groups, they are still too high to ignore. Role models and influencers are on social media; so maybe not the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber are appropriate for this age range, but Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry are and have substantial Twitter followings, as do many brands that are well known within the mature market. This just gives you a flavour of who is using social media and it is people who matter to your audience. You can see this below in some interaction between Age UK and celebrity Anneka Rice.
Paid ads – there’s a sizeable audience there and if you have an account on Facebook or Twitter you can take advantage of their paid services and get some valuable exposure.
Reputation management – it is not uncommon for people to vent their frustrations on social media. Whilst you may think that not having a social media profile can help in that people can’t publicly contact you, they can still complain about you and you have no power to manage it if you don’t have a presence online.
Our expertise in a range of digital services puts us in an ideal position to manage and provide advice for digital campaigns, but it’s our understanding of the mature market that means we know exactly how to leverage these services to make the most of this established and increasingly switched-on market of internet users.
If you think you might be ready to reach mature audiences where they are getting most comfortable, talk to our digital experts today – we’d love to take you through the next steps!
Image Credit: Airwolfhound (flickr.com). This image has been edited from the original.
This blog was originally published on 23/03/2015 and was updated in August 2017.