Older people often have more money to spend. Because they’re overlooked by marketers chasing the coveted younger demographic, they may be the untapped opportunity you need to seek.
Take the example of tablet computers. Many 50+ love their touch screens, ease of adjusting font size and light weight. Yet nobody has tailored marketing campaigns to them.
According to web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, the number of older people on the web has grown by 16 per cent each year over the past decade, compared with an annual growth of three per cent for those in the 30 to 49 age group.
The challenge is to employ marketing strategies that take into consideration the decline in eye sight and multi-tasking abilities, which can start around age 40. They may compensate with a sharper ability to connect complex ideas.
What’s more, you need to appreciate that while most are computer savvy, they may want more personal connection than digital natives. They thrive on personal communication.
Many of these tactics will enhance the communication experience for people of all ages.
- Make Everything Easy to See
Employ larger fonts, 12 points or more, in simple, sans serif fonts. Avoid italics and ALL CAPS.
When you’re presenting, make sure somebody who forgot their glasses can read your slides from the back of the room.
Use sharp color contrasts, more black on white backgrounds with green or blue, less reverse type with white on black, less red.
Cut down on glare on any screens your customers use, such as card readers.
- Provide Step-by-Step InstructionsAs people age, they become less adept at multi-tasking and more methodical in their thinking. Their error rates have declined dramatically in the past 10 years, probably as a result of better web design and increased online experience, according to Nielsen.
Still, error rates, which have a big influence on who makes it to the checkout, are more than double those experienced by people in the age 21 to 55 group. Older adults are also more likely to give up than to continue trying.
Make forms and fields easy to complete. For example, if you want somebody to enter a date, give them a calendar to click or show how you want the numbers recorded.
- Allow More Time to Complete TransactionsAs Nielsen found, the aging population needs more time. People older than 65 are 43 per cent slower at web tasks. They are frustrated if a page times out before they have figured out seating and purchased their pricey theater tickets.Marketers also need to avoid artificial deadlines and high-pressure closings. Give them alternatives that will allow them to ask questions and decide later, without condemning them to a web or telephone labyrinth.
- Make Everything Easy to UnderstandIn addition to letting people get more information or ask questions later, you need to explain everything in plain language. Don’t use jargon. Communicate in your customer’s everyday language.Offer communication options, for example a choice of text, images, audio and live communication, where body language and personality also speak.
- Get Personal
The 50+ crowd loves face-to-face communication. If you can’t meet them in person, try simple, quick videos, Skype, your photo on your brochure or site so they can picture who they are communicating with.While they love email and are the fastest growing group on Facebook and other social media sites, they did not grow up in the digital world. Many want personal, not virtual, relationships.They can also be more in tune with their intuition, emotional cues and shared experience and insight. So tell stories that support the point you want to make. Ask questions about their experience.
- Show RespectPeople who are not yet using walkers usually don’t want to be called seniors. Older middle aged or boomer may work. Ask them.As people age, they often they see themselves as younger than they are. So use younger-looking images. Don’t get sucked in by stereotypes. They may be wearing bifocals, thinking more methodically and less engaged in faceless online relationships, but they are not over the hill.
- Test, Redesign and RetestAfter you’ve tried these techniques, remember to test, improve, then test again with many demographic groups. You’ll find that many of the improvements you made for people older than 50 are a hit with those in the younger groups too.
You’ve probably have nothing to lose—but a big untapped market to gain.