Baby boomers are redefining how senior communities are designed and healthcare is administered. Technology adoption is just one way that baby boomers differ from their parents’ generation, but it’s a big one.
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 59% of adults aged 65 and older were online as of 2014—up from 35% just six years earlier. And no doubt that percentage is even higher today.
Not only are seniors using the Internet, but like for the rest of us, it’s become an essential part of their daily lives. Of seniors who use the Internet, 71% say they log on every day or almost every day and another 11% say they go online three to five times per week. When you consider that many senior service buying decisions are made by those same seniors’ even more tech-savvy adult children, the Internet’s potential reach for communities and providers can’t be ignored.
So what does all this mean for senior living marketing?
It means the days of relying solely on traditional offline marketing tactics to carry the load are over. To be successful, senior communities will need to begin building a more robust multi-channel marketing strategy—one that puts more effort (and budget) behind responsive web design, SEO, PPC ads, blogging and social media marketing.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not advocating abandoning print - still the most trusted medium by seniors and most other demographics. But in 2018, more seniors than ever—and their adult children—will likely begin their journey toward senior living by searching online.
That said, the senior market does still differ from the general adult population in ways that require special accommodations. Their demographic-specific challenges and internet usage patterns will impact how you should shape your online presence and digital marketing initiatives.
Below are three tips to help you develop a stronger digital marketing strategy for older adult audiences.
1. Help visitors overcome physical limitations
Many seniors experience physical conditions that impact their ability to use the internet. This goes for both technology adopters and non-adopters. A sizable 23% of seniors report having a “physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging” and 29% report having a “disability, handicap, or chronic disease that prevents them from fully participating in common daily activities.”
Seniors who fall into either of these categories are significantly less likely to become regular Internet users. Even among those who do adopt technology, physical conditions often limit an older adult’s ability to navigate and comprehend certain web pages.
To be sensitive to physical limitations, companies must make accessibility a priority when designing content for a senior audience. Accessibility is the practice of eliminating design and functionality barriers that impair a user’s ability to interact with your website. Empower users with visual, hearing, cognitive, or motor limitations by implementing the essential elements of accessible web design whenever you develop new digital assets.
2. Study online behavior patterns
The online platforms you invest in should always be supported by your buyer persona research. A senior demographic is no different in that respect. Investigate your audience’s online behavior patterns to determine where your efforts will be most effective.
For example, while social media is significantly less popular among seniors than the general adult population, 46% of older adults do use at least one social networking platform. However, of that 46%, only 6% are on Twitter. It’s also interesting to note that senior women have more readily embraced social media than men. 52% of female Internet users over 65 are on social media, while just 39% of men have a presence.
3. Design for the right devices
Which device is being used to access content has significant implications for user experience (UX) design, functionality, and form. Among the general population, mobile and smartphone usage is near ubiquitous, making responsive design a necessity. Older adults have unsurprisingly been slower to adopt mobile devices.
While 77% of seniors are now cell phone owners, only 18% report using a smartphone. Older adults have also been slow to embrace tablets and e-readers, with just 27% owning either one or the other. Knowing that the vast majority of your audience will be accessing your website via laptop or desktop will influence your web design and content creation.
Is your marketing as Internet-ready as your audience?
Click below to sign up for our FREE 1-Hour Digital Marketing Assessment. We’ll help you align your objectives with the strategies and tactics you need to reach today’s tech-savvy seniors.