Savvy Seniors: Engaging the 65+ Online Shopper

  |  August 26, 2014   |  Comments

Senior shoppers shouldn't be ignored when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. It pays to learn how to market to this segment and turn them into loyal, long-term customers.

You may be familiar with large-button, limited-function mobile phones and panic buttons that help when someone falls and can't get up, but thinking that this is the only way seniors want to engage with technology is myopic, and could mean you are missing out on a powerful consumer demographic.

The Bronto and Magento study, "Why We Don't Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment," found that 47 percent of online consumers aged 65+ are buying online at least once a month. As shown below, 37 percent buy online monthly. Another 10 percent of seniors buy at least once a week. While the study found that this age group is the least active group of all monthly shoppers, the difference is less than one might expect.


What may also be surprising is that unlike younger consumer segments, tablet ownership is higher than smartphones, with more than one in four seniors (26 percent) owning a smartphone and 35 percent owning a tablet.

For marketers looking for additional audiences and methods to capture revenue, it would be wise to consider cart abandonment marketing, because nearly half (48 percent) of those 65 and over found cart reminder emails to be helpful. The research found that 58 percent expected a cart reminder email with no incentive, while 21 percent thought free shipping should be offered. Coincidentally, 21 percent also expected a dollar or percentage discount.

So, what do these figures tell us and how should this impact your marketing efforts? A first step is to give seniors more credit for being more technologically savvy than one may have previously assumed. All consumers, regardless of age, are looking for the best deals and have fully incorporated multiple devices into the shopping process. In addition, all consumers expect a seamless transition between site and stores as well as between devices. The older demographic should be taken into consideration when announcements about these connections and enhancements are made. To do this effectively, segmenting subscribers by age when making these announcements would be a good strategy. That way, you can focus the message for those 65+ on the ease of shopping and your customer service commitment, while dropping youth-focused imagery and language.

All shoppers today can switch brands with the swipe of a screen or click of a button, no matter their age. Don't underestimate the 65-and-over crowd's willingness to leave a shopping cart to go find a better deal in a store or, on your competitor's site. Customizing the cart reminder experience to specifically address this consumer's needs and behavior could help you get them back on your site to buy and build long-term loyalty.

Lastly, it is important to analyze behavioral data on your site and in the inbox to evaluate whether seniors are shopping in a particular way or if there are certain points within their customer journey where shopping is abandoned. Seniors may be nearly as connected as other generations, but their needs and frustrations may differ compared to other groups. Setting methods in place to look at the shopping experience and understand what motivates your 65+ shopper will help to keep them engaged and ultimately will help to better define messaging strategies that build long-term engagement and sales.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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Jim Davidson

As an expert in email, mobile, and social strategies, Jim brings 15 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's head of research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports, and contributes to the Bronto Blog.

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