E-Mailing Seniors: Tapping Into a Lucrative Demographic

Statistics show that every 7.5 seconds, someone turns 55. But, unlike 25 years ago, today’s new seniors are less brand loyal and more apt to comparison shop. They are also highly mobile and very adventurous.

And get this: Seniors today account for more than 50 percent of the discretionary spending power in our economy and control more than 75 percent of all financial assets. Plus, women in households composed of people 50 and older control more than 80 percent of personal and household spending.

Here are a few other statistics to consider. Seniors today:

  • Watch 30 to 50 percent more television than younger age groups

  • Buy more than half of the new cars, as well as other higher-priced products and services
  • Are very attuned to health issues, anti-aging products, and cosmetic surgery
  • Are very attuned to the need for financial services and can afford the vacations and other luxuries younger people can’t
  • Are risk adverse, less reactive to hype, and generally more concerned about security, especially Internet security, than their younger counterparts
  • Make up the fastest growing group of Internet and email users, doing everything from sending pictures of their grandkids to shopping

Given these overwhelming statistics, it’s amazing e-marketers continue to develop email creative designed for adult males in the 18-to-34 age group.

One problem is the marketers creating the campaigns are well under 50. Talking to seniors is substantially different than talking to teens. And the offer you present must take into account their physical needs (low vision, for one). In other words, to sell to seniors, you’ve got to do more than talk their language; you’ve got to make it easy for them to read and respond to your email.

To sell to seniors via email, you need to rethink creative approaches. You need to realize this audience doesn’t multitask and reacts negatively to clutter. Seniors respond positively to simplicity and clearly stated savings opportunities. They also prefer sound bites to diatribes.

Reader’s Digest understood this fact years ago, which is why it offers abridged stories and even has a large-type edition.

So here are my recommendations for developing email marketing campaigns for this demographic:

  • Keep it simple.

  • Clearly state the savings opportunity as a primary benefit.
  • Keep copy brief and concise.
  • Make sure images and graphics are representative of the target audience.
  • Cleary address security and privacy rights.
  • Provide links to additional content for those who want to know more.
  • Include third-party testimonials.
  • In particular, avoid misleading and misdirected statements and claims.

When putting those recommendations into action, follow these steps to create a compelling email marketing campaign for seniors. First, before you write a single word, you need to determine what specific offer will be most appealing to seniors. For example, because many seniors are on fixed incomes, very likely price will be valued to the exclusion of all other appeals.

But don’t just go with your instinct. Do some basic research. Talk to 20 seniors and ask them to rank your offer. This will quickly tell you what benefits and features to emphasize.

Then, when you’ve finalized your creative, show it to 20 more seniors. Get their opinions on your copy and presentation to make sure you’re on the mark. It’s difficult for young copywriters to speak to an older age group, so ensuring the message is clear and the presentation readable is of the utmost importance.

Finally, give seniors a way to submit comments when they respond to your email. They will give you the best clues about what you can improve.

Following these guidelines will help you tap into a lucrative demographic. Keep reading.

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