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6 Keys to Engage Seniors Online

January 2, 2014 By Rob Reger
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Marketers continue to struggle to effectively reach seniors online. They are up against a fierce battle as studies show that many consumers over the age of 65 prefer offline communications and transactions. Yet, there's a growing population that favors the online space. In this omnichannel world, marketers must learn to segment seniors to respond to their individual needs. Here are six key insights to help build your engagement strategy.

1. Engaging Seniors Online Is Challenging
It's not just you. Most brands struggle to engage this audience on the Web. Studies show that consumers over the age of 65 continue to prefer offline communications and transactions. According to our Channel Preference Study in 2012,  direct mail is still considered the most trust worthy marketing channel, particularly for older audiences.

As a result, most organizations struggle to persuade seniors to convert their offline behavior to online. However, channel preferences are shifting. In 2013 47 percent of seniors ages 50 to 65 years old and 30 percent of seniors 66 and older preferred online communications and transactions. In 2013, those numbers increased to 65 percent of seniors 50 to 65, and 34 percent of seniors 66 and older preferring online.

2. Seniors Behave Differently
The online channel is growing every year. Overall, more than 60 percent of purchases are made online. While seniors make up a small portion, their yearly percentage of online shopping is increasing. What's more, consumers ages 50-to-65 increased their online shopping twice as much compared to consumers 66 and older (8 percent versus 4 percent, respectively).

While these may be small year-over-year increases, the market for consumers 50 to 65 years old is outpacing the national sales average in the growth of active households. Additionally, the 66 and older market is still growing, but at a slower pace.

3 Segmenting Your Senior Audience Is a Good Idea
In the 50 to 65 year-old senior group, boomers are prevalent. They are more online savvy and have more credit affinity than the older segment.

In the 66 and older group, the universe is still increasing from boomer migration and higher life expectancy. This group still prefers to pay through the mail using checks or money orders—some at a rate as high as 80 percent. For most direct-to-consumer offers (including sweepstakes, collectibles, fundraising and publishing), a 50-plus percent mail order rate is the norm.

4. Senior Online Behavior Is Rising

 

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