Email Marketing to Seniors: 8 Steps to Making it Work
Marketers know that seniors are a viable consumer force online, with growing numbers and significant buying power. Like their younger counterparts, seniors go online to make travel arrangements, check the news, find health information, among other tasks. Seniors are a viable and profitable market for advertisers, and email can be a powerful tool for this demographic. But seniors have unique needs, purchasing habits and response characteristics that marketers can't afford to ignore.
1. Age is a critical factor in creating relevant and appropriate messaging. Segmentation allows you to develop targeted messages and creative, as each age group within the senior market has different needs, attitudes and behaviors and therefore respond differently to communication streams. Use that information to segment and deploy email campaigns just as you would direct mail.
2. Despite the fact that today’s seniors are healthier than ever, signs of aging cannot be denied. At about age 40, eyes begin to deteriorate. By 60, there’s some degree of impairment, even in healthy eyes. The font size for a 50-year-old can be normal, but a larger font size for an 80-year-old is likely to increase readership, clickthrough rates and conversions. In addition to size, the font itself along with color contrast are important factors for easy reading.
3. Seniors read. They like to research and understand what they're purchasing, but email doesn't lend itself to extensive product descriptions. Since emails should be at maximum one page with the most important content above the fold, your call to action should be prominent. Provide subscribers with a website or 800 number to get more information.
4. Support your email efforts with other media channels. For instance, seniors are more likely to open and read their mail than their younger counterparts. Therefore, when direct mail efforts are created and timed to support and complement email efforts, a significant lift can often be achieved in both media. If your market size is large enough, set up a test matrix to measure response and conversion rates for direct mail and email prospects, then gauge which efforts are most successful. A matrix can include the following:
- subscribers who only receive an email;
- subscribers who receive an email before they receive a direct mail piece;
- subscribers who receive an email after they receive a direct mail piece; and
- subscribers who only receive a direct mail piece.
5. Generally speaking, take advantage of the fact that seniors have more time on their hands and are happy to be the recipient of accurate, timely and comprehensive information. Consider an email that directs them to new research on your product or its industry category which is, of course, housed on your website.
6. Trust is key. Seniors, like all audiences, are suspicious of scams. Don’t oversell your offering in either the subject line or the content of your email. Create a subject line that encourages curiosity and makes readers want to learn more, but be careful not to include spam words or too much punctuation.
7. Keep the content easy to read. Paraphrase with simple language, use hyperlinked bullets and put the most important items on top.
8. Be persistent. A series of emails around a specific topic of interest to seniors (e.g., long-term care insurance) can be effective, but don’t forget to provide an opt-out link.