If you think that seniors age 65 and up don’t go online—so that your online marketing strategy doesn’t need to consider them—think again. According to the latest report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, almost six in 10 (59 percent) of U.S. adults 65 and over regularly go online.
What’s more, 71 percent of older Internet users report that they go online daily or almost every day, while another 11 percent go online between three and five times per week. In addition, more than three-fourths (77 percent) have cell phones.
Of course, these figures are still far lower than those for younger Americans and Americans in general. Among the overall adult population, 91 percent have cell phones and 86 percent use the Internet.
Still, the figures show significant growth—and there are also important subgroups of seniors who are even more active online. The younger, more educated and more affluent seniors are, the more likely they are to go online. For example, 90 percent of those with incomes of $75,000 and up go online, as do 87 percent of those with a college degree.
When they do go online, seniors are using the Internet to find information and do research. They also use it to socialize—nearly half of senior Internet users are on at least one social networking site.
Finally, seniors’ use of mobile devices is growing, but they’re more likely to own tablets than smartphones (27 percent compared with 18 percent).
How can your online marketing capture these desirable senior customers?
- Advertise on websites that are popular with seniors. These could include senior-focused sites or sites focusing on popular senior interests like gardening, cooking or health and fitness. When you advertise, use senior-specific keywords to capture their attention.
- Make your business website senior-friendly. Features like the ability to enlarge type, clearly readable type on a white background, and a pleasing color palette that’s not too “busy” will appeal to older eyes.
- Keep it simple. Seniors are more likely than other age groups to go online on a desktop computer, but since tablet use is growing in this demographic, the simpler your website is, the better. Make sure actionable buttons and clickable links are clearly demarcated, with plenty of white space so they’re easy to click on or tap.
- Offer options. Many seniors are still leery of purchasing products online, so offer clearly marked options to call your business, print out and mail order forms or otherwise interact using methods they’re more comfortable with.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.