When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, seniors were quickly cut off from the world and their familiar daily activities. Many began to connect with friends and family using social media, email, and even texting. My 97-year-old father quickly learned to use his iPhone not only to keep in touch, but to ask Siri about the weather, search for reviews, place online orders, and download books.
Older Americans make up a large portion of the US population, and they are spending both time and money online. This means that there is more opportunity for businesses and organizations who market their products and services to seniors.
What You Should Do as a Business Owner
Take a Look at Your Marketing & Advertising
If you would like to access this growing market—and maintain a connection with existing customers as they move into a new demographic—you need to advertise your products and services in the digital spaces where older people are already spending time. Target sites that address topics of interest for older adults such as travel, medical, retirement, and financial planning. Older Americans are also increasingly taking part in social media. Targeting these same interests in your Facebook ads can keep you in front of new and existing customers.
A Pew Research Center survey from April, 2021, indicates that 73% of adults between 50 and 64, and 45% over 65 years of age use social media regularly.
Audit Your Website
One thing that has changed is the importance of accessibility on websites and mobile apps. With an aging population comes new challenges for organizations who want their sites to appeal to seniors. Fortunately the same website design practices that make a site senior friendly also improve the experience for all users.
- Use type that is easy to read.
- Use a clear navigation system that enables a user to easily find what they need.
- Include prominent contact information.
- Make sure the design is not cluttered.
- Pages should load quickly on a mobile device.
- Avoid images that are small or pixelated.
- Do not embed text into images.
- Break information into short sections.
- Where necessary, provide instructions clearly and number each step.
- Minimize the use of jargon and technical terms.
- Use single mouse clicks.
- Allow additional space around clickable links.
- Use high-contrast color for type and backgrounds.
- Provide text-only versions of multimedia content.
- Minimize scrolling.
- Optimize for voice-search.
If your organization is of a particular size or it is otherwise required, you may also want to review your website for 508 Web Accessibility compliance. Even if it is not a requirement for you, 508 compliance is socially responsible and it’s good business, getting your products and services in front of a broad audience.
And About My Dad…
As it is with most daughters, my father has always seemed larger than life to me. Someone who could do anything, build anything, fix anything. When a tree came down in a storm recently I came home to find that, at 97, he had already arrived with his chainsaw, cut it, split it with a maul that I could hardly lift, and stacked it in a manner that only comes with experience. It doesn’t surprise me that he has adapted to the Internet and technology. We’re living longer now and often staying healthier both physically and mentally, so rethink what you imagine when you hear “senior.” It will pay dividends for your business.
- Making-Your-Website-Senior-Friendly-Tip-Sheet from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine
- Do Section 508 Accessibility Standards Apply to My Website? From Section508.gov
Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States from Pew Research Center
Norma Kolson is Senior Partner with DatAchieve Digital, a marketing and design agency located in Maryland and serving clients across the U.S.