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There’s a Large Elephant in the Digital Room

When you’re designing and adding content to your web site, consider the age group you want to reach. If your target market consists of individuals 49 and older think about the following taken from several research studies:

80% of those age 18-34 say web sites are designed for them, but that percentage decreases and only 35% of the 45-54 age segment, and 20% of the 55 and older group, feel sites are designed for people their age. Lest you think older people aren’t using the Internet much, almost 50% of the 55+ users said if they were unable to access the Internet their daily lives would be significantly disrupted.

The percentage is even more dismal when it comes to the focus of online advertising. The 45+ crowd surveyed said only 17% of it is designed for them. This means the population with the most disposable income is being overlooked by online advertisers.

More than 70% of adults age 49+ are online, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80% of them are on broadband, and their overall usage patterns mirror other age segments.

Online Spending

The Internet is becoming the most important source of information for the 49+ crowd when they make a major marketing purchase, such as automobiles or appliances (Zoomerang). Adults 50+ spend an average of $7 billion online annually (SeniorNet), and 42% of all travel industry purchases happen online, with adults 50+ accounting for 80% of all luxury travel spending (Pew Internet and American Life Project).

  • Currently, adults 45-years-old and older out-spend younger adults by $1 trillion annually.

Many online marketers and advertisers have yet to come to terms with the fact that the 49+ individuals, who comprise a full third of the U.S. population and control over 83% of consumer spending, are rapidly integrating the Internet into their lives. In fact, the Baby Boomers have been at the forefront of technology for years – they made it happen!

Designing Sites for Older Demographics

Larger, darker fonts, higher color contrast, simple design, relatable creative, storytelling, and consistent layout will encourage older visitors to stay on a site. And, since the type of content individuals seek varies by age group, a site’s content should be created around their interests. If your target market consists of the 49+ demographic we recommend visiting Designing Your Website for Customer Convenience for insights into designing sticky sites for the 49+ folks.

Conversion Optimization

Wikipedia defines Conversion Optimization as “the method of creating an experience for a website or landing page visitor with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that convert into customers”. Wikipedia’s content is wrapped in measurement, analytics, and real-time data collection and testing, which is important. For more detailed insights into landing page optimization we recommend Page, Ash and Ginty’s “Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Optimization”.

However, a key to reduce the so called “bounce rate” (the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site) is to assure the design of the site/landing page (images/messaging/ease of use, etc.) reflects a good understanding of the life stage needs of the 49+ populations. Your efforts will not result in a loss of younger visitors as is sometimes believed.

If you want their business, you can’t afford to ignore their values, motivations, wants and needs. The 49+ population spending is expected to surpass $4.6 trillion by 2015. They’re there; are you helping them to connect with you?

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