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Online Marketing to Older Adults


As you may (or may not!) know, one of our specialty areas of expertise is the post-acute and senior living market. We have many clients in this heavily regulated, yet growing industry.

Our clients include post-acute care providers as well as those organizations that develop solutions to help manage the behaviors of dementia, electronic healthcare records (EHR) software providers and even technology that helps nurses with documentation. We love helping companies improve the quality of post-acute and senior living care, and we also have a passion for helping people live more actively, productively and with the respect and dignity they deserve as they age – whether they’re in their own homes or getting care at a post-acute or skilled nursing facility.

In light of this, we wanted to share some tips on how to market to this specific, yet wide-ranging demographic. But first, let’s start with some misconceptions. Because if you haven’t noticed, it’s not your grandfather’s industry anymore, thanks to the Baby Boomers! This generation is ensuring they stay active, productive and have more options available to them in the healthcare continuum. In other words, they want to decide how – and where – they receive care as they progress along life’s journey.

Misconception #1: The Age Gap

First of all, it’s a big misconception that seniors can be seen as one big group and can be treated the same. The term “senior” usually includes anyone age 65 and up. That could span 40 years or more! Imagine treating everyone from newborns to 40 year old as the same demographic. It doesn’t work. Just as a two year-old and a 25 year-old are at completely different stages in their lives (just try selling a home warranty to a toddler), older adults want different things and have different goals. So start out by truly defining your audience and know their behaviors so you can more effectively communicate – and resonate – with them.

Misconception #2: Technologically Challenged

We see this time and time again. Many companies who market specifically to older adults don’t think that technology and social media are an important part of their marketing plan. They tend to overlook these areas because they assume that this demographic avoids technology. This is a complete misconception. Just look at the seniors in your own life. My own mother is 87 and does online banking, surfs the Internet and orders online! And she’s not alone. According to Pew Research Centers,74% of people over the age of 65 own a mobile device. More than 39 million use Facebook and/or Twitter! Seniors are the fastest growing group of social media users. And they’re not just using it to look at pictures of their grandchildren. Just like younger users, they’re also using it to get information and research brands.

That said, there are a few tips that can help guide your marketing:

Keep it Simple

In order to engage your older audience, you have to keep it simple. This means developing simple and easy to use interfaces, pleasing images with a clean design and an uncomplicated on-boarding process. The 65+ age group didn’t grow up with online technology so it’s not ingrained in them like it would be with a very young audience. If they download an app that requires too many questions and too much information to get started, they are unlikely to continue. Seniors are more likely to be protective of the information they share (which is smart!) and requiring too much information from the start may be deemed intrusive.

Ensure Trust

When marketing to older adults, it’s essential to establish trust. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to market to this age group, so keep testimonials front and center. Ensure your audience that you will not abuse their information by guaranteeing to keep their private data private and promising not to contact them more than necessary.

Offer Support

Maintaining relationships is important. Seniors want to feel like they are interacting with a person, not a nameless technology. So even after a transaction is made, it is important to keep up a trusting relationship with the client to ensure satisfaction. Check up on them to make sure they are completely satisfied. This type of personal treatment not only benefits the current client relationship, but also increases chances of them recommending your product or service.

And be sure to watch out for my upcoming video blog in McKnight’s Long Term Care News on “Marketing Across the Generations.” I’ll provide even more insight and guidance on how to market to this diverse, thriving demographic!