Still think senior consumers aren’t online? This misconception could be your business’s loss. A study earlier this year by Ipsos and Google of consumers age 67-plus found that seniors are using all kinds of digital platforms, including search, social networking and online video, and that the Web is fast catching up to TV as seniors’ number-one media activity.
Here are the main survey findings:
- The Internet is the top source seniors turn to when gathering information; time spent online is comparable to that spent watching TV—an average of 15.8 hours a week online vs. 16.3 hours per week watching TV.
- Search is still the top online activity for seniors; 75 percent use search. However, shopping is close behind—65 percent say they shop for products or services online.
- Some 85 percent of those have taken action as a result of search activity—of those, 48 percent visited a retail store, 31 percent contacted a business or store and 30 percent looked for more information online.
- Most seniors (59 percent) use social networking sites daily. Facebook is the most-used social network, used by 97 percent. Google + came in a distant second with 22 percent, followed by LinkedIN at 21 percent and Twitter at 17 percent. In addition, nearly half follow some type of group or organization on social media.
- Four in 10 seniors watch online video. YouTube is their favorite channel, used by 71 percent of those who watch online video; the next most common place to watch it is on Facebook. Next to news, humor was the preferred type of video. 68 percent have taken action as a result of online video.
- Seniors are going mobile. While only 16 percent have a smartphone and just 14 percent have a tablet, they plan to get more involved with mobile devices. Nearly half say they’ve spent more time on a tablet or smartphone this year compared to last, and one in five say they are likely to buy a smartphone or tablet in the next 12 months. Of those who do have mobile devices, more than two-thirds say they have multi-screened (used more than one device at a time).
- What do seniors care about online? While news/weather is the most commonly accessed type of content online, shopping is the second most common and coupons come in third.
What do these findings mean to you? Clearly, seniors’ online behavior is rapidly becoming more like that of the general public. If you’re trying to reach seniors online:
- Get social. With six in 10 seniors on social media and almost all of those on Facebook, using Facebook is a no-brainer. Offering coupons or special discounts, information about shopping and sales, and videos about your product or service are great ways to engage seniors on Facebook.
- Get found on search. Take advantage of listings on local search sites to help seniors find your store, restaurant or business. Even seniors are turning away from the Yellow Pages and to the Internet to find businesses in their communities—so if you’re not maximizing your local search listings, the time to start is now.
- Go mobile. If you’ve been lulling yourself into complacency that your website or emails don’t need to be mobile-friendly because your target market is mostly seniors, it’s time for a wake-up call. Sure, most seniors still aren’t mobile, but they’re moving in that direction—so get ready.
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