12 Ways to Boost Response from Seniors

older couple reading letter

Contrary to the common notion that Americans more than 65 years old mainly eke out lives on stingy Social Security pensions, experts estimate that one out of four seniors ages 65 to 74 enjoys an income of at least $75,000 a year. That represents a market that has to be looked at, says analyst Steve Hardman. He points out that seniors today are the fastest-growing segment of Internet users—mostly,for email connections. However, they cannot be addressed as if they were younger—and certainly not as “the elderly.” Hardman and other experts urge advertisers that want profitable responses from seniors to take these steps:

Be kind to aging eyes.

  • Set copy in lines no longer than 50 to 60 characters. The closer to 50,the better. Aging people slowly lose their former ability to take in long lines of text at a glance—and often are tempted to skip reading lines that take two or more focuses to understand.

  • Try to use larger-than-normal type. Young people can read 10-point type without much trouble. Most adults, however, read 12-point copy more easily. And older persons seem more comfortable with 14-point text.

  • Limit paragraphs to four or fewer lines. The shorter the paragraph, the more likely it is to be read.

  • Use lots of white space around copy. White surroundings serve to frame copy and make it easier to read.

  • Text, not graphics,draws the highest responses. Skip HTML razzle-dazzle when communicating with older audiences.

  • Print a miniature table of contents at the top of your copy—which attracts eyes and cues readership.

  • Orient your advertising to lifestyle issues,rather than to product descriptions. Few seniors—possibly because they are sensitive to privacy issues, or are in denial—will respond to advertising for incontinence diapers, for instance.

  • Watch your language! Older people do not like to be addressed as “elderly.”

  • Write conversationally.

  • Provide both traditional and non-traditional means of response.

  • Allay fears of scams. Cite favorable newspaper, TV, and radio coverage.

  • And don’t forget the power of testimonials.