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The Best Places to Target Female Boomers Online

This post will not be what you hoped it would be, but it will be helpful.

When it comes to marketing to female boomers online, I think it’s high time that marketers give up on finding that elusive unicorn of web properties…you know, the one where older women with disposable income congregate in large numbers so they can click on banner ads.

The idea may seem silly, but the truth is, we get requests all the time to put together media plans for all the “secret sites” that boomer women visit. Maybe they don’t ask in those exact words, or have those exact expectations, but it’s not that far off. I don’t blame anyone who hoped for a “holy grail” media buy. It would be awesome, after all.

But the point remains: there is no web property—or network of properties—for targeting a consumer as wonderfully diverse as the female boomer. They are not using a secret Internet the rest of the world does not use.

And although there are plenty of niche sites out there targeted at women (more on that later), for the most part, the top visited sites are the same for everyone whether they be male or female, boomer or millennial.

A more effective way of targeting the female boomer is not to “lay a trap” in a specific place, but to understand how to meet and engage your senior consumers along their buyer journey.

It’s not about where, but who

So if targeting by place is not the answer, how the heck are you supposed to target your customer? For starters, make the most of what you already know–and take a closer look at the lists and data you currently have on hand.

Using Audiences to Target

Start with meaningful segmentation

Hopefully, you’re trying to target the female boomer because they have bought your product in the past, or you have some evidence they desire it. Start by segmenting your existing list by the gender and age range you’re targeting. Further break it down according to the purpose of your campaign. Are you looking to find new customers for a certain product? Are you trying to keep prospects moving along the sales funnel? Are you looking to find more customers like those with a desirable lifetime value? How does your data help you segment your list along these lines? Building these audience segments is how you start targeting on who—not where.

Leverage powerful ad networks

A lot of ad agencies still rely on big advertising buys on major sites, which baffles me, because for most clients, it’s much more effective working with publishers through networks like the Google Display Network or Facebook Exchange to run campaigns.

We love to use these tools for our clients because they let us test audiences, creative, and messaging quickly before scaling up the campaign.

As you go along, seek to minimize wasted impressions by using negative profiling (removing keywords that aren’t performing), and excluding audiences we don’t want to target. The goal is optimizing your spend and making your dollar go further.

Targeting with Niche Sites

Careful consideration is required

As I mentioned before, we get requests all the time to put together a media plan for all the “secret sites” that boomer women (or some other segment of older adults) visit. Even though there are a plethora of niche sites meant to appeal to women (and some just at older women), those are best leveraged when there is a meaningful connection between the product or service you’re offering and the content focus for the site.

Try not to get sucked into a traditional online media plan with a niche site. The effort usually does not outweigh the reward. Instead, look for creative ways to partner with those properties. That could be through content marketing, email sends, co-registration, etc. Explore what makes sense. As a general rule, niche sites are more challenging to justify the spend; however, we have used them with success for specific client campaigns.

Targeting with Social Networks

Yes, social networks can be used to effectively target older adults

It’s not news that boomers use social media, but I’m constantly surprised at the assumption by industry professionals to the contrary. The obvious choice is Facebook, where about 90% of Boomer women have an account, and 75% of them follow brands to get information and deals. But there are plenty of other social media sites worth exploring, such as Pinterest. The traffic on Pinterest is comprised of about 82% women and has the highest concentration of older adults on any social network (besides Facebook).

About 30% of female Pinterest users are older than 45 (and that stat is growing). Visual processing changes as we age, and older adults shift to images over words. So combined with Pinterest’s rapid growth the past two years, its female audience concentration, and its responsible approach to testing advertising on its platform (there is currently a waitlist for advertising), we like the idea of exploring Pinterest as an option for marketing to Boomer women.

Closing in on the female boomer consumer

Targeting female boomers in a meaningful manner takes careful planning, like any other niche targeting effort, so don’t fall for the quick fix of an ad campaign on a high-profile site like Oprah. Instead, take the time to create and test audience segments with different approaches, scaling how you spend your budget so you get the most bang from your budget.

And remember, it’s not “where,” but “who” you are targeting that matters.