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The Power of Emotional Engagement in Messaging for Boomers and Seniors

Messaging is one of the trickiest aspects of boomer and senior marketing. To create effective messaging, marketers need a solid understand of the aging mind and a deeper sensitivity to how a boomer or senior will process what you put on the page.

Lead with the Right, Follow with the Left

In our book Dot Boom, we discuss in length the approach that we use to craft messaging to the aging adult mind. Through our research and work on boomer marketing and advertising to seniors, we’ve found that the most effective messaging starts with an emotional connection, or “right brain” message, and then moves to support that connection with a rational appeal, or “left brain” message. (For this and more, buy the book now.)

We’ve found time and time again in our marketing messages that the highest ROI campaigns use emotional messaging to draw customers in and then rational messaging to drive home the benefit statements. Psychologically, leading with the right-brain messaging helps ensure the left-brained messaging will be better absorbed and retained.

This approach is effective for many demographics, but it works well for older adults in particular because they are more likely to “trust their gut” (Dot Boom, p. 41) in most situations. That “gut” instinct is most influenced by emotions and feelings, not logical conclusions.

Let’s look at some examples.

Example: Alzheimer’s Reflections Email

In this case study, we tested two subject lines in an email campaign targeting boomers and seniors who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. We used an emotional statement for the first subject line and a more logical how-to approach for the second:

  1. I’m scared of getting Alzheimer’s
  2. How you can prepare to get Alzheimer’s

The first subject line outperformed the second by a 9% margin. The copy within the email itself built on the emotional connection before presenting a “left-brained” list of tips and resource links. This messaging approach yielded a 4.25% click-through rate and an inbox full of responses from subscribers sharing their personal experiences (which is very valuable voice-of-customer data that we use to craft emotional messaging).

Example: Facebook Ads

This particular Facebook campaign promoted a conversation guide that our client, Home Instead Senior Care, developed to help adult children have conversations with their aging parents about eight different topics. We developed ads around each of the conversation topics and found that the ads featuring more emotional conversation topics, like end-of-life care decisions (“Before Your Parents Die…”), performed significantly better than the ads featuring conversation topics presented in a more logical way (“Tips to Keep Dad Healthy”).

The two ads you see below were sent to the same audience and promoted the same conversation guide. The only difference was the content approach.

B: 6.22% CTR, 114 likes, 32 shares

A: 8.06% CTR, 371 likes, 268 shares B: 6.22% CTR, 114 likes, 32 shares

The ad that led with an emotional connection was a clear winner in audience engagement.

Test Emotional Messages for Yourself

Having this baseline understanding of how boomers react to marketing messages can greatly impact the way you message and speak to boomers and seniors in your marketing, from Facebook marketing to email campaigns. If you have not tried to apply the emotional context to your messaging, we could help develop a messaging campaign that connects for you. Or, if you are looking for a summary of best practices, here are a few to get you started.

  • Relate the messaging to what is most critical in the senior’s life. Work backward from your benefit statements to find the real benefit for the boomer or senior consumer. “Greater mobility” might mean spending more time with family, for example.
  • The best messaging comes from voice-of-customer data. If you have a buyer persona or buyer journey map, you’ll have greater insight into the mind of your consumer. All of this can be done with some basic audience research and analysis.
  • Validate and test. Find the most effective messaging through A/B testing and limited campaign pilots to see what works for your specific audience before committing to a campaign.

If you would like to talk with one of our strategists to discuss your messaging and receive a review of your current campaigns, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you more effectively reach your boomer or senior audience.