Ten thousand baby boomers will turn 65 today. And tomorrow. And every day until 2030. This is set to be the largest senior class in history – and that’s the least impressive part about them.
Hailing a lifetime of hard work and affluence to match, this group is also on track to become the biggest spenders over other age groups by 2025. That’s some serious buying power and how they’re using it is turning heads. Recent spending trends are revealing one simple truth: Baby boomers love shopping online.
The Digital Future
In a US Perspectives Report, Visa shows that 40% of purchases made by this audience are already happening online, a trend that will rise in coming years. That’s no small number of browser tabs, Google entries, and link clicks in search of businesses like yours. With this tech-savvy mindset and growing demand for better options, baby boomers are bringing big change to the senior health and living industry. Brands are shifting their focus online to stay relevant.
How will you capture this generation’s attention in an increasingly competitive market? Not without a strong online presence. Here’s how to achieve a smart, baby-boomer-ready website.
Get a Better Website in 6 Steps
1. Find Your Brand Identity
Great websites have three key qualities: they’re recognizable, relatable, and relevant. They naturally fit into the lives of a focus audience, without the need for further thought or explanation. With the power to make a lasting impression in a matter of seconds, your website should be the ultimate display of how well you know your consumers. That’s where your brand identity comes in.
A unique voice, style, and story allow visitors to connect with your business on a more personal level and it makes your services feel custom-fit. And these elements of your brand can only come from one place: the consumer story; their life journeys, hopes, beliefs, and worries. All of this will inform what consumers need from you at the very moment you meet. Crafting an online experience with sensitivity to this allows you to be that familiar face and clear voice in a sea of otherwise noisy brands.
2. Get Smart with SEO
Shopping begins with a search online. This truth for many has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means refining your website and wooing Google with your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy has never been more important. Here’s what you need to know:
In the early days of SEO, key phrases were the main focus, a simple method compared to today’s standards. It’s still important to identify common words and phrases that consumers use to find your business, then integrate those into your site, title tags, and meta descriptions. But be careful not to overuse them. Google’s site crawlers have become especially sensitive to what’s called keyword stuffing. Putting the same words and phrases on repeat is an easy way to get dinged as inauthentic and less useful to the end-user. For best practice, put a heavier focus on producing well-written content, then go back and add a few keywords and phrases.
There’s no tricking Google into thinking your site is the perfect match if it’s not. For a better chance at landing on the first page of results, fill your website with truly useful and unique content. Doing competitive research is the first step toward creating a website that stands out from the rest. What new information can you display on your website that others haven’t? Which topics can you talk about in greater depth? Google gives big points to sites with truly unique content.
In Google’s eyes, how often you update the content on your website has a direct relationship to your continued relevance. Websites that post new content frequently are likely to gain more visibility than those that only get updated once a year. For best practices, develop a content calendar that includes website content, social media, and email strategies to drive users back to your site.
Another important part of the user experience is page speed, which can be impacted by many things, such as type, size, organization, and behavior of your content. A website that’s ‘lightweight’ will load faster than ‘heavier’ websites that haven’t been optimized. Google measures weight and speed to determine whether your site is a functional resource for users. Here are a few ways to optimize the back end of your website for faster page speed:
- File Size: Make sure to include only low DPI images and limit the number of downloadable files.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN): Set up a priority system that loads the elements of the page or website in the order that users will see them. For example, the homepage should load before any other page and the main menu buttons should load before the footer.
- Mobile-friendly Build: Optimizing your site for mobile may require a second look at the suggestions above. Some features may need to be excluded in the mobile version of your website, like certain files or widgets, to ensure fast load times on every device.
When other sites consider your content valuable, so does Google. And every time they mention you on their page (in the form of embedded content or a hyperlink), it acts as a referral – for real site visitors and Google’s crawlers. So, the more places your links pop up on the internet, the better your digital reputation. This kind of social chatter can be one of your most valuable assets, but it’s also one that’s harder to inspire and control. The best place to begin is with truly meaningful and engaging content.
How to Get Started
How do you put a complete SEO strategy into practice? For starters, try an online assessment tool to see what you’re already doing well and identify specific areas for improvement. SEM Rush and SEO Site Checkup are both user-friendly options that you can use to grade your current site. But before taking action on any of their suggestions, it’s beneficial to know how search engines actually operate. Google regularly publishes and revises helpful guides for anyone to use. The SEO Starter Guide, Steps to a Google-friendly Site, and Webmaster Guidelines are a few worth bookmarking in your browser.
While these quick guides are fundamental for understanding and achieving website optimization, holding on to your high-ranking status takes a little more time and effort. Behind some of the greatest websites, you’ll find teams of experts dedicated to maximizing search engine findability. Sophisticated techniques like improving site structures to follow conversational flow, guiding your consumers to take action, crafting dynamic content that sparks interest, and leaving no dead ends on your site are some of the best ways for you to sculpt an online presence.
3. Be Accessible in Every Way
Think beyond the ADA and WCAG. These official rules serve as the baseline for accessibility – responsive design, color contrast, type legibility, and assistive-device compatibility are all top-of-mind measures for inclusivity. But UX expert and Werremeyer Creative’s Interactive Creative Director Ken Zarecki urges that truly accessible websites reach farther than the ADA and WCAG’s requirements. Merely following these guidelines will leave many consumers’ needs unmet.
Among senior living shoppers, for example, there is a widespread need for emotional support. Those transitioning into independent or assisted living communities may worry about losing their sense of independence. Others are worried about fitting in or finding a real sense of community. And families often fear losing touch with their loved ones.
Community providers have a unique responsibility to address these concerns. With dynamic site content, you can cater to the emotional needs of your audience. Features like testimonials, staff introductions, resident highlights, upcoming events, monthly event calendars, video tours, visitor information, and other resources provide guidance and clarity through every step of the consumer journey. Consumers find great comfort in brands that validate their worries and provide quality support.
Where to Start
When it comes to assessing your website’s accessibility, online grading tools are a helpful first step. Resources such as aCe, along with WAVE and SiteImprove browser plugins, make it easier than ever to check your website’s current compliance status. These automated tools quickly scan your website for basic accessibility trademarks and give you a checklist of elements that need work.
However, there is a limit to what these grading tools can do. No matter how advanced site-crawlers get, they’ll never experience a website as people do. W3C, a leading industry voice and worldwide guide for web standards, says that “comprehensive and effective evaluations require evaluators with an understanding of web technologies, evaluation tools, barriers that people with disabilities experience, assistive technologies and approaches that people with disabilities use, and accessibility guidelines and techniques.” In other words, it takes real humans. Teams of knowledgeable experts collaborating and manually testing to find the most accessible solution.
4. Include Valuable & Supportive Content
Give away free advice. Seriously. It’s important to help consumers navigate their options, and in turn, help them understand why you’re the right choice.
Transparency = Truth = Trust
Become a credible ally. With increasing amounts of misinformation circulating the media, consumers are eager to find resources they can trust. The only responsible way to exist as a brand anymore is to meet the demand for transparency and truth. Now is the time to start sharing your industry knowledge on every platform (website, blog, social media, email, etc.) to educate and empower your audience.
Increase Engagement, Add Value
Take every opportunity to engage with your community and better the lives of your consumers. Your brand inherently holds more power than the individual person. So, use this to everyone’s advantage. In demonstrating a deeper sense of care and commitment through voice and action, you’ll earn unmatched levels of growth and consumer loyalty in return. Speak honestly on topics that align with your brand and benefit your consumers, participate in local fundraising events, provide useful tips, like how to find the right doctor for you, or find other ways to add a little good to the world.
Now, Not Tomorrow
Baby boomers place higher importance on being well informed, socially relevant, and more connected than ever before – and future generations will only require a heavier focus on this. Brands need to adapt their strategy to reflect the same priorities. The sooner, the better. Taking the extra steps now to educate and inform your consumers will demonstrate a deeper level of care and put you ahead of the curve. If done well, it will position you as an industry leader.
5. Extend Your Reach
Bring in-person services online. Heavy reliance on technology during the pandemic has created a new world of connectivity and increased trust for many things, like virtual meetings, virtual tours, and telehealth appointments. In all aspects of healthcare, technology can be used to extend your reach and make you the obvious choice every time.
Virtual Tours Videos
The more information and context consumers get from your website, the better. But sometimes words and pictures don’t say enough. Videos allow consumers to imagine themselves in your space and get a better feel for what you offer. The more engaged they are with your content online, the more likely they’ll be to schedule a visit in real life.
Live video calls, group information sessions, family orientations, and check-ins are great ways to engage with consumers, especially those in your peripheral audience. A family member living in Houston, for example, might be looking at retirement homes for their mom in St. Louis. In this case, it’s hard for your website alone to build a high level of trust. But, live video chats and extended appointment availability, will allow you to connect with far-away family members, busy caretakers, or even baby boomers looking to retire in a different city. Simple offerings like this will help you tap into an audience that’s otherwise out of reach.
Making these same virtual amenities available to your local consumers gives them more options, too. The freedom to choose between virtual or in-person tours allows you to cater to a wide range of needs, comfort levels, and personal preferences. Inclusive services like this are important for expanding your reach and inviting everyone to interact with your brand.
Consumers are visiting your website at all hours of the day, and they come with questions. Adding a chat feature to your site is the fastest way to give them personalized answers. Chats can help with things like answering service or billing questions, forward requests to schedule a tour or collect information for creating quotes. Plus, it’s usually faster than a phone call. Not only does this make sense from a customer service standpoint, but it also helps to smooth out day-to-day operations. Reducing the number of customer calls means more time for growth activity and other aspects of your business. If you don’t already have a chat, it might be time to get one.
6. Keep it Fresh
Combine all these steps and you’ve got a baby-boomer-ready website. But building it and leaving it won’t set you up for long-term success. The strongest websites are living, breathing functions of a brand, continuously updated to remain fresh and magnetic. Your products and services will largely remain the same, so give consumers a reason to keep coming back. Making your website function as a utility, with online appointment schedulers and event calendars, or publishing entertaining and engaging blog content are some ways of doing that. But renewing your strategy on a regular basis and keeping a strong grasp on the latest standards is a must. Effective website maintenance requires full focus, which is why many businesses turn to strategic partners to help power and evolve their brand online.