Selling to seniors & web design for seniors

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The findings contained in this white paper are based 5 years of research and usability testing with boomer and senior customers of The CareGiver Partnership. …

The findings contained in this white paper are based 5 years of research and usability testing with boomer and senior customers of The CareGiver Partnership.

It also includes information from published articles where learning is based on quantified research rather than opinion.

Lastly, it includes an excerpt from Adriane Berg’s A Cane Miracle: A Parable on Selling To The Older Adult.

This white paper is focused on the following:

Web design and user interface for an ecommerce site (versus an information only site). A number of principles apply to either however. Designing an ecommerce site is orders of magnitude more challenging than an information only site.

A site targeted to the 50+ market - boomers and seniors. They possess the following differences versus younger individuals as it relates to eCommerce website design:

Less familiarity with the internet including how to navigate, jargon, pointers, browsers, hyperlinks, hover-overs, web search logic, etc.

Diminished eyesight

More skepticism of using a credit card on line, especially with a company they are not familiar with.

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  • 1. 2014220-596900<br />Secrets to Selling <br />to Boomers and Seniors <br />on The Web<br />Tom Wilson<br />President<br />The CareGiver Partnership<br />333 N Commercial Street, Suite 350<br />Neenah, WI 54956<br />800-985-1353<br />Ecommerce Web Design for Older Individuals<br />The findings contained in this white paper are based 5 years of research and usability testing with boomer and senior customers of The CareGiver Partnership. It also includes information from published articles where learning is based on quantified research rather than opinion. Lastly, it includes an excerpt from Adriane Berg’s A Cane Miracle: A Parable on Selling To The Older Adult. <br />This white paper is very focused on the following:<br />Web design and user interface for an ecommerce site (versus an information only site). A number of principles apply to either however. Designing an ecommerce site is orders of magnitude more challenging that information only site. <br />A site targeted to the 50+ market - boomers and seniors. They possess the following differences versus designing a site targeted to younger individuals:<br />Less familiarity with the internet including how to navigate, jargon, pointers, browsers, hyperlinks, hover-overs, web search logic, etc.<br />Diminished eyesight<br />More skepticism of using a credit card on line, especially with a company they are not familiar with. <br />Do’s & Don’ts<br />Do conduct a great deal of research with your target customers. This includes triads, one on ones, large scale quantitative studies and usability testing via storyboards and ultimately, interacting with the website live. <br />On your home page, Do make sure your consumers know who you are, what you do and what your unique selling proposition is. They need to know they are in the right place. Relevance is key.<br />Make everything you can clickable and make it clear that it is. Make sure that where you take a consumer is where they expect to go – logic is critical and you can easily test this. <br />289444-464288<br />Avoid underlining headlines – this can be viewed as a link – unless you intend to link to something else.<br />Don’t use jargon (use “Find Answers” versus “FAQ’s”). Twenty somethings know what FAQ’s are, but not all seniors.<br />Do make ‘calls to action’ clear, large and prominent and highlight around the area to click on. Change the cursor to a hand on clickable areas. <br />insidebottom<br />2767251161873Do use radio buttons rather than dropdown menus where possible (< 10 items).<br />If possible, always stay in one window. If you like to provide useful tips or explanations, consider implementing it in a way that the explanation appears on the same page, such as the pop-up below. <br />Don’t go more than 3-levels deep. Two is better yet. Broad and shallow is the goal.<br />Be consistent throughout your site and use common conventions used on other sites they may be visiting.<br />Use breadcrumbs so shoppers know where they are and where they came from.<br />00<br />Focus on one or two things– and have a call to action. Less is more. White space is good.<br />If you have a well organized site, you don’t need a site map. Site maps are for Google to index. There is debate about this one I realize. <br />Seniors like the phone. Prominently display your 1-800 number wherever you feel they might get stuck and invite them to call for help. <br />Use consistent symbols, icons, nomenclature and button colors throughout the site. <br />Use the same set of navigation buttons in the same place on each page. <br />Put the page title in the same place on each web page. <br />Avoid using features that distract attention from the page objective.<br />Don’t call a ‘Wish List’ a ‘Wish List’ if you’re selling products where this isn’t appropriate – such as adult diapers. Use “Remember This” or something similar instead.<br />Do make your site “easy to use” defined as being able to find information quickly. Consider the users amount of cognitive involvement they want. In other words how much sifting, sorting and processing do they want to have to do.<br />Design the boomer/senior site for efficiency. Don’t provide too much or too little. Boomers and seniors want to complete a task – get in and get out. Visits to most sites aren’t designed to be entertaining.<br />Good/Better/Best & The Paradox of Choice – The old Sears catalog offered goods with three levels of features – good, better and best. When you limit choice to a reasonable level, you make it much clearer for the consumer when to take action. For example the leading blood pressure company offers 11 different products. Simply present three. An interesting book on the confusion that occurs when consumers are offered too many choices is The Paradox of Choice. <br />Key Elements to Make a Boomer/Senior Site Easier to Use<br />Tell them what your site offers – ours is Home Care Products That Help Maintain Dignity. Support this with a visual. <br />762060960<br />Show users where to look - Create a focus on each page. Give consistent visual cues throughout the site.<br />Less is More – Again, create a focus on each page. Make it easy for them to look at what you want to show them. White space is a good thing. It will give your site a premium image and make boomers and seniors want to look at it. <br />New! – As much as New! is used in the marketing world, consumers look for cues such as New! and Improved!<br />Create logical segmentation of product and/or information – Know what your customers are looking for and their general level of the products offered. How would they expect things to be grouped? Don’t categorize items using a manufacturing mind set. It’s frequently not the way consumers view the product or service category or segment. <br />Technology can get in the way. Flash may be cool; sliders may be hip. Keep in mind, you are selling to the LP generation (as in long play records), not the IPOD generation so to speak. Use technology only when it drives the experience, not to “look hip and cool”. <br />Your site is not a beauty contest – a nice looking site is subservient to one which is easy to use. We define nice as looking “trustworthy”, “honest” and “easy to use”. <br />Copy writing for the web<br />
    • Use simple and short sentences.
    • 2. Include bullet points, underlines, bold face, color or highlighting to draw attention to key points.
    • 3. Include a headline that speaks to the main benefit. List features at the end.
    • 4. Limit the number of points you make. Stick to one to five messages in each section. Readers scan and skim, they don’t read. Provide a link to ‘learn more’.
    • 5. Keep paragraphs and sentences short. Paragraphs should express one main idea. Sentences should be simple and straightforward.
    • 6. Write in the active voice. The active voice puts the focus on people and actions.
    • 7. Use the word “you”.
    • 8. Summarize information.
    • 9. Be clear, be simple, avoid jargon. Use “Find Answers” versus FAQ’s.
    • 10. Define unfamiliar terms. If you need to use a term that most older adults do not know, define it when you use it.
    • 11. Be positive. For example use: “Good news about new products for incontinence.” This sounds better than “Are you an incontinence suffer?”
    • 12. Provide sufficient spacing between lines of copy. White space is a good thing.
    • 13. Write in columns where appropriate. It’s easier to scan and skim in columns and readers won’t lose their place across the page.
    • 14. Use an easy to read typeface like this Tahoma or Arial in a 12 to 14-point font size.
    • 15. Tell readers how to change the size of type by simply clicking on the Ctrl (Control) key and the plus size (or minus to make it smaller) or add a font size adjuster tool AAA to your page.
    • 16. Make headlines the biggest and subheads bigger than body copy. Weight the headline. Underline, bold face or highlight key words or phrases. Make the copy scanable and skimable. Link to in-depth information.
    • 17. Don’t write with all caps. It’s harder to read. That’s why the Federal government is spending millions to change all the street signs from WASHINGTON ST. TO Washington St.
    • 18. Left justify is easiest to read – it doesn’t insert big gaps. Google proved this in 2010.
    • 19. Don’t use white letters with a dark background. Instead, use dark type or graphics against a light background. It’s easier to read.
    • 20. 460884247040Avoid patterned backgrounds.
    • 21. Use high-contrast color combinations, such as black type against a white background. See screenshot above.
    • 22. Avoid layering shades of the same color, such as dark blue type on a light blue background. Avoid colors that clash. For example, dark blue on red is very difficult on the eye.
    • 23. Avoid yellow and blue and green in close proximity. The differences in these colors are difficult for many older people to see.
    • 24. Use colors to group information visually.
    Use visuals where they compliment the copy and the sale. Don’t use them for filler. They slow down your site. Use the smallest image possible.<br />525423361615<br />Ongoing, in-depth research proves that all age groups are leery of identity theft and having their financial information compromised. The older the individual, the more concerned they are. You need well recognized trust marks. In 2009, the BBB introduced a grading system, so if your site is an A – tell people. Having said that, we have researched the BBB logo with seniors 50+ over the past three years and found that it has little to no purchase motivation. In November 2010, the BBB in an investigation by Brian Ross of ABC, was found to be gaming the system by selling enhanced ratings for a fee. Beginning in 2011, we will no longer be using the BBB as a trust symbol. According to a quantitative brand recognition study, VeriSign is the most trusted trust brand, more than double that of the next competitor. <br />The trust marks are especially important on shopping and checkout pages. <br />1236981062736The padlock icon will become old fashioned in the near future. Move now to an extended validation certificate so when consumers shop on your site, they see the green. They will soon learn that ‘green means go’. <br />Break information into short sections. Giving people a small amount of content at one time makes it easier for them to grasp and recall information. <br />Group related topics visually. Use page layout to show how information is organized.<br />-19812146431<br />145224127980Write a clear, informative heading for each section. Clear headings give people anchors on the page and help them select desired content. <br />316103268986<br />Incorporate buttons such as “Next” and “Back” for ease of navigation between related web pages. Create an action button directing the users toward the most likely next action they will want to take. Notice that “Next” below is slightly larger and stands out more than the “Back” button.<br />1245108245491<br />Make sure that the “Back” button takes them back to where they expect to go.<br />Make menus easy to use.<br />If you use pull-down or fly-out menus, make them open and close on a click. <br />Do not use menus that require users to slide the mouse and click all in one movement.<br />Write descriptive, easy-to-read links that help people predict what will happen next. <br />4318665861Use action words (verbs) when the link is about taking an action.<br />Make visited links change color.<br />843281122426Icons and buttons are easier to find when they are large, bright, and in a color that contrasts with the background. Colors for buttons and icons should be different from the color of the surrounding text.<br />Use large buttons that do not require precise movements to activate. <br />Use single mouse clicks to access information. <br />Treat double clicks as single clicks. That is, if a person clicks more than once on a link or button, accept the first click and ignore the other clicks.<br />Do not set pages so that people have to scroll horizontally.<br />If possible, design as much of your site so that no scrolling is necessary. Keep important information “above the fold”… that part of the page that is visible on most users screens without having to scroll. If you use Google Analytics, you’ll know the most common screen size of your users. Design your site for this size.<br />Include a search bar even though many users realize that they aren’t that helpful. Don’t rely on a search tool for your users to find things. This is a tool of last resort. <br />7358381258316Keep the search tool on the same part of the page on each page. Anticipate what consumers are looking for. For example, many search on “Depends” when they mean “Depend”. Don’t torture them with a message saying “nothing found”. <br />Offer a telephone number for those who would prefer to talk to a person or provide an e-mail address for questions or comments. Find the pinch and pain points and provide a life line to seniors. Please answer your phone right away. Don’t force them to make choices, push buttons and then wait on hold. <br />469142125512Video is really helpful, especially in ecommerce. “Show and tell” sells more than just telling -- and it improves retention. Tip: post video to YouTube and link to it. Load times will be faster and it’s much easier to set up. Consider providing transcripts of the video. <br />www.caregiverpartnership.com//advertising.aspx<br />All images should relate to the copy and reinforce it – the words and pictures need to go together. They are not space fillers. Use them judiciously as they will slow your page loads. Nothing gets rid of a customer faster than a slow loading site. You’ve got a few seconds. That’s it.<br />Be careful about using pictures of people. The CareGiver Partnership uses bubbleheads rather than real people. The bubbleheads don’t stereotype. They don’t say young or old or black or white. Plus, they’re cute and widely accepted. They also help differentiate the brand. <br />97142333312141484553919222485263481076<br />If your site uses a wider format, use columns. Columns are easier to read. Also, add some space between the lines and make the font size large enough for older eyes. <br />Single Column<br />Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.<br />It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).<br /> <br />Double Column<br />Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.<br />It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).<br />Get Your Online Store in Order<br />Old people don’t buy on the internet. That’s not true. It is true that they are less likely to purchase. There are a number of reasons for this:<br />They aren’t used to it. They don’t know how to search, sort and shop.<br />Their adult children have told them never to give out their credit card information on the web (or over the phone).<br />They may not have a credit card.<br />There is a digital divide around age 60. Those 60+ are less likely to use a credit card to make a purchase online. As age increases, online purchases decrease. This is literally changing every day, right before our eyes. <br />Age<br />060100<br />Consider that beginning in 1950 (those who are 60 today), there were 10,000 babies born every day. These consumers (and the ones behind them) are more internet savvy and willing to use a credit card to purchase on the internet. That is why if you are selling to seniors, you need to create a very strong online shopping experience that is designed to meet the specific needs of boomers. Also, keep in mind that by 1957, the number of babies born every day grew to just under 12,000. The huge wave is upon us. Boomers are used to shopping in nicely, well merchandised and stocked stores. They also remember personalized customer service. You will stand out if you offer it, because no one else does. <br />Auto Ship and Marketing to Seniors<br />Ecommerce retailers selling replenishable supplies have developed auto ship programs under names such as Personalized Delivery Plan (hdis.com) or Subscribe & Save (Amazon – 5/15/07) and Auto Delivery Program (continenceconnection.com). The CareGiver Partnership has conducted consumer insight research surrounding automatically scheduled delivery with seniors over a four year period and invented a new process. The patent pending process addresses the key issue holding consumers back from setting up recurring delivery: “how often should I schedule a delivery?” The algorithm matches pack/count/size of a particular SKU with an individual’s rate of consumption. The invention also provides a range of tools to make it easy to manage the all aspects of the process including the ability delay or cancel shipments, change products, add products and change shipping and billing information. Seniors do not want to feel like they are locked in. Since implementation of the invention on the company’s website (www.caregiverpartnership.com) in April 2009, auto ship customers increased 85%. The company is now in talks with organizations seeking to license the technology. <br />Research conducted by The CareGiver Partnership also determined that branding and describing the service are also important. Consumers, especially seniors, are leery of joining or signing up for a “program” and being locked in. That’s why words such as “plan” “subscribe” and “program” are poor descriptive choices. The CareGiver Partnership branded their version of auto ship the Never Run OutSM automatically scheduled delivery service. Consumers are told that if “they elect to take advantage of the Never Run Out service, they will save”. This is in contrast to asking them “if you want to sign up for our plan. Taking advantage of a service is less scary than joining a plan or signing up for a service. These small nuances, make a big difference. <br />How to Sell to Seniors<br />The 10 Secrets of the Cane Miracle and of Selling to Older Adults<br />Excerpted from Adriane Berg’s A Cane Miracle: A Parable on Selling To The Older Adult<br />1. Sell into their dreams: Older adults have BIG DREAMS, like legacy, values, connectivity, creativity, revisiting great experiences, sharing their life with the younger generations. Tap into non-material dreams.<br />2. Appeal to all 5 senses: Senses decline in varying degrees, smell and taste may be weaker than sight and sound. <br />3. Nostalgia sells to older adults, but get it right: Find a time line of the historical events that older adults lived through. They remember; don’t make mistakes. My favorite example was overheard at a park where the hot dog line was very long. A twenty year old said, “This looks like a bread line. Tell someone the Great Depression is over, it’s not 1970 anymore!”<br />4. Older adults are angry, not demented: The number one problem with older adult customer care is the restrained (and not so restrained) anger and suspicion that many older adults exhibit, often taken as weak mindedness. Many older adults harbor a general feeling of disempowerment, which is expressed through anger. The goal of customer care for the older adult is to empower in any way possible. <br />5. Understand pricing, it’s not the cost it’s the value: The older adult remembers that 5 cents once bought a hamburger. They also know that it doesn’t anymore. Marketers who think older adults are cheap are ones who cannot compete on value.<br />6. Older adults are not yet good candidates for social marketing, but they are often influenced by grandchildren, and caregiver children: If you appeal to their family through social marketing you are on your way to TANGENTIAL MARKETING. Tangential Marketing means selling to the older end user through his/her influential adult child or relative. The key is to assist the adult child to communicate the value of your product or service to their loved one.<br />7. Older adults like to dance and play games: Marketers use music as a common denominator, dance is even more so. If you have a tech savvy group include sweepstakes and games on your site and e-mail.<br />8. Older adults of all ethnicities believe in God, charity and good works in greater proportion than other demographics: Faith based and cause related marketing works with older adults.<br />9. Make things convenient: Home delivery is a selling point, but be sure that the recipient feels safe with the delivery people and can carry the box into the house themselves, or you provide a safe service. If you are selling a personal emergency response system or medication reminder device, be sure to offer someone to set it up for them.<br />10. Expand choice: Life narrows choice as we age. Expand choice to expand business.<br />*************************************************************<br />The CareGiver Partnership works with leading consumer products companies who market products targeted to seniors by using its 30+ years of executive level experience and national database of caregivers and seniors (all of whom are their customers). Research includes triads/focus groups, large scale new product concept studies and in-home use testing.<br />If you would like to learn more about ecommerce web design and testing for seniors and boomers, product development and testing or licensing the auto ship invention, please contact me.<br />Tom Wilson<br />President<br />The CareGiver Partnership<br />333 N Commercial Street, Suite 350<br />Neenah, WI 54956<br />800-985-1353<br />