Guest Blog: Senior Communication Methods May Surprise You
The following is a guest blog from Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC:
An organization called Exact Target recently published a report entitled The 2012 Channel Preference Survey. No it's not about television channels, but it is about media channels that all consumers use. I honed in on the 45+ age segments. I think you will find the results surprising as you plan marketing and sales efforts.
Consumers were asked what channels they use for personal, written communications. Remember this is personal communication.
- 45-54 use e-mail 55% of the time; text messages 30%; and posting to Facebook 5%. Direct mail, instant messaging, Google+, Twitter, blogs - all of these hardly registered.
- 55-64 use e-mail 77% of the time; text messages 14%; and posting to Facebook 5%.
- 65+ use e-mail 91% of the time; text messages 4%; and they do not use Facebook.
Remember this for how they communicate with friends and loved ones not what they have given permission for marketers to do. So while we do obsess about social media, the truth is for boomers and seniors, e-mail is very much alive.
Now let's get to what you are allowed to do in their eyes. The preferred channels for permission-based promotional messages were as follows:
- 45-54 said you could use e-mail 79% of the time; direct mail 10%; and text messaging 6%. If they give you permission!
- 55-64 said you could use e-mail 81% of the time; direct mail 14%; and text messaging 1%.
- 65+ said you can use e-mail 79% of the time; direct mail 14%; and forget about text messaging.
So it is very interesting that direct mail has its place. And the one-two punch here is to use direct mail as a way to collect e-mails. Once you have permission by e-mail you have a fairly captive audience. The above covers communicating with these audiences. In terms of purchasing, well the channels change slightly.
Let's move to the mass media. Ask which mass media channels influenced a purchase of a product or service, respondents said:
- 45-54 said a commercial on television influenced them 59% of the time; an advertisement in the newspaper 43%; an advertisement in a magazine 38%.
- 55-64 said a commercial on television influenced them 40% of the time; an advertisement in the newspaper 40%; an advertisement in a magazine 31%.
- 65+ said a commercial on television influenced them 45% of the time; an advertisement in the newspaper 47%; an advertisement in a magazine 32%.
And when they have actually purchased something through a media channel it looked like this:
- 45-54 purchased through e-mail 71% of the time; through direct mail 72%; and by telephone 30%.
- 55-64 purchased through e-mail 68% of the time; through direct mail 75%; and by telephone 23%.
- 65+ purchased through e-mail 66% of the time; through direct mail 85%; and by telephone 27%.
It is interesting that the telephone entered in, given the Do Not Call lists that most people subscribe.
Now health care of course, is a crapshoot, but the takeaway so far is:
- Use mass media to set the stage.
- Follow it with direct mail; ask for e-mail permission.
- Move the relationship to an e-mail-based exchange.
Study authors were most surprised by the prevalence of e-mail in this year's finding.
One more data set for you and this gets more to perhaps how people do communicate about healthcare issues through word of mouth. When asked what channels they were using to share content with friends or family, the responded:
- 45-54 use e-mail 65% of the time; post it on Facebook 27% and call someone on the phone 35%.
- 55-64 use e-mail 74% of the time; post it on Facebook 17% and call someone on the phone 34%.
- 65+ use e-mail 76% of the time; post it on Facebook 11% and call someone on the phone 27%.
So people are sharing word of mouth by e-mail and phone and sometimes by Facebook. Marketers should download and study this report and subscribe to future ones as well. Social media, despite the hoopla, may not be as pervasive in your caregivers and customers minds. In fact, right before the Facebook IPO more than 50% predicted it was a fad. And first day trading was flat.
Anthony Cirillo is the about.com expert in assisted living. A speaker, health care consultant, senior advocate and blogger, he consults with long-term care facilities and is available for management retreats and association keynotes. He is the author of "Who Moved My Dentures?" His company, Fast Forward Consulting empowers organizations to change the healthcare experience and leverage it in their marketing. For more information go to More atwww.4wardfast.com.