How to market across generational lines

Marketing in the digital era is a complex task with so many variables that can negatively impact the performance of the strategy. On the one hand, you have young adults and teenagers who are digital-savvy and spend a lot of time on social media channels, and on the other hand, you have elderly people who barely know how emails work.

Usually, this doesn’t present much of a problem to businesses with specific target audiences in different age demographics, but what if your product or service can be used by people of all ages? How do you go about marketing your offering across generational lines?

Not all of your consumers will get their information in the same way, and they probably won’t all visit the same social media platforms or websites. On top of this, the way in which your consumers use the internet is likely to change over time – there will be trends that come and go.

The key is to understand the different sectors of your target market and how they utilise the internet to discover, access and consume content.

For example, according to HubSpot’s research, millennials are no longer only looking for gadgets and clothing but are increasingly looking for homes, baby products and B2B software. They show a strong preference for video, social media and mobile content.

Include mobile in your delivery of content marketing

Girl using mobile phone while sipping iced coffee

One of the first thinks you need to include in your marketing plan is a mobile version of the content you produce (or make sure that it is mobile-friendly). Everyone, regardless of age, accesses the internet through their smartphones at some point during the day.

On the whole, mobile internet access is 5% more common than computer access now, although there are still some generational differences. 68% of people aged between 18 and 24 prefer to access the internet through their phones, whereas only 22% of those aged 55 and older prefer to use their phones.

Research shows that people older than 45 prefer to access the internet through a laptop or computer. People younger than 45 are more likely to use a smartphone, so mobile marketing is an important aspect to factor into your strategy. Most of these consumers use their phones while they commute, before they sleep, when they wake up and throughout the day.

What websites should you target?

Older man on old website using laptop

Like smartphone use, people of different ages prefer to get their information from different sources. Google and Facebook are the two big sites that people of all ages use. Your marketing strategy probably already includes SEO rankings and social media rollouts to get your content onto these platforms. But what about other publications, websites and methods of communication?

People older than 35 are more likely than younger consumers to visit a specific website, such as a news agency or business publication, for their information. Consumers older than 45 are more likely to sign up for newsletters.

Across the board, Google and Facebook are your best sources for traffic, but thereafter the marketing methods you use depend on the specific age group you want to target. To cut across generational lines, make sure your SEO is strong and that you have a good Facebook rollout of your content.

What formats should you use for your content marketing?

Video camera on tripod

As mentioned before, millennials prefer video and social media content to written text. People older than 45 prefer to read news articles, reports and emails. So if your marketing strategy includes a mix of visual and written content, you’ll be able to reach consumers of all ages.

According to the research, the most balanced format (and favoured by all ages) is in-depth articles that include strong visual elements such as infographics, photographs and videos. Podcasts and long-form content are less popular will all age groups.

Email newsletters can still be a smart format despite their lack of popularity with young adults. People aged 40 and older still have a preference for branded newsletters over any other format of content.

Every new generation that enters the potential consumer market will bring with it a new preference for accessing and consuming content. Marketers will have to adapt to these changes to effectively target the newcomers.

In order to properly market across generational lines, these new trends will need to be analysed through real research so that the best possible strategy can be developed.


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