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To Email Boomers or Not to Email… Is that the Question?

comScore recently reported that web-based email use among those younger than age 55 is on the decline. In response, many pundits are inferring that email will soon not be viable for engaging consumers. Many B2C marketers are examining online strategies and, in some cases, reducing the frequency of email messages delivered to their database of loyal brand enthusiasts.

As a marketer who has managed email programs for national restaurants, I have to say that I disagree with this new fear and tactic. Email is not dying, it’s just evolving and continues to be especially viable for engaging baby boomers and seniors.

The way people of all ages communicate is changing – not a shocking statement to marketers. Relevancy based purely on preferences of message type used to serve as the primary strategy for moving the open rate needle. Now, a new layer of relevancy is in the mix: the preferred avenue of choice for receiving said message. The new (and ever evolving reality) is that we rely on a variety of mediums to receive and send communications – from smart phones, social media, SMS and more.

So what does this mean for marketing strategies targeting Boomers? Knowing that your target consumer is not using email alone presents some clear areas of opportunity for even further email engagement and opens the door for discovering other technologies and online mediums they prefer.

So how should you discover and then leverage this knowledge? Here are some key questions and related insights:

1. How are you connecting? People respond (and most importantly, take ACTION) to messaging that they can relate to because it is relevant to them. Relevancy in email can’t be stressed enough. First, ask the right questions, including how they want to receive news and alerts. After you capture the preferences of your database, be sure that you respect them. There is no quicker way to alienate a Baby Boomer and lose a potential prospect than to ignore what they want.

2. Message frequency: Traditionally the rule of thumb has been no more than two messages per month. Look at your monthly send rate over the last quarter. Are you sending enough? Are you sending too many? Testing and reviewing open rates is a great way to gain insights. Or, just ask your list. They are loyal and won’t be afraid to let you know what they think.

3. What links are Boomer targets following? The most successful integrated campaigns are those that complement each other in order to engage your target market. Why not leverage social media beyond just encouraging people to share your email? You could instead highlight a special feature, gallery, video or content and drive email recipients to that site to complete the action. The same holds true for links that lead to your website to pull the consumer farther down the purchase funnel. Let your message results be your guide- if they are clicking on it it’s time to highlight it.

The old adage is true: knowing is half the battle. Email is not only a great medium for communicating relevant and timely information to Boomers and Seniors, its ability to present dynamic and engaging information tying to other online avenues makes it a no-brainer. So, if you’re questioning “to email or not to email Boomers.” the answer should be a resounding YES.

Join The Conversation

  • ErinRead's picture
    Jul 20 Posted 5 years ago ErinReadRuddick

    Tracey, I'm so glad you mentioned trying and testing. Seems like many marketers forget how much they can learn from mistakes/poor results.

    This post was actually written by my colleague, Beth Rand, but our blog is linked to my email so the SocialMediatoday system put my byline on it. Beth's had experience in developing online strategies for top-tier national restaurant chains including Texas Roadhouse, Subway and McCormick & Schmick’s.  I just wanted to make sure any credit goes to her (

  • Tracey Brown's picture
    Jul 20 Posted 5 years ago Tracey Brown

    Absolutely agree - people are still wondering whether email has been killed by social media, but it is just another way to communicate with people.

    Relevance is key, regardless of channel choice - people will respond to relevant content that is right for them. So if they're no longer opening, clicking, then it's time to try something else.

    The idea about asking your list what works for them is a good one. Frequency and timing are difficult to get right - and people's behaviour in response to email is changing over time. Whereas there used to be a 'right time' or 'right day' to send emails, it's not so easy anymore. 

    But watching what is happening in your base will provide the insights. Test and learn, do more of what works and less of what doesn't. And keep emailing?  YES

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