Content personalization is on all content creators’ minds. That takes many different forms, but one element of targeting the right audience and delivering the right content to them is as simple as catering to their age group. Each age demographic has a unique psychology and world view that influences the decisions they make-including what content they consume. What attracts one demographic will not necessarily attract them all. So how do you get your content in front of the right audience?  

Identify Your Target Audience

You need to start at the beginning, by simply targeting the audience you want. “Understand your segment of the market, age group, and their potential needs or desires for your product or service, and you can start to craft messages, images and videos that relate to your target market, ride current trends, and engage emotionally with stories,” says Andrew Vink, founder of Yousemble, a platform designed to craft websites that reach your target audience. 

Of course, creating great content that speaks to your targeted group isn’t as easy as simply identifying who they are. You have to know what they want. Let’s take a look at how two age groups look at the same product very differently. Jodi, a 20-year-old student, says she loves her iPhone because of its ability to store and play music. In contrast, Susan, a 55-year-old business professional, says she is impressed with business features on the same phone. So, an advertisement for iPhones targeted to people under the age of 30 will focus on the entertainment capabilities, whereas one targeting older users might focus on the more practical capabilities. Now, keep Jodi and Susan in mind as you move through this article.

Create Content for the Audience You Want

“Creating copy and images that create curiosity creates clicks, and when you get a response, that means you have reached the right age group,” Vink says. But before you can get those clicks, you have to create the kind of content your targets are looking for.

Older generations are more likely to look online for information or product reviews than for entertainment. When creating content for Susan and her peers, presenting plenty of fact-based content will help pull them in. On the other hand, Jodi and her friends want to be entertained and engaged. Games, fun videos, and shocking stories encourage them to delve into content.

Video is often touted as the most popular type of content on the web. When it comes to younger audiences, however, they like to keep it short and to the point. They tend not to watch long videos. A particularly effective safety campaign for Metro trains, entitled “Dumb Ways to Die” gained enormous popularity and featured cartoon characters being killed in a variety of preventable ways, including train accidents. The morbid yet entertaining video with contrasting background music appealed to Jodi’s generation.

Meanwhile, those over 45 require more subtle messaging. Rather than stereotyping and patronizing, they require inclusion and validation. For example, Toyota Venza’s advertisement shows parents out having adventures while their kids obsess about social media presence and puppy videos.

Tap into the Power of Images

The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words still rings true in the digital age-but you still need to keep your audience’s age in mind. Vink says, “Articles with images or video are shared more than those without. You need to tap into what everyone is talking about, wearing, trying, or using within a certain age group,” adds Vink. This means keeping an ear close to the ground and hooking your product into an event or trend that your target demographic is interested in.

So if you’re looking to reach 20-year-old Jodi, you may create a YouTube video that shows someone using your product at a music festival. If you want Susan to buy your product, you might create an advertisement that shows a business person using your product to get their job done throughout the day and run that ad on a business news website.


Use Emotion to Connect with Your Audience

Holly Goodier, director of marketing and audiences at BBC Digital, is a strategist, researcher and innovation expert who investigates the digital behaviors of different age groups. In a presentation at the 2015 Thinking Digital Conference, Goodier recommended that business messages need to be expressive, empowering, and entertaining. They do this by creating an emotional connection with audiences. But all age groups don’t react the same way to the same content.

Goodier’s advice is reinforced by Vink, who adds, “Positive emotions and amusement rank higher than negative ones.” Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches Campaign revealed the disparity between how women see themselves, and how others see them. The campaign aimed to elicit positive emotions from women. This campaign had a greater impact on Susan, who could identify with issues related to aging. It allowed her to see herself in a kinder light, which made her feel more confident in her appearance. Jodi, however, was only mildly distracted by the campaign and, although she felt better about herself after watching the video, it had no lasting impact on her.

Different Online Engagement Tactics for Different Age Groups

In her presentation, Goodier said that the secret to engaging different age groups online is to cater to their particular needs. Younger segments of the population-ages 15 to 35-will happily record videos of their opinions and contribute to blogs, while older people may be less outspoken and confine themselves to a few clicks indicating their opinion. “You need to design for this difference while at the same time encouraging the older segment of the population to dip more than a toe in the water of online communication,” says Goodier.

Jodi and Susan have different life experiences, different views on the world, and different goals. It stands to reason that they need to be approached differently, taking their wants and needs into account. Jodi will not need to be encouraged to share something she finds amusing or interesting online, but may not be concerned with current events and their impact on business or the economy. Susan, on the other hand, understands how current events impacts her directly or indirectly and will only share those things that she feels is important for others to be aware of or content that has a profound impact on her.

Before you can begin to plan your content strategy, you need to identify your target demographic. Consider their age, their situation, their interests, what they look for online; and then determine how you will provide them with the content they crave. 

(Images courtest of Shutterstock.)