If you’ve been following us for long, you know how important we think buyer personas are. A buyer persona is a fictionalized version of your ideal customer — from broad demographics like age, gender, and location to specific hobbies, interests, and purchasing patterns.
In an inbound marketing system, buyer personas should inform everything you do — the wording you use in your blogs, the social media networks you put your time and energy into, the layout of your website, even the colors and imagery of your branding and packaging. Knowing who you’re marketing to is the foundation of everything else.
What that means is that it is vitally important that you know who your buyer personas are and, more importantly, what they’re like. How do they make decisions? How do they shop? How do they use the web? How do they talk to their friends? The answers to some of these might surprise you.
1. Baby Boomers Might Be More Tech-Savvy Than You Think
Just five years ago, only 18% of baby boomers owned a smartphone. If your business was done through apps or on mobile, you might as well ignore anyone over 45 years old. Not any more. Boomers are more connected than they’ve ever been.
Perhaps more surprisingly, 57% of Boomers use a tablet. That’s compared to 35% of millennials and only 5% of Gen Xers. Maybe it’s the larger screen, maybe it’s the higher price point that younger people can’t stomach, but the fact remains that the tablet market is probably older than you thought.
2. Every Generation Has Multi-Device Users
The stereotype of young people — especially Gen Z and millennials — is that they’re glued to their phones. But don’t discount the personal computer just yet. 70% of millennials own a laptop and 57% own a desktop, making them the first generation more likely to own a laptop than a desktop.
And while 98% of Gen Zers report owning a smartphone — the biggest slice of any generation — almost nine in 10 of them also reports having access to a desktop or laptop at home.
The older generations are definitely more likely to own a computer — roughly 60% of Gen Xers and Boomers have a computer at home, and they spend more time on them than the younger generations — but the takeaway here is that no matter who your buyer persona is, you can’t afford a single-touchpoint approach. You need to meet them where they are, and that means both desktop and mobile.
3. Every Generation Uses The Internet — They Just Use It Differently
Two-thirds of Boomers say they use the internet, and half of them have broadband in their homes. Problem is, only 26% of them say they feel confident using electronics to do what they need to do online. And fully 28% of them say they have some kind of health problem or disability that keeps them from using certain devices.
On the other end of the spectrum, 97% of millennials say that they use the internet — basically all of them — and 28% say they only use their smartphones to get online and don’t even have broadband at home.
As for what they’re doing online? 57% of Gen Z say they’re using messaging apps at least half the time they use their phone, so direct, personalized messages will resonate better with them than with older generations.
4. Facebook Is For Old People — Sort Of
While it’s a little harsh to say that Facebook is just for old people, it’s true in a sense — while everyone is on Facebook, Boomers are using it more than anyone else is. 70% of Boomers say that they log into Facebook on a daily basis, while only 51% of Gen Z say it’s their favorite way to share content.
How old are your buyer personas? While Google+ and LinkedIn are the most popular platform for boomers to share content, Gen X use YouTube and Twitter and millennials use Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest more than anyone else.
They’re not just looking, either. 30% of millennials say that they engage with a brand on social media at least once a month, and some Gen Zers are even buying products directly from Snapchat if the ad was interesting and timely.
5. Being Online Is A Part-Time Job
It’s easy to assume that the younger generations are online more than the older ones, but that’s not necessarily true. Millennials say they spend about 19 hours a week on smartphones, but for Gen X, that number is 21 hours, and over 25% of Boomers consume 20 or more hours of content a week.
Even more susprisingly, Gen X spends more time on all devices — 21 hours on smartphones, nine on PCs, and four on tablets, than millennials.
In total, 90% of Gen Z say that they go online at least multiple times a day, but their parents aren’t far behind — 75% of Boomers say they’re online every day, and 10% say they’re online “almost constantly.”
What should you take from this? Depending on your audience, the number of touchpoints you have in a given day will vary. 40% of Boomers say that they consume most of their content between 5 a.m. and noon — an early email they can read over breakfast might be your best bet to reach them.
With Gen Z, on the other hand, you have all the time in the world — they’re online all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. Given the amount of online time they book each day, it’ll be easier for your content to get drowned out by everything else they see.
6. Brand Engagement Means Different Things To Different People
The type of messaging you spread on social media will depend on the generation of the buyer persona you’re targeting — younger generations are on the lookout for entertainment and personal communication, with millennials twice as likely to turn to social media instead of phone or email to communicate with a brand.
Older generations, on the other hand, want basic brand information and deals, not a social experience — 29% of Boomers will opt out of marketing or unfollow social accounts if they feel they’re hearing too much from you.
Across the board, though, it helps you to be involved in social media. Over half of Boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials say they’ll follow a brand on social media before making a purchase, and 60% of users across generations say they’re more likely to buy from brands they follow.
The trick is to make sure you’re putting out the right kind of content. Millennials and Gen X want to be entertained, but they won’t hesitate to unfollow a brand that turns offensive or annoying. The line between the two, unfortunately, is something you’ll have to find on your own.
7. The Path To a Purchase Looks Very Different
The buyer’s journey is the term we use to describe the path that a stranger takes from first hearing about your brand to making a purchase from you, and it’s something we’ve written extensively about in the past.
In today’s information age, impulse buying is on the decline — 85% of Boomers and 90% of millennials say they research products online before making a purchase.
And it’s not just information they’re looking for — while only 12% of Boomers say they make purchasing decisions based on advice from family and friends, that number is 60% for millennials, and 73% of Gen Z say they’d buy based on a social media recommendation.
Because word of mouth is so important, your brand can’t just talk itself up. You need to be taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC) like reviews and mentions on Instagram to boost your credibility, or you’ll be missing out on sales.
Buyer Personas Are Paramount
What all this information comes back to is that each generation is different — if you’re not marketing in the right way, you’re not reaching the people who actually want to buy your stuff. And this is just about technology! Other categories — where your customers live, where they eat, what they like to do in their spare time — will be similarly fragmented once you start looking into them.
Do your research! It might take time and money to truly narrow down where and how your marketing efforts are best spent, but that’s nothing compared to what you’ll save by not wasting your money in the wrong places.