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Digital Marketing for the Generations – Connecting with Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials

By David Sutton – 

In the digital age, with hundreds of marketing channels, it can be difficult to know which mediums are most appropriate for reaching your ideal target demographic. Realizing that generational differences can alter your marketing goals and adjusting your marketing mix to cater towards different age groups can be critical to any brand’s success.

Baby Boomers

The largest living generation in the United States today are the baby boomers. First instinct might lead you to believe that boomers are slow to respond to digital marketing in lieu of favorability towards traditional mediums. While boomers are perhaps most likely to respond to traditional marketing efforts – like print advertisements or direct mail pieces due to their tangible nature and larger formats – digital marketing plays an important role in reaching them.

In fact, boomers spend upwards of 20 hours a week consuming media content, with the majority spent on a computer.

Facebook is typically a top visited destination for boomers, who were quick to respond to Facebook’s inclusion of older demographics in 2007. This means Facebook is an ideal platform for targeting seniors, while technology overall may still be a learning process for this group.

When utilizing paid search, don’t necessarily heavy up on mobile optimizations when focusing on this generation.

Baby boomers respond best to advertising that utilizes visual, linear storytelling. Think timeline-style images and videos, which Facebook advertising is known for. While this can work in tandem with traditional advertising, steer clear of newer digital channels like Snapchat and even Facebook’s Instagram, which have slower adoption rates for boomers.

Perhaps more than any other generation, the boomers are prone to an upsell due to the traditional nature of sales that this generation has been accustomed to, in additional to being the wealthiest of all living generations.

Generation X

Unlike the baby boomers, Generation X has grown up in a world with enhanced media channels, and are much more adaptable at using it. Like the boomers, Gen X favors visual content and story-based advertising. Advertisers can find Gen Xers responding well to YouTube and other video advertisers, in conjunction with search-based advertising.

With the inclusion of multiple digital advertising sources, it becomes even more important to pay attention to the Gen Xers conversion paths and attribution. Begin to invest in the benefit outside of last click. Don’t forget mobile! Generation X embraced the rise of mobile and utilize smartphones similarly to younger generations.

More so than the boomers, Generation X has a heavy affinity for branding, and are ideal sources for growing a brand’s lifetime value. Gen Xers are less affluent than boomers and are considered coupon consumers. Utilize a larger marketing mix that might include direct mail, since Gen Xers are more likely to make a purchase using a coupon or promotion from a direct mail piece.


Millennials, perhaps the most unique of the generations, may have the largest amount of digital marketing options, considering they’ve grown alongside many connected mediums. However, this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily easy to market to. Millennials’ attention can be a scarce resource and you must stand out quickly to make an impact. Millennials are also the least brand loyal of all the generations, which can prove challenging.

As the first true digital generation, it’s no surprise that millennials are considered mobile-first. Attribution is arguably most important with this generation, since they are prone to utilizing multiple digital channels before making a purchase decision, often heavily on mobile. A large social media mix is important. Think quick-moving channels, such as Snapchat, as an introducer to your product or brand, but don’t expect direct conversions.

With the least brand loyalty, the millennial is a savvy shopper. They’re aware that many choices exist, and customer or critic reviews are important tools to utilize in marketing efforts. The millennial’s fast-moving nature isn’t as responsive to coupon promos, and limited financial means can make up-selling a challenge.

Finally, don’t assume traditional mediums won’t suit a millennial. Radio consumption rates can be highest among millennials, since it reaches a captive audience and the use of sound aids in recognition and memory. Consider a true mass marketing mix, including digital channels like search, display and social media, among traditional mediums such as print and radio. Presence in multiple channels increases response and engages the audience where and how they want to be engaged, while reinforcing the message across different media channels to keep your brand top of mind.

For more information on our suite of marketing services and what we can do for your brand, contact us today!

To learn more about marketing to baby boomers and the 50+ specifically, please visit the website of our sister agency, Coming of Age.

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