In spite of evidence to the contrary, some marketers still operate under the incorrect assumption that today’s seniors don’t spend time online or rely on technology to make purchase decisions. In reality, seniors are more tech-savvy than ever, with 88% of adults aged 50-64 and 73% of adults over 65 identifying themselves as internet users. In fact, today’s target audience for senior living communities will rely on online searches, online reviews, digital ads, and your property website to help make their final housing decision much the same way younger generations do. Still, that doesn’t mean you should use all the same digital marketing strategies for senior housing as you would for student or multifamily communities. There are some crucial nuances to be aware of.
When it comes to Active Adult housing, digital marketing strategies should focus on the platforms where these active adult prospects spend most of their time. For Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care, your strategy should also appeal to the adult children of senior prospects who are often assisting or directing the housing search. Your digital marketing should also take into account the prolonged digital renter’s journey that can be common for senior prospects, who often have more flexibility regarding when they choose to move out of their current home. Finally, a digital marketing strategy for senior housing should be tailored to address common priorities for senior prospects, including sense of safety, reliability, and community.
There are many strategies you can employ to meet these unique demands of the senior housing market, from unique ad types to website design. Here are some of the top digital marketing strategies for senior housing.
Addressable Marketing Campaigns
Addressable Marketing is emerging as the direct mailer for the digital age, making it a particularly excellent choice when marking housing to seniors. It allows ads and other media to be served to individual households across a number of personal devices—TVs, smartphones, personal computers, etc. These ads can target prospects based on household location, age, income level, home equity information, number of household members, and a variety of interests, resulting in highly qualified online and offline traffic from prospects who are more likely to convert.
Because it targets your audience household-by-household, this tactic shares many of the benefits of the direct mailer while also saving on design and printing costs and allowing you the flexibility to target your audience with data aggregation tools rather than requiring you to have a list of addresses ready at hand. These data aggregation tools and fine-tuned targeting factors can help you hone in on senior prospects who may be ready to move, like empty nesters who may be looking to downsize, for example.
When creating an Addressable Marketing Campaign, you start by defining the audience you’re hoping to reach across factors like household location, interests, and other demographic information such as age, income level, etc. Then, though data aggregation tools, micro-geofences are drawn around each physical address that meets those data requirements. Next, a conversion zone is drawn around a specific location where you want to measure foot traffic (e.g. your leasing office).
When a prospect enters your micro-geofenced locations (e.g. physical home address), they will be targeted with your ads on their mobile and desktop devices for a set amount of time (30 days is typical). When the customer enters the conversion zone (e.g. leasing office) with their mobile device after being served your ad, the conversion zone recognizes the prospect and attributes their visit as an offline conversion. OR, if a prospect converts online by filling out a contact form, that action is measured as an online conversion.
By now, it’s well-understood that most seniors and active adults have adopted social media. In particular, older generations tend to use Facebook. Many seniors use Twitter and Instagram as well—some even use TikTok—but Facebook reigns supreme for its focus on fostering connections with family, friends, and acquaintances both current and past. To get specific, 72% of American adults between the ages of 50 and 64 were on Facebook in 2016, as were 62% over 65 and those figures are even higher in 2021. Naturally, this also means that seniors between the ages of 50 and 70 respond well to Facebook advertising. After all, 15% of users in this age range spend 11+ hours per week on the site.
Facebook offers a wide variety of ad types, be we particularly recommend Traffic and Lead Generation Campaigns for senior and active adult prospects. Traffic Campaigns are especially useful as an awareness tactic, targeting users within a geographic area and proactively serving ads to users with relevant interests and demographics. This ensures seniors nearby are aware of your community when they are ready to start their housing search. And because seniors tend to take longer to finalize their housing choice than younger generations, building that awareness over time is particularly rewarding when it comes to these prospects.
Lead Generation campaigns allow users to submit their name, email, and phone number directly on the Facebook platform, sending this information directly to property staff for quick and easy follow-up. This tactic is excellent for senior housing marketing because it gets prospects on the fast track to a real conversation with your staff, which many seniors still find preferable to the experience of browsing a website and hunting for information online.
Facebook can also do retargeting campaigns, which target users that have already interacted with your ads or Facebook posts before, making it useful as a way to keep top-of-mind with prospects. But bear in mind that older generations tend to be more wary of data tracking than younger generations who tend to see these tactics as the norm. That means aggressive retargeting campaigns may strike them as eerie and invasive rather than convenient and friendly. However, retargeting them sparingly and with the right message can result in increased conversion rates.
When it comes to lead nurturing, Email Marketing is hard to beat. That’s especially true for seniors and active adults who tend to value personalized interactions directly from leasing staff when making their decision. So when developing your email marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate personalization as often as possible.
For more tips to enhance your Email Marketing strategy, Check out our article below.
Before signing a lease with you, your prospects are going to research your community’s online reputation on sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Apartments.com, and ApartmentRatings.com. And that’s not just true for younger generations. Seniors (and their adult children who sometimes assist in or steer the housing search) also pay attention to reputation and use online reviews as well as word of mouth to determine whether they can trust a housing community.
When your prospects conduct this research, it’s important that what they find inspires their confidence. A poor online reputation means fewer prospects make it to your website, choose to schedule a tour, or take the plunge and sign a lease with you. In fact, a study by Harvard Business School showed that a one-star increase in your ratings can result in up to a 9% increase in your overall revenue.
There are many things you can do to improve your online reputation, including encouraging reviews from loyal residents and responding to the reviews you get, both positive and negative. For more tips on how to improve your online reputation, we have another article you should check out.
Website UX Upgrades
A poor website experience is frustrating for everyone. Those who are especially tech-savvy may find their way around a poorly designed and developed website, but often prospects will just give up and look elsewhere. Poor website UX results in high bounce rates, low SEO rankings, less website traffic, and ultimately fewer digital conversions.
When it comes to improving UX for seniors, consider all the factors you normally would (page load times, easy scannability, a clear hierarchy of information, prominent calls to action, etc.). Also consider avoiding smaller font or icon sizes or images with poor contrast. This makes your website more legible to everyone, not just to seniors.
Most importantly, ensure you have clear CTAs in prominent areas of the page to direct users to the actions you want them to take, such as viewing available floor plans, exploring amenities, and most importantly, contacting your leasing staff.