Digital Marketing to Seniors

Donovan Cronkhite
President, RJM

Posted On March 27, 2020

Even today, when dealing with the senior market, digital marketing solutions can often be seen as "too new". Public perception of seniors is that they haven’t needed to, or aren’t interested in adapting to new technologies such as social media, smartphones, tablets, or online shopping. But inside senior living, we know that’s not the case.

Continuing care retirement communities and independent living campuses have seen their active seniors participate in learning sessions for iPads, join social media to keep up with grandchildren, and insist on fast and reliable Wi-Fi and broadband access.

What you’re seeing happen in your own community isn’t an oddity. A Pew Research study conducted in January, 2018 showed that 41% of those 65 and older used Facebook. Those adoption rates continue to climb when you look at college educated seniors with a household income of $75,000 or more, to close to 60%.

We’re seeing it too

Marketing to seniors doesn’t just have to be newspaper ads and direct mail. At RJM, we’re seeing our senior living clients have great success with digital advertising on its own, or combined with traditional marketing.

Our clients see a higher open rate on their email marketing – 37% – than the industry average of 25%. Using a qualified leads list combined with anyone who has opted in online, these regular emails offering helpful articles, community events, and invites to special events also gather a 15% click through rate – almost four times higher than the industry average of 4%.

Content marketing is used in conjunction with digital advertising as an effective outreach to seniors. Using a combination of Facebook and Google Ads, RJM has been able to reach potential residents through intent and demographic profiles. Each campaign is sent to a specialized landing page that offers more information for download or an on-site opportunity in exchange for the visitor’s contact information. For one client, this has meant 222 inbound leads over the last 15 months.

How to reach seniors with digital campaigns

Reaching seniors with digital campaigns requires a few different executions aligned to keep your leads list full. Deciding to move into a senior living option, and deciding which one to choose, doesn’t happen immediately. Nobody “one click buys” their next housing option. It takes time and information to make these decisions.

Content to offer

Your potential residents are looking for information to help them make a decision. So instead of just sending them to your website, create an offer of something special. Generally, this takes the form of one of two different forms. First is a downloadable document containing additional information about your community – floorplans, FAQ guides, financial calculators, or campus brochures all work well here and are easily available. Offering a RSVP slot for an on-campus event is a second option. From open houses to lunch-and-learns, the options range from the large to small. Developing a range of content also allows you to reach potential residents through their buying journey, delivering the information they’re looking for at the right time.

Specialized landing pages

Make the process simple. In digital marketing all of the points of contact must align. Your website may be content rich, but that can be the problem. Simplify the process and create a specialized landing page that only addresses the point made in the digital ad with a contact form front and center. You’ll increase your chances of a contact if you offer one decision to make instead of twenty.

Choosing your digital media

While seniors are adapting to digital, they’re not early adopters. In our experience, there are three main channels for reaching this demographic online. Facebook is a great advertising platform to generate top funnel leads for follow-up. While Facebook may initially flag ads for Equal Housing Act violations, this is easily refuted and being able to segment your audience by age and location is powerful. The other caveat for Facebook – running ads consistently dilutes return on investment after about 60 days. This media craves to have the offer and schedule varied.

Intent based digital should also make up a large portion of your digital media options. Google Ads is the big driver in this arena, but RJM has also found that Bing generates less, but often more qualified, leads through search. Search advertising allows you to reach down the buying cycle and capture those close to a decision. They’ve made the decision to choose a senior living community, now it’s time to choose which one.

Search platforms like Google also allow you to take advantage of retargeting advertising. This display based (banner ads) advertising will reach the audience who has already interacted with your website and landing pages across the web, offering a second chance to learn more.

Lastly, you’ve worked hard to gather contact information from leads. Don’t let that information go unused. Develop a consistent and quality newsletter that can go to this leads base. Mixing helpful financial, health, or cultural articles of interest to seniors in with articles and photos of on-campus events and news helps your leads understand that this isn’t just another marketing newsletter. Be consistent and helpful and your open rates and click through rates will show an active and engaged audience. After all, 55% of those aged 65 – 74 share information via email.

Still not quite sure?

Does the idea of generating 15 or more leads a month online get you excited, only to have that excitement tempered by the idea of managing a digital campaign? That’s where RJM comes in. With 40 years of experience creating marketing campaigns that grow customers, we have the staff and expertise to execute digital campaigns that generate leads for your community. We’d love to talk about how a digital campaign could help you keep your leads list full of prospective residents.