In the last couple of years, we have highlighted the continued growing importance of digital marketing and communication with seniors and their families as they look for senior living options. More than ever before, there is a need to build trust with potential families and caregivers as they turn to online resources for critical information and reviews about retirement and senior living options.
In the recent 2019 Senior Living Preferences Survey, we asked caregivers about their priorities and preferences in five major types of senior living communities, including their opinions about neighborhoods, locations and more. The survey found that, in addition to quality of care, affordability, quality of community and the friendliness of staff, another important factor in deciding whether and where to move-in is the communication methods between families and communities. Organizations and communities who have an email marketing campaign in place to connect with families, can distinguish themselves amongst their competitors.
From the survey results, we discovered that families prefer to receive information from providers of senior living communities via email and text/chat, in addition to phone calls. This is an important development from years past when the emphasis in marketing to families was on phone calls, print media and in-person appointments. With email and text becoming more important as preferred communication methods for families, the way in which communities create their communication plans is now a critical factor in whether a family will continue to engage with your community during their senior living search.
Email Continues to Grow
According to Oberlo, by 2022 usage of email is expected to grow to 4.3 billion users. As there are more and more users of the platform, there are increased opportunities to connect with families and distribute marketing pieces such as community videos or promotions.
Adding videos to emails can increase click rates by as much as 300% (Orbelo)
49% of users like to receive promotions. (Orbelo)
Hubspot notes 59% of consumers say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. This is especially insightful for senior living communities who can utilize email to connect with families on the go. Interactive emails that are mobile-friendly can include important resources directly related to caregivers’ interests. This adds a personalized feel to the email and gives the family exactly what they’re looking for in an engaging way.
Key Tips for Providers
- Build a digital marketing plan. As we noted earlier, the survey identified email as the popular choice for communicating with communities, with phone calls ranked second ahead of texts and chats across all care categories. Senior living providers should have email or chat available for online consumers. For communities who have not yet developed a solid strategy for email responses or as part of their digital marketing campaigns, now is the time to start.
- Develop a strong email communication strategy. Last year, we discussed how to connect and build trust with families over email, as well as tips for effective marketing through email. Set up email nurture campaigns reaching out to prospective families about your community, scheduling a tour or visiting an event. Keeping email top of mind as you go forward with your consumer plans into 2020 will be paramount, and these resources will help you develop a strong email communication strategy with your team.
- Maintain positive ratings and reviews for online search. Continue to gather positive ratings and reviews online. In our survey, consumers stated that online reviews and ratings were more important than a recommendation from a family member or friend.Ratings and reviews help people find your communities, but they also are an important way for you to gather feedback from your consumers and improve as needed. These ratings and reviews can also be incorporated into your emails as text or visuals to show consumers the real value your community has provided to other families.
Tips for Community Sales Directors in Communicating Via Email
- Be concise and customize for each particular family. Sales Directors across the country tell us that families are more responsive and engaged in email when the message is brief and customized for their particular situation. Utilize the details in the Referral Alert to customize your message. Also, as many consumers are communicating through a mobile device, think about the size of the screen and how many times they’ll need to scroll down to read your message.
- Include links to meaningful content. Provide a link to one of your pages with an additional valuable resource: whether it’s your vibrant community Facebook page, an article about the improved quality of life for residents and families, or your community virtual tour.
- Include a Call-to-Action. Your email communication is another opportunity to engage with a family and assist the to take the next step in their senior living search. Always include a “close.” For example, an either / or offer – “I’d love to show you our community; would tomorrow afternoon be better for you or Saturday morning?”
- Utilize engaging subject lines. As with your customized message, utilize the subject line to gain the recipient’s attention. Be concise, be customized, be interesting. Maybe it’s as simple as, “Your Mom, Evelyn,” or a call to action, “Let’s meet over a cup of coffee.”
These are the important areas where communities can address the new and emerging consumer preferences as well as industry trends toward more online searches and digital communication. For more information on the 2019 Senior Living Preferences Survey, you can download the full report here.