What are your prospects looking for when searching for a senior living community? What’s most important to them?
Understanding how your prospects make decisions is key to successful senior living marketing. Here’s what your prospects are looking for when it comes to the senior living industry.
4 Factors Driving Consumer Choices in the Senior Living Industry
1. Affordability and Financial Security
Cost is one of the most important factors in the senior living industry. However, consumers are willing to pay for quality, as long as the community is financially stable and proves its worth.For both assisted living and continuing care retirement communities, it’s important to demonstrate the value that accompanies the price tag (especially if your community offers rehabilitation and therapy services). That's especially important in uncertain economic times.
Seniors also want a clear picture of how the entrance fee - if any - works, and how that compares to their monthly fees. They also want to understand how payment sources like Medicare or Medicaid can work vs. private pay.
Finally, accreditations and ratings by trusted sources such as Standard and Poor’s or Fitch can be important factors in determining the financial stability of your community. If you have positive ratings from such organizations, share them to demonstrate your community’s financial health.
Potential topics on affordability to address in your digital marketing content include:
- Services that are included vs. those that cost extra
- Financial assistance available for assisted living
- How to tell if a community is financially viable
- How the cost of living in their current home compares to living at your community
Related: 5 Proven Ways to Increase Your Customers’ Lifetime Value
2. Continuum of Care
One of the first things your prospects are looking for when conducting an online search for a senior living community is the level of care. Is the community capable of providing the care they or their loved one requires, both now and in the future?Consumers are searching to ensure that the communities they’re considering are set up to handle their care needs both now and in the future. They want to know that:
- Assisted living and skilled nursing are available on the same campus, in case they are needed later on.
- If spouses need different levels of care, they can still live together within the community.
- Other care services are available on-site, such as physical and occupational therapists and physicians.
It’s important to make clear what type of community you are: assisted, independent, skilled nursing, memory care, respite care or a combination of two or more of these.
Give a clear outline of what a senior who qualifies for your community looks like, as well as a complete list of your services and capabilities. Not only will this provide helpful information for your prospects, but it also helps sort out any unqualified leads.
Seniors and families are also interested in questions about health and safety protocols spurred by the pandemic - such as how an outbreak of an illness might be handled or how air quality is maintained.
Potential topics on the continuum of care to address in your digital marketing content:
- Levels of care available and included in community fees
- How spouses and couples are accommodated
- How changing health needs will be addressed
- What protocols are in place to navigate emerging health crises
3. Programming and Activities
Seniors don’t want to live in a “nursing home.” You need to find a way to show them that your community is the opposite of the sterile, depressing “facility” they have in their heads. Your brand voice should convey to potential residents an active, social and enriching lifestyle.Older adults moving into senior living communities are often afraid of losing their independence. They think moving out of their home will keep them from doing the things they are used to and enjoy doing. Their children, too, want to know mom or dad will be living a lifestyle that keeps them active and healthy — in mind, body and spirit.
The COVID-19 pandemic also has brought the importance of socialization to the forefront. Seniors want the chance to connect with others and be a part of a community while maintaining safety. A senior living community makes this more possible because of protocols that allow for safer socialization.
Lifelong learning is another one of the fastest-growing consumer trends in senior living, as potential residents are passionate about keeping their minds sharp and expanding their horizons, regardless of age.
Potential topics on programming and activities to address in your inbound marketing content:
- What does a typical day in a senior living community look like?
- What activities are available to do on a daily basis?
- Can residents suggest ideas for activities?
- How can a new resident get involved?
Related: The Essential Guide to Crafting Your Marketing Message
4. Environment and Location
Location, location, location. It holds true in the senior living industry. People either want to (a) move somewhere nearby or a place they have a connection to or (b) move to a new location that has a lot to offer.When a senior moves out of their home, they tend to look for a new place as much like home as possible. They’ll also be looking at what the surrounding area has to offer, regardless of whether it’s close to their current home.
In a recent McKnight’s Senior Living article on the relationship location has on senior living communities, they cited research from AARP that found “most older adults want to stay in their homes, but even those planning to move into a senior living community should think about the neighborhoods where those communities are located.”
Seniors are also looking at the way a community is designed with safety in mind. Instead of large spaces that can accommodate many people, the trend has shifted toward smaller, more intimate areas where individuals or small groups can live and receive visitors. Outdoor areas also became increasingly important during the pandemic and will likely continue to stay that way - offering a safer place to gather and meet friends.
Potential residents will get the best picture of your senior living community when they visit. However, since a home-like environment is such an influencing factor when it comes to consumer choice in senior living, you don’t want to wait to until then to start showing off your community.
Your inbound digital marketing plan should include more than just written content. Pictures and videos are eye-catching and engaging, making them an ideal way to create interest in your community. Incorporate localized words into your content so you can be found in an internet search by prospects in your area.
Potential topics on location and environment to address in your digital marketing content:
- Videos, pictures and virtual tours of the community and campus
- Guides and descriptions of the surrounding area
- Enticing offers to tour and visit
- Answers to frequently asked questions - such as “Can I decorate my own home” or “Can I bring my pet?”
Building Your Marketing Plan Around These Insights
Digital marketing for senior living is all about creating relevant and engaging content online. Unlike traditional marketing, it provides valuable information that builds trust between you and your prospects, thereby increasing your credibility.
Your website, social channels and all other online content should address the four points above. Your community may deliver all of those things that are so important to your prospective residents, but is that clearly conveyed to each person who lands on your website?
If your content isn’t already addressing the things discussed in this blog, it’s time to fill in the gaps. If you aren’t providing the right information, they’ll be looking elsewhere online.
Get them to pick up the phone and call you by providing valuable resources that answer their questions, soothe their fears and paint an enticing picture of your community. Make them eager to learn more.
Interested in learning more? See what a great digital marketing strategy can do for your senior living community.
This article was originally published in 2018. It was updated in August 2022.