Keeping communications open with seniors during this pandemic is a new challenge facing senior living communities. With traditional on-site avenues no longer an option during COVID-19, it’s become necessary to shift focus. Specifically, an emphasis on digital efforts, now more than ever, that encourage conversion and grow engagement. But, how? Read about 4 ways to digitally market to seniors during COVID-19.
The senior living decision-making process can range from one month for supportive services up to two years for independent living. Due to these varying timelines, it’s essential that lead generation tactics align with the changing health climate—ensuring inquiries and sales remain positive and don’t come to a halt. While the world rapidly changes with the national health crisis, seniors have been adapting with it and will likely come out the other side more technologically-savvy than at the start of COVID-19.
Though digital technology and platforms may be unfamiliar for some seniors, it’s a new skill that’s been embraced to keep connected with friends, family, and even consumers. Even before the pandemic, most Americans turned to digital means. Many seniors were already in the midst of adopting technology practices. According to research conducted in 2019 by Pew Research Center, 68% of Baby Boomers and 40% of the Silent Generation owned smartphones. Once they joined the digital age, they embraced it as part of their new lifestyle.
But with communities closed off to on-site visits, how do you shift to digitally target seniors during COVID-19? We’ve compiled a list of approaches that have proven successful in connecting with seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Social Media: Create Authenticity & Community Personality
Social media marketing has increased exponentially since its inception—and for good reason. Creating a brand presence on social media can increase awareness and exposure, leading to growth in sales, even with the older generations. Just last year, 82% of 65+ adults used at least one social media site, and 46% of 65+ adults used Facebook.
Adults aren’t just using social media; in this health climate, they’re turning to social media to stay connected and foster togetherness. Shifting social media messaging to create a sense of community and authenticity has shown positive results during this time of COVID-19.
• Integrated Campaigns: Ensuring your community has a strong social presence is an important first step. To build onto the momentum created with social media, you’ll yield higher results and activity if used in conjunction with other campaigns. Incorporating your message across different tactics—such as direct mail, an eNewsletter, or social media posts—will provide multiple touchpoints and get your brand in front of more than one audience, cohesively. Moreover, it will reinforce the message and solidify the consideration in a lead’s mind, making it more likely that they’ll complete your call-to-action.
• Spotlights/Features: During this health crisis where family members are unable to visit their loved ones, keeping family members and Facebook fans updated with resident life and well-being provides a peace of mind and sense of community for family members and leads checking in. Resident spotlight posts (or videos) provide an update on the well-being of residents and also show the community’s personality and spirit.
Highlighting staff in social media posts provides a fun glimpse inside community life and lends credibility. Showcasing the human element, especially during the coronavirus, is a great way to connect with your social audience and increase your reach and engagement.
• Paid Ads: During a challenging health crisis, utilize paid advertising to increase exposure while inquiries may be down. And don’t be afraid to mention the elephant in the room, Covid-19.
In a time of uncertainty, practicing transparency with your audience and acknowledging the health crisis can lead to positive social engagement and resonate with social media users. This truthfulness of addressing the challenges of the current times and the hard work of the healthcare workers is appreciated by consumers.
2. Virtual Tours & Webinars: Use in Place of On-site Visits
At the start of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, various museums, exhibits, and gardens opened their virtual doors to the restless public stuck indoors. Not only did this provide an activity to fill their time, but put their brand in front of a larger audience than ever before.
Much like these public spaces, moving physical on-site tours and events to the virtual sphere provides senior living communities with a tool to adapt and continue helping seniors envision living in a senior living community.
Most communities have scheduled events budgeted into their marketing plan for the year, and the events should continue as planned—with minor, virtual adjustments. The sales staff is still able and willing to hold these events while also addressing seniors’ safety concerns related to physically visiting the community.
The cherry on top? As a virtual tactic, there’s greater opportunity to reach far more of your audience than before. As a virtual webinar, there’s no need for capping the number of attendees, and with virtual tours, integrating links to tours among different tactics, such as social media posts, eNewsletters, or blogs, can increase the reach.
• Pre-Recorded Virtual tours: A pre-recorded virtual tour provides the consumer with an easy and safe option for visiting the community. The sales team is able to provide information about the residence as they’re walking through the residential space. In addition to providing seniors with a visual opportunity from the security of their homes, the sales team is able to receive information in return. As gated content on a community’s website, the lead must first provide contact information prior to receiving the tour. The sales team is then able to directly follow-up with the interested lead and ensure further communication occurs.
• One-On-One Virtual Tour: Another option for providing virtual tours is personally guiding a prospective resident through a residence. The sales team is able to make a meaningful connection with the consumer and answer any questions that arise in real-time. If a prospect has a specific area of interest, such as the dining area, the sales representative is able to walk them through the area. A personally guided tour can be accomplished using Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc.
• Webinar Events: By making the scheduled event into a virtual event, your sales team still has the opportunity to engage with your leads and prospects, hold a Q&A panel, or even a fun lead nurturing event to show the spirit of the community. Webinar platforms include Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex Meetings. The platforms have a variety of offerings to ensure the event goes smoothly, including chat and muting features.
3. Email Marketing: Utilize for Direct, Targeted Conversation
Since the start of COVID-19, Campaign Monitor found that consumers are checking—and opening—their emails more than ever to stay connected and updated with brands. As seniors embrace more technology during the pandemic, it’s an opportunity for communities to redirect communications toward online outlets as well.
Email Marketing is an invaluable and inexpensive tactic to reach your leads database. Not only are you directly reaching your audience, you’re also able to support your other marketing tactics to reinforce your message.
But email marketing is only as valuable as your email list is clean and reliable. Capturing strong email information and how the lead found the community (i.e., print ads, digital, etc.) should be a top priority for the on-site sales team. In conjunction, email appends can contribute email addresses to your larger segmented audience. Through this process, emails associated with your prospecting address list are gathered so that you’re more aggressively able to widen your reach for your email campaigns.
• Email Invitation: If an on-site event has been adapted to a virtual webinar, redirect the direct mail invitation to an email invitation (or use in conjunction) to increase attendance to the event.
• Email Follow-up: Email can also be used as a follow-up to an event or appointment. These emails act as a thank you from the sales team, as well as providing information to the prospect or guiding them to the website, recorded webinar link, or social media for more information. These should not take the place of a personal handwritten note, but offer an additional method to follow-up with larger audiences.
• eNewsletter: This type of communication provides a consistent means of relaying information to a leads database. eNewsletters allow the community to stay connected with their audience and create conversions. By driving traffic to a community’s website, a lead can be encouraged to take a virtual tour, attend an upcoming webinar, or contact the community through a contact us form.
Seniors adapting to the digital world means senior living communities must embrace the trends in efforts to generate new inquiries and lead engagement. By shifting to digital and integrating a variety of tactics, senior living can stay competitive during the challenging times of COVID-19.
Explore strategic, digital ways to reach seniors with the help of Angell Marketing. Discover more, and contact us today!