When I think about senior living I find myself asking, “Why don’t we become more sophisticated?”

By Jacquelyn Kung

This week I ran into a friend who heads up data science at a casual games company. Many of the readers here probably use his product (which includes over 30 million people, ages 15-80).

Let’s call my friend Fred. He’s tall and straggly, plays ultimate frisbee, has a Ph.D. from Columbia, has been programming for twenty years, and exudes brilliance. He’s heavily recruited for his skillset — and I asked why. When he said it’s because he can predict behaviors online, I asked him for examples . . .

Predicting Behaviors

It was pretty mind-blowing, so I wanted to share some tidbits here — and ask why aren’t we doing this in senior living with our online leads? After all, we are the ultimate complex behavior buying process.

Airline Tickets

Everyone knows prices change if you return in a day or a week to check on the same tickets.

  • Part of it is pure supply and demand of available seats.

  • But more of it is becoming a science of behaviors.

  • For instance: The first price you see is usually the lowest — and then the longer you spend on the site before returning, the higher the price goes up.

    If you leave the site and come back in a few days, the site registers that you were “interested” — and changes price based on your interest level.

  • ProTip: You can clear cookies — or better yet, browse in incognito mode to avoid this tracking.

Dating Sites    

Here is what they are optimizing for:

  • What we say we want in a mate is usually different from what we actually choose — and sites take this into account.

  • However, sites usually don’t want to use data to make perfect matches as acquiring new customers is expensive.

  • So dating sites are most successful if they give you some exciting matches that hook you as a customer. But when you get and stay married, they lose a customer.

  • So it’s important to ask what a site is optimizing for.

Fred then went on to describe how online behaviors work across groceries, games, and other online lead sites.

Senior Living

When I think about senior living I find myself asking, “Why don’t we become more sophisticated?”

Here are some areas worth exploring:

  • How do we differentiate based on price, interest, and buying behavior on other sites?

  • How do we link family and senior browsing habits on our various communities?

  • What are we optimizing for? — it’s not plain conversion or occupancy; it’s price, length of stay, liabilities, and other factors.

What other ideas do you have? How do we work together as an industry to create better lead experiences? After all, over half of our leads are coming from online. Rather than complain about how online leads don’t convert at a rate as good as walk-ins, the question is: how do we learn from other industries to make online purchases of our product even better?