Discovering how the public goes looking for senior living options.


I grew up in the town of Paradise, California a sleepy little foothill town of mostly retirees (when I was growing up). There were no signal lights and no fast food restaurants save A & W Root Beer. Even though I was teenager we all knew where the retirement homes were because we drove by them every day. If we didn’t, there was advertising in the “Paradise Post”, the town’s weekly paper that everyone read. In that town and that time, promoting a senior living business was simple and effective. While I don’t know for sure, I suspect that everyone in town, via word of mouth, knew which places were good and which were not so good.

It’s Not So Simple

You Are Ascending Into ParadiseIt would be terrific if marketing senior living communities were still that easy (I would acknowledge it is likely there are some small towns where it still more or less works like this). Today, we have fewer little towns, fewer people reading the newspaper and more than anything else, a very low level of trust when it comes to traditional print or web advertising. Hard Data In April,, a Senior Housing Forum Partner, completed an extensive research project to better understand how individuals shopping for senior living go about the search process. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Today brand name means almost nothing to consumers, meaning it would be rare for consumers to search using company or community names like Brookdale or Sunrise
  • Only 15% of prospects started with the name of a senior housing community or company
  • 73% start with a general term like assisted living, senior apartments or senior housing
  • Of those using generic terms, their patterns looked like this:
    • 21% looked at a directory or comparison site
    • 23% visited the website(s) of senior living communities they were familiar with
    • 29% went to every site that came up in the search starting at the top of the list
  • When asked where the best senior care information is found, 78% felt senior living customers were the best source of information while only 25% felt the senior living company itself provides the best information.
  • Most Trusted Sources for Reviews:
    • 43% of those survived said they trusted senior care website reviews.
    • 22% indicated they trusted reviews posted on the community websites.
    • Surprisingly 10% or less trusted reviews at sites like Yelp, Facebook and Google+.

Using The Information

To be effective you need to have a multipronged web strategy that would ideally include the following:

  • A great website with up to date information. This means no activity calendars from 2013, or where the most recent press release is from 2011. You need to check your “about” page to see if it is current. Make sure there are no broken links. The site should be updated at least monthly.
  • Current information at Yelp and Google Local (Google+)
  • A Facebook page that is regularly updated
  • You should consider paid enhanced listings on multiple web aggregation sites
  • Ask families, residents and other visitors to provide consumer reviews at places like, Google Local and Yelp
  • Monitor what people are saying about you on consumer review sites.

If you would like to take a deeper dive into the data, is presenting a webinar on their findings on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 11:00 am PDT. There is no cost, but space is limited and you can register here:

How Consumers are Searching Senior Care and Housing Today

Steve Moran

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