By Susan Saldibar


As data-savvy as I like to think I am, I continue to be impressed with the sheer volume and depth of demographic data we’re now able to obtain about each other. Here’s one for the senior living marketers out there: ailment data. 


I heard about ailment data from Valerie Whitman, VP of Senior Living for LeadingResponse (a Senior Living Foresight partner). My first reaction was wow, how do you get that? It’s actually pretty logical, as Valerie explains. “Let’s say an adult daughter’s mom was just diagnosed with dementia. What does the daughter do? She goes online and starts searching for all things dementia,” Valerie says. “Or it could be Parkinson’s disease or COPD. Regardless, these searches can all be tracked back to an IP address. And we can connect the IP to a physical address,” she explains. But ailment data, while impressive, is just one key data select that marketers can get their hands on. There’s more. Quite a bit more.


Can’t List Vendors Provide This?


Not without a high price tag . . . And then there’s consumer behavior.  


Traditionally marketers have relied on list vendors to track and gather data. So where do they fit in with all this new data? List vendors, Valerie explains, carve out their offerings based on pre-determined data selects. So, anything beyond basic demographics you will pay a higher price for, especially data like ailment and familial connections.


“What you don’t want to do is to go to one of the large data providers and get a list and then ask them to layer in something like ailment data,” Valerie says. “You will spend three times more than what you’ll spend with LeadingResponse.” Plus, lists get stale if you’re not lucky enough to purchase one right after an update. The data aggregators, also known as list providers, do not incorporate the all-important consumer behaviors, they simply provide a list.  


That said, maybe the more compelling difference between list vendors and a marketer like LeadingResponse is the addition of “consumer behavior”, something which, according to Valerie, list vendors can’t provide, at least not to the level of granularity that LeadingResponse’s proprietary database can. So, in addition to education level, household income, net worth, and ailment data, consumer behavior gives insight to things like how and where people want to learn about senior living communities and when they are most receptive. So, if you’re having an event, LeadingResponse can tell you what the best day and time is and how to present it. They can tell you what the best call to action (CTA) is and what questions to ask and so on.


I asked Valerie how they’re able to amass so much detailed consumer behavior information. In addition to tracking IP information, they’ve compiled the detailed behavior characteristics of over 22 million baby boomers, pre-retiree, and retiree-aged individuals. They get them from people who attend their educational seminars on age-related topics. Makes sense.


Which brings us full circle in terms of how LeadingResponse uses the deep database they have created over the years. “The data itself has consistently shown that the best way for senior living community operators to get in front of their target prospect is by inviting them to an educational event on a topic that interests them, located in a neutral location,” Valerie says. “And the best way to fill the room is by sending a formal invitation through a hyper-targeted direct mail program.” 


No One Opens Their Mail Anymore, Do They?


Millennials don’t open their mail anymore but boomers do. And you can target your marketing to them.


We’ve covered the renewed interest in direct mail in previous articles, but it bears revisiting what LeadingResponse clients like about it: 


    • You can re-target by matching an IP address to a physical address of people who were on your website, focusing on just those that meet your demographic qualifications.
    • You can hyper-target mailer messaging to match each prospect based on his/her unique data selects (age, lifestyle, veteran status, financial, ailments, etc.).
    • You can gain Gives you the ability to leverage familial connections (i.e. adult children living in the same proximity of the aging parent and checking their mailbox).


And boomers still go through their mail, according to Valerie. “Remember, you are not targeting millennials,” Valerie says. “Which is why senior living marketers are reconnecting with direct mail as a conduit to reach and engage older individuals,” she says. And they’re getting traction with events, which Valerie says garner a higher attendee rate of more qualified prospects than events marketed to just basic demographics. 


Finally, as valuable as digital advertising is, Valerie wants marketers to know that digital advertising can’t target to the level of individual granularity that databases can, using direct mail. “You can use keywords to create a lookalike audience,” she says. “But you just can’t reach down to the level of detail you can with direct mail and IP address retargeting. You can tie digital advertising back to a pixel, but you can’t tie data to an individual like you can with a physical address. And direct mail goes direct to your target.” 


Valerie also says that, between their digital and direct mail efforts, she sees a higher event attendance rate for baby boomers and older adults with direct mail than with digital responders, who attend at an average rate of 50%. “Perhaps that’s because it’s easier to just click the RSVP or ‘interested in attending’ button and then forget about it,” she says. For direct mail invites, the consumer makes the reservation either online or by phone with a live agent and yields an average attendance rate of 93%. They also have that tangible invitation they received by mail as a reminder.  


It’s a compelling argument for direct mail. And, with data selects available like “ailments”, it will be interesting to see what senior living communities are able to do with it! 


For more information about LeadingResponse, please visit their website.