By Susan Saldibar

If you’re running sales and marketing for your senior living community, you may have already resigned yourself to the fact that prospects are just jumpy these days, clicking away from one website to another to another. So, yours might be number four or five, as they click back and forth. They may not even remember they visited you in the first place. And, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Unless you can get them where they live. Literally.

Valerie Whitman, VP of Senior Living for LeadingResponse (a Senior Living Foresight partner) told me recently about how their clients are using a new direct mail model to engage with those who visited their site and left. (You can access a recording of her recent webinar here.)

Don’t Dismiss Direct Mail

Before your eyes glaze over with the words “direct mail”, here are a couple interesting stats Valerie shared with me: 

  • 39% of consumers try a business for the first time because of direct mail (US Data Corp)
  • 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past 3 months made a purchase (Small Business Trends)

So, as tempting as it is these days to go all out with digital, this may be the worst time to abandon direct mail altogether. In fact, Valerie tells me they are seeing more, not fewer, communities lining up behind direct mail programs. But these aren’t the expensive, mass-produced, scattershot postcard campaigns you may have run in the past. These are programs, according to Valerie, that are built on a smarter set of information. And they’re getting a lot of it from visitors who leave their website.


LeadingResponse’s program is called VisitorConnect. It works by using an algorithm-based technique called “reverse-append”, which puts a name and address, as well as critical qualifiers like age and income to the IP addresses of those prospects who were on your site but left without leaving any information. From that information, their clients are able to tailor each mailer to fit that person’s challenges and needs. Hard to believe this is direct mail. 

Valerie has a graphic that shows how this works: 

VisitorConnect graphic

Multi-Channel Exposure

I asked Valerie why use direct mail to capture those leads? Why not just retarget with contextual online banner ads? “If you only use banner ads to retarget, you are competing with thousands of other ads from communities doing exactly the same thing,” she says. “And, if they have deeper pockets than you do, your online ads may never be seen.” That’s why, Valerie tells me, an omnichannel approach is so important, so that your online audience has multi-channel exposure to your brand. 

So, following the logic, using direct mail to retarget offers a stronger ROI because you are not just sending hundreds of direct mail pieces out. You are targeting those who you know have shown interest already. “And you can also get a richer data set, including things like ‘ailment’ data, ‘familial relations’, and ‘financial data’. That’s where direct mail can really have a dramatic impact on building a highly qualified pipeline,” Valerie says.

For those of you frustrated with the lack of traction you’re getting off a pure digital spend, this might give you some badly needed flexibility and a second chance to engage with those who leave your website. People still check their mailboxes. You might want to be there.

LeadingResponse is hosting a free webinar on November 18th at 2:00 p.m. ET that will cover the changes they are seeing in the prospects’ journey since COVID. You can register to attend the webinar here.