The Truth Behind the Data – How COVID-19 Stats Can Help Grow Your Community

Individuals looking at circle and line graphs of data.

May 10, 2021 | Marketing & Branding

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes readily available and we see the light at the end of this very long tunnel, senior living providers might be able to use COVID-19 to grow their communities. Surprised? Don’t be. “It’s simply a matter of accentuating the positives of senior living communities,” says Malissa Illiano, Vice President of Market Research at SageAge.

“One of the most significant data points we’re seeing right now is that concern about the pandemic has dropped,” says Malissa. “Now is the time to dive into that data and speak to the people – the seniors – behind it.”

Malissa says that SageAge has discovered some surprising findings in their client-partners’ surveys related to COVID-19. Here are just a few of them:

  • Most seniors indicate either being moderately or somewhat concerned about the pandemic.
  • Anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of respondents say that the pandemic has NOT changed their perceptions of senior living.
  • Most people say that the lack of socialization has been the hardest part of the pandemic for them, followed by general anxiety about the situation and boredom/lack of things to do.
  • 75 percent say the biggest benefit of living at a senior living community is the on-site access to care and support, followed by socialization, dining and lifestyle/activities.

“This information is really quite positive for our industry, as all four of these findings can actually point towards the benefits that senior living communities have for residents,” Malissa says. “Although we know that our industry had some obstacles in 2020, surveys are showing that seniors are still interested in what we offer, as well as understanding how senior living can provide safety and security even in a pandemic like we experienced with COVID-19.”

Data Reveals Quality Over Quantity

The most recent data that’s coming from the senior housing market is a mixed bag – but it’s also surprisingly optimistic when you dig further into the findings. It’s true that in Q4 of 2020, senior living occupancy rates dropped to an all-time low of 80.7 percent (a 6.8 percent drop for the entire year). However, the percentage drop in Q4 was only 1.6 percent – the smallest decline since the beginning of the pandemic. In other words, the downtrend is slowing and potentially stopping – meaning that the time is ripe for senior living to experience a surge in occupancy. 

Another piece of data that’s surprisingly positive revolves around leads. Many senior living operators have reported a decline in the number of leads they are receiving, which seems like bad news at first blush. However, the quality of leads has increased – meaning that even though the quantity has dropped, the ones you are receiving are much more interested in what you’re offering.

“Obviously, interest is still out there for what we’re selling,” says Malissa. “Moving forward, the trick will be to use up-and-coming best practices and marketing tactics to help shape your messaging, speak to the issues that are important to your audience and develop a cohesive, omnichannel branding approach that reaches prospects anywhere they are in the process.”

Action Items for Your Marketing Strategies in 2021

As we move forward into Q2 of the year, what are the best things you and your community can be doing for your strategies? Here are some of the top things our SageAge experts agree can best help our client-partners as we move into a new era of marketing: 

  • Continue to focus on consistent and accurate omnichannel information dissemination. COVID-19 taught us the importance of getting information out to residents, family members and prospects as swiftly, efficiently and as across as many channels as possible. Moving forward, your audiences will expect a similar honest, accurate and timely approach to disseminating information.
  • An omnichannel approach is key. The main difference between “omnichannel” and “multichannel” marketing is that omnichannel involves all channels and revolves around your customer, while multichannel involves many channels and revolves around your product. In 2021, you and your community will not be the hero of your story – instead, make your prospect your hero and your community how you can help them reach the lifestyle they want and deserve.
  • Remember that you’re in the health care business. While it’s important to tout the benefits of your lifestyle, services and amenities, COVID-19 has taught us that, first and foremost, senior living is in the business of helping provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for a vulnerable population. While this should not be your only message, it will continue to be a very important message that perhaps gets greater play than it had previously in the past.

“Truly, we are entering a new era for our industry and the senior living space,” says Malissa. “Rest assured that SageAge will continue to be here for our client-partners, monitoring the space and adjusting our best practices in order to help increase your ROI and get your message out to your audiences in the most efficient, cost-effective and relevant ways.”

Omnichannel Marketing – Transforming Data to Lead Generation

SageAge surveys on COVID-19 revealed what seniors considered the most challenging aspect of the pandemic – a lack of social interaction. Senior living providers have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this need, addressing isolation and loneliness and selling lifestyle and social interaction through an omnichannel approach. 

An Integrated Customer Experience

Omnichannel is defined as a multichannel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a bricks and mortar store and the experience would be seamless. 

At the core of omnichannel marketing is consistency – the consumer must have the same experience on every channel. It creates familiarity, comfort, relationship and loyalty. Channels used include direct mail, print advertising, digital advertising (Facebook or Twitter), website pages, landing pages and blogs.

Marketing tactics work better if they work together, so the messages across all these channels are linked. 90 percent of consumers start a task on one device and finish it on another.

While we are using a multichannel approach, an omnichannel experience accounts for each platform and device a customer will use to interact with the company. That knowledge is then used to deliver them an integrated experience. Companies using this technique align their messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device.

SageAge: Here for You, Always

At SageAge, our marketing team excels in helping senior living communities target prospective residents and gather essential information through surveys, focus groups and other tools that will generate qualified leads that will help you continue to grow and maintain your occupancy rates.

If you need assistance in any areas of marketing and integrated growth strategy to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours.

SageAge is a multiple award-winning strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at 570.601.1720/melinda@sageage.com. You can also visit us on our website at sageage.com.

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