Senior Housing Marketing Automation


The Growing Importance of Marketing Automation in Senior Housing

Needless to say, 2020 was a challenging year for senior housing. Industry wide, occupancy dropped to a record low of 80.7% in the fourth quarter, according to data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. Analysts expect it to take at least until the second half of this year for occupancy to begin to recover.

However, the pandemic has not hit all communities equally. When Enquire analyzed data from thousands of communities for our Annual Sales and Marketing Benchmark Report for Senior Housing, the results showed that communities that use marketing automation drove more inquiries and generally fared better than those that don’t use the technology. This is because marketing automation helps organizations nurture web leads, which increased significantly in 2020, even as leads from traditional sources declined.

This article looks briefly at some data from the benchmark report that demonstrate why marketing automation has become a must-have technology for senior housing providers, and then identify several ways you can use marketing automation to foster critical relationships.

Web activity increased significantly in 2020

One of the major trends our data revealed was that, while overall inquiries declined, the average number of inquiries coming from web sources increased. As the table below demonstrates, this was true across all levels of care, except a few instances where the number remained flat.

Type of community Total inquiries, 2020 vs 2019 Web form inquiry submissions, 2020 vs 2019
Independent living ↓ 14% ↑ 20%
Assisted living ↓ 18% ↑ 8%
Memory care ↓ 17% Flat
Life plan residential ↓ 19% ↑ 10%
Assisted and memory care ↓ 6% ↑ 26%
Independent and assisted ↓ 19% Flat


To put the numbers into greater context, the following table shows the average monthly sales activity for life plan residential communities. As you can see, web leads went up while most other referrals declined. In this case, web leads accounted for a full half of inquiries in 2020.

Community activity per month 2019 2020
Other inquiries 19 12
Unpaid referral 13 7
Paid referral 4 4
Web form 21 23
Total 57 46

A similar pattern emerged across all levels of care. 

How marketing automation helps convert leads into prospects, prospects into residents, and residents into referrals

Marketing automation is the top tool your sales team can use to ensure none of these web leads, or any other leads, fall through the cracks. With a sales cycle that averages anywhere from 100 to 400 days, depending on the type of community, there’s a lot of opportunity for your sales funnel to leak. While this article won’t cover everything marketing automation can do (see our other marketing automation articles for more information), here are a few of the ways the technology can help you keep prospects, residents, and their loved ones engaged.

Providing timely touchpoints

Over such a long sales cycle, a prospect’s interest in and engagement with your community will fluctuate. That makes reaching out at the right time crucial. Marketing automation software can identify the times of increased engagement — such as when someone downloads a piece of content, opens your community newsletter, or visits a specific page on your site — and then send an automated follow-up. This ensures that you’re reaching out to prospects while they’re hot, which increases your chances of converting them into opportunities.

Nurturing leads with relevant content

Once a lead has expressed interest in your community, say by signing up for your newsletter or RSVPing for an event, you’ll want to stay in touch even when they aren’t actively engaging. You can use marketing automation to nurture these leads by providing relevant content that will help your community stay top-of-mind as they research all of their options.

Automating repetitive communications

Marketing automation can also be used for communications further down the funnel. For example, you can use it to remind prospects of upcoming appointments, or even to help them remember to submit required paperwork in advance of a deadline. This will save your sales team from having to spend their time on repetitive one-off communications.

Requesting feedback and referrals

Whether or not a prospect becomes a resident, you can use marketing automation to request feedback about your sales process and your community, for example, by filling out a survey or leaving a review on your website or social media. As an additional step, you can configure the software to send a referral request when the feedback you get is positive.

Communicating with loved ones

Since the beginning of the pandemic, communities have been using marketing automation software in new and creative ways to keep residents’ loved ones informed. Even now, marketing automation is being harnessed to communicate about things like vaccination schedules and cleaning protocols.

Marketing automation tools were gaining traction in the senior housing industry before the pandemic. But the increase in web leads and the shift to more digital communications in general has hastened its adoption to the point where an integrated marketing automation tool is fast becoming a necessary tool for organizations to keep ahead of the competition.

Learn more about the benefits of the Enquire marketing automation platform for your community.

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