Over the last few years, we’ve talked a lot about marketing to baby boomers, and for good reason. The oldest boomers are turning 77 this year. The youngest boomers are turning 59. And all are strong candidates for various levels of senior living.
We’re just beginning to see the “gray wave” of baby boomers entering senior living, and it’s already creating record demand. This is one of the biggest reasons why the senior living industry is becoming so crowded—more and more operators are entering the fray so they can capitalize.
As marketers, it’s important to keep in mind what we know about this demographic. The majority have smartphones, use social media, and begin their buying journeys online. While people on the older end might share some of their parents’ and grandparents’ stoicism, they most certainly are not their parents or grandparents.
And the boomers on the younger end? They truly exemplify the “me generation” attitude of knowing what they want, when they want it, with very little patience for compromise.
This, of course, can create a conundrum for senior living marketers. Because competition is so fierce—and boomers’ desires are so specific—what you say and how you say it will matter more now than it ever has before.
Forget boring, generic marketing collateral—or marketing that’s too sunny and glowing. Boomers will see through that and quickly dismiss your brand.
What’s likely to resonate well with boomers will be a combination of the following:
- Authenticity. Does your brand sound real and relatable?
- Validation. Can you show that you understand what their needs are, their worries, their pain points, and their desires? (Sometimes being understood IS the goal; the boomers are perfectly capable of fixing problems on their own.)
- Surprise. Give them an honest take about your community that makes them sit up and pay attention.
This approach will work no matter what marketing vehicle we’re talking about—websites, social media, print ads, digital ads, video marketing, and, of course, email marketing.
Which brings us to the focus of this particular blog post.
How do you develop the best content for email marketing to boomers?
Below, we’re sharing ideas that can work in automated lead nurturing workflows, emails sent directly from sales reps, and community newsletters. What you use (and when) will depend on the goals and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Give them content they can’t find anywhere else.
This is good advice regardless of industry or persona. But when emailing boomers, it’s a must.
Don’t waste time sending them generic articles “about” senior living. Or how to evaluate senior living. Or what to look for in a senior living community. That stuff has been done to death. No doubt, you’ve likely covered some of these topics on your blog (which is OK).
You want to make the content in your emails so irresistible that they have no real choice but to click through.
Some quick-hitting examples:
- 10 dishes our chef made this week with veggies grown in our own garden
- Sunsets over [NAME OF YOUR COMMUNITY] – Real pics of gorgeous views captured by our resident photogs
- 3 things our resident action committee improved in our community in 2022
- How Ruth found unexpected romance with Tony
- Did you know? 25 fun, little-known facts about our community
- Signs that senior living isn’t the best fit for you
None of the above are things that someone can find anywhere else simply because the articles are specific to your community.
And notice how most of the topics deal with emotions. Emotions help push our logical brains into making buying decisions.
Not only that, but these topics hit on authenticity, validation, and/or surprise—those items we mentioned above that will resonate with boomers.
For example, if a divorced woman in her early 60s is wondering if it’s possible to meet someone special in your community, your article on Ruth and Tony might give them hope.
Or take the topic in the last bullet. That might feel like a risky topic. To do it right, you’ll need to be honest about who’s a good fit and who isn’t—and then offer up alternatives that may be a better fit.
If you truly understand the person you’re trying to attract to your community—and you know the traits and characteristics of someone who isn’t a good fit—why not be honest? It would be a waste of everyone’s time if your sales rep tried to woo someone who isn’t a good match for your community.
People reading an article like that will likely appreciate the transparency. And for those who ARE a good fit? Your honesty and transparency will help them trust you even more.
Or how about that topic talking about residents improving your community . . . another surprising, yet authentic topic. No community is going to be perfect, right? And no one reading the email expects it to be. So many folks are skeptical of advertising and marketing because of the “spin.” But an article that talks about how residents improved your community (which suggests it’s not perfect and/or there was something “wrong”) shows reality . . . but it also shows how that reality can change for the better.
Talk about a powerful selling point!
Share authentic slice-of-life vignettes. (Via videos, ideally.)
The videos don’t need to be professionally shot. In fact, we recommend avoiding videos that seem too slick or highly produced. A recording on a smartphone is fine.
- Share the spontaneous 30-second clip of the sing-along that broke out in the pub the other night that a resident captured on their phone.
- Do a time-lapse video of a resident completing an oil painting in the courtyard.
- Do a quick interview with the chef on the latest addition to the dinnertime menu.
- Share a video of residents with their cats, dogs, fish, or birds.
- Show the layout for a popular apartment—but show how different that layout looks based on the way 3 or 4 residents have their apartment decorated or set up.
Again, people won’t be able to find this content anywhere else. But it also shows REAL LIFE in your community. That’s the stuff people want to see because THAT’S the stuff that allows them to relate (or not) with the vibe.
Dig deeper into food-related content.
Listen, food matters. We don’t have to tell you that.
But it’s NOT enough to talk about the “delicious” food in your community or that everything is made from scratch. Most communities promote the heck out of those things already.
You need to dig much deeper with your food-based content.
Here’s a quick brainstorm . . .
- How do you support vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets?
- Where are your ingredients sourced from—any special stories?
- How has the menu and dining experience evolved in your community over the years? (It’s OK if it has—talk about why! This will demonstrate that your community is nimble and responsive to feedback.)
- Talk about different approaches to meals in senior living communities in general, and why your community settled on its approach.
- Talk about relevant specifics that could influence a person’s decision—are there other options aside from communal dining?
- Can residents opt to have full kitchens (or not) in their homes?
- Do you have a registered dietitian on staff that residents can meet with?
- How do residents influence menu-making decisions?
- How are celebrations (resident birthdays/anniversaries) handled?
- Do you have something that truly differentiates your community from others in the area? Maybe you have a part-time sushi chef, or maybe you have a coffee house on-site that hosts karaoke, comedy nights, and poetry slams.
- Do a timelapse video of Sunday brunch.
- Do a closeup of menu production—how is it developed, who provides input, how is the physical menu created (do you include calories and nutritional information, for example)?
- Do fun surveys – the top three ways our residents like their eggs.
- Pancakes vs. French toast – what always wins in our community.
- Plant-based meats: How we’re incorporating this into our menus.
- Waste not, want not: Our approach to recycling and composting.
- A chef’s recipe and video demonstration of a current favorite dish or dessert among residents.
- Survey results on the top three favorite restaurants that residents like visiting in the area.
There’s no shortage of food-related content, and food is such a big part of everyone’s lives. Whether you’re doing lead nurturing, direct follow-up from sales, or newsletters . . . we can almost guarantee that an interesting food-based story will get clicked on.
Think of ways to tie email content into a fun offer.
For example . . . riffing off the survey results for the “top three favorite restaurants that residents like visiting in the area.” You could add an offer to this that says: “Book a tour with us by this date, and we’ll give you a $20 gift certificate to one of these restaurants.”
Do occasional picture-based emails.
We wouldn’t recommend only doing picture-based emails since this often requires an extra step on the recipient’s part if they have to tap/click to download the pics before they can view the email.
But occasionally providing an email filled with nothing but visual eye candy (with links to the complete story behind the photo) can be a great way to engage people and draw them to your site or social channels.
Reminders: email marketing best practices.
Pay attention to layout. Think bite-sized, mobile-friendly blurbs.
More and more emails will be read on mobile devices rather than desktops. You need short sentences and even shorter paragraphs. (Think fewer than 75 words in a single paragraph.)
Spend time on your subject lines.
Subject lines are arguably one of the most important elements in every email you send (if not THE most important). Don’t treat them as after-thoughts. Keep up with what’s working and what isn’t for subject lines. (We recommend following email marketing guru Jay Schwedelson.)
Experiment, conduct A/B tests, and do more of what works, but don’t become complacent, either. Because what worked six months ago might stop working (and that’s perfectly normal).
Pay attention to meaningful metrics.
Certain metrics, like open rates, continue to be a moving target thanks to changes companies make around data privacy. (We’re talking about you, Apple Mail Privacy Protection.)
This doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to metrics and analytics. You’ll simply need to pay attention to different ones.
HubSpot has a good article on this topic, along with KPIs to focus on, including clicks and click-through rates, website traffic and leads, unsubscribes, and spam reports.
Basically, you WILL know if your email marketing is moving the needle and having an impact because you’ll see upticks in things like website traffic, leads, tour requests, and downloads. And, of course, with good marketing automation software, you’ll be able to drill down into each email you send to get nitty-gritty results on what content resonated.
Need help leveling up your email marketing?
We love working with clients on developing the best content for email marketing to boomers. Get in touch and let’s create a plan that gets the results you’ve been looking for.