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It’s in the mail: 9 reasons why direct mail continues to drive occupancy in senior living sales

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When marketing senior living communities, there are many tactics to include in the mix. PPC ads. SEO. Outreach. And direct mail. Lots of it.

Direct mail advertising is considered anything physical – printed or produced – that is sent to potential customers. In senior living marketing, Solutions Advisors Group works with our clients to target specific demographics and neighborhoods near the community and send direct mail post cards, folded mailers and elaborate invitations to prospects who would make ideal residents. These can be grand opening announcements, incentive offers or invitations to any number of events held on or off campus.

Because it is a proven marketing tactic for senior living communities of any size, we’ve come up with this list of 9 reasons to add direct mail to your marketing toolkit.

  1. Direct mail is more likely to be read. In fact, it can be welcome! Due to digital fatigue, people are more excited to receive their mail each day than before the pandemic. And even though the average person gets two pieces of mail each day compared to 57 emails, they are reading it! According to a study by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), direct mail open rates can reach up to 90% as opposed to email at approximately 23%, and 42% of recipients read or scan mail they receive. This means the vast majority of recipients will see your direct marketing message.
  2. People like direct mail. Many people, especially older adults, enjoy receiving mail. 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than online interactions. Direct mail has an average lifespan of 17 days meaning that cute design just might end up on someone’s refrigerator.
  3. Direct mail offers great response rates. Direct mail has always been a leader in response rates when compared to other marketing methods and has gotten even better in recent years. A study by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) reported response rates at 9% for in-house databases and 5% for prospects or purchased lists. Email can’t even come close to a 5% response. “At Solutions Advisors Group, direct mail is typically among the top lead generating tactics, usually just behind PPC advertising,” explained Deb Lyons, Director of Creative and Production at Solutions Advisors Group. As many as 39% of consumers try a business for the first time because of direct mail. Older adults looking for a new home aren’t any different!
  4. Direct mail can be highly targeted. Direct mail lets you take full advantage of all the consumer information available. You can buy lists based on professions, purchase preferences, ages and much more. That allows senior living marketers to hone a very targeted message, too. To get in front of prospects, there are two main types of mailings:
    • Saturation Mailing: a saturation mailing list targets all of the addresses within a carrier route – subset of a zip code – so you can pick the neighborhoods you want to include or exclude. You can further refine this targeting by excluding specific types of addresses (PO Boxes, drop addresses and businesses). You can also include or remove carrier routes based on median data such as Age, Area Population, Average Household Net Worth, Home Values, Household Income, Renter/Owner, Single or Multi-family Units and Years of Education.
    • Purchased Mailing Lists: a purchased mailing list targets individuals instead of neighborhoods. Some of the most common targeting options we use at SAG include age, gender, homeowner status and income.
  5. Direct mail can be easily personalized. Prospects love advertising with a personal touch and customization on direct mail can increase response rates by a factor of 10 or more. Research shows people are more likely to engage with advertising they feel has been tailored to them, including their names or pictures of their hometown or car. Modern printing equipment has expanded customization options so that everyone can receive something unique.
  6. Direct mail can be felt. While we live on numerous platforms in the digital world with endless videos and countless ads, consumers have always preferred a physical form of information. You can increase your chances of being noticed by sending memorable items, such as oversized postcards, magnets that can be hung on the refrigerator and even interactive mailers with scratch-off prizes or smartphone-friendly QR codes. You can apply textures, send creative 3D objects or even add gloss, cutouts and foil options to any design. This gives you more opportunities to catch attention, draw recipients in and delight them while delivering a marketing message.
  7. Direct mail is cost effective. In addition to simple execution, direct mail is cost effective. According to an annual study by DMA, direct mail has an average ROI of 29%, which is competitive with online media. “Communities can keep mailing affordable by getting a non-profit mailing permit (when appropriate), keeping your mailing list clean and varying the size of the mailer – think folded piece vs. post card,” Lyons added.
  8. Direct mail is highly trackable. It’s important to have a system in place to track direct mail response. Without promotional codes or other means of tracking, it’s impossible to know how successful your campaign has been. At Solutions Advisors Group, we use call tracking, dedicated online landing pages and QR codes. If you’re able to track the success of your direct mailings then you can adjust and evolve your campaign moving forward.
  9. Direct mail complements digital marketing. Direct mail marketing is a key part of a cross-channel marketing strategy, creating aligned advertising campaigns that complement each other. Overall, brand recall is higher if an email campaign is followed up with a direct mail campaign. In addition, brands can get an increased response rate if a digital display ad is followed by a direct mail campaign. The great thing about direct mail marketing is that you can have the best of both worlds. You can reach your customers offline, while still giving them the option to connect with you online. You can include QR codes, social media links and online-only offers. A combined physical and digital presence can dramatically increase impact. At Solutions Advisors Group, community direct mail has resulted in:
    • Website visits up ~68%
    • Response rate up ~63%
    • ROI up ~60%
    • Leads up ~53%

When looking for a way to connect with seniors, direct mail should not be overlooked. It can be targeted, personalized, cost-effective and a true complement to other on and offline marketing tactics being used to drive occupancy in communities everywhere.

Interested in adding direct mail to your marketing mix? Request a no-cost consultation with Solutions Advisors Group today.