Company Websites Carry Big Impact on Senior Housing Decision

Although an increasing number of older adults are using the Internet to find information about senior living communities, they are also using it to reject moving decisions based solely on a company’s website.

One-third of respondents over age 40 who moved within the last two years rejected a community based on its webpage, according to an eBook from Creating Results marketing firm.

The eBook, Social, Silver Surfers, presents new data about baby boomers, seniors and their attitudes toward social media. The study surveyed more than 800 Baby Boomers, Silent Generation seniors and older members of Gen X. 

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In July 2012, more than half of Americans over the age 65 were online using both the Internet and email, according to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. By July 2013, Pew noted that figure was 56% and climbing. 

But while Internet usage has been ramping up among older adults, so has this group’s level of annoyance with certain online features. 

The number one pet peeve cited by survey respondents was being required to register in order to obtain information on a website. Complaints about required registration jumped from 1% in 2010 to 79% in 2013, according to Creating Result’s comparative studies.

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The percentage of those who cite “hard to find contact info” as a pet peeve jumped from 10% in 2010 to 59% in 2013.

“Baby Boomers and Silent Generation members, too, don’t want to have to work so hard to take the next step in their purchase journey,” writes the study’s authors. “They are especially frustrated by sites which are Hard to Navigate or on which it is Hard to Find Contact information.”

When it comes to accessibility, easy navigation and integrated search tools topped the list for all ages, as 74% of older adults cited these features as preferred aspects when visiting a company’s webpage.

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Additionally, 67% preferred printer-friendly pages and 35% said links to other sites and information were their favorite features.

Despite the annoyances and difficulties with accessibility, finding information about a senior living community is still considered a “web-first” approach for many older adults. 

A chapter titled “Motivating Mature Movers” in the eBook highlights that nearly half of all recent mover respondents said the Internet was the first place they turned when starting to choose a new home. 

The “web-first” approach was most common among the adult children of seniors ages 40-44 (60%) and 45-54 year olds (71%).

Also discussed in the chapter, fees and pricing were cited as the number one interest of mature movers when visiting a community’ website.

Studying how older adults utilize digital resources like the Internet and social media in their move decisions can help 50+ housing providers better invest their marketing dollars, says Todd Harff, president of Creating Results and co-director of the national study. 

“Senior living and active adult communities have always recognized the economic potential of Boomers and seniors, but until this study it was hard to judge the potential of various digital marketing channels,” said Harff.

This study marks the second time Creating Results has examined the Internet and social network activity of Americans over 40, and this group’s preferences toward these digital channels. The eBook compares the behavior of recent movers surveyed in 2010 to actions taken in 2013.

“We felt it important to track how attitudes had changed—or in some notable cases, really hadn’t—over time,” said Erin Read, director of strategic planning at Creating Results and co-author of the eBook. “This year’s data shows increasing unhappiness with housing community websites, as more mature movers said they didn’t find what they were looking for or expressed frustration with requirements to register to her basic information.” 

Written by Jason Oliva