What New Data Reveals About Senior Living’s ‘Hidden Audience’

Senior living marketing and sales teams know a lot about the people who fill out contact forms, chat online, call their switchboard and stop by for tours. But how well do they know the reluctant shopper? The anonymous web browser? The older adult or caregiver who is combing the internet, clicking around websites but completely avoiding sales conversations?

Recent data reveals that tens of thousands of senior living website visitors are in that category, which Roobrik, a firm that helps operators grow occupancy, has dubbed the “hidden audience.” Too often these people fall through senior living’s sales cracks, with sales teams missing an opportunity to identify and capture this new and often younger market.

Data from over 150,000 Roobrik’s Insight Solutions™ assessments suggests that when given the chance to self-educate through online assessment tools, this “hidden audience” moves forward with confidence. Because the hidden audience seeks education and relevant answers before moving forward, Roobrik’s tools — which function much like customized surveys — are designed to meet prospects where they are. These assessments are currently on more than 1,300 senior living community websites, assisting over 10,000 customers per month.


The data from those engagements reveal a significant number of older adults who are nearly ready to move into senior living but hesitant to connect to operators’ sales teams.

In a recent webinar, Roobrik’s Head of Business Development Evan Friedkin explained that, for this audience, ready access to information is essential. “We can no longer gate everything,” he said. “We have to be a resource first and not force conversations.”

To help senior living operators identify, engage and capitalize their website’s hidden audience, Friedkin shared additional data insights from the Roobrik Insight Solutions™ platform.


Identify senior living’s hidden audience

Friedkin believes that senior living website visitors split into three categories. First is the non-buyer: job seekers and vendors that need quick answers. Second is the audience that most websites cater to: motivated prospects who are openly searching for a senior living community to move into.

Third is the “hidden audience,” those older adults and family members seeking answers and education before they connect with a provider. Roobrik data reveals that this audience is both younger and more motivated than previously believed.

For instance, 48% of respondents are researching senior living options for themselves, rather than for another family member. This indicates a higher willingness to contemplate questions about their own care needs and future living situation.

Of these prospects searching for themselves, 68% are in the 66- to 85-year-old range. That’s up to 10 years younger than the average senior living resident, suggesting that there’s an opportunity to reach a younger market.

Engage the hidden audience with your web content

The so-called “WebMD effect,” Friedkin explained, is when people bring a medical question to Google, land on WebMD, and panic that their symptoms match whatever they read. While the internet is useful for consumers making simple purchase decisions, challenges arise with complex decisions, such as living arrangements or health concerns.

Friedkin slots senior living between those two categories. His concern is that when a prospect in this hidden audience lands on a provider’s website, if they can’t find the information they need they go to Google, leading to one of two outcomes:

  • They get the WebMD Effect and get overwhelmed
  • They don’t find their answers and delay their decision

Either way, the provider potentially loses a qualified prospect. For Roobrik assessment-takers researching for themselves, the top three barriers to not moving forward are revealing: they’re looking for a clearer picture of life in a community and they want reassurance that they’re making the right choice at the right time.

Based on responses to the “Is it the right time for senior living?” assessment collected 6/30/2021 – 6/30/2022.

That’s where website content comes in. Friedkin recommends that operators evaluate their website content and resources for the ease with which the hidden audience can find answers to their most pressing questions. And while many of those questions could be answered by typical website content — service levels, unit layouts, even price — this audience may be looking to see their age group and interests more directly reflected.

The provider’s web content needs to deliver those answers. Discovering how best to do that may take time and experimentation to optimize efforts.

Capitalize on the hidden audience

For operators, the hidden audience represents an opportunity to immediately increase sales activity and occupancy.

While 30% of respondents searching for themselves said they were on senior living websites because they are “just curious,” theirs is more than a passing curiosity. Asked for their move-in timeframe, close to 72% of those respondents chose between “immediately” and “within a year.” And their sales cycle, Friedkin noted, is often shorter than even they think.

“When they tell you six months, they’re going to move in in three,” he said. “Whatever they tell you, cut that time in half.”

They also are less responsive to the “hard sell.” But they do have questions: 79% of all respondents said that “cost” would be the most helpful information. This is an area where marketing can set up a soft sell: instead of placing cost information on their website, they can use the website to give a “clear path” to pricing, Friedkin said. This can get the prospect out of their own research and into a conversation with a salesperson.

“A lot of people are willing to talk to somebody if they’re going to get what they’re asking for,” Friedkin said.

Indeed, while 30% of Roobrik respondents said that “more research … feels like a good next step,” 25% responded that they’d next like to “take a tour” while another 13% responded even more affirmatively, selecting, “prepare home for sale.”

“Almost 40% are still telling us that a next step is still a path toward moving into one of your communities,” Friedkin said. “This audience is not going to be dragging their feet. They’re far more ready. I encourage you, do not let them slide off the website. Provide them with the resources and everything they need to empower them and make good decisions.”

This article is sponsored by Roobrik and is based on their recent webinar, “Understanding the Hidden Market on Your Website.” For more information on how Roobrik can help you connect with the hidden market on your website, visit Roobrik.com.