The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Automation for Senior Living Communities

  • 22 November 2023

Today’s senior living marketing leaders are tasked with maintaining occupancy with tight marketing budgets and small teams in an environment where consumer expectations have become even more complex. Since the pandemic, senior living prospects have started to rely more on online research, requiring operators to develop an omnichannel presence so prospects can contact them across a variety of channels and formats. This means marketing and sales teams now have more platforms to monitor and campaigns to develop, making it imperative for senior living communities to start incorporating automation into their strategies.

Below, we outline the specific industry challenges driving the demand for marketing automation and our best practices for implementing automation in your senior living marketing strategies.

The Challenges of Marketing for Senior Living Communities and How Automation Can Address Them

1. Results are difficult to forecast.

With multiple decision-makers, senior living communities’ sales processes can be complicated, making manual tracking very tedious. This also leads to consistency issues in lead generation and nurturing, making it challenging to forecast results.

How automation helps: Plugging in automation in different stages of the sales funnel helps bridge the gap from one sales interaction to another, making tracking conversions easier, quicker, and more consistent. With automation, salespeople in senior living communities can see how many people are in the pipeline and accurately predict results. This also helps in reviewing what’s working and what’s not with the current sales process and improving it to create a better forecasting system.

2. Leads fall through the cracks.

Since 2020, industries were already shifting to an online purchasing economy, since then, this trend has only accelerated. Today’s prospective residents and their families are no longer inclined to wait the same amount of time to get serviced by a sales team and instead expect immediate gratification. However, with senior living prospects coming in through different stages of the decision-making process, it can be very difficult to manually track concerns and provide responses within the time frame that they expect.

How automation helps: Automation lets you create multiple response flows depending on which stage a prospect is entering your sales process, allowing for the quickest turnaround on their inquiries, whether it’s just a simple inquiry on your services or a request to schedule a tour.

3. Prospects go through a long sales cycle.

In the industry, there is a big push to get everyone to the tour stage right away. When prospects get into the door or on the phone, there’s the pressure to get them into the hands of a salesperson as the first next step. However, with the senior living housing journey, some prospects aren’t at that point in the research process.  Many prospects are not the sole decision-makers and are merely “shopping” for information to provide themselves and other decision-makers with the best option possible.

How automation helps: “Soft conversions”, like RSVPs to your events or sign-ups to newsletters, can be just as important as “hard conversions” in that they keep your community top of mind for prospects — and these are only possible with automation in place. By placing automation within the different engagement touchpoints, leads can process information about your community quicker than usual, shortening the span between inquiry to decision.

The Do’s and Don’t of Marketing Automation

It’s not enough, however, to just have a marketing automation strategy — it should be a strategy that works. Here are five do’s and don’ts to creating a winning marketing automation strategy.

Do: Provide multiple automated engagement points

Don’t: Force prospects to talk to a salesperson too early

In the past, sales counselors in senior living communities immediately reached out to prospects to try and book them for a tour. But if the prospect is not yet ready to convert, touching base with them this soon may turn them away instead. Placing multiple automated engagement points in your marketing process allows you to know more about a prospect’s decision process, ensuring that when either party decides to connect with a salesperson, the prospect is already really interested in converting, resulting in a more productive conversation.

Do: Send the right message at the right time

Don’t: Bombard prospects

It’s important to know not only WHAT kind of message to send to a prospect but also WHEN you are sending it. As mentioned above, with the nuances of senior living decisions, it can be difficult to manually track which messages to send and to whom. With automation, you can create message flows that only get sent out to prospects who need to receive specific messages, paced accordingly so they keep you on top of mind without feeling overwhelmed. A good example of this is when a prospect sends an inquiry on independent living, automation puts them in an email journey that ensures they ONLY get brochures and communications about independent living but not memory care and support services.

It’s also important that prospects are given the option to opt-out, and when they do opt out, make sure you recognize and respond to the action to maintain the trust. Some prospects may be opting out because they are just not yet ready to make the decision — it’s good to keep that trust so they remember you when they are finally able to convert.

Do: Give the option to connect with a real person

Don’t: Force prospects to speak with a robot

It’s true that clients these days want the data, but they don’t necessarily want the computer. While automation allows you to connect with prospects when there are no warm bodies to man the communication lines, it’s still important to offer prospects the option to connect with a real person. Having a live chat option available on your website allows prospects to quickly have more complex questions answered and provides an additional lead capture opportunity.

Do: Personalize

Don’t: Be generic or irrelevant

This can be as simple as putting your prospect’s name within a message that you’re sending. But you can also go deeper with this, especially during any post-initial interactions like follow-ups and re-engagement. Including evidence that you were listening to them the last time you met or acknowledging what you already know about their needs makes your prospect feel connected to you and the community.

Do: Leverage AI in tandem with a professional

Don’t: Enable AI without oversight

The use of AI, like any new technology, can be tricky. One must learn its capabilities and limitations. Leverage the power of AI to help scale repetitive tasks, spark ideas, and make calculations, but make sure to combine AI with an experienced professional when it comes to complex business decision-making. This AI strategy is known as hybrid intelligence and is all about recognizing the unique talents of humans and AI when assigning roles.


Activating automation within your sales and marketing teams will keep you ahead of the competition and enable you to achieve your occupancy goals faster. Teams will save valuable time in their day by letting go of repetitive tasks so they can spend more time engaging with prospects to move them in the customer journey from lead to resident.

Watch the Webinar!

Interested in learning more about this topic? Watch a recording of our latest webinar with Seniors Housing News, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Automation for Seniors Housing”.

Listen to a lively discussion between Jen Lovey, Executive Vice President of Sales at Conversion Logix, John Greaves, President and Owner of Next Step Sales Management, and Allison L. Singler, EVP of Sales and Marketing at Edison Equity Residential, as they explore the state of marketing automation and AI in senior living and best practices for implementing it in your organization.

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