Are Retirement Community Websites Reaching the Right Customers?

Studies show that today’s mature market consumers are conducting more extensive online research prior to making a move to a retirement community. Contributing to this phenomenon is the growth of the Web, the proliferation of personal computing technology, the sharp rise in older demographics using the Internet and the intensified online marketing efforts of the communities themselves.

But as these community marketers step up their online presence, are they reaching the right potential residents the right way?

To help get some answers, I did some unscientific research, looking at 100 websites from the 2013 Leading Age Ziegler 100, single-campus list. I focused on the home page of each site, since it’s the first thing prospective residents will see. 

First, I checked to make sure that these home pages were targeting the right people.



A senior lifestyles survey by Mintel (December 2013) found that for ages 75 and up, women comprise 60% of the population. And, according to an Aramark senior living study, the average age of the resident is 79. Another Mintel survey, “Marketing to Baby Boomers” (January 2014), found that Boomer women are three times more likely to be widowed than Boomer men. 

So, does the face of senior living marketing accurately reflect these demographics? Are solo residents – especially women – getting their fair share of attention? The answer seems to be “yes.” 

  • 19 home pages (including 13 rotating screens and 6 static images) used a married couple as the main image.
  • 14 home pages (8 rotating and 6 static images) showed a woman alone or several women.
  • Four home pages showed a single man or several men.
  • Over 40 of 100 communities sidestepped the issue of which demographic to depict by making a building or campus the main home page image. (However, images of couples, single women, single men and groups rotated in on following screens.)
  • Other central homepage imagery included static and rotating montages of residents, community lifestyle shots and variations on the themes above.

With a married couple featured front and center on 19 home pages, single women on 14 home pages and single men on 4, it looks as though all segments are well-represented. 

However, I couldn’t help noticing the dominance of rotating carousels. Approximately 70% of communities used rotating banners on the homepage. A five-second rotation was common, and I clocked one at eight seconds.

Some sources question the effectiveness of a rotating design when used for sales messages. Our interactive art director, Scott Boggs, feels that rotating banners are almost completely ineffective for converting traffic, and that few visitors ever see or react to subsequent banners. “More and more sites are providing a single, comprehensive hero message,” he said. Statistics from web developer Eric Runyon support this view.

In conclusion, if a senior living community needs potential residents to respond to a specific sales offer, it might be best to place a strong CTA in a static position on the home page – not in a rotating banner.

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