Posted in on July 13, 2017

LeadingAge PA Outtakes – Marketing at a Snail (Mail) Pace

Editor’s Note: Several of Creating Results’ leaders recently attended the annual LeadingAge Pennsylvania conference. Team members had the privilege of both presenting our insights and learning from other presenters. This series of posts shares some OUTtakes and INsights for marketing to seniors and Baby Boomers.


SESSION: “Snail Mail Still Leads the Race”

SPEAKERS: Angela Hamilton, Executive Vice President, Antsey Hodge; Mark Ingram, CMO, SENIOROI

As Director of Marketing Strategies, I spend my time looking at client results and defining why numbers are what they are. Conversion data for senior living clients comes from a complex combination of pay-per-click and retargeting, optimized landing pages and more.

Over the last years, I’ve also spent significant hours working towards multiple Google Partner certifications.

Yet when analyzing results and preparing new plans, I still guide our teams to leave room in every budget for a very non-digital marketing tactic:

Direct Mail.

At this year’s LeadingAge PA conference, a session on this tried-and-true technique reaffirmed why. Per the presenters,

  1. Affluent households prefer Direct Mail over Email (source: Resource Solutions)
  2. Direct Mail was found to generate 37x more responses than Email
  3. Direct Mail marketing yields 7x more responses than the combination of all digital channels

Slide - reasons why direct mail delivers ROI with seniors

Hamilton and Ingram referenced an AHSA Special Issue Brief survey that found 51% of respondents felt Direct Mail was one of the top three most effective ways to market senior living communities.


Making the Most of Each Mailing

The presenters shared several tips for creating the results you desire with Direct mail.

  1. Develop prospect profiles before you develop creative, to improve targeting
  2. Segment your lists
  3. Analyze your database over a 1 or 5 year period to understand which community leads moved to and why – this insight into your competitive set will make your next mailings stronger
  4. Coordinate offline and online messaging, with specific “digital interaction points” within the direct mail … in other words, drive traffic to specific landing pages!

Interested in learning more? G2 Crowd’s Learning Hub has a great overview on the types of direct mail, pros and cons as well as 7 steps to executing a direct mail campaign.


Personalized letters to highly-segmented lists, driving to trackable landing pages drove leads for CCRC client North Hill. Click on the image for a case study.

Creating Results’ Experience

I can confirm that this session’s “big idea” aligns with our agency’s experience marketing senior living communities across the nation.

The advice from Antsey Hodge/SENIOROI also jibes with our research into “Social, Silver Surfers.”

Generational stereotypes suggest it’s the older homebuyers who resist technology in favor postal mail. But it appears slow-mail and fast-sites can work together.

While the bulk of our respondents (49% of those aged 40+ who had moved within the last two years) turned to the internet first in their move journey, they returned to the web at other points, as well.

As Todd Harff and Erin Read wrote in this spring’s 55+ Housing Magazine,

“Keep in mind that … Visits to a community, chatting with friends/family, … all of these trigger movers to seek you out online and learn more.

“Mailings, signs and ads will influence someone to go online. Make it clear what sort of benefits a prospect will get by going to your website, and, where possible, guide them directly to the content that they value.”

There are some key groups that overindexed on web visits after direct mailings:

Chart - boomers, caregivers visited community website after print / direct mailing


My colleague Jessica Ruhle provided additional tips for Direct Mail in her post on 2015 (!) marketing planning:

“We continuously find that direct mail, print and word-of-mouth tend to bring in the highest number of quality leads over some of the newer, non-traditional mediums. But for 2015, Creating Results recommends looking at the traditional avenues and figuring out ways to kick it up a notch.

“Use variable printing to personalize postcards with not just a person’s name but also the locations and hours that are closest (and most relevant) to them. Integrate direct mail with online and email marketing for a one-two punch. You also can and should track which printed items are most appealing by clicks to related online content.”


What has YOUR experience been? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.


Subscribe to get the latest updates right to your inbox!

Related Articles