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As a 55+ homebuilder, how do you capture 55+ active adult prospects, stay top of mind and ultimately convert them to a sale, given the plethora of housing options for mature consumers? Through our latest Social Silver Surfers study, we found out the best (and worst) strategies straight from your prospective homeowners themselves.

Surefire Strategies for Capturing 55+ Active Adults:

1. Start With Digital.

For nearly half of all Mature Movers (our study used a nationally representative sample of Americans over age 40), the internet is the first place they turn when beginning their purchase journey. From awareness to action, 55+ homebuyers will continue to return to the web page again and again — which is an important insight to apply to integrated marketing plans.

Mature Movers go online because of a diverse array of triggers (direct mail, print ads, a referral from a friend, etc.) at various points in their journey. Prospects may go digital first, and while digital often has the lowest cost per lead — don’t rely on digital alone!

Popular online tools used by 55+ active adults for homebuying researchJust because they seek out digital first doesn’t mean other channels are ineffective at capturing your target segment. Don’t discount the power of non-digital avenues — we find that print ads still gain a lot of traction with the 55+ active adult market. When planning, create a strategic, integrated marketing program in which offline and online channels work together.

2. Showcase Product Information.

Would you hide the floor plans in your showroom? Of course not! So why hide them on your website? It’s especially disappointing to prospects when a website fails to provide the information they seek, and 38% of our respondents say they cannot find floor plans when navigating homebuilders’ websites. Is your website guilty of this error?

Make your product information the star of the show. It should be clear and easy to find floor plans and pricing, and do so in a way that makes active adult prospects want to visit and engage, not feel like they’re just getting basic information.

We often hear about prospects placing deposits holding print-outs from the website, showing exactly where they plan on placing their furniture in the new home, which illustrates that having those floor plans on your website definitely pays off!

3. Use Innovative Technology.

Virtual 360-degree tours are more than just a trend; they are here to stay. In fact, they’re becoming expected on homebuilder websites, so don’t get left behind. Of those who moved to a 55+ community, 53% utilized a virtual tour at some point in their homebuying journey. The younger the mover, the more they love the feature. Don’t lose out on potential prospects because you’re not giving them enough of a feel for the community — a 360-degree tour may be the difference between someone making an in-person visit and moving on to your competitor.

Fortunately, technology has become more user-friendly and affordable than ever before. Investigate how you can add this feature to your community website. It’s a great way to proactively answer questions about lifestyle and fit, while showcasing both product features and amenities.

Destructive Strategies Driving 55+ Active Adult Prospects Away:

1. Mystery Prices.

Don’t make figuring out your prices a game of Clue® for your prospects! The No. 1 frustration older adults have with housing websites is that they “don’t say what the price actually is.” In this edition of the Social Silver Surfers study, 68% of Movers voiced this frustration. If we translate this to the real world, it would be the equivalent to having a prospect ask again and again about fees, while the sales counselor responds with information about the pool.

Be transparent. Share your prices or price ranges for more complex products/services. At the very least, explain how your pricing is structured, what’s included and what’s not.

Posting your prices will also help with the quality of your leads. It allows visitors to self-qualify; they will know if your community aligns with their finances. This saves their time and yours, which makes for a more effective and enjoyable experience for everyone.

2. Annoying, Clunky and Outdated Websites.

Just because your prospects are older doesn’t mean your website should be — that goes for both the front-end and the back-end.

On the back-end, make sure that you’re using an intuitive CMS platform — we recommend one that’s easily supported and updated. A modern infrastructure will save you time and money when changes are needed, especially when they’re time-sensitive.

In addition, be sure to review your website’s data analytics. If set up well, analytics can be a powerful tool beyond just measuring the traffic and unique users. For example, review valuable insights about home types, price levels and other selects most often viewed and searched, which will enable you to plan, build and promote accordingly. Analytics analysis should not end once your communities are built: Your sales team can gain a wealth of information that allows them to have more productive meetings with prospects, which has the potential to speed up the buying journey.

On the front-end, make your site user-friendly for your 55+ active adult prospects. It should be easy to navigate and easy to read. Don’t make your prospects jump through hoops to get the information they are looking for. This includes making them sign up for everything before releasing any information. The benefits of a registration form are many, and should be used, but use them judiciously. 65% of recent movers said requiring them to sign up was their biggest website pet peeve.

3. Treating Prospects Like Automatons.

Your mature homebuying targets aren’t robots programmed to have identical likes and dislikes, or to follow the same buying journey — so don’t treat everyone exactly the same!

Visitors returning to your website have different priorities than those who are just becoming aware of your brand. Create pages and features that speak to both, and guide them along their decision-making journey.

That also goes for individual, personal communications. Ensure your sales staff nurtures their leads throughout the process and understands what each individual prospect wants in their new home and community. Building genuine, trustworthy relationships where prospects feel valued and connected reinforces your brand, and can speed up time to sale.

Is Your Marketing Effectively Capturing Mature Consumers?

The profile of a typical 55+ active adult prospect is becoming more web savvy. To keep up, you may need to change too. Consider your approach to marketing and assess if you practice the best (or the worst) strategies, and what you can do to continuously improve your integrated marketing plans so they are effective as possible.

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About The Author

Susan Monahan