Marketing automation for senior living

Marketing Automation for Senior Living: Real Results

We spend a lot of time on the blog and with our clients discussing the value of marketing automation for senior living. But the proof is in the results. Below, we’re highlighting what two years’ worth of sound marketing strategy and automation achieved for Sinceri Senior Living, which is based out of Vancouver, Washington, and has over 70 communities across the U.S.

But first, let’s have a quick refresher on marketing automation.

Why does marketing automation for senior living matter?

Marketing automation enables you to send the right message to the right person at the right time. As its name suggests, everything happens automatically in the background. A website visitor’s actions enable marketing automation to glean the visitor’s intent and give them a lead score. The score helps determine the next steps.

For example, if someone downloads a guide about retirement planning and indicates they want to move to an independent living community within a couple of years, they would receive a different score than someone who requests a tour next week because their mom needs memory care ASAP.

The former would be considered a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). They’ve indicated intent and interest, but they’re not ready to buy now or any time soon. They’ll enter lead nurturing workflows designed to keep them engaged.

The latter is a sales-qualified lead (SQL). They’ve indicated sales readiness through their actions and the info provided through the tour request.

The marketing automation can keep track of everyone—who they are, their lead score, and what should happen next. The automation also frees up the marketing and sales team from mundane, repetitive processes—and the automation can quickly scale to accommodate multiple communities.

So, instead of keeping track of who’s who and when to send emails, the marketing team can focus on developing engaging content that attracts more qualified traffic to the website—think blog posts, videos, and social media content. Meanwhile, the sales team can focus on high-intent leads instead of wasting time working “all leads,” which has traditionally been the approach in senior living.

OK, so all of this might sound well and good in theory. But how does marketing automation work in practice? Is everything as seamless as we described above? And what about the results?

Below, we’re sharing two years’ worth of results for Sinceri Senior Living: August 2021 to August 2022, and August 2022 to August 2023. Sinceri is a prime example of how automation can enhance marketing efforts, streamline processes, and, most importantly, drive tangible results.

Year one: Building a solid foundation

Sinceri Marketing Numbers

The stories behind the numbers

Sinceri’s blog enjoyed an impressive 20,007 views, a crucial indicator of increasing online engagement. The real success, however, was evident in the conversion rates. The MQLs stood at 6,923, a significant portion of which (3,694) came from guide downloads and 3,229 from brochure downloads.

The SQLs were even more telling of the strategy’s effectiveness, with 5,160 conversions comprising 3,229 tours and 1,931 requests to speak with sales representatives. This successful nurturing of MQLs to SQLs was marked by 3,406 advancements, a testament to the effective combination of email nurturing and lead scoring.

The move-ins may be the most compelling evidence of the automation strategy’s success. Out of 343 total move-ins, 232 were attributed to first-touch SQLs and 111 to first-touch MQLs, translating into a remarkable $24,696,000 in revenue, considering the average resident lifetime value.

Year two: Refining strategy and focusing on quality

 

The stories behind the numbers

The second year (August 2022 to August 2023) showed an interesting trend. Although blog views decreased to 14,400, this wasn’t necessarily a setback. In fact, it highlighted a more targeted and quality-driven approach to traffic acquisition. The MQLs slightly increased to 6,995, indicating more efficient conversions despite lower traffic. The brochure downloads significantly rose to 5,206, showing a shift in user preference and content effectiveness.

The SQLs saw a notable increase to 7,773, underscoring the efficiency of the nurturing process. The number of move-ins also rose to 392, with a higher proportion of first-touch SQLs (251) than first-touch MQLs (141). This translated into a staggering $28,224,000 in revenue, further cementing the effectiveness of marketing automation in driving real financial outcomes.

The value of marketing automation for senior living operators

The above results demonstrate the value of marketing automation for senior living communities. The results include:

  • Enhanced engagement: Automation tools help the right leads receive the right messages at the right time, boosting engagement and conversions to the next steps.
  • Improved conversion rates: The transition from MQLs to SQLs and then to actual move-ins highlights how automation streamlines the lead nurturing process and positively impacts conversions.
  • Increased revenue: The substantial rise in revenue over two years highlights the direct financial benefits of adopting a well-strategized marketing automation system.

Sinceri Senior Living’s experience with marketing automation offers invaluable insights for other senior living communities. It demonstrates that with the correct setup and strategy, marketing automation isn’t simply a tool for efficiency; it’s a pathway to meaningful engagement, better conversions, and significant revenue growth.

Want to turbocharge your community’s marketing? Let’s talk!

We can help you implement marketing automation so that it delivers the ROI you crave. Get in touch and let’s talk about marketing automation.

Senior woman outdoors hiking with backpack.

What Is a Solo Ager & How Do You Market to Them?

You’ve likely been hearing the term “solo ager” more and more. This is yet another demographic you must keep in mind as you market your senior living communities, especially if your levels of care focus on active adult living and independent living.

But what is a solo ager, exactly? Do you need a completely new marketing playbook for them? This article aims to answer those and other relevant questions.

What is a solo ager?

Solo agers are adults in their mid-50s and older who are aging “solo” since they don’t have children or current life partners. Some solo agers might be widowed or divorced—or they never married in the first place. Others might not have any children—or the children they had are deceased. Whatever their circumstances, what solo agers have in common is navigating their senior years on their own.

A synonym for solo agers includes “kinless seniors.” (The New York Times published “Who Will Care for Kinless Seniors” in June 2023, which is worth the read.)

Here are some interesting stats about this demographic:

12% of adults over 50 are aging solo. [Source: AARP]

27% of American adults aged 60 and older are aging solo, and older adults in the U.S. are more likely to live alone than anywhere else in the world. [Source: Pew Research Center]

The percentage of one-person households more than tripled in the U.S. between 1940 and 2020, going from 7.7% to 27.6%. [Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

In 2019, nearly one million older Americans had no spouse, partner, children, or siblings (approximately 370,000 were women over 75). [Source: The New York Times]

Solo agers aren’t necessarily sad about going it alone

Don’t let any negative connotations with the word “solo” fool you. Many solo agers have chosen this path. For example, some older adults might end a long-term marriage later in life to pursue happiness elsewhere, like Al and Tipper Gore famously did. This is known as “gray divorce,” and it’s been on the rise.

And even if becoming a solo ager wasn’t intentional, that doesn’t mean solo agers are necessarily sad about their position (though some are). As AARP notes in a recent survey, even though solo agers might face challenges, most feel “optimistic about their quality of life as they age,” with only 12% of those surveyed saying they feel pessimistic.

Still, it’s also worth noting that the same AARP article revealed that solo agers haven’t planned for their future living arrangements, even though statistically 70% of people over 65 will need long-term care at some point.

This suggests an opportunity for senior living marketers. The question becomes how to effectively reach this demographic.

How is marketing to solo agers different from marketing to other demographics?

Senior living communities are used to interacting with adult children just as much as older adults. With solo agers, the concept of an adult child (or other family member) is no longer in play. This could make the sales process easier since you won’t have multiple influencers, just the solo ager. The challenge will be piquing the solo ager’s interest to begin with.

The AARP survey revealed that most solo agers haven’t given thought to what’s next: “Among those still living in their own home, the survey shows 95% have not made a reservation at a community for older adults, looked for a cheaper or easier place to live (82%), or modified their home to make it easier to live in as they age (78%).”

This suggests the solo ager sales cycle might be longer than for independent living, which is already long and requires at least 22 touch points.

Developing marketing campaigns for solo agers—starting with educating them on what senior living is and how they can finance it as a single person—is a smart first step communities can take now. You should also produce content about related issues that solo agers are researching and reading online. For example, many solo agers subscribe to AARP publications. Running ads or advertorials with AARP could be a way to begin planting the seed with solo agers that there’s a place for them in senior living.

  • PRO TIP: A great time to engage solo agers is around the holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. You could do a targeted campaign for solo agers in your area, inviting them to a festive event in your community. The fourth quarter is historically slow for senior living sales because potential residents want to spend one last holiday with their families. But most solo agers won’t have this objection. Your marketing and sales teams could create a compelling offer that entices solo agers to move in November or December.

Do you need a new marketing playbook for solo agers?

Good news! Your marketing playbook doesn’t need to change, but the messaging does. You’ll still want to use marketing automation and compelling content, just like you do for other demos. But you’ll need to begin with more education and help solo agers feel like there’s a true place for them in your community and that you’re not simply swapping the words “solo agers” into all of your existing messaging geared toward other personas, like older couples or people with adult children.

Instead, you must offer messaging that will resonate with this demo and reinforce their independence and desire for choice while empowering them to see the value in—and ultimately make the move to—senior living.

  • Develop a solo ager persona. This is an entirely new persona, one that will evolve as everyone begins to better understand the solo ager’s specific wants and needs.
  • Create educational content that will resonate with them. This persona needs educational content that demonstrates you understand who they are.
  • Follow solo-aging trends. Because this persona is so new, no one has it figured out. We’re in unchartered territory. (The name “solo ager” might change, too.) Set up relevant Google Alerts on solo aging and any synonyms that develop. Follow brands that successfully cater to this demo and study their messaging. Experiment with different messaging, see what works, and fine-tune from there.

From a broader organizational perspective, senior living communities might need to rethink what senior living looks like for this demo. (This is true for Boomers, too.) These are incredibly independent personas. Apartments with shared walls won’t be as attractive as stand-alone homes. This shift could impact your existing campus—or plans for new construction. But it’s not an unheard-of idea. (This senior living community in Massachusetts offers spacious two-bedroom standalone cottages with garages on its campus—and all the typical amenities, like dining and housekeeping.)

Bottom line: Start focusing on solo agers NOW

This is a long-term play. Solo agers in their mid-60s won’t be signing leases with your assisted living or independent living community tomorrow—or next year. However, if you prime this persona’s pump now, especially through education and by demonstrating you understand their unique needs, your community will stand a better chance of engaging with them when they are ready.

If you need help with any of this, work with us. We’ve created a bunch of solo aging-specific content, including a guide designed specifically for solo agers, that our clients can customize and use to target this demo. Reach out to learn more.

Animation of physic with crystal ball predicting the future

Senior Living Marketing Predictions for 2024

It’s that time of year when we ask our team members to gaze into their crystal balls and make senior living marketing predictions for 2024.

Here’s what everyone had to say…

Deborah Howard, CEO


“I think we’re going to see more movement towards emotionally resonant messaging. We’ve got to get away from “just the facts” messages of ’here’s another blog,’ ‘here’s another guide,’ or ‘here’s another ten reasons you should move into senior living.’

People buy emotionally, and then they support that decision intellectually. If all we’re doing is feeding prospects intellectual stuff, they’ll get stuck.

If senior living communities want to compete successfully in 2024 and beyond, they must include emotional messages in their content—and not just words, but in visuals, too.”

Andréa Catizone, President & COO


“Here are my 2024 marketing predictions for senior living:

  • Increased Emphasis on Personalization: Tailoring content and advertising to individual preferences and behaviors can enhance user experiences and drive better engagement. By the way, that’s something AI doesn’t always do well.
  • Rise of Video Content: Video continues to be an engaging channel. We hope to see more senior living communities do more to capture video reviews, “A Day in the Life,” etc.
  • Voice Search Optimization: My 93-year-old mother’s best friend is her Amazon Echo. Seniors are using their virtual assistants more than ever. Senior living providers, especially larger organizations with established web presences, should start thinking about optimizing for voice search in 2024 to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Privacy Concerns and Regulatory Compliance: Privacy policies and adherence to website regulatory requirements will be a top priority for website owners.
  • Personalized and Targeted Campaigns: Long gone are the days of “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to marketing campaigns. But too many communities still have that mindset. I think we’ll see a (mostly) complete shift away from that thinking. If we want to engage prospects, especially younger Boomers, we must engage them through highly personal content tailor-made for them.
  • Online Reviews and Reputation Management: Not only do good reviews improve your trust rating for the Google bots, but more and more prospects are looking at reviews as part of their research. Communities that understand this and spend time (and budget) maintaining their reputation will compete well in 2024.”

Paul Trusik, Director of Operational Technology


“Gazing into 2024, I expect to see more marketing integrations using AI features, whether it’s to aid in content generation for email marketing or landing page copy or to help sales teams quickly formulate replies to prospects from their respective CRMs. Many of our chat partners are also harnessing AI features to help arm their chatbots with enhanced sentiment alongside informational community scripts.

Also, I expect a rise in SMS (text) campaigns to complement what we’re already doing with email campaigns in our marketing automation platforms.

Some ten years ago, we patiently waited for adult children to start researching online as the senior living industry started ramping up digital marketing efforts. Now, we expect that same demographic will start getting just as comfortable communicating via text vs. email and phone.”

Doug Demaio, Director of Client Success


“My prediction is that senior living marketing becomes more integrated with each aspect of the community experience—and that the marketing itself becomes more experiential.

As the Me generation ages into senior living, they’re wanting more choices, more amenities, and more activities. Senior living providers who lean into this by making things like health, wellness, workout spaces, dining, and outdoor activities part of their marketing materials (making them marketing assets rather than liabilities) will be able to connect with more of these folks.

Marketing overall will also lean into digital tools that allow for a more experiential effect: Being there virtually for tours, chatting with leads in real-time on your website, hosting digital and in-person events — really bringing the lead into the community for an authentic experience, in person, or virtually.”

Jim Podewitz, Director of Content Strategy


“Generative AI burst onto the marketing scene in 2023. I see 2024 as a year of taking a closer look at the quality and accuracy of AI-generated content and reassessing AI’s place in content creation. Ultimately, I think we’ll see AI as a tool for creating better content more efficiently vs. a machine that generates greater volumes of vanilla content.

Another prediction: Prospects want to be contacted by senior living communities the way they contacted the community in the first place. The next generation of marketing automation will embrace a broader spectrum of channels to reach and nurture prospects and use the ones preferred by the prospect.”

Kerri-Anne Pendergast, Director of Social Marketing


“Here are a few things I predict for 2024: Both X and Threads will continue to decline while Instagram (Meta) increases. We’ve continuously seen users take part in image- or video-based scrolling versus something like Threads/X, which are text-based.

More social media platforms will hop on the AI train. Snapchat was an early adapter. Now, Meta is using celebs to help with their AI movement. X, LinkedIn, and Threads will likely follow suit, allowing you to write AI-generated posts.

Another prediction: Think more click-to-buys. TikTok Shop makes it easy for creators to make money on the platform by selling their products directly on their profiles, and users don’t have to leave the app to complete their purchases. Augmented reality also plays a role in this. You can see what something looks like on you, or in your house (furniture), or a 3D version of that item without being in person to make your purchase. (Editor’s note: Read Kerri-Anne’s take on TikTok for senior living.)

Senior living communities will use more video! At least, that’s my hope! 😊”

Christopher Zook, Director of Paid Media & Strategy


“By far the biggest event of the year will be the near-universal deprecation of cookie tracking. All major browsers, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, will prohibit cookie tracking to protect user privacy.

Because of this, the most significant transition next year—and probably the largest source of chaos in senior living digital marketing—will be the confusion that arises from not updating conversion tracking correctly. Incorrect installation means sudden drop-offs in reporting numbers, which will make marketing teams think an emergency is happening while sales teams continue to earn the same volume of leads.

Adapting to cookieless tracking is easy, particularly with Google Ads, and massively important as this giant shift takes place across the whole Internet.” (Editor’s note: If you’re a Senior Living SMART client, don’t worry: Our team is WAY ahead of the curve.)

Got questions? Need help with your senior living marketing next year? Get in touch.

We love helping communities increase occupancy through strategic and proven-to-work marketing initiatives. Reach out and let’s talk.

Senior Living Digital Marketing: Our Favorite Tech

One of the most interesting things about owning a senior living digital marketing agency is that we get to play with all the marketing technology our clients use to increase lead generation and conversions.

As a holiday gift to you, here are some of our favorites—and there are some lumps of coal at the end!

Senior Living Digital Marketing: Here Are a Few of Our Favorite Things

Website: WordPress. Why? Because your website is your most important marketing asset, you must own it, not rent it. You should be able to access simple updates without getting in line and taking a number. WordPress is affordable, accessible, and intuitive. Plus, integrations are a breeze.

CRM: WelcomeHome. Why? Oh, where do I start? WelcomeHome is a senior living CRM designed to help sales teams succeed thanks to intuitive navigation aligned with the prospect journey, straightforward customization, amazing customer service and training, stress-free data migration, robust reporting, and every integration you could possibly want. WelcomeHome wants to be the best CRM; it doesn’t force you to buy other proprietary add-ons. Instead, it allows for integration of choice.

Marketing Automation: HubSpot. Why? This all-in-one marketing suite is the simplest solution for measuring the ROI of every marketing channel. You can consolidate all your marketing channels in one place, including website performance, local search, organic search, Google Analytics, social media, content marketing, paid ads, email marketing, live chat, and prospect engagement tools. The reporting dashboards are elegant and allow users to create custom views by region or portfolio/ownership group.

  • PRO TIP: The technology solutions described above are your best foundation for successful senior living digital marketing. Combining these three tools will eliminate blind spots between marketing and sales.

Prospect Engagement Tool: Roobrik. Why? This is the best tool to help operators find early-stage prospects to fill the sales pipeline with future opportunities. Remember, your website has a significant audience of “not yet ready” prospects. They won’t click to call or schedule a tour, but they will engage in Roobrik’s educational surveys to help with their independent research. You’ll learn so much about who is visiting your website, including their motivation, objections, and qualifications, all of which is valuable marketing intelligence.

Chat: SiteStaff Chat. Why? Their recent updates combine what all our clients need: AI capabilities when acting as a self-serve chatbot combined with live human chat for more in-depth conversations. It’s HIPAA compliant, and all chat hosts are US-based and hired for empathy. Use the bot function on mobile and for after-hours inquiries. Offer the live human chat on desktops where typing is more intuitive.

Local Search Tool: BrightLocal. Why? This platform manages Google Business Profile updates, directory listings, and reviews. They also offer an extremely helpful local search grid that shows how every community ranks for local search results by keyword. You will know in five-mile increments which competitors are beating you in local search.

Senior Living Digital Marketing: Lumps of Coal to Avoid!

Any website content management system (CMS) that is proprietary. Don’t get fooled by the “easy button” of templated rental websites. If you don’t own your hosting license (as low as $250 a year), your website development vendor owns your content. They also own your analytics and your reporting (and they decide what to report on!). And good luck trying to move your website elsewhere.

Integrated CRMs that don’t allow integration of choice. Guess what? You should be able to choose your best-in-class suite of integrations, not be forced into a bundle. You should be able to choose your CRM, marketing automation platform, call tracking solution, EHR/clinical suite, and financial/billing system. If a CRM company only supports its own products, that means it’s more interested in generating revenue than helping you find the best solutions.

Need help implementing any of the above?

Get in touch and let’s discuss your senior living digital marketing needs for 2024—and beyond!

Senior couple sitting on sofa reviewing a websiteon computer

Senior Living Website Design: Does Yours Build Trust?

Your senior living website is your most important marketing asset, one that must build trust with prospects no matter where they are in their journey.

What’s the number one reason most people mistrust a website? Poor site design.

Luckily, your senior living website design is something within your control. A good design does cost money, but it’s a worthy investment.

Here’s the secret sauce to a senior living website that builds trust:

  • Designed with the user in mind: Think simple navigation, highly intuitive feel, and accessible.
  • Worthwhile content: Think engaging stories through words, visuals, and overall design and layout.
  • Technically sound: Think mobile-friendly, fast, and secure.

Below, we take a deeper dive into each bullet point.

Senior living websites that build trust are designed with the user in mind.

Think accessible.

You want to create a senior living website that’s aesthetically pleasing and accessible. Making a website accessible isn’t simply the right thing to do. For some businesses, it’s also required.

Private businesses and nonprofits with 15 or more employees are subject to the website compliance guidelines defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act likely covers most—if not all—senior living communities.

At a minimum, you must consider things like . . .

  • Font size and color contrasts (e.g., can people distinguish what’s a link vs. regular text?)
  • Whether all photos have appropriate alt text
  • Whether the site is easy to navigate with adaptive technologies (like screen readers)

And that’s just the beginning.

Learn how we help our clients make accessible websites with UserWay.

Think custom.

We always urge our clients to avoid stock images. We can’t tell you how often we see the same images of older adults across different community websites.

You’ll have difficulty differentiating your site if you’re using the same canned images. Someone might even think they’re on your site because they recognize an image when, in reality, they’re on a competitor’s site that uses the same photos. Custom photography allows you to differentiate, enhance your brand, and better tell your community’s story.

You’ll also want to avoid website templates for various reasons, but the main one is it’s hard to create a custom experience from a template. (Here’s a longer list of why you should avoid templated websites.)

Think fresh.

Websites can grow stale and stagnant, especially in the senior living space. You’ll want to refresh your senior living website every two to three years (or even redesign it).

Senior living websites that build trust offer worthwhile content.

Content and design go hand-in-hand. You could have the best content in the world, but a poorly designed site will cause people to bounce before they fully experience it. On the flip side, a beautiful site will be nothing more than an empty shell if the content doesn’t pass muster.

So, let’s talk about content. The content on your senior living website should provide facts and connect with your audience’s emotions. The best way to accomplish the latter is through storytelling. Stories can attract, engage, and persuade your audience by showing them through words and visuals how your community can solve their problems and improve their lives.

To create compelling stories, you should follow some best practices. Use real photos and videos, a clear and conversational tone, emotional words and sensory details, and a simple, logical structure.

You can also use storytelling techniques to craft riveting narratives that resonate with your audience. Examples include the hero’s journey, the before-and-after, or the problem-solution.

With storytelling, you can create great content for your senior living website that sets it apart from the competition and helps convert anonymous traffic into tours.

Senior living websites that build trust are technically sound.

Your senior living website design must also consider technical aspects in addition to the overall look and feel. If you have one without the other, you won’t be able to deliver a great user experience.

Stuck on how to evaluate your site from a technical perspective? Begin by asking the following questions:

How speedy is your site?

Site speed is a crucial factor for user experience and SEO. A slow-loading site can frustrate your visitors and make them bounce. It can also affect your Google ranking, especially on mobile devices.

According to Think with Google, the probability of bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from one second to three seconds. Get in the habit of checking your site speed and performance regularly. Optimize it by using tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix.

Here are some other ways to improve site speed:

  • Compressing and resizing your images
  • Minifying and combining your CSS and JavaScript files
  • Enabling caching and GZIP compression
  • Using a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Removing unnecessary plugins or scripts

How does your site render across mobile devices?

You must optimize your senior living website for mobile devices. A mobile-friendly site is important to Google and to prospects, many of whom will be viewing your site on something other than a desktop.

Note: An independent website audit will give you and your team an overview of what’s working and what’s not, especially from a technical standpoint, including how well the site renders across mobile devices.

How’s your site’s security and privacy?

Site security and privacy are essential for building trust and credibility with visitors, residents, and their families. A secure site can protect your data and users’ data from hackers, malware, and phishing.

Some of the ways to improve your site security and privacy are:

Some items are invisible to site visitors or aren’t front and center (for example, privacy policies are usually linked in the footer). Although subtle, all are essential trust signals. Consider the privacy policy. When someone wants to read your privacy policy, your site will build trust when it’s super easy to find it.

We can help you develop a senior living website design that builds trust.

Your website is your community’s online hub. You can’t successfully compete if it’s not in top shape. Let us help. Start with our Total Online Presence Audit. Or get in touch and let’s chat about your website’s specific needs.

Senior woman on couch with headphones creating a TikTok

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: Is It Time for TikTok?

Last month, we talked with Kerri-Anne Pendergast, our Director of Social Media Marketing, to discuss her approach when she works with our clients here at Senior Living SMART.

Today, we invited her back to address a burning question so many senior living communities have: Is it time to get on the TikTok bandwagon?

It’s an understandable question given how the platform exploded onto the scene in the U.S. in 2018 and rose to the be the most downloaded app in 2022, according to Statista. Further, TikTok boasted 755 million users in 2022 worldwide, 6.4% of which are 55 and older.

So, is TikTok worth all the hype? Like so many things in life, it depends. In this case, it depends on the audience you’re trying to reach. TikTok has made everything from beauty brands to authors “TikTok famous.” But what about senior living?

Let’s get Kerri-Anne’s take.

If you had to describe TikTok in a nutshell, what would you say?

TikTok is a fun social media platform that’s all about short-form videos. The audience is huge, but there are many niches, like BookTok, GamerTok, BusinessTok, etc.

What are some reasons why communities should consider TikTok?

It’s engaging, fun, and easy to go viral, thanks to TikTok’s algorithm (you don’t necessarily need to have a ton of followers or be a big brand to have a video take off).

Even better? This article from Insider discusses how participating in social media trends on TikTok might be good for seniors’ mental health. The same article points out that the reaction to TikToks featuring seniors has been overwhelmingly positive, too.

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen more senior living communities dipping their toes into TikTok. Here are some examples of popular TikToks featuring senior living residents.

 

@arcadiasrlivingbg

Our halftime show > Rihanna’s halftime show 💃🪩🏈🤍🎶🎤 #seniorlivingcommunity #halftimeshow #SuperBowl #rihanna #fyp

♬ original sound – Brian Esperon

@rivergroveresidents

Pew Pew 😂😂❤️ #seniors #seniorliving #seniorcommunity #foryou #fypシ #nerf #rivergrove #nursinghome #residentsoftiktok #rehabfacility #activitiesdepartment #activitydirector #lovemyjob

♬ Mission Impossible Theme (Movie Trailer Mix) – Dominik Hauser

@nathanjoneslife

Our visit with @ourseniormoments was so much fun. What is your favorite age so far? | #age #aging #seniorliving #grandmasoftiktok #interview

♬ See You Again (Piano Arrangement) – Alexandre Pachabezian

Why should communities hold off on TikTok, at least for now?

The two main reasons to hold off on TikTok:

  • Your residents don’t want to participate. (Remember, you should always get explicit consent from the people appearing in your videos.)
  • You don’t have someone in the community to create the videos. (There’s not much your marketing company can do to help with this. You need boots on the ground.)

In your opinion, what needs to happen for a community to develop a successful TikTok presence?

The recipe for success isn’t much different than it is for other social media platforms, with one exception—as we mentioned, TikTok is all about video, particularly short-form video. Only recently has TikTok allowed videos up to 10 minutes in length. Before, it was all about quick, entertaining vids in under 60 seconds (and these short videos are still hugely popular).

But getting back to best practices. If you want to create a successful TikTok presence for your senior living community, you must:

  • Get consent and buy-in from residents appearing in your videos.
  • Post regularly.
  • Let the audience get to know your residents.
  • Engage with the audience, answer their questions, and respond to their comments.
  • Use trending music.
  • Keep up with other popular trends.
  • Have fun with it. (Because this WILL show in the final product.)

Do you think TikTok will become a must-have platform for senior living communities in the next five years?

In the near future, TikTok will continue to skew young. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a presence for your senior living community, provided you have the interest and bandwidth.

TikTok will continue to be a great place for showing off your community’s lifestyle. But it won’t be the platform that helps you promote content or converts people into tours and move-ins. At least, not yet.

Facebook will likely remain the key social media platform for most senior living communities. Facebook is currently the number one social media platform in the U.S. and by a comfortable margin (74.2% of adults use it; the next platform after that is Instagram at 60.5%)

Of course, things will likely evolve over the next five to ten years, especially as younger Baby Boomers and Gen X near retirement age. So, like everything else, stay tuned.

If a senior living community had to focus on one or two social media platforms (TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook), which ones do you recommend?

Focus on Facebook. It’s very well-rounded and fits the demographics better.

And here’s what you need to remember: TikTok isn’t the only place to consume short-form content. When TikTok took off, the other platforms took note. So today, Facebook and Instagram have Reels, and YouTube recently launched YouTube Shorts (videos that are sixty seconds or less).

In other words, people now have more options for consuming short-form content—they don’t need to go to TikTok. If you’ve already built a strong presence on Facebook and YouTube, try adding short videos to those platforms before starting a TikTok account.

Pro tip: If you create one short video, you can republish it in multiple places for expanded reach.

Is there anything else you want to ensure we convey about TikTok for senior living?

If you use it, post fun videos regularly and let the audience get to know your residents. Engage with the audience. If they have questions, do a TikTok that answers those questions. Respond to comments. And most importantly, have fun with it.

Go in with reasonable expectations. Remember, you won’t use it to promote content or schedule tours. Instead, you’ll use it to capture your community’s unique vibe. Keep it fun, light, and engaging.

Need fresh eyes on your social media marketing strategy?

We can help! Get in touch, and let’s discuss social media.

 

Senior Living SEO Companies

Senior Living SEO Companies: Do You Need One?

Some readers might think they need a senior living SEO company in addition to (or instead of) a marketing agency. However, other readers might think having a separate SEO company is redundant if you already work with a marketing agency.

Which is it? Who’s right?

Like so many things in life, it depends.

Below, we get into the nitty-gritty by answering the following questions:

  • What is a senior living SEO company?
  • Do senior living SEO companies typically offer marketing services?
  • Why would a community opt to work with a senior living SEO company instead of (or in addition to) a marketing agency?
  • Are there drawbacks to using two agencies—an SEO company and a marketing firm?
  • What are the hallmarks of a good senior living SEO company?
  • Do you need an SEO company if you work with Senior Living SMART?
  • Will Senior Living SMART work with your community if you already have an SEO company?

What is a senior living SEO company?

First, a refresher: SEO stands for search engine optimization. In a nutshell, SEO involves improving your website so that it has greater visibility in Google search results.

You can improve your site for search in various ways, like making sure it renders well across mobile devices and that it’s full of helpful content built around relevant keywords.

As its name suggests, an SEO company delivers services to help your website pages rank higher in Google. A senior living SEO company focuses on a specific niche: senior living.

Do senior living SEO companies typically offer marketing services?

While exceptions certainly exist, any business labeling itself as an SEO company likely focuses only on SEO-related services. Otherwise, it would describe itself as something else, like a marketing or web development agency.

Remember, SEO is a sub-set of digital marketing services. For example, one of the many services we offer at Senior Living SMART is SEO—and we cover it from every conceivable angle: keyword research, optimized content, technical SEO, and on-page/off-page SEO.

Why would a community opt to work with a senior living SEO company instead of (or in addition to) a marketing agency?

Not all marketing agencies offer SEO services. And even those that do might have different levels of expertise. For example, a marketing firm with deep content marketing expertise might be adept at optimizing content for search, but it might come up short regarding technical SEO. In this case, it might make sense for the community to contract a senior living SEO company for all things SEO.

Are there drawbacks to using two agencies—an SEO company and a marketing firm?

The most significant drawbacks of working with an SEO and marketing agency are silo mentalities and overlapping costs.

  • Silo mentalities. It’s easy for silo mentalities to set in if the two agencies don’t communicate or share insights. If you work with two firms, you’ll want to encourage collaboration.
  • Overlapping costs. When you work with one agency that handles everything in-house, you’ll get a comprehensive services package instead of paying two separate fees that are bound to have some overlap.

What are the hallmarks of a good senior living SEO company?

Anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves an SEO company. Unfortunately, plenty of shady characters occupy the space. Always conduct due diligence before signing contracts.

Things to look for in a quality SEO company:

  • Great reviews on Google and positive testimonials from real customers
  • A professional website that highlights team members’ credentials
  • Relevant certifications (such as Google Analytics)
  • Case studies that demonstrate expertise
  • A robust client portfolio (ideally with clients in the senior living space)
  • The ability to provide a clear strategy for achieving your goals, including a local search strategy
  • A clear policy regarding AI (like ChatGPT) and SEO

PRO TIP: Avoid anyone who guarantees high rankings.

Do you need an SEO company if you work with Senior Living SMART?

For over a decade, we’ve been assembling a talented team of SEO specialists—from writers to technical gurus to everything in between. So the short answer is no—you don’t need a separate SEO company if you work with us. We’re truly a one-stop senior living marketing agency.

Will Senior Living SMART work with your community if you already have an SEO company?

Good marketing agencies are flexible. We understand that communities might contact us for marketing help after signing with an SEO company. We’re happy to collaborate with your vendors (and not just SEO specialists, either). We work hard to make sure we’re not duplicating efforts because we don’t want you to pay for things twice.

Get in touch and let’s chat about your senior living SEO and marketing needs.

8 Signs You Should Fire Your Senior Living Marketing Agency

8 Signs You Should Fire Your Senior Living Marketing Agency

Anyone can hang out a virtual shingle and call themselves a senior living marketing agency. In reality, not all agencies are created equal.

The worst part? Sometimes you won’t recognize the warning signs simply because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Let’s remedy this, OK?

Below, we discuss eight signs that your senior living marketing agency isn’t passing muster. Any one issue alone is worth having a conversation with the agency. Two or more signs, and you’ll likely want to begin looking elsewhere for marketing support… Here are the eight indicators:

  • Your account team has never discussed its strategy with you.
  • You don’t have visibility into your marketing.
  • You don’t receive comprehensive reporting that you understand.
  • You’re spending money on things you don’t understand (like PPC).
  • Your agency treats marketing as a “set it and forget it” task.
  • You only occasionally hear from your account team.
  • You don’t own your marketing assets.
  • Your account team keeps changing.

1. Your account team has never discussed its strategy with you.

Not all senior living marketing agencies take a strategic approach to marketing, which is a huge red flag. A sound strategy drives successful marketing, period. Too often, agencies will apply a one-size-fits-all template to your marketing.

How can you recognize when this happens? The “plan” will often sound like a pre-set formula: four blog posts a month, three Facebook posts a week, one Google Ads campaign, and one new ebook a quarter.

On the surface, the plan might sound reasonable. And yet, it’s the equivalent of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Your strategy should always dictate the campaigns, tactics, and content that you create. Maybe your strategy doesn’t require four blogs per month because you already have an excellent library of blog content. But maybe you do need better landing pages for your pay-per-click ads to increase your ROI.

We’re riffing here, but you likely get the gist. Beware of an agency that slaps together a 90-day plan within hours of a kick-off call with you. This indicates a formula or templated approach rather than a thoughtful strategy.

A thoughtful marketing strategy requires a careful analysis of your online presence, goals, competitors, and many other things before the account team can devise a plan to maximize your marketing budget while achieving your objectives.

2. You don’t have visibility into your marketing.

Marketing should never feel like this loosey-goosey intangible thing that’s impossible to quantify. Effective marketing produces measurable results like marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), sales-qualified leads (SQLs), tours, and move-ins.

It’s possible your marketing team assumes you understand all the various dashboards and charts in your marketing automation and CRM platforms. That’s an unfair assumption—and laziness on the account team’s part.

Yes, it’s good for you to dig into dashboards and review analytics, but it’s the marketing agency’s job to ensure you’re interpreting data correctly and you understand the changes the agency is making based on the data. And they should be making adjustments and tweaks.

3. You don’t receive comprehensive reporting that you understand.

This point aligns with the previous one. In a nutshell, good agencies avoid “dashboard dazzle,” where they deliver impressive-looking marketing dashboards filled with charts, graphs, and senior living marketing analytics that you can’t make heads or tails of—no matter how hard you try.

Your team should deliver regular updates and reports, but they should do so in a way that’s easy for you and other key stakeholders to understand. If you can’t quickly recap what the latest reporting or dashboard is telling you, consider that a troubling sign.

Request that they deliver more user-friendly reports. If they can’t or don’t, that is a sign you should look elsewhere.

4. You’re spending money on things you don’t understand (like PPC).

A good agency will walk you through complex marketing topics and make sure you understand what’s happening—and why. A good agency can also easily justify why it’s taking specific actions (or requesting a certain budget) so that you don’t have to wonder where your marketing dollars are going.

For example, you don’t need to become a PPC expert, but you should understand the basics—particularly the expected and actual ROI. This is true for all marketing campaigns, especially ones that might be out of your wheelhouse, like Google Ad campaigns.

5. Your agency treats marketing as a “set it and forget it” task.

Marketing is dynamic. What worked last quarter might not work next quarter. The social media platform that was hot might be cooling down. Bidding costs for paid ads will fluctuate and affect your budget. Situations out of your control (like a pandemic or natural disaster) might mean you need to rethink your marketing quickly.

Our point: Your senior living marketing agency must be able to pivot, which isn’t easy if the agency is beholden to a formula or is used to setting and forgetting things (like PPC campaigns).

6. You only occasionally hear from your account team (and never with fresh marketing strategies or ideas).

How often do you hear from your account team? Do they check in with you regularly? Or do they only respond when you email or call them?

The best senior living marketing agencies take a proactive rather than reactive approach. The agency stays on top of what’s working (and what isn’t) for your community, and they come to you with recommendations. They also regularly bring you creative marketing ideas and fresh strategies—and not simply when they’re trying to renew their contract.

7. You don’t own your marketing assets.

Your senior living marketing agency should never hold your marketing assets hostage. Your community should own its website, hosting, relevant Google accounts (like Google Business Profile, Google AdSense, Google Analytics), directory listings, collateral materials, etc.

Reputable agencies clarify in their contracts that you retain ownership of everything developed and created during your engagement.

Yes, members of your account team will need access to specific software (like Google products), but these products make it easy to add marketing partners (for this very reason—so that you don’t lose ownership of your assets).

8. Your account team keeps changing.

It’s normal for an occasional change on your account, but if your account team experiences regular turnover, consider it a warning sign.

Your marketing agency’s team is one that you can rely on. Constantly getting new team members up to speed is exhausting and disruptive. Plus, this merry-go-round behavior likely indicates a more significant problem within the agency.

Time to make a switch? Contact our senior living marketing agency.

For over a decade, we’ve helped senior living communities of all sizes rock their marketing. You won’t have to worry about any of the above issues when you choose us. Contact us today and experience the difference.

Assisted Living PPC Management

Assisted Living PPC Management: 3 Reasons You Should Work with an Agency

You might think, “Assisted living PPC management—how hard can it be?” Below, we provide three compelling reasons why working with an experienced agency like Senior Living SMART makes sense for all your paid advertising needs.

1. We do ppc management every day.

You could try managing your assisted living PPC campaigns on your own. The challenge, of course, is that it’s not the only thing you’re managing, right? If you’re part of your community’s marketing or sales team, you’re already juggling many other things. So PPC would be one more item added to your endless to-do list.

At Senior Living SMART, we have a team devoted to nothing but paid advertising campaigns. That’s the only work they do, day in and day out. This allows them to dive deep into each client’s needs, maximize budgets, and optimize results.

At SLS, our team focuses on all the information that Google is telling them so they can deliver the best results for clients. He and his team also stay current with all things Google and PPC.

This means we can come in with solid recommendations and ideas that are otherwise not considered by people who may be unfamiliar with Google Ads or people who are trying to do it themselves or—in the worst case scenario—people who are doing the “set it and forget it” method of just creating an account, paying for clicks, and moving onto their next checklist item instead of checking ad results.

2. We monitor PPC campaigns every day.

Speaking of setting and forgetting it: That’s NOT a good strategy for assisted living PPC management.

Why? Because pay-per-click advertising is dynamic—and even more so now in the era of Google’s new Search Generative Experience.

If you set up your PPC ads, enter your credit card, and “forget it,” you won’t get insights into . . .

  • Which keywords are bringing in traffic that converts into quality leads
  • Which keywords are bringing in low-quality leads (Hint: You can remove these
    “bad” keywords from your targeting)
  • What changes can you make to landing pages to boost conversions
  • Which leads ultimately become residents

This is because PPC (and Google Ads in particular) requires active maintenance in order to navigate changing market conditions. New competitors can enter your geography, others can leave, and sometimes things can seem to change for no good reason.

Regular, routine maintenance helps ensure a campaign has minimal issues throughout its life, assisting it in earning high-quality leads that make the most of a senior living company’s dollar.

3. We know how much PPC leads should cost.

You don’t have to spend the most to get meaningful results with PPC. When we work with senior living communities, we maximize your budget so you get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar. We’ll undoubtedly make recommendations—but we make these recommendations based on actual data. And we set expectations based on your available budget.

If you tell us you need ten quality leads a month from PPC campaigns with X budget, we might do research that reveals you don’t have enough budget to get those ten leads, but you do have enough to get seven. You can decide whether to increase your budget or work with your intended budget.

Our point: We base everything we recommend on actual data, not pie-in-the-sky dreams.

Here’s a recent example: A senior living community with 15 communities nationwide came to us and asked if we could review their PPC campaigns. They were new to PPC and wondering if they were paying too much per lead.

We audited their data and discovered they were paying thousands of dollars per individual lead, which is extraordinarily high for Google Ads. We came up with recommendations and took over the account.

Since then, we’ve increased their conversions by over a hundred and reduced their cost per lead by 20%.

Would you like to discuss outsourcing your assisted living PPC management?

Get in touch, and let’s discuss how our paid advertising team can help.

How We Saved Our Clients 26000

How We Saved Our Clients $26,000 in 10 Weeks by Focusing on Ad Fraud

In May 2023, the paid media team at Senior Living SMART first began to hear that a few clients were getting unqualified leads from Google Ads.

This isn’t completely unusual – any marketing strategy will always bring in unqualified leads to some extent, and marketing in the senior living industry is no exception.

But these complaints were different. They were specific. They were unsettling. They told us that something else was happening that we weren’t seeing in our regular work.

By the beginning of June, nearly every client who ran a paid ad campaign with SLS was telling us the same thing – they were getting a huge influx of bizarre leads who didn’t even come close to meeting qualification requirements.

In fact, these leads weren’t even close to what any client was targeting. But they all shared similar criteria. These leads:

  • Wanted senior housing for $300 per month
  • Spoke with accents of different languages
  • Sought employment (even though we weren’t running recruitment ads)
  • Used fake names
  • Didn’t respond to sales follow ups

Who were these leads? How did they find our clients? Most importantly, how were we going to make it stop?

The paid media team at SLS spent months trying to answer these questions, among others. It took over our daily work, and we spent meeting after meeting brainstorming, theory-crafting, implementing, and going back to the drawing board.

But one day, we got it, and once we did, it saved our clients $26,000 in 10 weeks.

Further Reading: “Deceptive ad practices frustrate providers by generating excessive, financially unqualified leads, firm says” – McKnights Senior Living

Here are the steps we took to figure it out.

How we saved our clients $26,000 in 10 weeks by focusing on ad fraud

Step 1. We identified the source of the problem

The first step to stopping any new problem is understanding it. For us, that meant we had to make sure that these leads were, in fact, coming from Google Ads.

We used two main tools for this: Google Ads and HubSpot.

The clients of ours who used HubSpot had access to its treasure drove of data on each and every lead that came through. This meant documenting the lead’s origin from paid search, the name of the search campaign, and the keyword they used to trigger the ads.

Having this data ready for hundreds of leads, we then drilled deeper into keywords, specifically.

Strangely, the keywords credited with earning these leads in HubSpot seemed normal: “assisted living near me,” “find senior living,” and so on. Prior to May, these keywords were powerful drivers of high-quality leads that had strong potential to become move-ins for our clients over time.

But things didn’t get really strange until we compared HubSpot’s data to Google Ads.

“Assisted living near me” and the other keywords in HubSpot didn’t line up with what Google Ads showed us. HubSpot might show that a keyword brought in eight leads last week, but Google Ads would show that it only earned two – or maybe even zero.

Because we use conversion tracking for all of our clients’ paid campaigns, this keyword data – and the number of conversions they drive – should be the same, but this wasn’t the case. In fact, it wasn’t even close.

Even so, it’s not common for Google and HubSpot to simply “not work,” so we double- and triple-checked all of our tracking parameters for both Google and HubSpot. They both passed perfectly.

Something was clearly wrong – and it wasn’t us. That’s a good-news-bad-news situation.

If it were an error we made, we could fix it, but it’d also be a terrible error on our part. Because it’s an external issue, we can’t fix it right away.

We knew our keyword data couldn’t point us in the right direction. Next, we turned to demographic information of the leads themselves.

They shared some elements in common that I already mentioned, the strangest of which were those who came from Google Ads campaigns but told clients they heard about them through TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram — none of which were currently in use for clients experiencing this problem. This was helpful information, nonetheless.

If these leads were credited to Google Ads but said they heard of a community from social media, it meant a person or robot was manually presenting information about a community in one of two ways:

  1. Copying and pasting the link directly from our ad
  2. Linking to a Google Search Partner that presented our ad

Why is that the case? Because those are the only ways that someone could hear about a community on a social platform and have their conversion attributed to paid search.

With that in mind, we formed two hypotheses:

First, someone could be using a robot to swipe our links and re-paste them on a social network. There’s no real reason to do this though, and there’s no well-documented case of ad fraud including copied links.

Second, it could be a search partner. Search partners are third-party companies that white-label Google’s search engine as their own product. Sometimes, that company may present the product as a search engine. Other times, it may appear like a series of buttons or ads.

More importantly, there was a financial incentive for search partners. If they earned clicks for Google Ads, they got a share of the revenue, so in theory, a search partner could create a website, white-label Google Search, use social media (or ads) to send people to their website, and get clicks on ads for a payout.

Is this the most reputable way to make a buck? No, but we couldn’t deny it – all of the pieces in this theory made sense.

We then chose to test this one first by mapping out the flow of how someone went from never hearing about our client to somehow thinking they offered $300 / month senior living.

Step 2. We sought to understand the flow of unqualified leads

Fortunately for us, this process didn’t take long to complete. Almost all of our clients use search campaigns since that’s statistically the strongest method of earning leads through paid media for senior living. One of the reasons this is so strong is the Search Partner Network.

Historically, we used this when our clients were going up against competitors with deep pockets that made competing on paid ads out of the question. The high rollers would buy up the real estate in Google Search, and our clients would pick up leads from the search partner network. They’d even hit lead goals using this strategy, so we made it a part of our strategy for most clients.

There’s a catch, though: Google doesn’t publish the names of its search partners. Unless they’re really big names – like Yahoo! — Google doesn’t tell you who shows your ads. They also don’t tell you how those search partners may get the traffic to engage with your ads.

For SLS, that meant we had to find a search partner in the wild. Fortunately, we knew exactly where to start.

We searched for keywords like “$300 senior living near me” several times, changing our location with VPNs and cookie-blocker options as we worked. Sure enough, we got a few hits every time we tried.

On every website we landed, we learned a few interesting things:

  • The website itself was not a search partner; it was a website serving Google display ads
  • The search partner took out display ads on the host website
  • When someone clicked the ad, they went to the search partner site
  • The search partner then used buttons to navigate users to a new set of ads
  • The new set of ads did not have anything to do with the original ad
  • The user would click an ad and end up on our clients’ websites, still searching for $300 / month senior living because of how the search partner presented their ads

This answered a few questions for us:

First, it proved that search partners were at least part of the problem – if not the entire problem.

Second, it showed how a lead could be credited as coming from paid search and a bizarre keyword to find one of our clients. It wasn’t their fault – they were clicking options that were presented to them.

Third, it explained the disconnect in the keyword data between HubSpot and Google Ads. They were tracking different clicks.

To make matters more complicated, the URL of each search partner had hardcoded UTM parameters in them. These UTM parameters are how Google and HubSpot sort data about where a lead originated. You’ll see them in a webpage’s URL after the domain information after a question mark: “UTM_source” is how they know someone came from paid search, “UTM_campaign” is how they knew the campaign name, etc.

Here’s an example of UTM parameters in action: http://yourwebsite.com/landing-page?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=independent-living&utm_term=independent-living-near-me

In this example, “yourwebsite.com” is the domain and “/landing-page” is the specific page. This is the required portion of the URL so that your browser knows where to take you. The rest of it – after the question mark – is exclusively used for tracking.

In this example, the “source” is Google Ads, the “medium” is paid search, the “campaign” is called Independent Living, and the “term” that drove traffic is independent living near me.

In Google Ads, this information is automatically plugged into a URL after someone clicks to assist in proper attribution. If those parameters change, then the URL sends false information to the CRM, and that causes a discrepancy in the reporting between a CRM and Google Ads.

Because the UTM parameters were being changed on the search partner site, HubSpot & Google Ads had a hard time parsing what went where.

Our clients were feeling confused. If we wanted to help them stop feeling that way, we knew we had to take our fight to the search partner network. But here’s the thing – we couldn’t just turn it off.

Search partner ads still accounted for 90%+ of some of our clients’ leads. They may have been unqualified, but some were also very qualified, so killing the Search Partner extension was out of the question. Instead, we needed a more surgical solution.

Step 3. We took preventative action

At this point, we had spent a few weeks working out exactly what was happening so we could address it. While it took some time, we were happy to have some level of a solution to roll out. Our first step was to make several Google Ads lists for negative keywords. Negative keywords are used to specify who you don’t want to see your ads, just as regular keywords are used to identify who should see your ads.

Our regular keyword suite includes terms like “senior living near me.” We then updated our negative keyword list with terms like “$300” so that we wouldn’t show for “$300 senior living near me.”

Even though these search network partners are using some sketchy tactics to earn clicks, they still have to abide by the rules that Google Ads sets out for them. One of those rules is that they must respect negative keywords. All of those keywords we identified at the start of this investigation went right onto our negative keyword list.

Then, we went back to the search partner websites and looked for other terms they allowed someone to click. If we found one, we added it to the negative keyword list. The only exception to this work was if we found a keyword that simply said “assisted living” or “independent living” or something to that effect. We didn’t want to block those terms because they still drove qualified traffic to clients – even if a few unqualified leads got through every now and again, but for all of the other strange ones – like “seniors independent living facilities usa 2023 best” – they went onto the list.

Then, we waited.

Step 4. We looked for results to validate our methods

It didn’t take long to see results. The very next day showed a drop in conversions across the board, but we don’t take action on a single day of data – it could be an anomaly, and the conditions that caused the drop could change the next day, but the results were consistent for the next several days.

To know whether our changes really worked as intended, we had to talk to our clients’ sales team. It can take weeks for a lead to go from their first conversion to their first conversation with a salesperson in the senior living industry, so we asked our clients to let us know if anything changed with sales team feedback. Most clients were quiet that first week. But by the second week, we started hearing some good results.

In fact, three weeks after we rolled out the changes, one client told us that we eliminated as much as 85% of the unqualified leads they were seeing a month earlier.

We didn’t want to rest on our laurels, so we reviewed the data 10 weeks after we implemented our changes. We learned definitively that we’re going in the right direction. Here’s what we found when we looked at our clients:

  • Cost: -$25,800
  • Impressions: -31.53%
  • Clicks: -16.71%
  • Click-Through Rate: +21.65%
  • Conversions: +8.80%
  • Conversion Rate: +30.63%
  • Cost per Lead: +1.98%

Here’s why we were excited:

First, the cost went down, and we were saving our clients money. This isn’t a great indicator to see long-term because you ideally want to spend all of your Google Ads budget every day, but for a sharp and sudden change, we were happy to see that costs decreased overall.

Next, impressions went down. Because we knew that we were blocking keywords that corresponded to low-quality leads, we wanted to see impressions decrease. This meant fewer people were seeing the ads, and that’s exactly what we set out to do.

Third, clicks decreased. This makes sense – we had fewer impressions, so we were most likely going to have fewer clicks as well.

Despite the fact that we had fewer clicks and impressions, the click-through rate – or the percentage of people who saw an ad and engaged with it – went up by 21.65%. We weren’t reaching as many people, but we were reaching a much more interested audience.

On top of that, overall conversion increased by 8.80%. This was the primary proof that we were engaging a better audience as we shifted the priority to lead quality. We were engaging fewer people, but they were so interested that our conversions actually increased!

We also found that the conversion rate went up by more than 30%, once again proving that we were engaging a highly qualified, highly interested audience even as we intentionally blocked people from seeing ads.

Finally, the cost per lead remained stable, increasing less than 2%.

Our solution worked, but there was still work to do.

Step 5. We continued the work of keeping on top of unqualified leads

We discovered pretty quickly that the search partners sending unqualified leads to our clients have a vested interest in continuing their practice. We now review our clients’ conversion sources (including keywords) on a daily basis. We started blocking new terms like “seniors living” and “senior aprs” (which is almost certainly an intentional misspelling of “senior apts.”) As we continue to block these unqualified leads, we continue to drive stronger results for clients.

Want to learn more about Google Ads and possible fraud?

Download our free guide! In this guide, we dive into the details about different types of fraud and the steps you can take to fight back.