Senior Living Marketing: Time for a Mid-Year Checkup

Senior Living Marketing: Time for a Mid-Year Checkup

June is an excellent time to review your senior living marketing strategy. If you do this mid-year checkup now, you can hit the ground running as we enter Q3.

What exactly should you review during your mid-year checkup?

Don’t worry! We got you.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Website marketing review tips
  • Social media marketing review tips
  • Email marketing review tips
  • Bonus: Three analytic points that marketers often overlook (but you won’t!)

Let’s get to it.

Senior Living Website Marketing: What To Check

How’s the overall user experience (UX) been over the last six months?

Remember, your senior living website serves as your central marketing hub. You must constantly monitor its performance—and how everyday users respond to and interact with the site.

Things to check:

  • Is the site easy to navigate and accessible to everyone? Don’t underestimate or ignore WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. And don’t assume your site is still accessible simply because it was the last time you checked. It’s amazing how quickly accessibility can break down as people add or revise new pages. Performing an audit is a good best practice.
  • Does the site load quickly across all devices? People have little patience for slow sites and may depart your site if takes longer than a few seconds to load.
  • Is the mobile site just as user-friendly as the desktop site? The mobile version of your site needs to be just as easy to read, skim, and navigate as the desktop version.

These last 2 items also factor into good SEO. Slow-loading websites and poorly performing mobile sites will cause your search engine ranking to take a hit, so don’t ignore these issues.

Does your site convert anonymous traffic into leads—and leads into move-ins?

It doesn’t make sense to continue pumping out more of the same content if you have no idea if any of it is working. The most successful communities close the loop with their marketing and sales efforts so that they know what content converts.

Things to check:

  • Review stats on form submissions, click-through rates, and phone calls. How do things compare year-over-year? If stats are down, do you know why?
  • Analyze landing page performance. Where could you optimize better? Should you run an A/B test?
  • Evaluate CTA performance and lead capture mechanisms. Sometimes making a small change, like the color of a CTA button, can have a considerable impact.
  • Use heatmaps or click-tracking tools to understand user engagement. Hotjar is a popular option.
  • Identify high- and low-performing pages. Pay attention to user behavior flow, bounce rates, and time spent on each. How can you apply what you see on the top-performing pages to those needing a little extra TLC?

Do you need to revise content due to messaging inconsistencies or poor performance?

Content marketing doesn’t mean you’re simply writing new content. You must monitor existing content and revise it as needed. The work of content marketing is never done!

Things to check:

  • Review copy on the top trafficked pages. This might seem unnecessary, but you don’t want to lose traction. Is anything outdated or off-brand? Can you freshen testimonials, videos, and content offers?
  • Revisit your content calendar for the rest of the year. Can you spot any content “gaps”? Do you need to adjust content topics or formats based on what resonates with people?
  • Review messaging from a marketing and sales alignment POV. Are the messages in synch? The last thing you want is a disconnect between your website and what people hear during tours or sales calls.

PRO TIP: If you’ve been blogging consistently over the last couple of years, chances are good that you already have plenty of the “right” content. Instead of writing new content, pause for a month and focus only on auditing existing content like blog posts and refreshing the copy. Look for ways to repurpose content: turn that white paper into a series of blog posts, or that blog post into a listicle you share on social. Finally, don’t be afraid to retire older content that’s outdated or is no longer working (and that you can’t fix).

Social Media Marketing: What to Check

Are the platforms working for you—or against you?

You don’t need a presence on every social media platform under the sun to have success. Rocking one or two platforms is better than being mediocre across five or seven. Don’t be afraid to pause platforms that aren’t delivering ROI.

Things to check:

  • Assess each platform’s overall performance. Are people engaged? Are you spending time on a platform that’s getting a lot of press (looking at you, TikTok) but that doesn’t make sense for your senior living audience—at least not yet?
  • Review follower growth. Has the platform gained followers? Are they engaged? What’s the overall reach like?
  • Evaluate ROI. First, make sure you understand how to calculate actionable social media ROI for your senior living community. Second, determine which platforms deliver the best ROI. Does it make sense to continue with what you’ve been doing? Or should you pause any platforms?

Is your social media content strategy delighting prospects?

Why continue posting content your audience has zero interest in? Keep in mind that what people like will fluctuate.

Things to check:

  • Assess the overall engagement and relevance of each social media channel. For example, have you jumped on board the TikTok train simply because everyone’s talking about it? Do you spend tons of time creating TikToks, but you’re not gaining traction? If a particular platform isn’t delivering measurable results, it’s not worth spending the time.
  • Evaluate how you and your team use visuals, videos, and storytelling techniques in your posts. What resonates? What doesn’t? Where can you improve?
  • Identify the type of content that works best and revise your social media calendar accordingly. Swap out content that isn’t getting engagement and schedule more of the content that’s been getting results.

Do you have a truly engaged community of fans (even if it’s small)?

When it comes to social media marketing, it can be tempting to focus on highly “visible” metrics, such as likes. But savvy marketers always dig deeper.

Things to check:

  • Analyze community interaction and response rates. How quickly do people respond to your posts? Do your posts continue gaining traction over a few days, or do they fizzle quickly?
  • Review comments, messages, and reviews. If your posts are getting people to comment or send direct messages with relevant questions about your community, you’re doing something right. Don’t underestimate the power of social media reviews, especially when they happen in other threads where people tag your community.
  • How’s your social media networking? Are you collaborating with/tagging relevant partners to increase visibility? If you haven’t prioritized this, now’s a good time to add this to your marketing mix.

Email Marketing: What to Check

How do the numbers look?

You can’t judge one set of numbers for one email. That’s why looking back at emails over six months is helpful. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. The numbers for your lead nurturing emails will differ from those for your community’s email newsletter.

Things to check:

  • Don’t get too hung up on open rates (unless you’re looking at adjusted open rates like HubSpot shows). Do pay attention to click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates.
  • Pay attention to unsubscribe rates and spam reports. These are inevitable, but they should be low overall. If you find a particular email in the last six months caused a spike in either, see if you can determine why.
  • What have you learned from A/B testing of subject lines? If you haven’t done any A/B testing, now’s the time to start.

Are people engaging with your emails’ content and the places you’re sending them to?

Things to check:

  • What type of content does your audience like best? Short and punchy copy? Lists? Free downloads? Videos and webinars? Knowing this will help inform your primary content calendar. For example, shift marketing dollars to video creation if your audience prefers video content to ebooks.
  • Is the email’s design helping or hindering marketing efforts? If people are receiving and opening the email but not acting, it’s not always the content’s fault. It could be the design or layout. Just as you should A/B test subject lines, you can A/B test different design elements. Sometimes simply changing the color of a CTA button can positively impact CTR.
  • Check the messaging of all automated emails. Too often, marketers set up their automated emails and forget about them. Get in the habit of reviewing all lead nurturing content from a high-level messaging and brand consistency mindset. (You should also make sure all links are working and email workflows are still operating according to the logic you initially set up.)

How’s your list hygiene?

Things to check:

  • Assess your lists’ overall health. Do you need to send a re-engagement campaign to people who’ve stopped engaging? When was the last time you purged your list of disengaged subscribers? If you continue to send emails to disengaged people, this will lower your overall sender score. (This is known as graymail.)
  • Review segmentation and personalization strategies. For example, if you’ve been using people’s names in the subject lines, have you seen a correlation with open rates, CTR, and other conversion points? If you haven’t experimented with personalization yet, now’s the time to make a plan.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of opt-in forms and lead capture mechanisms. How have sign-ups been over the last six months? Try inserting them mid-way through blog posts and see if that grows your list.

Three Analytic Points That Marketers Often Overlook

Most of our tips above included looking at analytics as part of your mid-year checkup of various areas, like the website or email marketing.

But here are three broader analytics points that too many marketers overlook. Add these to your mid-year checkup.

Make sure you’ve set up clear goals and conversion tracking:

  • Define and track specific conversion goals, such as form submissions or phone calls.
  • Analyze conversion funnels to identify potential drop-off points. (More on drop-offs below.)
  • Implement tracking codes and pixels for accurate measurement.

Analyze demographic and behavioral data:

  • Explore demographic insights of website visitors and email subscribers.
  • Analyze user engagement based on age, location, and interests.
  • Use this data to refine your buyer personas and marketing messages for them.

Pay attention to funnel drop-off points:

  • Identify stages in the conversion funnel with high drop-off rates.
  • Analyze user behavior, messaging, or design issues causing drop-offs.
  • Optimize those specific areas to improve conversion rates.

Need help doing some or all of the above?

Listen, we get it. You’re already juggling so much. That’s why sometimes the best step you can take is a step back and outsource to a marketing agency like ours to do the heavy lifting. We’ll come in with fresh eyes and see what’s working and what isn’t so that you’re in great shape heading into Q3 and Q4. Get in touch, and let’s talk about your marketing strategy.

ChatGPT and SEO for Senior Living

ChatGPT & SEO for Senior Living

We recently wrote about ChatGPT and whether you should use it for senior living marketing. The short answer: Don’t use it to replace your process for creating digital content, like blog posts, white papers, and guides. ChatGPT has trouble producing quality long-form content—it can lose its train of thought, and you can’t rely on it to provide accurate information or for the content to be original.

But even if those issues get resolved, there’s another reason why you shouldn’t rely on ChatGPT to create your digital content: It could end up hurting you in search.

And that brings us to today’s topic: ChatGPT and SEO for senior living.

Below, we’re going to discuss the following:

  • The effect AI-generated content can have on search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Whether AI-generated content can ever be considered “original, high-quality content”
  • How to make sure any AI-generated content you do use doesn’t sound like AI

Let’s get to it!

What effect does AI-generated content have on search engine optimization (SEO)?

Google rewards “original, high-quality content.” And it doesn’t like it if you do things to your content to manipulate rankings. (This isn’t new; think back to the days of keyword stuffing.)

So, what’s Google’s take on whether you should use AI-generated content?

Google says, “If you see AI as an essential way to help you produce content that is helpful and original, it might be useful to consider. If you see AI as an inexpensive, easy way to game search engine rankings, then no.”

This, of course, leads to a natural question:

Can AI-generated content ever be considered original and high-quality?

ChatGPT generates conversational content that’s grammatically correct. But it’s content that you could find anywhere, and there are even valid concerns about plagiarism. (Not to mention, its “voice” is somewhat vanilla and often wooden.)

For example, asking it to write a blog post about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit will produce grammatically correct, conversational content that may or may not be accurate… (Another issue with ChatGPT is that it’s only been trained on data through 2021.)

But this blog post won’t include anything highly original, like the story about Bob, who was so grateful for the lunch-and-learn session you held about the benefit or how he uses it to pay for his apartment in your community.

A story like that can elevate a piece of generic content you could find anywhere to something special that resonates with readers.

ChatGPT can’t create this unique content since it won’t know the people in your community, their stories, or tactile things like the colors, the smells, and the feeling you get when you sit out on your community’s patio sipping wine.

You need a human to capture those things. And that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

How would Google (or anyone else) know if you’re using AI-generated content?

The rise of AI chatbots has led to the rise of AI detectors. Open AI (the creator of ChatGPT) has also released its own AI-text classifier. You paste a portion of the text into the tool, and it determines whether AI or a human being generated the text.

If you use ChatGPT to support or supplement (not replace) your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to thoroughly revise any content it creates to sound like your brand, not AI. To do this, run your content through the AI detector. Keep revising the content until the AI detector says your copy is unlikely or very unlikely AI-generated.

Sounds like a lot of extra work, right?

This is for you to decide. Is ChatGPT, in its present state, more of a novelty? Or can it help your senior living marketing team speed up content creation for your community?

Going back to our Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit . . . if ChatGPT creates the initial blog post and you pass it off to a writer to rewrite with real-life examples and with your brand voice in mind, are you saving any time or money?

The answer will likely vary, depending on the writer. Some writers are much faster at producing content from scratch than rewriting someone else’s content, like ChatGPT’s.

Successful SEO for senior living doesn’t cut corners.

Listen, we get ChatGPT’s allure. It would be fantastic if we could rely on AI to create highly original, helpful content that converts site visitors into leads and leads into move-ins. But the technology isn’t there yet—and it might never be.

There’s no substitute for the human touch when it comes to successful SEO for senior living. Reach out if you’d like help from a marketing firm that knows how to do it right.

ChatGPT for Senior Living Marketing

ChatGPT: What to Know for Senior Living Marketing

You’ve probably heard people buzzing about ChatGPT. Its emergence has dominated headlines (it’s the fastest-growing app of all time), spurred countless debates, and worried everyone from teachers to writers to editors to ethicists to conspiracy theorists.

But what exactly is ChatGPT? And how can it be used to support your senior living marketing efforts?

Below, we’re going to answer those questions and more:

  • What is ChatGPT?
  • What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?
  • Are there any issues with ChatGPT-generated content?
  • Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing?

Let’s get to it.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a free artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. It was released in November 2022 by OpenAI. ChatGPT stands for “Chat-based Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” which is a mouthful.

Also, what the heck does that even mean?

Simply put, ChatGPT delivers text-based responses to your “prompts.” A prompt is a question or a request, such as “Write a 600-word blog post about the benefits of senior living.” ChatGPT produces its responses astonishingly fast—and the responses sound remarkably human.

ChatGPT is “trained” on massive amounts of text data. From this data, it has learned how to mimic human conversations.

It’s worth mentioning that ChatGPT isn’t the only AI game in town. Here’s a list of 30 ChatGPT alternatives (free and paid). We’re focusing on ChatGPT because everyone is talking about it.

What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?

You can prompt ChatGPT to create various content, like a well-reasoned essay about Romeo & Juliet, a poem on first love, or an explanation of the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

See the screenshot below, which includes our prompt and ChatGPT’s response.

ChatGPT definition of Veterans benefit

ChatGPT wrote the above in a matter of seconds.

Impressive, right? Well, yes and no.

The above might sound convincing, but ChatGPT’s answer is outdated. The 2023 rate for a surviving spouse is now $1,432, not $1,244. The other numbers are also incorrect.

The above example highlights two of the most significant issues with ChatGPT to date:

  • ChatGPT is “trained” only through 2021.
  • ChatGPT makes LOTs of mistakes.

ChatGPT got the details wrong about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit because of its training—it has no “knowledge” of anything after 2021, so it doesn’t know about the updated rates for 2023.

But here’s the thing: ChatGPT also makes plenty of mistakes on things it should know.

Many people have written about this issue. Here are some excellent articles to check out if you want to dive deeper.

Are there any other issues with ChatGPT-generated content?

Yes! If the lack of accuracy isn’t enough to give you pause, then the following issues might:

  • ChatGPT has trouble producing long content. It can lose the “thread” of a discussion once it hits 800 or so words.
  • ChatGPT content often sounds stilted. It’s trying to mimic humans, but it’s not human. While the content is grammatically correct, it can still sound wooden. (And good luck trying to get it to capture your brand voice.)
  • ChatGPT-generated content could have serious SEO implications. We’ll address this in a subsequent blog post, but if you use ChatGPT to create tons of content to manipulate your site’s rankings in Google, we have two words for you: keyword stuffing. (In other words, Google doesn’t like being manipulated, and it’s only a matter of time before it updates its algorithm accordingly.)

Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing efforts, like content creation?

ChatGPT shouldn’t replace your current process for creating high-quality, original, long-form content. The issues with originality, accuracy, tone, and potential SEO implications outweigh any benefits.

But ChatGPT does have potential in other areas:

Use it for brainstorming.

Brainstorming might be the best use for ChatGPT in senior living marketing. Give ChatGPT a keyword phrase and ask it to brainstorm ten potential blog post titles. Then, choose the title you like best and hand it off to a writer.

Below is a screenshot of this idea in action.

ChatGPT blog title brainstorm Vet Benefit

Use it to create outlines.

A keyword-rich blog title and solid outline can help make a writer’s job go much faster. Having ChatGPT do the heavy lifting with the outline is another smart way to use this tool.

See the screenshot below. You’d still want to review and revise the outline. But ChatGPT typically delivers a solid structure that you or your writer could easily work with.

ChatGPT blog outline

Use it for short-form content (but always review and revise).

We asked ChatGPT to write five calls to action for a guide about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Some might work better as social media posts. All would need to be revised for style and voice.


Bottom line: Be careful how you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing.

ChatGPT is one tool, not the only tool. While it might be helpful with brainstorming and generating outlines, you shouldn’t use it to generate long-form content. Stick to humans for that.

Need help developing an effective content strategy for your senior living community? Get in touch, and let’s chat!

Senior living sales training tips for engaging phone calls

Senior Living Sales Training: Tips for Engaging Phone Calls

Just about everyone today begins their search for senior living online. But at some point, phone calls come into play, which is why phone skills still matter, even in the age of digital marketing.

How does your sales team do on the phone? Kinda-sorta OK? Meh? Not so great? We got you! Below, you’ll find helpful tips for your senior living sales training.

Hint: Pay close attention to our last suggestion for taking things to the next level.

Tips for Better Senior Living Sales Calls

1. Display genuine empathy

Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing. (And sympathy won’t serve you in this case.)

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to see and appreciate things from their perspective. Through your words, you can demonstrate this understanding. (If you’re on a Zoom call, your non-verbal gestures can also help.)

Examples of empathy in action:

  • “Oh, my gosh, you don’t need to apologize for sounding frazzled. Making a decision like this is extremely overwhelming. It only makes sense that you’re experiencing so many emotions right now.”
  • “I can only imagine all the questions running through your head since there are many things to consider. We can take as much time as you need and go through your questions one by one. And if you think of something later, call me back, and we’ll chat some more. How’s that sound?”
  • “You know what? That’s an excellent question, and I don’t know the answer. But I completely understand how the answer will affect your decision. If I were you, I’d want to know the answer, too! Let me do some digging, and I’ll call you back. I should be able to do that within the next day or so. How does that sound?”


2. Listen actively

Active listeners:

  • Focus on the person talking. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking or doing something else while talking with a prospect, like scrolling through Facebook or reading emails.
  • Speak less. As the saying goes, there’s a reason why you have two ears and one mouth. You should spend much more time listening during a sales call than talking.
  • Aren’t afraid of silence. Prospects need time to think, process, and finish their thoughts. Sure, pauses can sometimes feel awkward. Resist the temptation to jump in and fill it. Take a deep breath and count to three. If there’s still silence at that point, you can say something.
  • Make it clear that they’re listening. This means giving appropriate verbal cues on the phone, such as saying “yes” or “uh huh,” while prospects talk.
  • Recap and clarify what they’re hearing along the way. Here’s an example: “So it sounds like you and your husband are interested in a two-bedroom model, not a one-bedroom. Do I have that right?”

3. Don’t rush people

One of our favorite scenes from Grace and Frankie is when Frankie (played by Lily Tomlin) gets her first laptop and doesn’t know how to get online. She calls the Apple tech support number, but they overwhelm her with questions. Flustered, she spouts that she’s seventy, which is the magic word—she’s transferred to a guy named Mike.

Mike is patient. He takes his time. He’s relaxed. He’s chill. He puts Frankie at ease.

Here’s the clip (with a naughty word or two, so consider yourself warned).


Remember, you’re talking to an older population, so more people will be like Frankie than not. Even if you’re dealing with adult children, you’re still talking to people who are likely north of fifty—and often quite a way over that. This demographic needs more time to explain things, vent, and ask questions.

An article from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) offers solid advice when talking to older adults: “Be mindful if you are feeling impatient with an older person’s pace. Some people may have trouble following rapid-fire questioning or torrents of information. Try speaking more slowly to give them time to process what is being asked or said, and don’t interrupt. Once interrupted, a [person] is less likely to reveal all of their concerns.”

4. Be mindful of hearing deficits

The NIA also reports that one-third of older adults have hearing loss. You might need to compensate for hearing deficits when chatting with prospects.

On the phone, this can be even trickier, but here are some tips:

  • Ask if the person can hear you OK.
  • Talk slowly and clearly. Enunciate.
  • As mentioned above, don’t fill in pauses (the other person could be processing or coming up with a question).
  • If you have a bad connection (due to a cell phone or cordless phone), ask to reconnect on a landline, if possible.

5. Always provide a brief recap and next steps at the end of the conversation

Say something like this, “Before we hang up, I’d like to make sure I captured everything we discussed. Let me read through my notes, and you can tell me if I missed anything, OK?”

After you recap, say, “OK, so my next steps are A and B. And your next steps are C and D. Does that sound right?”

BONUS: Consider outsourcing to a senior living call center

When we discuss inbound marketing with our clients, we’re always reminding them that the goal is to segment and score inbound leads appropriately. The high-intent ones go to the sales team for follow-up. The warm but not-ready leads continue to be nurtured.

The same philosophy applies to inbound phone calls. Not every prospect who calls your community will have “high intent.” Why waste the sales team’s time by having them field ALL inbound calls?

A better solution is outsourcing your inbound calls to a call center with expertise in handling senior living inquiries. And guess what? We offer that through LeadGenie.

LeadGenie is a fully customizable lead management solution. It provides virtual sales support to respond to your leads quickly and consistently. Visit the LeadGenie site to learn more and to schedule a demo.

How to engage customers

How to Engage Customers (Yes, This Applies to Senior Living!)

If you’re scratching your head over the title of this blog post, step right up because the article is most definitely for you.

Below we’re going to discuss the following:

The biggest mistake senior living marketing departments make after a prospect becomes a “customer”

  • Why you must continue engaging your customers (i.e., your senior living residents)
  • How to engage customers after move-in (Hint: there’s an official name for this—it’s called “customer retention marketing”)
  • What to do if you need help with your customer retention marketing strategy

The biggest mistake marketing teams make when a prospect becomes a resident: Thinking the marketing is done

Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Your hot prospect Mary Jones is the spitting image of your ideal buyer. She’s interacted with crucial touchpoints on the website. She toured your community with her adult daughter—and they both loved it. She signed the lease and moved in last week.

It could be easy for senior living marketing and sales teams to think, “Our work here is done.”

But consider this . . .

  • Does Netflix think their work is done once they get a subscriber?
  • Does Doritos think their work is done once someone buys their chips?
  • Does Southwest Airlines think their work is done once someone flies with them?

Of course not. Converting a prospect into a customer is a milestone. But keeping the customer is an ongoing task called customer retention marketing. Or in the case of senior living, resident retention marketing.

Now, we know what you might be thinking. A subscription-based brand like Netflix needs a customer retention strategy since it’s easy for customers to walk away—they simply cancel their accounts. Does senior living need the same strategy?

YES. Resident attrition is a real thing. This article notes that over 50 percent of assisted living residents move out within any given year.

Bottom line: Your marketing shouldn’t come to a screeching halt when a prospect turns into a resident. Instead, your marketing team needs a plan for engaging with and retaining these customers.

Other reasons why marketing teams need to continue engaging with new residents

Remember, a resident doesn’t become a customer only once—they become a customer every time they renew their lease. That is reason enough for the continued engagement.

But here are other key reasons why your marketing should continue when a prospect becomes a resident.

  • Residents can be an excellent source of referrals. They and their families can also be tapped for reviews on places like Google.
  • Residents can offer insights into the marketing and sales process—including where you need to improve it. They’ve just been through it, so everything will be fresh in their minds.
  • Residents can offer helpful feedback about the community during their first thirty, sixty, and ninety days. It’s good to get feedback from all residents. But new residents will have a different spin on things since they’re experiencing everything for the first time.

How to engage customers (residents)

Here are some strategies for engaging new residents and fueling your customer retention marketing.

Create a “Welcome to Our Community” workflow

Have you ever noticed that when you subscribe to a new service (like Netflix), you get a flurry of emails in the first few months welcoming you, offering tips and helpful info, and keeping you engaged?

You need to do the same thing with new residents. This welcome workflow should be just that—welcoming! Let them know how glad you are to have them as a resident, reiterate the key points and messages about your community, and provide helpful info (like dining menus, maps, important phone numbers). You get the idea.

Depending on your community’s age demographic, you might create a series of welcome emails, printed pieces (a welcome packet and subsequent flyers), or both. The “series” part is vital. This shouldn’t be a once-and-done endeavor. Focus on a 90-day plan (with the first month having the most activity).

Invite residents to participate in a “Your feedback matters to us” program

Your newest residents are the folks who can tell you if your marketing is accurate. Make it worth their while—offer the resident a gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, or a popular local restaurant in exchange for sitting down with a member of your marketing team.

For thirty minutes or so, the marketing person can talk with the resident to learn about their recent experience with the website, the tour, the sales rep—basically, all the marketing and sales touch points the new resident encountered during their buying journey.

Areas to cover include . . .

  • Does the community meet the expectations that the messaging on the website, brochures, and social media promised?
  • Do new residents feel misled at all? Were they promised one thing but got something else (the old “bait and switch” tactic)?
  • Is there something new residents keep talking about in a positive manner that you have yet to hit on in your marketing?
  • Are your buyer personas accurate? Are the people who become residents—and who are still happy 30, 60, and 90 days out—a true reflection of your buyer personas? Or do you need to tweak the personas? Or maybe add a persona you hadn’t considered?
  • Was there something about the buying experience that the resident disliked or confused them?
  • Is there something about the community they wished they’d known about during the buying process?

The above are starter questions. You will likely come up with others.

Ideally, you’d want to sit down with the new resident towards the end of their first month—and then again during their second and third month. The first sit-down would be the longest session. Then, you could sit down during the second and third months for a chat (again, offer a gift card as a thank-you for their time).

And here’s the thing: DO SOMETHING WITH THIS INFORMATION. This exercise has merit and can help you and your team refine your marketing efforts. Share results with the sales team as well. And if you hear something that other departments should be aware of—like dining or activities—follow up with the managers in those departments.

Invite residents to participate in a resident referral program

We discussed “Make Your Friends Your Neighbors” programs in our article about building trust and loyalty. Here’s how the program works: If the resident refers a friend to your community and the friend moves in, the resident gets a reward (typically in the form of a rent credit).

Create a community-based publication, like a monthly community newsletter, quarterly print publication, or both

A community newsletter or magazine can highlight residents, staff, activities, heart-warming stories, important news, etc. Residents and the marketing team should work together to publish it. It’s a terrific way for marketing to keep its finger on the community’s pulse.

You can also repurpose content for prospect-facing marketing collateral. For example, a resident who’s known for her gorgeous watercolor artwork can be featured in the community publication and on the community’s social media channels and website.

Do you need help with your customer retention marketing?

Call us! We always remind our clients that marketing doesn’t end once a prospect becomes a resident. We’ll help you calculate the lifetime value of your residents and how to budget for effective resident retention marketing. Get in touch, and let’s chat!

What is closed loop marketing

What Is Closed-Loop Marketing & Why Should Senior Living Marketers Care?

If you’ve worked in marketing long enough, you’ve likely encountered the phrase “closed-loop marketing.” Marketing, of course, is famous for its jargon. But you should pay attention to this phrase—and embrace it.

At its simplest, closed-loop marketing helps you understand which marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns convert leads into customers (i.e., move-ins). If you want to do more of what’s working, you must “close the loop” to help you understand exactly that.

Is your head spinning? Don’t worry—that’s why we’re here.

Below, we’re going to answer the following questions:

  • What is closed-loop marketing?
  • Are there any limitations to closed-loop marketing?
  • How does closed-loop marketing work?
  • What are the benefits of using closed-loop marketing in senior living?
  • What if I need help with closed-loop marketing?

Let’s get to it!

What is closed-loop marketing?

Closed-looping marketing is a form of analysis that tells you which marketing tactics, channels, and campaigns turn leads into customers—or residents, in the case of senior living communities.

Picture an analog clock. A lead enters your site at the noon position. The lead engages with content and downloads a guide (the three o’clock position). The lead schedules a tour (six o’clock position). Finally, the lead has a follow-up conversation with sales and signs a lease for your community (the 11:59 position). The sales rep marks the lead as a customer, which closes the loop.

Of course, going from lead to resident takes much longer than 60 minutes. But the clock is merely a visual representation. Prospects will spend different amounts of time at various points as they journey around the loop. And some will never complete the loop.

Is closed-loop marketing automatic?

Closed-loop marketing only works if the sales team does its job. A salesperson closing a lead as a customer in your senior living CRM effectively “closes the loop.” Sales reps can also close the loop by indicating a lead is cold/lost—along with notes and insights on why this might be the case.

If set up correctly (more on this in a moment), you can review the closed customer’s journey from the moment they engaged with your community to all the various touchpoints leading up to their signing a lease. Same with the lost prospect.

From there, the marketing team can analyze the data. What channels deliver the best prospects? What content spurs action (like booking a tour)? Which emails get people to re-engage? Etc.

Are there any limitations to closed-loop marketing?

In marketing, you can only measure so much. The first trackable touchpoint a prospect has with your community probably isn’t their first real interaction.

For example, they might have read about your community on a review site, seen a sign in town, or heard about you through a friend or family member long before they ventured to your senior living website where a cookie could then track their journey.

And speaking of cookies . . . it’s possible someone could opt out of having a cookie track their activity. (In theory. Make sure your site’s cookie options are accurate and working.)

Bottom line: Closed-loop marketing isn’t perfect (but no analytics package is—at least, not yet!). Still, closed-loop marketing can provide valuable insights about what moves a person from an anonymous website visitor to a lead to a resident. And it can also tell you where leads stall out or drop off.

For example, if a particular piece of content seems to spur people to book tours, and most of those leads become move-ins, you might allocate more budget to promoting that content (for example, through paid ads).

On the flip side, if you notice a high percentage of lost prospects stall on a particular page on your site, you might do some A/B testing to see if you can remove the friction on that page.

How does closed-loop marketing work?

For closed-loop marketing to work, you need good marketing software (we love HubSpot), a CRM that integrates with the software, and willingness from sales reps to close their leads and provide notes about leads that became customers and leads that didn’t.

From there, you need someone on the marketing side who is savvy with metrics to analyze the data and review the notes from sales. The goal is to look for patterns to answer questions like: what campaigns or content seem to “work” with leads who become customers? Where are the lost prospects getting bogged down? Etc.

That’s an oversimplified explanation, but it gives you the gist. Having good marketing software is the biggest hurdle. We love HubSpot because it has closed-loop reporting baked in. (This HubSpot tutorial reviews the technical aspects of closed-loop marketing.)

How will closed-loop marketing benefit my senior living community? (And do I really need to do this?!)

If you don’t care about wasting dollars on marketing efforts that don’t work, then no—you don’t need to worry about closing the loop. But if you do care about maximizing your marketing budget, closed-loop marketing is necessary.

Remember, you analyze results to know what’s working and what needs to be improved. Then, you can allocate your marketing budget more effectively. Over time, based on actual data and results, you’ll know which marketing campaigns, tactics, and channels deliver the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

What if I need help with closed-loop marketing?

That’s why we’re here! Listen, we get it. There are only so many hours in the day, and your marketing and sales teams are already stretched thin. We can handle getting your closed-loop marketing set up and working correctly so that you and your team can focus on the results and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Intrigued? Let’s chat about how we can help turbo-charge your analytics.

Loyalty vs Trust What Senior Living Marketers Need to Know

Loyalty vs. Trust: What Senior Living Marketers Need to Know

When it comes to loyalty vs. trust, you might think the difference doesn’t matter because brands need both. Not so fast! It’s important to understand what they are, how (and if) you can build both, and why one is more essential than the other when marketing your senior living community.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Below, we’re going to discuss the following:

  • The difference between loyalty and trust
  • Which one you need to build first—and why
  • How to foster one and reward the other

Loyalty vs. trust—what’s the difference?

Loyalty means a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Trust, on the other hand, is believing that someone or something (like a business) is reliable and honest.

Which comes first: loyalty or trust?

If you want to build meaningful loyalty, you need to work on building trust first.

What do we mean by “meaningful” loyalty? Let’s illustrate this through an example. In the HBO series The Sopranos, our main character—Tony Soprano—is a mafia boss. He has a loyal team, but much of that loyalty is born out of fear, obligation (because of family ties), or both.

Even though most of Tony’s people are loyal, they don’t trust him—and for good reason. This is the mafia, after all. Wise guys know enough to always be looking over their shoulders. Trust is totally absent. Their “loyalty” to their boss derives from their fear of sleeping with the fishes. (C’mon, we couldn’t resist!)

That’s not the sort of “loyalty” any brand would want—especially senior living communities. Instead, the loyalty you’re trying to achieve is the kind that derives organically from trust.

Build trust first. Loyalty will (eventually) follow.

At its simplest, brand trust is how much confidence prospects and customers have in the business to deliver on its promises. So if you want people to trust your brand, don’t break your promises. (The same holds true in everyday relationships.)

Keep in mind that brand trust is . . .

  • Earned over time
  • Based on perceptions by prospects, residents, and their families
  • What fuels loyalty

Remember, so many little things go into building brand trust.

Consider the following scenarios and how each can help build trust—or break it down:

  • Does the senior living sales rep call back with answers to questions as they promised? If yes, great. You’re establishing trust. If not, well—you can fill in the blanks.
  • Does the tour deliver what the community’s website promised about the grounds, residences, and food? It seems so simple, but your marketing messages need to be consistent AND true/accurate.
  • Do the marketing and sales departments “respect” where prospects say they are in their buying journey? For example, a prospect says they only want email communications, but the minute they submit a website form, someone from the community calls them. This sort of behavior won’t make a prospect trust you.

In the case of senior living communities, trust-building goes WAY beyond marketing.

Before you can expect prospects to trust your community, a culture of trust needs to exist within the community itself. This culture of trust needs to be fostered from the C-suite on down. Employees need to trust management. Residents must trust the staff they regularly interact with, like activities and dining. Prospects need to trust what the marketing and sales teams say on the website, social media, and email.

And here’s the thing about trust: It can take a long time to build, but an instant to crumble. If a prospect catches you in a lie (whether the “you” is a marketing message, a sales rep, or a staff member in the community), it’s incredibly hard to recover from that.

But if you can build trust with prospects who ultimately become residents, guess what? This earned trust will drive meaningful loyalty.

Not all prospects who trust your community will become residents, however. (And that’s OK.)

You should still work on building trust with all prospects. First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, even if the prospect passes on your community, they could still recommend it to someone else.

This is true for any big purchases in life. For example, you might trust several car makers or appliance brands, but you ultimately have to choose one. Same with senior living communities.

The residents who do trust your community will become loyal to your community—and their family and friends likely will as well.

Remember, it’s impossible to have truly loyal residents without trust. So make sure your community works on building trust first.

Reward residents’ loyalty by developing thoughtful loyalty reward programs.

Loyalty reward programs are popular for many consumer brands, from coffee shops to restaurants. With bigger purchases, like senior living, loyalty reward programs can be trickier. After all, people aren’t buying multiple times and expecting their tenth purchase to be free.

But one type of loyalty reward program that does work well is a “Make Your Friends Your Neighbors” campaign. If the resident refers a friend to your community and the friend moves in, the resident gets a reward (typically in the form of a rent credit).

You and your team can get creative and come up with other loyalty reward programs The key is making the program easy to participate in—and making sure the program has a worthwhile reward.

Need help building trust with prospects?

First, check out this blog post we wrote on the subject. Then, get in touch, and let’s discuss how our team can assist.

What is empathetic marketing

What Is Empathetic Marketing & How Can Your Community Use It?

If you want to be a successful marketer in the senior living space, you must have empathy. But what is empathy, anyway? And why is it so important? This brings us to today’s topic, which is all about empathetic marketing.

Below, we’re going to discuss the following:

  • What is empathy?
  • What’s the difference between empathy and sympathy?
  • What is empathetic marketing?
  • How should you tap into prospects’ emotions?
  • Is emphatic marketing ever manipulative?
  • What are some best practices for better empathetic content marketing?

Let’s get to it!

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and emotions.

With empathy, you listen without passing judgment. You’re able to connect with what the other person is going through because you’re actively trying to see things from their point of view, not simply from your own individual perspective. You’re not trying to fix things or offer advice.

What’s the difference between empathy and sympathy?

With sympathy, you feel compassion, pity, or sorrow for someone who is suffering. For example, we might send a sympathy card to a co-worker who’ve lost a loved one. We feel sorry for the person going through the loss. We pay our respects at the wake or funeral, offer our sympathy, and go about our lives.

The empathetic person, on the other hand, actively works to understand how the bereaved is doing at any given moment, not just at the wake or funeral. They’ll ask how the bereaved is feeling in the days, weeks, and months after because they understand grief is a trajectory and it looks different for everyone. The empathetic person won’t judge how the grieving person responds to their inquiries, even if the response is negative or nasty.

Instead, the empathetic person listens, acknowledges, and validates the other person’s feelings. There’s no “You shouldn’t talk like that” or “You shouldn’t feel that way” response. The empathetic person will instead say something like, “I can hear the pain in your voice. And I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this. I’m here. I’m listening.”

Here’s another example to demonstrate the difference: The sympathetic person will understand that the grieving person will need some time off in the immediate days following the death. The empathetic person will understand why the person might need time off around the one-year anniversary—or on the deceased person’s birthday.

What is empathetic marketing?

Also called empathy-based marketing, empathetic marketing enables you to build a strong emotional connection with prospects by showing them you’ve taken the time to see things from their perspective or that you’ve put yourself in their shoes.

For senior living marketers, this means making sure you understand the whole spectrum of emotions that people are experiencing as they buy into the senior living concept. Emotions can run the gamut and often include stress, grief, fear, sadness, overwhelm, resentment, and anger.

And, sure: Some prospects will also be excited, relieved, and/or looking forward to the next chapter in their lives. But empathy is often tied in closely to “tough” emotions. People experiencing joy about downsizing their home don’t require empathy in the same way that someone mourning the loss of their independence does.

Those don’t sound like fun emotions. What are we supposed to do with them?

They might not be “fun” emotions. But they’re authentic emotions that your target demographic is feeling. Sure, maybe not right away (especially if you’re marketing to younger Boomers). But everyone’s trajectory is ultimately the same. And it’s those big, hairy, scary emotions that you’re going to want to tap into.

Because if you can demonstrate through your marketing that you see things from your prospects’ point of view, you’ll be well on your way to making a meaningful emotional connection with them. And that’s when the magic happens.

How can I better understand the “tough” emotions that prospects, residents, and their families are experiencing?

To start, you need to develop good prospect personas. Even though personas are fictional representations, they’re based on interviews and conversations you’ve had with real prospects, current residents, and family members.

You can also glean genuine emotions from places like . . .

  • Surveys
  • Review sites (pay close attention to the three-, two-, and one-star reviews)
  • Comments on social media threads
  • Anecdotes you glean from conversations within the community or from staff who regularly interact with residents and families (activities, dining)
  • Sales conversations (your sales team should share common emotional themes with the marketing team)

Remember, moving into a senior living community, especially if it’s assisted living or memory care, will be the last big move (and possibly the last big decision) that people make. Think about that. Reflect on how that would make you feel. Don’t simply sympathize. Empathize. What would scare you? What would keep you up at night? What have you heard residents and prospects talk about? Do they talk about it?

Keep in mind that just because you haven’t heard anything doesn’t mean the subject isn’t taking up plenty of real estate in people’s heads. Your job is to figure out what your prospects are thinking and feeling. From there, you need to work on seeing those things from their perspective so you can develop messaging, campaigns, and programs that will resonate on an emotional level.

How can you tap into people’s emotions ethically? After all, marketing to people’s negative emotions could be seen as manipulative.

You’re absolutely right. You don’t want to exploit people’s vulnerabilities. You want to relate to them—to empathize.

“We know moving into assisted living is a hard decision . . . you probably never imagined you’d end up here. Most of us don’t. We get it. Which is precisely why we . . . “

What comes after the “why we” is where you put that special something-something that your community does to help new residents acclimate. You’re leading with the “tough” part—and creating a little dissonance and discomfort in the person reading/hearing the message—but then you follow it up with some “good news” where you let people know that you hear them, you see them, and you get what they’re going through.

Empathetic marketing isn’t based on fear; it’s based on people’s very real emotions (one of which might be fear). Your job is to speak to these emotions—to demonstrate through content and conversation that your community’s staff, as a whole, can empathize with prospects, residents, and their families.

And that’s no easy task, either. In fact, this is often where empathetic marketing can fall apart. You might be able to create warm and empathetic messaging that resonates with prospects. Your website might do a great job, along with your ads and social media. Prospects might be thinking “Oh, they really understand what I’m going through, how hard this is.”

And yet, when the prospects show up for the tour, that empathy is nowhere to be found—it’s all about the sale.

Talk about a disconnect, right?

So for empathetic marketing to work, everyone in the community needs to be on board?

Yes. Larger conversations and training around empathy need to happen in the community, especially in the resident-facing departments, like care staff, dining, and activities. It’s only when employees in the community are trained in empathy—how to have empathetic conversations, what to say, what not to say—that empathetic marketing can truly work.

In other words, your senior living community needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

OK. Let’s assume my community has done all that. What are some best practices for better empathetic content marketing?

Track prospects’ emotions over time.

Emotions are fluid. You won’t “do” empathetic marketing once and call it day. Consider people’s emotions three years ago—it was all around COVID fears and what was going to happen next, how many people would die, when will a vaccine be available, and are people in senior living communities safe?

As we emerged from the pandemic, people’s emotions shifted. Now, many people are worried about their finances thanks to inflation, threats of recession, and rising mortgage rates. Some prospects might be worried that now isn’t the time to sell their home and move into senior living. They might worry that if they do it now, they’ll be leaving money on the table when it comes to selling their house—or they might be worried about running out of money over the long term.

Those are real fears, real emotions. Think about how you would feel if you were seventy or eighty and wondering if you might outlive your finances—and the fear that comes with wondering “What then?”

Think about messages and content that would speak to this emotion in an authentic and helpful way.

Keep in mind that empathetic content marketing doesn’t necessarily need to be a big campaign to be effective.

Empathetic marketing is something you and your team should infuse through all communications, large and small, formal and informal.

For example, let’s say an older couple tours your community. They love it, but they’re getting more and more nervous about the economy and are wondering if they should ride it out a little longer before they sell their home and make the jump.

Instead of pushing them to get past their worries—or worse: ignoring their concerns altogether—the sales rep sends the couple a handwritten thank you note that says something like “I completely understand moving might not be right for you right now due to the unstable economy. I don’t blame you—I think I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes. We will be here to welcome you if/when the time is right. I’ll make a note to reach out to you in six months. But of course, you can always call me any time if your situation changes.”

No, the sale might never happen. But your sales rep is demonstrating empathy. And empathy is a muscle that needs regular flexing. Even if the couple doesn’t move into your community, they will likely appreciate the sale rep’s kindness and understanding. (And they—or someone from their family—could end up referring someone else based on this act of kindness.)

Demonstrate your community’s empathetic nature via other means.

Actively support causes that matter to residents. And we’re not talking about one-off mentions, either. Sponsor those little league teams, become active with local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society, ask your residents about the things they care about, and take a vested interest as a community.

You should also actively support causes that matter to employees as well. And speaking of employees, highlight how your community creates an empathetic workplace culture. This will be good for recruitment purposes, but it will also serve as a way to reinforce your empathetic marketing.

Need help? Get in touch!

Whether you need assistance developing personas or developing messaging that connects with prospects on an emotional level, we can help. Get in touch and let’s discuss your senior living marketing needs today.

Senior living marketing tips for Google Business Profile

Senior Living Marketing Tips for Google Business Profile

In a previous blog post on overlooked marketing opportunities, we mentioned Google My Business. Since our original blog about Google My Business was written, Google retired that name in favor of Google Business Profile. We received some questions and figured we should provide more comprehensive tips for Google Business Profile specifically.

Let’s get to it!

What is Google Business Profile (GBP) and why should I care?

Since its inception, Google has (amazingly) maintained its dominance in the search engine market. Statista reports that as of January 2023, Google had a market share of 84.69 percent. Any business that doesn’t pay attention to its presence within the Google universe does so at its own peril. And one of the biggest things that influences that presence is your Google Business Profile listing. Google uses it to inform your company’s entire presence across Google, including all related products from Search to Maps.

Keep in mind, too, that Google is always tweaking its algorithms so that it serves up better results for users. Most recently, in March 2023 Google rolled out core algorithm updates. Prior to that, it’s 2021 Vicinity update focused on its local search algorithm, and according to BrightLocal, the update is all about targeting proximity as a ranking factor.

Bright Local says, “Although proximity has long been an important signal for local search results, it’s also been the case that businesses can optimize to successfully rank far from their actual business location. Through the Vicinity update, Google now appears to be clamping down on this, which will naturally make local search results more relevant to the user. In terms of the benefit to businesses, this gives them a greater chance to rank well in relevant local searches, as they’ll be competing less with businesses that are further away.”

Google Business Profile sounds more important to Google than it does to me. Do I really need to pay attention to it?

Short answer: Yes, you should. Think of your Google Business Profile listing as a second website—one that often gets served up long before anyone would organically land on your main website. Your GBP listing is tied closely to Google’s local search algorithm, which pays attention to a searcher’s physical location. (If you’ve ever done a search in Google and ended your search query with “near me,” like “Indian restaurants near me” or “bowling alleys near me,” you get the idea.)

The Google Business Profile listing takes up valuable real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), showing up in the right-hand sidebar on desktops and at the top of the results on mobile devices.

Like anything else with search results, what people can scan quickly from your GBP listing will determine whether they dig deeper into your listing or move on to a competitor.

The listing (on both desktop and mobile) will show the nuts and bolts automatically, like the name of your business, a few pics, location info, map info, and reviews. People can click in for a deeper look at more pictures, videos, reviews, and the like.

An important point: Your GBP listing exists whether you’ve “claimed” it or not. If you don’t claim it, you risk having inaccurate info and a drabby, boring listing. By claiming your listing, you have the opportunity to manage and monitor it—and make it as engaging as possible.

How does having a Google Business Profile listing help my senior living community?

It can increase overall brand awareness and name recognition. If your listing keeps coming up as people conduct searches on senior living communities in your area (and related searches—more on this in a moment), people will become more familiar with your name and overall brand, even if they don’t click through. Because of the real estate the listing takes up, a person can’t not see it. Sure, they might only give it a cursory glance, but a glance is still a glance—our subconscious minds remain at work.

Your GBP listing also reinforces brand recognition for people who are already familiar with your name. They might be doing a search on your name—perhaps trying to get an address and phone number. A robust GBP listing will give them those things—but so much more, including reviews, pictures, compelling info about the community, and any recent news or updates (think COVID).

Check out the screenshot below that we pulled from a client’s GBP analytics.

The green area shows the “direct” searchers—people searching on the client’s business name and address.

But the blue shows the “discovery” searches—people searching on a category, product, or service related to seniors and senior living in that area. This high level of discovery is not unusual for Google Business Profile listings, provided they’re set up properly.

Google views

Bottom line: A good Google Business Profile Listing can help people discover your business on that all-important first page of Google search results. That’s another psychological aspect at play: Whether right or wrong, people do tend to trust what’s served up on the first page of Google, especially items that are prominently displayed, like GBP listings.

Wow! That sounds great! So, all I have to do is “claim” my Google Business Profile listing and add a few pictures? Or are there some other tips for Google Business Profile that I should be following?

Remember how we mentioned earlier that your GBP listing is like a second website? Well, just as you optimized your website for search, you need to optimize your Google Business Profile listing for search as well. And just like you do for your senior living community’s website, you have “on-page” optimization elements as well “off-page” optimization elements to consider.

Tips for Google Business Profile: On-page elements

The Google Business Profile interface is extremely user-friendly. Your job is to simply fill out all relevant sections listed in the backend of your GBP account—and to do so clearly and compellingly. The on-page elements refer to items that are customer-facing, meaning folks who land on your listing will see the info you provide.

Sections to pay close attention to:

  • Info section. The “info” section lets you provide all the forward-facing information about your community, like a brief overview, hours, and location info.
  • Pictures. You can—and should—add plenty of pictures. And double-check how they look on desktop and mobile. Follow Google’s guidelines regarding pictures. The recommended resolution is 720 px tall, 720 px wide. The minimum resolution is 250 px tall, 250 px wide.
  • Videos. People LOVE videos. If you have good ones, add them, particularly ones that highlight the lifestyle and vibe within your community. Follow Google’s video guidelines for maximum effect.
  • Reviews. You want to make sure you’re responsive to reviews. Thank people for giving positive reviews. For negative reviews, tread carefully—avoid sounding defensive or dismissive. And don’t repeat the same canned response to negative reviews. Humility can go a long way. So can offering a real person’s name and number to contact on your end.
  • Questions and answers. If someone takes the time to ask a question, ANSWER IT! First of all, it’s only polite to do so. If one person has the question, we can guarantee many other folks do as well. Answering the question thoughtfully helps demonstrate your community’s responsiveness. And questions can be a great source of intel for you. The questions could inspire a blog post or info you need to add to the website.
  • Ongoing updates: You can post updates, just like you do on social media. So post a link to a blog, a premium offer, etc. Keep it fresh and share items regularly.
  • Accessibility attributes. This is especially important for our industry since it speaks to how accessible your communities are to people in wheelchairs.

Tips for Google Business Profile: Off-page elements

Google Keywords

When we say “off-page,” we’re referring to the stuff behind the scenes (people searching won’t see this info). A good example is the category you choose. As Google explains, “Categories describe your business and connect you to customers who search for the products or services you offer.”

Identify a primary category (like assisted living). You can also add additional categories (think keywords) related to your business. See the screenshot from one of our client’s listings that we helped set up.

My senior living community has multiple locations. Can I have multiple Google Business Profile listings?

YES! Google understands that many businesses, from banks to hotels to senior living communities, have multiple locations and, as a result, need multiple listings. Google provides excellent step-by-step instructions for bulk location management (there are different steps for businesses with fewer than 10 locations vs. those with 10 or more).

An important caveat: When you have multiple locations to manage, the work you need to do in Google Business Profile increases—and often by a lot. This is why we recommend working with a senior living marketing agency like ours. We can help you set up, manage, and maintain multiple listings with consistent messaging and accurate info.

Whew! That’s a lot. Where else can I learn about Google Business Profile?

Honestly, the best place to start is Google—it provides excellent step-by-step instructions if you want to go the DIY route. And, of course, working with an agency partner like Senior Living SMART also makes a whole lot of sense. We can either do it all for you or double-check and make sure everything is fully optimized. Having a second set of eyes never hurts. Get in touch and let’s talk about your senior living community’s presence on Google!

How to handle bad Google reviews

How to Handle Bad Google Reviews in Senior Living Communities

We’ve written before about handling negative reviews as well as other reputation management tips.

The big tips we’ve given in the past, like staying on top of reviews and responding to both good and bad reviews, still apply.

But given that just about everyone doing any research on brands and businesses will read reviews, we figured it was worth revisiting this topic, particularly when it comes to how to handle bad Google reviews. (Google reviews are connected with a community’s Google Business Profile, which most definitely will come up in organic search results.)

Don’t defend—and don’t sound defensive.

Listen, we get it. Bad reviews sting. They hurt. And even more so if you believe the reviewer is flat-out wrong in their assessment of your senior living community. But here’s the thing you have to keep in mind: The reviewer is entitled to their opinion—and to share it.

So how can you avoid sounding defensive?

  • Don’t respond when you’re upset. If a review has you riled up, don’t respond to it at that moment. Let yourself cool down.
  • Always draft your response and have at least one other person on the team read it before you hit publish.
  • Avoid the whiff of snark or sarcasm. Those things are hard to pull off under the best of circumstances. And they won’t land well with the person who just left a disgruntled review. (Nor will it be a particularly good look to other people who are lurking and reading.)
  • Accept that sometimes the only thing you can say is some version of this: “That’s disappointing to hear. We know there might not be anything we can do to make you feel differently, but please know we’ve read this, we’re discussing it, and we’re working on figuring out ways to do/be better.” THEN LEAVE IT ALONE.

PRO TIP: Run anything that could have legal implications by counsel before responding. For example, in the case of assisted living or memory care, if someone is claiming negligence or medical malpractice, that’s a serious accusation. Before responding to those sorts of reviews, you’re going to want to get input from others (like the company’s lawyer). At the very least, you’ll want to draft a response and have a few sets of eyes review it before posting.

When drafting responses, sound human.

Seems simple, but when someone leaves a negative review, what they really want is for someone to acknowledge their frustration.

Let’s illustrate this with a scenario. Maybe an adult daughter leaves a negative review because no one was there to help and greet her mom the day she moved her mother into the community. The adult daughter ended up having to track down a staff member who could unlock the door to the apartment. And there was no welcome packet or any “next steps” provided. So the daughter leaves a strongly worded two-star review on Google about what happened.

Which response sounds more authentic to you?

    • We’re sorry to hear about your experience. We strive to deliver exceptional customer service. Please contact us so we can learn more about what happened.
    • We’re so sorry that no one was there from our staff to greet your mom when she moved in. We had an unfortunate glitch in our scheduling system, but still—there’s no excuse for that mix-up. Tina from our team stopped by your mom’s apartment yesterday to personally apologize and to give her the lay of the land. (Tina also introduced your mom to her new neighbors.) Internally, we’re reviewing how we make assignments for greeting new residents to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future. Again, we apologize for what happened. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you want to discuss this further. My direct line is x302. ~ Michele Hanson, Executive Director

The problem with the first response is that it doesn’t acknowledge the reviewer’s legit complaint—at all. It sounds like robotic corporate speak. No one cares that you “strive” to do this or that—your community failed, at least in this person’s eyes. Acknowledging their frustration is important. Second, don’t ask them to contact you to give feedback. They ARE giving feedback, right here. It’s too little, too late to ask them to reach out.

The second response, however, is much more honest and heartfelt. It owns up to what happened. It also outlines the specific steps taken to address the issue. The invite at the end for the reviewer to call is also a lot warmer than the first response since it gives a name and direct line.

Keep in mind that it usually falls on marketing departments to monitor reviews. As a senior living marketer, your job is to make sure whatever department is the subject of the review is aware of it and responds appropriately online. (You should also monitor ongoing issues and escalate the issue to the right department head, as needed. For example, if reviewers keep complaining about the same employee, then this is something that should be run up the chain of command and properly dealt with.)

What you want to avoid is simply responding with various versions of the same canned response to all negative reviews.

Look for themes in the negative reviews (and the positive ones, too).

Some reviews don’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. Someone simply isn’t happy with some random thing, and they need a place to vent. But with other reviews, you’ll read similar complaints with similar themes.

For example, maybe there’s a staff member that people are calling out by name. This can be helpful information for the person’s direct supervisor—not so the person will get fired (unless warranted, of course). But rather so that the person can receive appropriate coaching/training if needed.

Yes, we know that marketers and sales teams have only so much sway. If there’s a major issue that reviewers keep bringing up with the dining department, for example, the marketing team isn’t in a place to fix the issue. But the VP of marketing can discuss the reviews with the head of dining (in a non-accusatory way, of course) and hope that they’re open to addressing whatever the issue is.

(And, of course, if positive reviews keep talking about an awesome employee, you should share this info with their supervisor as well!)

Another example: Maybe there’s a specific point that people keep railing on in their reviews—perhaps something to do with your website. Maybe you use too many stock images, or maybe the real shots you do take make the place look bigger or newer than it actually is. And when people tour, they’re disappointed and they feel they’ve wasted their time.

Again, this is good feedback. It’s time to revisit your senior living website so that the images more accurately reflect what people can expect.

Bottom line: Don’t dismiss those one-, two-, or three-star reviews. Critical reviews don’t necessarily mean negative. They can provide teachable moments for everyone in the community.

If the review is terribly wrong/egregious, follow the proper protocols for flagging it for removal.

Google walks you through how to flag a review for removal, including a one-time appeal if your request is denied.

Only flag reviews if it’s clear the reviewer . . .

  • Is confusing your community with another one.
  • Is a sock puppet (i.e. a fake reviewer).
  • Has posted something that’s completely inappropriate (e.g., profane language, threats of violence, etc.).

Don’t flag reviews simply because . . .

  • Someone wrote a scathing one-star review.
  • You know the reviewer, and they were difficult/had a reputation for being difficult or impossible to please within the community. They still have a right to write a review about their experience from their perspective.

Keep in mind that people have become quite adept at reading between the lines.

In fact, if your community had nothing but five-star reviews, people would likely be suspicious. (And rightfully so.)

Because we consumers read so many reviews when doing online shopping, many of us have gotten good at spotting fraudulent reviews due to things like poor grammar and punctuation, weird wording, or the review simply doesn’t make sense.

Also, keep in mind that the best way to combat a negative review is with a good review. If you have a consistent process for soliciting reviews from prospects, residents, and families, you won’t have trouble managing the occasional negative review.

Wild card idea: Share negative review “success” stories.

You know the saying “turn that frown upside down”? Consider deploying the same approach with the occasional negative review.

No, this isn’t an instant fix—it will take some effort and creativity on your part along with a little luck and cooperation on the reviewer’s part. But this could work in certain situations.

For example, let’s say a reviewer is complaining that her mother doesn’t get any input on meals—and you know this isn’t true. The problem might be that the mom doesn’t know how/when to give input . . . or the adult child hasn’t been getting the full story from their mom due to memory issues. Your task is to turn this negative review into a success story—one that will demonstrate that you’re listening to what people are saying and that you’re willing to act when something isn’t right.

So going back to this example . . . imagine shooting a video on your smartphone where you do a basic intro like this: “We noticed this review from Clare where she complained that her mom, Anita, wasn’t able to give input on the weekly menu that Chef Daphne creates in our community. We wanted to see what was up since Chef Daphne loves hearing from residents. So we got Anita, Clare, and Chef Daphne together to work it out. Here’s what happened next . . .”

And then you capture the moment, whatever it is, of the three women in your community’s kitchen, talking about the menu, surveying the fresh produce, laughing, and swapping recipes like the one for Anita’s famous beef stew.

Think of everything you’d be accomplishing with this video. You now have a great little marketing vehicle that shows off your awesome chef, the kitchen, and the way the chef interacts with residents—all good things and big selling points for senior living communities.

You could share the video on your website and social media. You would also include a link to the video in your response to the negative review. “We reached out to Clare and her mom to clear the air. Watch this video to see what happened . . . “

We’re riffing here, but you get the idea. Talk about building trust with prospects, right?

This is why you need to be creative when dealing with negative reviews. Don’t simply have a knee-jerk reaction and see them as annoying, a burden, or one more thing you must “deal” with in an ever-growing pile of tasks. Instead, look for opportunities and try to turn that frown upside down.

Need help with your community’s reputation management?

We not only help communities manage popular review sites, but we also help them clean up business directory listings and create a review solicitation strategy that actually works. Reach out and let’s talk about reputation management for your community.