Senior Living Advertising: Digital vs. Print

Digital and print can play nicely together in the same senior living advertising sandbox. But like anything else, there are pros and cons to each, which we discuss below.

Senior Living Advertising: Digital

What it is: When we say “digital” advertising, we’re referring to any paid advertising that happens online. This includes, but isn’t limited to the following:

  • Google AdWords. Typically, people refer to AdWords as pay-per-click (PPC).
  • Social media advertising. Particularly Facebook, but also Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Online banner ads. You tend to see banner ads on sites you browse, like media sites. Sometimes you buy these banner ads directly from the site itself; other times, your ads might rotate in via the Google Display Network.
  • Google Display Network. Google describes it best: “A group of more than 2 million websites, videos, and apps where your ads can appear. Display Network sites reach over 90% of Internet users worldwide.”
  • Remarketing. Have you ever browsed a site for a product, and then ads for that product followed you around on other sites? That’s remarketing at work.
  • SMS marketing. In other words, text-based ads. The jury is still out on whether SMS marketing is a smart way to go, especially for our industry. We tend to think it can work better, at least right now, as a way for senior living communities to communicate with current residents and families (rather than as a way to advertise to prospects). But our position could change in the future.

Digital advertising can be considered inbound or outbound, depending on the medium. For example, PPC ads fall under the inbound marketing umbrella since you’re attracting people who are already doing searches for the product/service you’re selling. Same with remarketing ads.

The Display Network, however, falls under outbound. There’s no guarantee that the ads served up to you will be something you’re even remotely interested in or need. (Granted, your browsing habits will inform what ads get served, but some will most definitely be misses.)

Senior Living Advertising: Digital Pros

  • Online advertising can often let you get incredibly granular. For example, you could focus your Facebook advertising on certain zip codes around your senior living community and only serve ads to women over 70 who still live in their own homes.
  • You can get started with smaller budgets. Buying full-page color print ads can be incredibly pricey. With PPC, you can get a lot out of smaller budgets.
  • You can change messaging/creative on the fly. Want to test a new message and see how it performs? Maybe switch up the images (“creative”) used in a campaign? No problem.
  • You tend to have much deeper insights into an ad campaign’s effectiveness. Important analytics, like impressions, clicks, and conversions, are baked into the robust reporting.

Senior Living Advertising: Digital Cons

  • It’s noisy out there, and people say they hate ads. In fact, according to this article, click-through rates are declining, more and more people are blocking ads through browser extensions, and for many, the ads have become a sort of background noise.

Senior Living Advertising: Print

What it is: Print advertising is just that—advertisements for your community that appear in printed formats like newspapers (local, regional, national); magazines (local, regional, national); directory listings; phone books; and billboards. We’re also going to include direct mail and brochures in this category as well. The difference between the two groupings is this: You pay a third party (like a newspaper) to run an ad inside its pages. With direct mail and brochures, you’re usually managing the creation and distribution of that collateral in-house.

Senior Living Advertising: Print Pros

  • Your target market still reads print. Yes, older adults are big consumers of online media, but they’re still big consumers of print. According to this research, “25% of US adults aged 65 and over get their news from print publications.”
  • Older adults think print is easier to read. According to the American Press Institute, “71 percent of those 65 and older like the ease of print.” Print-oriented readers also feel they get more news in print formats.
  • Print could help boost word-of-mouth initiatives. Older adults like to share what they read in print, more so than their younger counterparts. “Sixty-three percent of print subscribers aged 65 and older share content compared with 58 percent of those aged 50-64, 49 percent of those aged 30-49, and 38 percent of those aged 18-34.” (Again, this is from the American Press Institute.)

Senior Living Advertising: Print Cons

  • Ad buys tend to be pricier. If you want to run a full-page print ad, even in your smaller daily, it can add up. Plus, it’s a once-and-done sort of thing.
  • Mistakes can’t be fixed. Oy! Print pieces are extremely unforgiving. If there’s an error, there’s not much you can do about it once it’s out in the world.
  • You can’t easily experiment with messaging and creative. Once you sign off, it’s a done deal.
  • Results can be harder to track. Sure, you can include an ad-specific URL or phone number to your print ad to help you track. But digital ad conversions tend to be more reliable.

Senior Living Advertising: Digital or Print? (Or Both?)

Earlier in this article, we shared stats about older adults and print formats, like newspapers. But older adults also spend time on digital devices. They own smartphones. They text. They’re on social media. They buy things off Amazon. They watch Netflix. They know how to use Google.

The American Press Institute backs this up with behaviors it sees between digital and print media subscribers: “Remember, 4 in 10 print subscribers still go to the website; 2 in 10 follow it on social media.”

This is precisely why we recommend to our clients that they use a mix of approaches when it comes to senior living advertising (while keeping in mind that these recommendations will evolve—we might be suggesting different strategies in 2030).

Tips for Successful Senior Living Advertising

  • Know your budget. Make sure you’re not spending too much on any one advertising vehicle. A balanced approach is a smart approach, especially when you’re just getting started. Over time, as you see which ads deliver the biggest ROI, you can adjust your ad spend accordingly.
  • Keep in mind all the “other” costs. The cost to run the ads themselves is just one cost. You also need to keep costs in mind for the creative (copywriting/design) and the cost you might pay to an outside vendor to manage your digital ad campaigns and/or your print media buys.
  • Be honest about what your team can do—and what it can’t. We recommend using an outside consultant or agency (like ours) to manage your paid advertising. Unless you have someone on your team who is skilled (and ideally certified) in using Google’s ads program, it makes sense to hand the reins over to a professional.
  • Track results as much as possible. Review analytics for digital campaigns and make adjustments accordingly. For print ads, offer ad-specific landing page URLs or ad-specific phone numbers with call-tracking software and monitor the results.
  • Be prepared to let go and try new things. If you’ve been in this business a long time, it can be hard to let go of strategies that worked in the past. Trust the analytics and make decisions based on what the numbers are telling you.

Senior Living Advertising: Can Radio Work?

We’ve been covering a lot of ground with senior living advertising lately, including the following:

Now, let’s address a common question we receive from clients: Is there still a place for radio in senior living advertising?

Let’s dig in.

First, do people still listen to AM/FM radio?

Short answer: YES. Given all the ways for people to while away their hours online, it might be surprising to learn that more Americans tune to AM/FM radio each week than any other format, but it’s true, according to Nielsen. News/talk radio tends to be the most listened to format (followed by adult contemporary and country).

Statista reports, “In the first quarter of 2019, 92 percent of adults listened to the radio at least once a week” and that the “reach was highest among 35- to 49-year-olds and those aged between 50 and 64 years.” In fact, according to News Generation, 91% of adults 50+ are reached monthly by radio.

But it’s not just terrestrial radio that people are listening to. Internet radio and podcasts are growing in popularity as well.

OK, so Internet radio is a thing, too?

Yep. Marketing Charts reports that “In 2020, a majority (52%) of adults in the US reported listening to Internet radio at least weekly, up from 47.7% a year earlier.”

Marketing Charts goes on to note that “Although the bulk of internet radio listeners are younger, with those ages 18-24 being 17% more likely than average to listen to this form of media, the share of older people listening has grown. Cumulatively, adults ages 45 and older make up 48.6% of the total weekly internet radio listening audience.”

So you’re saying that it makes sense to advertise on the radio?

Not so fast! The above simply provides some insight regarding listenership. Yes, people are still listening to the radio, both AM/FM and online versions. But does that mean radio advertising works?

Like so many things in life, it depends. It depends on the stations you run ads on, the ads themselves, your goals, and your budget. For example, you can’t run a radio spot once and expect it to instantly convert listeners into buyers.

Effective radio advertising tends to be a marathon, not a sprint. And the adage about people needing to see or hear an advertisement at least seven times before it starts registering still holds true.

That’s why radio advertisers buy “flights” of radio spots that run in a concentrated period (like six to eight weeks) over various times of day. The repetition is critical to getting your message to sink in. Bigger brands might buy several flights throughout the year. (Some brands with deeper wallets might advertise year-round.) In these cases, radio is often used to increase name recognition/brand exposure.

All that said, for small businesses, radio can deliver a good bang for your marketing buck. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) notes, “Radio advertising is less expensive than cable television advertising but often has the same reach. Because repetition is important to radio advertising, the low cost enables you to run multiple ads, which gets better results.”

The SBA also notes that it’s easier to get granular when it comes to targeting certain listeners: “Radio stations are constantly examining their listener profiles to see which demographic groups listen to specific shows, personalities and times of day.”

Speaking of money, how much does radio advertising cost?

This can vary widely depending on things like . . .

  • Location of the station (a Boston radio station will cost more than a Cape Cod station)
  • The daypart you advertise in (morning drive costs more than the middle of the night)
  • Spot length (30-second vs. 60-second spots)
  • Production costs (some stations include this, but if you hire a voice-over talent, this will be an additional amount)
  • Bundled-in elements (for example, if you add in digital ads on the radio station’s website or some other sponsorship)

Here’s an excellent article that takes a deep dive into radio advertising pricing. For a ballpark figure, it says, “Radio advertising costs range from $200 to $5,000 per week, on average, depending on location and the size of the listening audience.”

How should a senior living community approach radio advertising?

Follow these tips to help you get the most out of senior living advertising on the radio.

Choose stations wisely. You’re not going to advertise your senior living community on a hip-hop station. Stick to formats that cater to older demographics, like news/talk, adult contemporary, and country. Pay attention to where your competitors are advertising.

Keep your main buyer personas in mind. We’re talking about the two “main” buckets: seniors choosing for themselves (or a partner/spouse) or adult children helping their parents. If you want to reach both personas, you might end up running ads on different stations—and the ads themselves should be different since you’re talking to two very different audiences with different needs/goals.

Use website URLs rather than phone numbers in the ad copy. The benefit of using a URL rather than a phone number is two-fold: First, a URL is easier to remember. Second, a website URL will likely have your community’s name in it, which helps reinforce your brand name.

Provide the station with a creative brief. We can’t stress this enough. Radio station producers can quickly put together a radio spot based on your senior living website. And it will probably be OK. But you know your audience and goals better than anyone. So it makes sense for you to provide a creative brief that outlines the following:

  • A basic snapshot of your community: Where it is, who it services, what makes it special/different.
  • The most important copy points you want to convey in the spot. Think no more than five (and even that might be pushing it, depending on the length of the spot). Think in terms of themes. For example, maybe you have a spot that highlights the amenities that make you special.
  • The vibe you’re trying to get across. The ad that speaks to an adult child moving mom into assisted living should have a different feel from the ad geared toward the active senior you want to welcome into your independent living community.
  • The goal of the spot. Is your goal to get people to book a tour? Download a specific piece of content, like a guide? Increase name recognition? Create distance between a competitor? Invite people to attend an info session or some other senior living marketing event?

Make sure the copy is ultra-conversational. Make it sound warm and friendly. Radio stations will usually take care of the copywriting for you, but you should approve all scripts. If you’re not happy with the copy, you could always hire a freelance radio ad writer to draft some scripts (this will be an additional cost). Or if you work with a marketing agency like Senior Living SMART, you can have one of our writers draft a script.

Encourage people to mention your ad. Radio spots can be a little trickier to measure. Within the ad itself, consider adding in a line like “Mention this ad when you book a tour.” Or you could create an ad-specific landing page. The key is making sure the URL doesn’t become cumbersome. Something like “TheMapleSeniorLiving.com/radio” could work.

  • On your website forms, add a drop-down that says, “How’d you hear about us?” The choices should include all the various ways people might learn about your community: social media, search engines, word of mouth, radio advertising, direct mail, online ad, or other.

Take advantage of value-added offers. Many radio stations bundle in other advertising options with your buy, such as running ads on the station’s website, running ads/features in email newsletters, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. Take advantage! This could be a great way to experiment with vehicles you don’t normally use, like text messaging. Pay attention to the copy/creative of these additional items. And remember to use unique tracking URLs in all digital ads so you can measure their effectiveness.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Over-the-air ad revenue took a big hit during the pandemic. Digital ad revenue took less of a hit. And while ad spending is most definitely picking up, the bottom line is this: There is a lot of room for negotiation. So don’t be afraid to negotiate or to ask for added value.

Monitor results. In order to gauge whether you’re getting a good return on investment (ROI), you must know the lifetime value of your customer. For example, let’s say the lifetime value of a customer is $100,000. If your $30,000 radio campaign results in twenty leads and two customers, you can do the math. This would be money well spent. But your mileage can and will vary. Let the numbers guide your decision-making.

Need more help with your senior living advertising? You’re in the right place.

Our team is passionate about senior living, and our team members have expertise in all areas of marketing, including advertising (both traditional and pay-per-click). Request a meeting and let’s discuss your community’s specific needs.

BONUS TIP: Work with us to manage your senior living advertising.

Our team members have expertise in all areas of marketing, including advertising (both traditional and pay-per-click). Request a meeting and let’s discuss your community’s specific needs.

Senior Living Referral Sources: Outreach & Engagement Strategies

While we spend a lot of time in our blog talking about digital marketing strategies for attracting quality prospects, we should never underestimate the power of loyal referral sources. Think of them as your “boots on the ground” who can help supplement your online efforts. Wondering how to reach and engage with senior living referral sources? We got you covered.

Types of senior living referral sources to go after:

1. Healthcare referrals.

Referrals that originate from healthcare providers offer a couple of key benefits. First, the sales cycle is usually much shorter since these tend to be needs-based referrals. And because a high level of trust usually exists between provider and patient, the sale is often much easier to make on your end. It’s not unlike asking a trusted friend for a referral for a general contractor—the same concept applies here. If a person’s doctor recommends your senior living community, that referral will hold a lot of sway.

Bottom line: Actively engaging with people in healthcare will be time well spent. Think beyond primary care physicians, too. Anyone who works with older adults (or adult children) can be a focus of your outreach: rehab providers, geriatric specialists, cardiac/pulmonary specialists, social workers, discharge planners/coordinators, and providers of home care services, just to name a few.

2. Friend and family referrals.

There’s nothing more compelling than a personal referral from a happy resident living in your community. If you don’t already offer an incentive, like a rent credit for referrals that result in a move-in, start one ASAP. “Make Your Friends Your Neighbors” campaigns work well, provided they are well executed. (We can help with that.)

3. Trusted advisors (non-healthcare).

Families often consult with financial advisors, elder-law attorneys, and/or private geriatric care managers (like a private college advisor to guide everyone through the decision process). These trusted relationships are highly valued.

4. Competitors. (Yes, really!)

Sometimes “competitors” can be “complements” as long as they offer a different niche. For example, active adult and independent living communities can refer to assisted living and memory care communities when residents need more support than they can provide (and vice versa!). Another example: a Kosher community will be able to refer prospects that are not aligned with that lifestyle/affiliation.

Even with direct competitors, situations exist where a prospect’s “non-negotiable” will be a barrier to moving in. In this case, it’s in everyone’s best interest to recommend the family to another community. (We’re firm believers in what goes around, comes around. So if your community refers prospects to other communities, eventually the favor will be returned.)

5. Grassroots groups.

Ultimately, senior living communities are very local, so building solid relationships with local organizations will always be a wise move. Think first responders, like EMTs (since they know who is unsafe at home), the Chamber of Commerce, houses of worship, and so forth.

Tips for engaging your senior living referral sources

Senior Living Referral Sources: Healthcare

Find ways to make their jobs easier. For example, create a “Rapid Referral” program to simplify steps. Clearly outline your admission criteria so they are not frustrated with denials, guarantee a response timeframe (e.g., “We will do an assessment within X hours of your referral”), make a decision quickly, and if you have to deny a move-in, explain why.

Recognize their contributions. Celebrate them on special healthcare-related days, like National Nurses Appreciation Day in May or Social Work Month in March. (And that’s just the beginning—check out this resource for other ideas.) Let them know that they make a difference.

Add value to their day-to-day lives and careers. Bring CEU programs/speakers to them (and pay for their credits) or offer space/use of your community for a team event.

Offer them something fun. Bring an ice cream truck around to referral sources on a hot summer’s day. Dress up on Halloween and hand out treats, bring chocolate-covered strawberries on Valentine’s Day, and if you can find out when their annual state survey is, bring a Stress Buster Basket with treats and a big bottle of Advil!

Say thank you on the regular. Get some branded latte cups with coffee samples and imprint them with your logo and “Thanks a Latte!” to acknowledge a referral. Also, provide a follow-up note to let them know how great a referred resident is doing—your referral sources care!

Senior Living Referral Sources: Friends & Family

Make it worth their while. Provide an exciting incentive for referring friends or family, like a rent credit for the loved one currently living in your community.

Make it easy for people to participate in your referral program. Offer a variety of ways for people to make the referral (e.g., phone, email, landing page on your website). Don’t make people jump through hoops—the only info you need is the current resident making the referral and the contact info for the person they’re referring to your community. Make sure you have a good backend system for keeping track of this info so that you can award rental credits in a timely manner.

Promote your referral program regularly. You always have new people moving in. Not to mention longer-term residents and their families need the occasional reminder. Go beyond the basic flyer. Instead, order door hangers and tent cards for the dining room and common areas. Have a vibrant pull-up banner in the lobby and create eye-catching inserts that can go into monthly billing statements. In addition, promote the program by email and link to a landing page that outlines the program basics and allows people to refer someone right then and there.

Host monthly/quarterly family nights and talk up the program and the incentive. Some communities make a presentation of a giant check for referrals. Take pictures of your senior living events and share them on social media and in newsletters to reach a larger audience.

Senior Living Referral Sources: Trusted Advisors

Build a referral network. Elder law attorneys, real estate professionals, downsizing experts, geriatric care managers, life insurance agents, accountants/CPAs, financial planners, and the like work directly with your target audience and their families. All of these service providers can be excellent sources of referrals. And remember, the best way to get referrals is to give referrals. This is exactly what networking groups like Business Networking International (BNI) promote with their “givers gain” philosophy.

Offer opportunities for trusted advisors to speak, educate, participate on a panel in your community. Cross-promoting your services is an excellent way to support trusted advisors and for them to support you.If you help them grow their business, they will return the favor. This strategy is also a smart and easy way to find topics for your monthly in-person or virtual events, newsletter, guest blog posts, podcasts—you get the idea.

Senior Living Referral Sources: Competitors

Foster trust and build relationships with competitors. This can be tricky since not everyone plays well together, but you should still make the attempt. Tour their communities and invite them to tour yours. Talk about your differentiators, your ideal prospects, and those you can’t accommodate. Regarding the latter, this could be based on services offered, price point, religious affiliation, and/or special needs, such as special diets.

Senior Living Referral Sources: Grassroots Groups

Get out and attend all community events. This is a great activity for sales teams. Attend health fairs, fundraisers, and school booster programs. Sponsor a local sports team—and bring residents with you! Have your community’s bus in the parade and at outdoor concerts. Become part of the community and have the community see that your residents are out and about and having fun! Participate in back-to-school backpack drives, food drives, clothing drives, and the like. And, of course, make sure you have plenty of branded material at the ready.

Offer community spaces for meetings, clubs, groups, piano recitals, art shows. This can be another great way to support local organizations and give locals a bird’s-eye view of your community.

Bottom line: Treat potential referral sources as people first, sources second.

Get out there and talk to them in person (again and again) and make it about them. Don’t feel like you’re being a pest. Remember, you’re a professional resource for them, too. Demonstrate this through goodwill gestures, like referrals, and thank-yous like a coffee gift card. And, of course, get in touch with us if you need any help engaging with senior living referral sources.
Senior living lead eggs hatching with footprints towards sale sign

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Your Senior Living Leads

If we could share one article with every senior living marketing and sales team, this would be it. Why? Because it has to do with everyone’s favorite topic: senior living leads. Specifically, mistakes to avoid. Let’s get to it.

1. Don’t treat all senior living leads the same.

If you’re a Senior Living SMART client and/or a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely heard us say that not all leads are created equal. Some leads are ready to buy now. Others might be ready two years from now.

How should you handle the very different needs of various leads? To start, you should divide your leads into two buckets—sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). SQLs want to buy sooner rather than later, so they will be served up to the sales team. MQLs aren’t ready yet, so they will enter longer-term nurturing campaigns.

For all of this to happen efficiently, you’ll need marketing automation software and website forms that capture meaningful info to help segment and score your leads. You can choose to get more granular with your lead segmentation if you wish. For example, within your MQLs, you might segment leads according to buyer persona (e.g., senior vs. adult child).

Bottom line: Meet your leads according to where they are on their journey. Don’t treat them all as if they’re ready to buy today or tomorrow.

2. Don’t ignore leads just because they’re in the very early stages.

This goes along with the previous point, but it’s worth repeating. Too often, we see marketing and sales teams ignore leads that are in the earliest stages of their journey (think leads that don’t plan to buy for at least a year). This is short-sighted. Remember, today’s researchers are tomorrow’s buyers—even if that “tomorrow” is eighteen months from now.

While you might not market as aggressively to early-stage leads, you should still provide regular, helpful communications. The goal? For the lead to think well of your community so that when they are ready to buy, your community will be top of mind.

3. Don’t bombard your leads with the same marketing messages.

Since you have a variety of leads coming in, you need to have a variety of marketing messages at the ready as you nurture MQLs to SQLs. Because that’s precisely what good nurturing is—delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

Getting to know your leads is an excellent way to develop engaging content for them. But how do you get to “know” your leads? Simple. Through your website forms.

Earlier, we mentioned having website forms that capture meaningful info. But if you want to take it to the next level, consider implementing progressive profiling. With progressive form fields, you can control which questions appear on which website forms. Not only that, but once a person has filled out one set of questions, they’ll be asked a different set the next time they fill out a form on your site. The answers will give you valuable insights into your prospects. As a result, you can serve up nurturing campaigns that make sense to them.

For example, maybe your website forms capture people’s favorite hobbies. For those who love food and cooking, you can serve up emails that discuss all the fabulous activities in your community centered around cooking: breadmaking class, sushi night, wine-tasting every Thursday afternoon, pot-luck dinner parties, etc. For those who cited sports as a favorite hobby, you can serve up a similar set of emails that talk about your fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, golf league, football get-togethers, and the like.

The basic email campaign can be the same, but you will customize the messaging so that it speaks directly to your leads. Custom messaging is the secret sauce to effective lead nurturing.

4. Don’t “set and forget” your marketing automation.

With marketing automation, it’s easy to set up email nurturing campaigns and forget all about them. While automation is supposed to make your life easier, you still need to monitor results—and make adjustments based on what the numbers tell you.

What you should pay attention to:

  • Engagement. Are people opening the emails? Are they clicking through to your offers? Are they converting on those offers? Don’t send emails just to say you’ve sent them. You want your emails to work, meaning they should motivate the recipient to take a specific action—even if that action is something as simple as reading a blog post.
  • Conversions. Over time, provided your email nurturing is effective, you should see increased conversions: MQLs to SQLs and SQLs to customers.
  • Messaging. Even if engagement/conversions look good, revisit messaging to make sure everything you say is accurate. For example, you might have promoted virtual tours due to COVID. Now, you might have options for both in-person and virtual tours. We recommend looking at all messaging at least twice a year.

Don’t be afraid to adjust messaging that isn’t working. Trust what the numbers are telling you. You could throw a whole campaign out the window and start over. Or you can A/B test smaller changes. For example, if people aren’t opening your emails, test different subject lines. Haven’t tried personalization yet? Maybe you experiment with that and see how the results look.

Effective marketing automation is part science, part art—and it absolutely requires the human touch.

5. Don’t assume you’re in control. (Because you’re not.)

This is the hardest pill for sales and marketing teams to swallow. Twenty years ago, before everyone was online and before every senior living community had its own website, each community’s sales and marketing team was very much in control of the sales process. If someone was interested in learning about your community, they had no choice but to call or come in for a tour, which put them (the buyer) at the mercy of the sales team.

Things have changed. Thanks to senior living websites, review sites, and social media, buyers can now research to their heart’s content before ever talking to a salesperson. And they’ll only do the latter on their terms when they’re ready for a sales interaction.

If senior living sales and marketing teams want to succeed today, they must embrace this shift and focus on enabling buyers to get the info they need, when they need it. This means marketing and sales must remove any friction from the process and make it as easy and straightforward as possible for the buyer to purchase from you. Say hello to your new top priority!

Want more helpful strategies for increasing senior living leads? Download our guide.

Even though we bill ourselves as a marketing agency, we also have expertise in the senior living sales process, as this free guide demonstrates. Enjoy it with our compliments!

And, of course, if you need assistance, get in touch and let’s chat about your senior living sales challenges.

hubspot for senior living

7 Reasons Why We Love HubSpot for Senior Living

We think HubSpot for senior living is the bees knees. And no, we’re not saying that because we’re a HubSpot Solutions Partner. We became fans of HubSpot long before we entered their Partners Program, and the main reason is simple. (Cue Tina Turner, please.) HubSpot is simply the best. Better than all the rest! Here are seven reasons why.

1. HubSpot remains the leader in inbound marketing.

While there are many inbound marketing pioneers to thank, from Seth Godin to Meerman Scott, the founders of HubSpot are the ones who made the concept stick. Today, businesses around the globe embrace the inbound methodology. And even though many competitors have popped up, HubSpot remains the leader.

2. HubSpot believes in continuous innovation — and practices what it preaches.

One of the reasons HubSpot holds onto its leadership position is because it refuses to rest on its laurels. (Doing so is the fastest route to obsolescence.) Since its founding, HubSpot has constantly innovated and reimagined the marketing software that made it famous. 

From developing a CRM that can hold its own against all the big guys (like Salesforce) to developing marketing automation that’s equal parts robust and intuitive, HubSpot continuously impresses.

Best of all? It listens to its customers and community. HubSpot bases updates and product improvements on community feedback.

3. HubSpot for senior living is more than just marketing automation software.

When we talk up HubSpot for senior living with our clients, we often lead with marketing automation, since that’s the foundation upon which effective inbound marketing is built.

But HubSpot offers senior living marketers and sales reps so much more: an excellent CRM (or the ability to integrate with popular CRM brands), powerful analytics, and easy-to-use content management tools (just to name a few impressive product features).

Different levels of HubSpot make it easy to find the right package for your community’s size and its goals. And if you’re not sure which level is right for you, don’t worry: HubSpot works with partners (like us!) who can help. Which brings us to our next point.

4. HubSpot values partnership.

HubSpot values creating strong relationships with its customers and its formal partners (like us). HubSpot’s Solutions Partner Program enables us to deliver the best experience to our clients. So when you choose us and HubSpot, you get the support and backing of the entire HubSpot ecosystem. (Read more about the platinum tier that we achieved in 2021.)

5. HubSpot practices what it preaches and makes it easy to learn how to do inbound marketing right.

Visit the HubSpot website, download a piece of content, follow HubSpot on social media, and/or interact with HubSpot sales folks, and you’ll quickly get a lesson in effective inbound marketing tactics.

And when you need a tutorial for how to do something within HubSpot, you don’t need to look any further than HubSpot itself. It has an impressive HubSpot Academy where you can earn accreditations that’ll transform you into an inbound marketing rockstar. (And many of the certifications are free and clear, meaning you don’t even have to be a paying customer.)

6. HubSpot has great reviews and stacks up well against popular competitors.

Don’t take our word for it; read independent reviews on meaningful places like Capterra and G2. Capterra breaks down reviews on different HubSpot products (for example, CRM, CMS, HubSpot Sales), but that doesn’t make a difference: HubSpot always has at least 4 out of 5 stars (and regularly shows 4.5 stars).

Reviews on other reputable sites, like G2, are equally impressive.

7. HubSpot for senior living works, and our clients are proof.

Remember, we’re not just HubSpot promoters—we’re also a HubSpot customer. We wouldn’t recommend something that we didn’t believe in or use ourselves. Our clients are proof that HubSpot for senior living works. Check out our case studies. Then, get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help your community rock HubSpot.

senior living marketing strategy, hands with gears

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

As we wrap up third quarter, now’s a good time to think about your senior living marketing strategy for the fourth quarter (as well as next year). Below, you’ll find seven mistakes to avoid as you develop your strategy.

Mistake #1. Thinking you don’t need a senior living marketing strategy in the first place.

For some things in life, you can fly by the seat of your pants. But marketing your senior living community isn’t one of them. The benefits of having a formal marketing strategy are many:

  • It provides clear goals.
  • It keeps everyone accountable (marketing and sales).
  • It provides important insights to the C-suite.
  • It will help inform future strategies based on real intelligence.

Mistake #2. Simply going through the motions of creating a strategy.

Don’t treat your marketing strategy as one more thing you need to cross off your to-do list. Your strategy should be your team’s constant companion, the blueprint everyone refers to week in and week out. 

Mistake #3. Treating your strategy as if it’s set in stone.

Your senior living marketing strategy must remain fluid. The best example we could possibly offer: Consider the strategy you had going into 2020. Given the pandemic, if you had “stayed the course” with your original strategy, that would have been a big mistake. Strategies will and should change based on things like analytics and conditions on the ground. 

Mistake #4. Making your strategy too vague.

On the flip side of #3, you still need to have a concrete marketing strategy—one with clear goals and specific initiatives to support those goals. If it’s too loosey goosey, it won’t serve anyone. A good way to approach developing your strategy: Focus on key areas. Think website/SEO, paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing/automation, social media marketing, and print/traditional marketing (like direct mail). Define what you’ll be doing under each, as needed.

Mistake #5. Making your strategy too long.

Planning too far out can result in unwieldy and unrealistic initiatives. Better to focus on shorter time frames. Consider creating quarterly marketing strategies or even month-to-month marketing plans, if that makes following them easier.

Mistake #6. Not revisiting the results of previous strategies before developing this one.

Think of strategies as chapters in a novel — they should all flow together, rather than function as separate books. You should always review past strategies and develop new strategies based on measurable results. 

For example, is your paid advertising delivering excellent ROI? Great! You might decide to reserve more budget for pay-per-click campaigns. Are you finding you’re not gaining any traction on Twitter, but Facebook is lively? Wonderful. You might decide to downgrade (or eliminate) Twitter initiatives and make Facebook the focus of your social media strategy.

Mistake #7. Developing your strategy in a silo and/or forging ahead on your own, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

There’s no shame in saying you’ve never created a formal senior living marketing strategy before. And there’s no shame in saying you’d like some guidance (even if you have created strategies in the past). In fact, though it might sound self-serving, we do believe working with an objective third-party on your strategy can be extremely beneficial — precisely because it will be objective. You and your team might be too close to things. Or you might not have the experience in developing a sound strategy. 

Whatever you do, don’t develop the strategy by yourself. Work with team members in marketing and sales at the very least. Or do yourself a favor and reach out to us about developing a strategic marketing roadmap for your community.

how to increase sales in senior living, man at whiteboard

How to Increase Sales in Senior Living

Maybe you’re a senior living sales counselor and you’ve been wondering how to increase sales in your community. Maybe you did a search in Google on that precise term—how to increase sales in senior living — and you landed on this blog post. You’re probably holding your breath, hoping this article will have the answer. Good news, folks! It does. And the answer is surprisingly straightforward.

Here’s what you need to do if you want to increase your senior living sales.

You need to work closely with marketing.

Long gone are the days where senior living marketing and sales worked separately. Any businesses that still maintain this separation and silo mentality are doomed for failure. Or, at the very least, they’re certainly not doing as well as they could be.

The line between sales and marketing has blurred. Why? For the simple reason that sales folks no longer drive sales. Buyers drive sales. Marketing’s job is to help enable today’s buyers to buy from you. Which means marketing often needs to think more like sales, and sales folks need to be ready to lend a hand to marketing.

You need to accept that not all leads are created equal.

Sure, some leads will be ready to have a conversation with you today or tomorrow. Those are sales-qualified leads. But most leads are not ready to buy right now. They’re interested in your community, and in senior living in general. But there’s a long way between “interested” and “ready to buy.”

Your job is to focus on the sales-qualified leads while the marketing-qualified leads continue to learn and explore your brand on their own through marketing automation (More on this in a moment.). This can be a tough pill for sales folks to swallow because if you follow this approach, you’ll be working fewer leads, which we know can feel scary.

But the good news is this: You’ll be working better leads, as a result.

You need to use marketing automation.

There’s no sense in bothering with our first two points if you’re going to skimp on the technology. Now, we get it: You’re a sales counselor in an incredibly personal, “high touch” industry. But no amount of charm is going to get you anywhere if you’re not already leaning heavily on marketing automation.

This goes back to our point about buyers being in charge of the sales process. Not marketing. Not sales. Today’s buyers want to interact with your brand (meaning your website, your social media, your emails) anywhere from 5-10 times before talking to anyone in sales. And the only way you can give them the brand experience that they crave is by having powerful marketing automation in place to help them explore your brand in the way they desire.

Why? Because that’s what marketing automation is—it’s a tool that helps deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time. And guess what? It makes your job easier.

You need to pay attention to results over time.

Sales folks are famous for living in the moment. We get that. But one great week of sales isn’t necessarily an indicator that you’ve landed on the formula for boosting senior living sales in general. Which is precisely why you (and your marketing cohorts) need to embrace analytics.

You need to monitor what’s working and what isn’t. And before you even get to the monitoring part, your team needs to define what they mean by “what’s working.” Definitions will vary for different buyers based on where they are in their journey.

Sure, the ultimate indicator is move-ins, but for buyers who are just starting to research senior living, they’ll need to hit a bunch of milestones along the way before they buy and sign on the dotted line. The marketing and sales teams need to agree on which data and analytics matter.

And here’s the thing: THESE DEFINITIONS WILL CHANGE. What you used as a measuring stick two years ago might not work today. Being flexible is a trait all senior living sales and marketers must embody.

Bonus advice: Use an objective third party to help align your senior living sales and marketing.

The truth is that even the most well-intentioned sales and marketing teams don’t always align goals initially. So if this is the first time your senior living community is talking about things like marketing automation and buyer enablement, consider reaching out to an agency like ours that knows how to bring everyone together.

Get in touch and let’s chat.

Does Direct Mail Still Have a Place in Senior Living Marketing?

When it comes to senior living marketing in the 21st century, everyone talks about digital marketing, and rightfully so. Today’s buyers begin their searches online. And this most definitely includes the senior living audience.

So if things like websites, pay-per-click ads, and social media are where the marketing magic takes place, doesn’t that answer our question regarding direct mail?

Not so fast!

We believe there is indeed a place for direct mail when done right. (That last bit is important.) Allow us to explain . . .

People do read or at least scan snail mail, including direct mail pieces. (And yes, they convert on the offers, too.)

According to Small Biz Genius, 42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get, and most households keep advertising mail for 17 days on average. This is important to know, especially in senior living marketing.

Small Biz Genius goes on to say that direct mail offers a not-too-shabby 29% return on investment. And Lob, a business that uses automation to help companies send smarter snail mail, notes that 66% of people have bought something because of direct mail.

Direct mail can be a great way to get your brand on people’s radar.

Piggy-backing on the above stats, if you want to start planting the seed about your senior living community, direct mail pieces can be a great way to do exactly that.

Imagine sending a series of over-sized postcards over 12 months — bright, cheerful, glossy cards with one focused message and your logo front and center. You’ve probably heard the adage that it takes 7-10 touches before a brand begins to resonate with a consumer. A direct mail strategy can be a good way to prime the pump.

Direct mail could be an excellent way to reach adult children.

One stat from Small Biz Genius stood out to us in particular: “Consumers aged 45-54 are the demographic group most likely to respond to direct mail pieces.” That demographic is a sweet spot for adult children who might be helping their older loved ones find appropriate senior living. (By the way: We’ve designed a turnkey marketing campaign specifically for adult children — get in touch if you’d like to know more.)

Direct mail can supplement and reinforce your digital marketing efforts.

Just as we always preach that you need to make sure your marketing and sales efforts are in alignment, the same is true for inbound marketing and outbound marketing methods. Don’t think of it as an either/or scenario, but rather one more tool you can include in your trusty senior living marketing toolbox.

We can help direct your inbound and outbound marketing efforts, including direct mail.

We know the ins and outs of digital marketing, and we regularly create turnkey marketing packages through our SMARTbrand program that include elements from both, including direct mail pieces that you can easily customize. Learn more about SMARTbrand. Or get in touch and we can show you some great senior living marketing ideas that’ll work for your community!

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, mature couple navigating websites

Make Your Web Content More Accessible to People with Disabilities with UserWay

Have you heard of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

In a nutshell, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is “developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.”

The ultimate goal? To make web content more accessible to everyone, particularly people with disabilities. 

At Senior Living SMART, we’ve always advocated making senior living websites accessible to site visitors (think older people with aging eyes, for example). We’ve taught many clients over the years about the value of adjustable text sizing, strong color contrast with fonts and backgrounds, avoiding layering text over images, and using alt tags to describe images. (Just to name a few best practices.) 

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

That said, WCAG takes accessibility to a whole new level. As Mozilla notes, “It is comprehensive but incredibly detailed, and quite difficult to gain a rapid understanding of.” And depending on what sort of business you’re in, you could face legal repercussions if your site doesn’t comply (for example, federal agencies and their contractors). 

Now, we’re not sharing this info to make you nervous. Our job is to make sure you’re aware—and to tell you about our approach to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. We’re proud to announce we’re working with UserWay as our accessibility compliance partner. 

As its website explains, “UserWay’s Accessibility Technology is the world’s most advanced and popular AI-powered accessibility compliance solution that ensures your website provides a digital experience that meets and exceeds WCAG 2.1 AA requirements, as required by the ADA and other governmental and regulatory bodies.”

UserWay has been installed in over 1.2 million websites around the globe (and counting!). It makes compliance straightforward. As noted on this user review site, UserWay’s “AI-powered widget does the job of making smart modifications on your website without the need to make dramatic changes to the existing code.”

Bottom line: UserWay is our way to help clients’ websites remain compliant and accessible to all.

Need help with your Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)? Talk to us!

We’re experts in senior living and website marketing. Let’s talk about your community’s specific needs, including making your web content accessible to everyone.

Note: Affiliate links are used in this post.

senior living advertising paid search 101

Senior Living Advertising: Paid Search 101

When it comes to senior living advertising, we know that it can get overwhelming fast, particularly in the area of paid search. This article aims to provide a high-level overview of what you need to know.

What is paid search anyway?

When someone searches in Google on a phrase like “senior living communities Miami,” ads pop up along with organic results. If the person clicks on an ad, the advertiser is charged for the click. This is called pay-per-click advertising or PPC. 

Sometimes advertisers pay simply for the honor of having the ad appear. These ads are known as CPM, or cost-per 1000 impressions. They’re great for building brand awareness.

Other types of paid search include ads that show up on other websites. Think of the news websites you visit and the ads that appear. Those are typically part of what’s known as Google’s Display Network. 

Remarketing ads also fall under the paid search umbrella. These ads follow you around after you’ve visited a company’s website. So, for example, if someone visits your senior living website and then bounces over to Facebook, you could have a remarketing campaign that serves up ads about your community to that person who just visited your site. (Remarketing is its own specialty.)

All come under the realm of paid search. Paid search is how companies like Google and Facebook make their billions and billions of dollars.

What’s the goal of paid search in senior living advertising?

For pay-per-click, the goal is to drive highly targeted traffic to your senior living website. Let’s go back to our example above. If a Miami-based senior living community focuses its ad buy on a term like “senior living communities Miami,” meaning its ad gets served up when someone searches on that phrase, you can be fairly confident that people clicking on the ad will be highly targeted traffic. 

And by “highly targeted,” we mean website visitors who are keenly interested in what you’re selling—in this case, your senior living community in Miami. 

Other types of paid search, like CPM and ads that run in the Google Display Network, might have different goals, such as building brand awareness. (The idea being if you see an ad enough times, eventually you’re going to recognize the brand’s name, even if it’s happening in a subliminal manner and even if you never click on the ad.)

How much does paid search cost advertisers?

The range varies widely. Bigger brands might spend thousands and thousands of dollars per day on paid search. Smaller brands might spend a few hundred dollars per day. According to WordStream, “The average small business using Google advertising spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on their online advertising campaigns. That’s $100,000 to $120,000 per year.”

WordStream also notes: “The average CPC [cost per click] in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 on the search network and $0.58 on the Google Display Network.” And for Facebook, the average CPC is $1.72.

Keep in mind that the above only describes the cost for the actual ad-clicks. It doesn’t include fees you’d pay to someone to write your ads, set up your accounts, test ads, monitor results, and make changes based on those results. That work would be an additional cost.

Can you control how much you spend?

You can control the ad spend itself. That’s part of the appeal with PPC ads. Advertisers can set daily spend limits. Once you hit that limit, your ads are no longer served up.

But those additional costs we outlined above can vary. You should always make sure you’re clear on how much paid search campaigns will cost in total.

How do you get your ads to show up for the right searches?

Paid search is part science, part art. It’s akin to SEO (search engine optimization). You need to know what your target audience is searching on in places like Google (what keyword phrases they’re plugging into the search bar).

From there, you need to know how competitive the keyword phrase is. The more competitive, the more you’ll need to bid at an “ad auction” for that keyword phrase. (WordStream has a good guide to the ad auction here.) 

The goal is to focus on competitive keyword phrases that bring in targeted traffic—but that are also cost-effective in the grand scheme of things.

Knowing the lifetime value of a customer can be critical in determining if the money that you’re spending on paid search is delivering the return on investment (ROI) you’re looking for. 

Using simple math: Let’s say the lifetime value of a customer is $5,000. If you need to spend $1000 on digital ads (on average) to score one lead that turns into a customer, you’ll probably see that as a good ROI. On the flip side, if you find you need to spend $6000 on advertising to score a customer, then it’s not the wisest of investments (at least, in regard to the way your digital ads are currently set up . . . adjusting your ad strategy could improve the ROI).

In addition to choosing the right keywords, what else goes into effective paid search campaigns?

The creative is incredibly important for senior living advertising —the headline, the ad copy, the design elements. Other things can affect how well the ad campaigns perform, like when the ads are served up (time of day). 

This sounds complicated. Can I manage it on my own?

You probably won’t be able to successfully manage paid search on your own unless you have expertise in this field. There are so many moving parts, which is why PPC agencies exist and why PPC specialists have roles inside digital marketing agencies. What we outlined above only begins to scratch the surface. Paid search is an incredibly dense and complex topic—and it’s fluid, too!

What should I look for in a paid search specialist or agency?

Anyone can claim to be a PPC specialist. And plenty of digital marketing agencies might claim they can manage your paid search. But as we’ve mentioned above, paid search is a specialty area. A good rule of thumb: Only collaborate with people or agencies who boast their Google Ads certifications.

As Google notes, “There are six Google Ads certifications available today: Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, Google Ads Video, Shopping ads, Google Ads Apps, and Google Ads Measurement.”