What to look for when choosing a Senior Living CRM software

3 Tips for Evaluating Senior Living Software: Marketing Automation

Senior living communities need a wide variety of senior living software to support operations—from electronic medical records to CRMs to everything in between. Today, we’re going to talk about an important piece of senior living software for the marketing and sales department: marketing automation.

First, what is marketing automation?

With marketing automation, you can easily schedule and duplicate various marketing tasks (typically connected with actions on your website) to happen without any further work on your part.

For example, you can have your marketing automation “score” every lead that comes into your website as a marketing-qualified lead or a sales-qualified lead based on criteria you set. The marketing leads will automatically enter email workflows that will nurture them. The sales leads will immediately go to sales for follow up. All of this happens AUTOMATICALLY without anyone having to label things manually. This frees up the marketing and sales teams to focus on substantive tasks.

Learn more about what marketing automation is.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

The goal with marketing automation is to make everyone’s lives easier. Think marketing, sales, and even your prospects. Every senior living community operating today needs some level of marketing automation in order to remain competitive.

In other words, the question isn’t whether you need it. The question is what type of marketing automation you need. Below, we discuss three tips for evaluating this important piece of senior living software.

How should you evaluate different marketing automation solutions?

1. Consider what your teams need.

Marketing automation companies typically offer different tiers ranging from basic products to the Cadillac version. Get the right solution for your needs. You don’t want to spend dollars on features your teams don’t need or won’t use.

Questions to ask as you evaluate marketing automation:

  • What’s your number one reason for investing in marketing automation right now? Make sure you can articulate this clearly.
  • How easily does the marketing automation software scale? For example, if you’re looking to expand your senior living portfolio in 2021 and 2022, how easily can new communities get on board with the solution?
  • How much does it cost? When comparing products, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Some solutions might bill based on the number of contacts. Others might bill on the number of marketing emails you send. Understand ALL the costs.
  • Can it easily integrate with your existing technology? Will it “play nice” with your current website? Will it integrate with your senior living CRM? These are the two most important pieces of technology to consider. But if your community uses any other apps/technology, make sure you understand any integration limitations.
  • Is it intuitive? You’ll want to sit in on a few demos. Does the interface make sense? Can you follow along with how things work? Can you see your team using the software?
  • Is it built specifically for the senior living industry? If not, can it adapt to the industry’s needs? Most marketing automation companies will highlight the industries they serve. Check out their websites. Look for case studies that talk about how the software is used in other senior living settings.
  • What sort of support does the company offer? Ideally, look for a company that builds relationships with its customers. You will need tech support at some point.
  • What are the analytics like? The best marketing automation provides solid insights into results—click-through rates, conversions, engagement, etc.
  • Will you be managing the marketing automation yourself? Or will a third party, like a marketing agency, be assisting? While marketing automation does save time by automating many functions, you shouldn’t treat it as a “turn it on and forget it” sort of system. If you only have the budget for one or two people to manage it, then you might want to opt for a simpler solution or a basic version of a product that has tiered options.

2. Read reviews on marketing automation software.

Capterra does an excellent job curating reviews and providing objectives pros and cons. However, the list for marketing automation software is overwhelming. So you might want to start with Capterra’s Top 20 Report.

When perusing reviews, don’t simply read the five- and one-star reviews. Those will be predictable. The five-star reviews will make the product sound like the best thing since sliced bread. The one-star reviews will make the product sound like it was developed by a child. Instead, pay close attention to the three-star reviews. Those will often provide the most revealing—and helpful—insights regarding the solution.

Pay attention to how the marketing automation company responds to negative reviews. You can tell a lot about a company by how they respond to critical feedback.

3. Ask for recommendations from senior living marketing agencies.

Again, you could ask any marketing agency for its preference. (They will definitely have one!) But asking an agency with senior living experience makes much more sense. A senior living marketing agency will understand the types of software a community like yours needs in order to achieve its marketing and sales goals.

At Senior Living SMART, we’re big fans of HubSpot. (Full disclosure: We’re a HubSpot Gold Solutions Partner.) But that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of other products. Many good marketing automation products exist. (As well as not-so-good products.) If you’ve whittled down your list to three or four (even if HubSpot isn’t on the list), we’d be happy to discuss your options in a free 30-minute brainstorm.

And if you're just getting started with thinking about marketing automation, even better!

We can help you from start to finish, including choosing the right product for your community, setting it up, and analyzing the results. Get in touch!

 

Four Strategies to Optimize Websites for Improved Conversions

A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.

Business man excited about maintaining five star review

Senior Living Reputation Management: How to Respond to Reviews

Your senior living community’s online reputation is everything. In fact, it might be the only thing that matters. Perception is reality and all that. Not to mention online reviews almost always come up in local search results. That’s why when it comes to senior living reputation management, you MUST have a strategy for responding to reviews.

We’ve written a couple articles about managing your overall online reputation, including claiming listings and soliciting reviews. But today we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of how to respond to those pesky one- and two-star reviews.

1. Never argue.

When we say never, we mean NEVER. Not even if you feel the review is unfair. Not even if you know the review is inaccurate. A combative response will cause more damage. Why? Because other people will see your belligerent response. This will influence their decision—and not in a good way.

2. Keep in mind that critical feedback isn’t always negative.

We all tend to think of one-star reviews as “bad.” But negative reviews provide opportunity. Your critics are giving you a gift: an unfiltered, unvarnished view of your community’s weaknesses. If you pay attention to your reviews and address legitimate issues revealed within them, your community will ultimately be in a better, stronger, more competitive position.

What should you pay attention to in one- and two-star reviews? Look for trends. Look for consistent complaints. If you’re hearing the same complaint in multiple reviews, you can no longer claim it’s simply one disgruntled person’s “opinion.” Uncover the core issue and address it.

3. Be genuine in your response.

  • Acknowledge the person’s pain/criticism. Again, don’t argue. Don’t make condescending statements like “We’re sorry you feel this way.” Instead, opt for something that sounds human: “Chris, we’re sorry to hear your mom isn’t happy with X. We’re sharing your feedback with the team. If you’d like to tell us more, we welcome your additional input. You can reach us here.” (Provide a real phone number and extension. Make sure someone monitors the messages and passes on messages to the appropriate person in your community.)
  • Do not end your response with “Have a great day.” It sounds silly to say something like: “We’re sorry to hear about your experience. Have a great day!” Try this instead: “Even though it’s hard to hear, we do appreciate your candid feedback. We’re discussing your review internally so we can address these issues.”
  • Don’t say the same thing in every response. People scroll through reviews. If people see the same response on every review, well—that doesn’t sound genuine, does it?
  • Respond to positive reviews, too! A warm “Thank you” is always welcome on a positive review. You’ll follow the same suggestions outlined above. Acknowledge what the person liked. Don’t say the same thing in every response. And sound genuine.

Need inspiration? Here are real examples of great responses to negative Yelp reviews.

4. Run your response by a committee before hitting publish.

Get in the habit of drafting a response to a critical review and sharing it with a couple members of your team. Why? Just to get a second opinion and a second set of eyes on the response. The problem with responding in writing is the tone issue. The person who writes the response can’t always “hear” if something might come across as snarky or defensive. When it comes to senior living reputation management, take a team approach.

5. Accept that negative reviews are part of doing business.

Your senior living community will get negative reviews. It’s a part of doing business. Your focus should be on responding thoughtfully to these critical reviews and addressing issues, as needed.

SeniorLivingAdvisor.com notes this in its FAQs: “Consumers do not expect every customer will have an ideal experience with any service provider. In fact, consumers tend to trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative feedback. What is important to those searching for senior care is that the organization acknowledges and addresses concerns.”

6. Flag any reviews that are truly inappropriate.

While you should never respond to negative reviews, your community—and the people reading the reviews—shouldn’t have to endure violent, abusive, racist, or other toxic language. Most review sites offer a way to flag/report/dispute problematic reviews. You won’t use this for someone who is irate about a legitimate issue. People have a right to vent their frustration. But if a reviewer ever crosses a line, you can ask to have the review removed.

An important note: People reading reviews will be able to read between the lines. Most of us can easily identify an incoherent rant when we spot one. And most of us won’t put much stock into those sorts of reviews. So even if you have a couple of “stinkers,” don’t worry too much about it.

7. Combat negative reviews with more positive reviews.

With many review sites, the most recent reviews are listed first. So if you have a few negative reviews cluttering the feed—even if you’ve answered them in a thoughtful manner—revisit your playbook for soliciting more positive reviews.

Some ideas:

  • Tap recent move-ins. While the experience is still fresh, ask the resident and/or family member to leave a review on why they chose your community.
  • Use text messaging apps. Sending a text message asking for a review stands a better chance of getting opened and acted upon. Capterra evaluates different text messaging apps here.
  • Audit your lead nurturing. Make sure you include “Love us? Leave us a review” call-outs on appropriate lead nurturing workflows.
  • Don’t overlook your employees! Make sure you monitor reviews on places like Indeed and Glassdoor. Savvy consumers will look at these sites to see what employees are saying about working in your senior living community. Happy employees make for happy residents.

 

Qualified Lead action figures packaged on the shelf and ready to purchase

Senior Living Sales Tips: Marketing Qualified vs. Sales Qualified

When we work with clients, we love sharing all sorts of senior living sales tips, including definitions of common terms. Ones you’ll hear us talk about a lot: marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) vs. sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

What’s the difference? Let’s dig in!

What is a marketing-qualified lead (MQL)?

Before people “buy” something big and meaningful—whether it’s a new car or a new home in a senior living community—they do their homework. During this stage, they are actively gathering info. They are researching. They are dreaming. Some might have an urgent need. Others might be planning for months or even a year or more from now.

Obviously, if your sales rep were to call any of these folks, the sales rep wouldn’t get very far. Why? Because the prospect hasn’t reached that point in the process where it makes sense for them to engage with a sales person. They haven’t made a decision. They haven’t even whittled down their options. In fact, they might actively hate the idea of talking to a sales person right now, preferring instead to self-direct their buying process.

In other words, they are NOT a qualified sales lead—yet. But their actions demonstrate that they could very well become sales qualified somewhere down the line. But for now, they are a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). They have indicated their openness to educational materials and learning more.

The challenge: making sure MQLs keep your community top of mind so that when they ARE ready to take the next step (like a tour), they remember your senior living community.

One of the best ways to stay top of mind is through an automated lead nurturing program. The marketing-qualified leads will receive a series of emails that speaks to who they are (their buyer “persona”) and where they are in the buying process. Over time, some of these leads will become sales qualified.

What is a sales-qualified lead (SQL)?

A sales-qualified lead means the person has indicated through their actions that they are nearing a decision or have made a decision. For senior living communities, people who are sales-qualified are likely requesting pricing/financing options, tours, conversations with current residents, and the like.

SQLs are handed off to the sales reps to follow up with directly (in person or via phone/ZOOM in the Age of COVID-19).

Why is it important to differentiate MQLs from SQLS?

If you push all leads directly to your sales team, three things can happen:

  • The sales team is forced to manage too many leads.
  • The sales team makes 2-3 attempts to get in touch with a prospect. At that point, they move whoever they can’t engage with directly to cold/lost leads.
  • The prospect gets scared away and disengages because they are not ready for the sales interaction.

Senior living sales teams often fail because they can’t recognize the high-intent leads. Why? Because all leads look the same if they’re pushed over equally. Not to mention, prospects won’t get the types of interactions they’re necessarily looking for, either. In the end, it doesn’t work out for either the sales team or the prospect. The result? BOTH move on.

By identifying and labeling leads as MQL or SQL, however, you move the hottest leads to your sales team while your marketing team works on nurturing the MQLs until they’re ready to take the next step.

No wasted time, no wasted effort. Just better conversions along with happier prospects and happier marketing/sales departments.

Bonus senior living sales tip: Your website needs to speak to MQLs and SQLs.

You’ll have both types of people entering your senior living website. As a result, you need to make it super easy for people to self-identify where they should go.

But here’s a secret: Most senior living websites only offer SQL options (typically in the form of “click to call” or “schedule a tour”). Talk about a wasted opportunity, right? You need a way to capture the MQLs so that you can continue marketing to them. Offering valuable content, such as downloadable brochures, guides, and e-books, will increase web conversions by up to 30% (based on our experience) provided you follow best practices.

Remember, though, that capturing info is just the first step. You need to nurture the MQLs until they are ready for an interaction with the sales team.

For SQLs, you’ll still want to make “Book a Tour” or “Contact Now” visible options on every page. Live chat (true live chat hosted by real, knowledgeable humans) can be another great way to speak with SQLs (and even MQLs who have specific questions).

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

We don’t have to tell you that senior living is an ultra-competitive industry. You live and breathe it every day, right? Which is why you always need to find ways to enhance your senior living sales strategies. Good news! Marketing automation is an effective budge-friendly way to do exactly that.

Here are three surprising benefits.

1. Say hello to your “always on” sales assistant.

When it comes to successful lead conversion, here are the two biggest factors:

  • How quickly leads are responded to
  • The persistence of follow-up attempts

Let’s tackle that first factor. Marketing automation ensures that your senior living leads receive an instant response after they take an action on your site. If they fill out a form, for example, they’ll automatically be redirected to a thank-you page that speaks directly to them. AND they’ll receive an auto responder email.

Everything happens automatically in the background—whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. And it happens no matter what’s going on in the world, like a pandemic. In other words, marketing automation becomes your 24/7 sales assistant.

Now, let’s discuss the second factor: persistence of follow-up attempts. Remember, you want to implement effective senior living sales strategies. With marketing automation, instead of lumping all leads together and handling them the same way, you can segment leads, score them appropriately, and create custom lead nurturing workflows.

Gone are the days of treating cool leads the same way you do hot leads. Truly hot leads—for example, someone requesting a tour tomorrow—can be passed off to sales and handled ASAP. But cooler leads can be nurtured according to their needs, interests, and timelines. You can customize your messaging so it speaks TO the person (rather than simply some generic message that you share with everyone).

BENEFITS RECAP: Marketing automation ensures that every prospect gets an almost instantaneous response and a reliable follow-up plan. Follow-up effectiveness and timeliness no longer depend on the availability or skillset of the community sales person. Now, the sales team members can focus on their strengths, such as building relationships with prospects, rather than performing rote tasks (like sending brochures).

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

Marketing automation provides visibility into every action a prospect takes on your site. Think the number of times the person visited a specific page, the blog posts they read, how long they spent on a page, and so forth.

So, for example, if someone requests a tour and the sales person can see that the prospect spent a lot of time consuming financial-related info as well as articles about amenities your community offers, the sales rep can be sure to discuss those two areas.

In addition, when you integrate your marketing automation software with your senior living CRM, you’ll get an excellent big picture regarding sales conversion points (i.e., tours, deposits, and move-ins). With this knowledge, you can measure the ROI of every marketing effort and channel. This is critical since more and more marketing budgets are being slashed and/or coming under greater scrutiny.

BENEFITS RECAP: Building a profile of each prospect and passing that information on to the sales team empowers them with relevant information to personalize their interactions.

3. Nurture “not ready” leads until they ARE ready to decide.

We touched on this in the first point, but let’s take a deeper dive. The majority (up to 90%) of the prospects visiting your website are “early stage” opportunities. They want to remain anonymous and gather knowledge, information, and resources in a self-directed way.

Your website should provide everything the early-stage prospect seeks. You should provide this info without requiring the prospect to engage in a sales interaction.

Once you get people’s info, you need to be thoughtful in how you handle it. Your sales team shouldn’t be wasting valuable time pestering “not ready yet” leads with calls and emails.

Instead, marketing should handle these leads by entering them into custom lead nurturing workflows. When we say “custom,” we mean custom, too. The workflows shouldn’t be one size fits all. You should have a set of workflows to match specific lead attributes, like buyer persona and timeframe. Robust marketing automation can ensure the right person gets the right set of emails at the right time.

BENEFITS RECAP: With strategic lead nurturing, you’ll build trust and demonstrate your community’s expertise. When the person is ready to book a tour, request pricing, or make the leap and move in, your community will be top of mind. (BONUS: We’ve designed a turnkey lead nurturing program for SUPER COLD senior living leads. We’re talking leads that have been sitting in your CRM for over six months. LEARN MORE.)

 

Clicking a mouse with a hundred dollar bill graphic, representing pay per click advertising in Senior Living

Senior Living Advertising: The Formula for Pay-Per-Click Success

Senior living advertising, particularly pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, can be a great strategy to generate leads. Or it can be a complete waste of money.

The success of your PPC senior living advertising hinges on three things:

1. Developing a sound strategy

You need to target the right audience with a compelling message and/or offer. This involves understanding your ideal prospect. It also involves developing engaging content that appeals to your ideal prospect. Finally, it involves knowing the keywords your prospect is searching on.

Bottom line: Don’t bother with any sort of paid advertising until you’ve done your persona work. You need to know your ideal prospects inside and out before you can advertise to them online.

2. Having a senior living website optimized for conversions

You can spend a lot of money driving traffic to your website. But if your site isn’t built to convert visitors into leads, what’s the point?

An optimized senior living website will have the following:

Bottom line: Don’t bother with pay-per-click advertising of any kind until you’ve done all of the above. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting money.

3. Being realistic about your online advertising budget

Effective online advertising is marathon, not a sprint. Unlike a print ad that you run once a week or once a quarter, your online ads are something that will likely run daily for the long haul with a specific daily spend limit.

The dollars can add up quickly, too. For more competitive regions in the country, you’ll spend more. This is why it’s critical to have a sound strategy and a senior living website that’s poised to convert the leads that come in from paid ads. As noted earlier, this often involves creating special landing pages and content specifically for the prospects who come in from the pay-per-click advertising. (And this additional work will increase your advertising budget even more.)

Bottom line: When figuring out your budget, consider the lifetime value of a resident and work backwards on what you should target for a daily spend that will deliver the best ROI.

Should you work with a PPC firm on your senior living advertising?

It does make sense to work with a firm that has experience in developing, setting up, and monitoring online advertising for senior living communities. Pay attention to that last part. Having a firm with PPC expertise isn’t enough these days. Choose a firm that also understands senior living.

rocket ship shooting past hot air balloons representing custom websites standing out from and exceeding competition's templated websites

Senior Living Websites: Why You Should Avoid Templates

Opting for a templated senior living website (also called “websites in a box”) might be hard to resist. Promises of rock-bottom prices and so-called “ease of use” can lure people in. But like so many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s why you should avoid templates for your senior living website.

1. Little to no flexibility.

A templated site doesn’t allow much flexibility. For example, if a content block only allows 50 words, but you need 300 words to effectively communicate your message, you’ll probably be out of luck. That is, unless you pay someone to customize the page, which can get pricy fast (not to mention cumbersome).

Bottom line: You should have control over how much content you want on a page—and where you want to place it. Same with imagery and other design elements.

2. Problematic backends.

With cheap website templates, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. Templates are famous for having too much bloated code beneath the surface, which can make doing updates or scaling of any kind a big hassle.

Plus, poorly coded sites tend to break easily, resulting in frustrations for site owners and site visitors. Remember: Your visitors are your prospective buyers! You want them to have a good experience on your website. The only thing more frustrating than owning a website that constantly breaks is trying to navigate a shoddily built site with lots of broken or dysfunctional bits.

Bottom line: Custom senior living websites require a thoughtful approach. This thoughtful approach extends to the coding and backend development work.

3. Too similar to your competitors’ sites.

Companies that produce so-called budget-friendly website templates will often target specific industries. This makes perfect sense for their business model. They create templates that (attempt to) check off all the boxes for a particular industry. They do this so that they can sell their templates across the industry. The problem for you is that your site might end up looking like all the other senior living websites that use the same template.

Bottom line: The senior living industry already suffers from differentiation issues. After all, most communities essentially sell the same thing. A custom website offers an excellent opportunity to differentiate your community from the rest. Don’t forget most people begin their search online. If you want your site to truly stand out and tell your brand’s story, you need to invest in a custom senior living website that does exactly that.

4. Too generic.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. In addition to being too similar to other senior living websites, templates also have a tendency to feel too generic. After all, the template is designed to satisfy “everyone.” The problem with this approach is the template will feel incredibly safe, boring, and generic.

Bottom line: Prospects aren’t going to visit your templated website and say, “UGH. This is so generic.” But the FEELING will be there, like an undercurrent. Remember: Subliminal messages can be extremely powerful. A custom site will enable you to tell your brand’s unique story.

5. Not typically built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.

Many templates will claim to be optimized for search. And some might be—to a certain extent. But senior living SEO is a process, not a “thing” you set up once and forget about. Plus, so many different elements influence your SEO process—buyer personas, the prospect journey, and your competitors’ approach to keywords (just to name a few items). A templated website doesn’t take all those things into consideration—only real humans thinking through the process can truly optimize a site.

Bottom line: Why bother having a website unless it can effectively compete in Google by attracting targeted traffic? A custom SEO strategy is essential.

6. Little to no reliable customer service.

Who do you call when something inevitably goes wrong or you need help adding a page or making an update? Sure, there might be a 1-800 number. But will the person you reach know the ins and outs of your site, your goals, and the senior living industry? Probably not.

Bottom line: Work with a web developer or agency partner who takes the time to understand your business. They will provide a better finished product and better customer service.

7. More expensive in the end.

Website templates can work for certain businesses, but senior living communities are not one of them. We guarantee that the “awesome deal” you got will cost you more in the long run—particularly when it comes to lost revenue due to people being unable to discover your site through search. Or worse: They find your site, but it doesn’t engage them, so they navigate away.

Bottom line: Yes, you’ll pay more for a custom website up front, but the ROI it delivers over the long term will be worth it.

All of that said, you do need to find the RIGHT custom website builder for your senior living website.

Not all web designers are created equal. That’s often another reason why people might opt for a templated, out-of-the-box design. It feels “easier” to deal with, at least, on the surface. It’s true that finding a reputable web designer and managing the build-out can feel like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be, though. Entrepreneur has five suggestions for finding a good web developer. CIO also has an in-depth list of 10 tips for finding a good web developer.

Another option is to work with a marketing agency (like ours!) that has experience in managing the senior living website design and development process from soup to nuts. The benefits of working with an agency is that you can often get all the other items you need in order to elevate your site—website copywriting, SEO services, marketing automation, etc.

Remember, a great looking website isn’t enough. It needs to attract targeted traffic that it successfully converts into marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Even the best web development firms don’t always have their eyes on conversion strategies and metrics. But a good marketing agency will since it has the ability to see the big picture—and all the elements that influence it.

 

 

marketing automation targeting customer head mind niche target market marketing concept business

Senior Living Sales: How to Cater to the Prospect’s Journey

When it comes to senior living sales and marketing, understanding what your prospects want and need at any given moment is critical. But here’s the thing: The prospect journey is rarely linear. A prospect doesn’t wake up one day and decide to move into a senior living community the next.

For some prospects, they might research and think through options for several years before making the move. Other prospects might be on a tighter timeframe and make a decision within six months. For others, it might be three months.

Plenty of prospects aren’t even buying for themselves, but rather someone they love. Not to mention, many prospects often go back and forth between being “sales qualified” and “marketing qualified.” And, of course, the sales cycle for all of the above has grown more complex, thanks to COVID-19.

The biggest challenge for senior living marketing and sales teams is finding a way to meet each prospect wherever they are on their individual journey. This level of customization was impossible two decades ago. But now, thanks to marketing automation, you can create custom experiences based on a prospect’s actions, interests, and motivations.

How marketing automation enhances the prospect journey

1. Keeps prospects engaged with your brand

Even if the prospect doesn’t always open your lead nurturing emails, simply seeing your name show up in their inbox helps to keep your community front and center in their minds. For those who do open the emails, a personal touch and warm, reassuring tone can go a long way in helping the prospect feel positive about your brand.

2. Entices prospects back to your site

Through engaging lead nurturing emails, you’ll offer helpful content that entices prospects back to your site. Once there, and depending on how well your site is developed, you can engage with them further by offering more content or by providing ways to interact with the site (through live chat or interactive surveys, for example).

3. Automatically matches the right content/message to the right prospect

Again, the main tenet of successful lead nurturing is providing the right content to the right prospect at the right time. You can gather much of this intel through your website opt-in forms and lead scoring. This info will automatically funnel to your marketing automation system. From there, every lead will enter a workflow that makes the most sense for them.

4. Provides real-time insights on what’s resonating and what isn’t

Instead of cold calling all leads (regardless of their level of interest), your sales team can dip into the backend analytics and see how prospects are responding to lead nurturing in real time.

For example, maybe your sales rep notes a prospect who has opened the last three lead nurturing emails and clicked on each offer inside. From there, the person ends up spending 10-15 minutes on the site. This person might indeed be a “hot prospect” and the sales rep might actually get somewhere if they call the person.

In addition, marketing and sales can get a good sense of what type of content works best. Perhaps your prospects love videos. Or maybe they love free guides. You can develop more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

5. Helps move marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs) over time

Lead nurturing’s main purpose is to move MQLs to SQLs over time. A thoughtful approach and robust marketing automation can help make sure you achieve this goal.

6. Offers a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay in front of prospects

People will often engage with a brand a half dozen (or even more) times before they’re interested in taking a call with a sales rep. Lead nurturing caters to this shift by providing a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay connected with prospects.

Of course, before you can create the right customized journeys, you need to understand your prospects.

We call this work persona development. Think about your favorite residents. Wouldn’t you want to fill your community full of residents just like them? You can! Persona development helps you identify the traits and behaviors of your ideal prospect. You then develop a customized journey that will attract and nurture more of these ideal prospects.

Remember, when it comes to senior living marketing and sales, it’s not about getting more leads. It’s about getting the right leads—those that match your ideal prospect persona and are a good fit for the lifestyle services that you provide.

 

 

Process of leads production on the conveyor belt.

Not All Senior Living Leads Are Created Equal (the Pizza Shop Analogy)

Read that headline again: Not all senior living leads are created equal. Too often, however, marketing and sales teams treat every lead the same way. We’ve discussed this point ad nauseam on our blog. So maybe it’s time to mix it up. Let’s use an analogy that demonstrates the problem with this approach.

Pretend you own a pizza shop. Would you serve every person who walked through the doors a small pepperoni pizza?

Of course not.

Some folks might prefer sausage to pepperoni. Others might be vegetarians craving peppers and onions. Some might be perfectly fine with pepperoni, but they need to feed a family of four, so a small pizza won’t work. Others might be in the mood for a calzone, sub, or salad. And, of course, some people might simply be looking for directions—or a job.

This is why when someone calls or enters a pizza shop, the pizza shop employee says, “How can I help you?” rather than “We’re giving you a pepperoni pizza whether you want one or not.”

You need to start thinking of your senior living website as if it’s a pizza shop.

Don’t serve everyone the same small pepperoni pizza. Instead, find out what they need and help them accordingly.

People typically go to a senior living website because they are…

  1. Researching options for themselves or someone else, but the need isn’t urgent—yet
  2. Comparing different communities and scheduling tours because they need to make a decision sooner rather than later for themselves or someone else
  3. Looking for a job in your community
  4. Doing broader research on senior living in general (for example, trying to understand costs)
  5. Going to your site directly because they heard about your community from a friend, family member, or advertising

How you approach the senior living leads in one group will be different from the way you approach the leads in another group.

For example, let’s compare the leads in the first group (interested, but not urgent) to the leads in the second group (interested and urgent). To extend the pizza shop analogy, the first group is akin to someone browsing the pizza shop’s online menu because they might go there at some point in the future. On the other hand, the second group reflects someone who needs to order food in an hour for a hungry group of teenage boys returning from soccer practice.

With the first group, you might invite the leads to download the menu and receive a discount on their next order if they sign up for your newsletter. For the second group, you’d direct them to where they can order online RIGHT NOW or a number they can call to talk to a human.

The first group is being “nurtured” by marketing. But the second group goes directly to sales.

The same is true for senior living leads. The leads who are “ready to order” should go directly to sales for immediate follow up. But the ones who aren’t ready to order should be nurtured over time with content and resources based on their needs and interests.

Let’s talk about “needs and interests” and use the pizza shop analogy yet again.

Let’s say someone follows a gluten-free diet. It would be great if the person could download the gluten-free menu from the pizza shop website. This way, the person can see at a glance what items can be made gluten-free.

Going back to your senior living website . . . when you engage with a lead (via a website form or Live Chat), you should ask pointed questions that will help you provide the best content for their needs.

For example, maybe someone indicates they’re interested in information relating to financing. You could enter them into an automated content “stream” that sends them targeted information about financial topics.

Again, think of the question the pizza shop employee asks on the phone or in person: “How can I help you?” You need to do the same thing with your senior living leads!

Managing senior living leads is easier when you use marketing automation.

Now, here’s the good news. You don’t need to do everything by hand. Marketing automation can triage leads based on the actions people take on your website. The sales-qualified leads (SQLs) will automatically get served to the sales team. The marketing-qualified leads (MQLS) will automatically go into lead nurturing workflows based on their needs/interests and timelines.

In other words, no more pepperoni pizza for everyone. Instead, you’re serving up a customized experience, one that will enable your sales and marketing teams to work more efficiently and effectively.

 

 

Computer sending automated emails all day to help sales and marketing teams follow up with leads and schedule appointments and phone calls and meetings

Senior Living Leads: Auto Responders vs. Lead Nurturing

Sometimes it makes sense to take a step back and define terms we use a lot, especially when it comes a complex topic like senior living leads. So let’s discuss two terms you’ll likely encounter: auto responders vs. lead nurturing.

What are auto responders?

An auto responder is exactly as it sounds. It’s an automated response, typically in the form of an email, that’s generated after someone takes an action on your senior living website.

For example, after someone fills out a website form, best practices suggest that you direct the person to a thank-you web page AND that you send an automatically generated email. The benefits are two-fold. First, the thank-you page and email reassure the person their form successfully went through. Second, the thank-you page and email provide an opportunity to serve up additional content the person might find interesting.

The reason you should do BOTH the thank-you page and auto-responder email is because the email gives the person something tangible to refer to. The thank-you page will “disappear” once someone navigates away from it.

BENEFITS: Auto responders are an effective way to personalize the experience for your senior living leads and to continue engaging with them.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing involves sending a series of emails to senior living leads who are not ready to “buy” right now. The goal? To continue engaging with them until they are ready.

Again, everything is automated thanks to your senior living software. Over time—days, weeks, even months—the person will receive a set of emails. The emails will engage and “push” the lead further along the sales funnel until they are ready to make a decision. At this point, sales would take over.

The types of lead nurturing emails that you send—the content, the frequency, how many overall—will be something that marketing and sales will (ideally) figure out together based on lead scoring and lead attributes (e.g., persona and decision timeframe).

Not all leads will enter a lead nurturing program. Leads that your marketing automation indicates as sales-ready/sales-qualified will go to sales for direct follow up.

BENEFITS: Lead nurturing will help your community stay in front of prospects who aren’t ready to buy right now, but who might be ready in the future. The content can help persuade people that your community is the best fit for their specific needs.

How auto responders and lead nurturing affect senior living leads

This isn’t an “either or” situation. You should use auto responders and lead nurturing in your ongoing marketing efforts. So, for example, after someone downloads a piece of content from your site, they will be redirected to a thank-you page and they will receive an auto responder email. Both things happen IMMEDIATELY after the person hits “submit” on the form.

If your marketing automation software identifies the lead as sales-qualified, the lead will go to sales for direct follow up. If the software labels the lead as marketing-qualified, the person will enter an appropriate lead nurturing workflow to engage them further.

The right senior living software is critical for lead scoring and lead nurturing.

If you need help choosing the right senior living software and setting it up correctly, give us a shout! We live and breathe marketing automation for senior living communities.