What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

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.

Marketing automation examples:

  • When someone downloads a piece of content from a site, they usually receive a thank you email. THAT’s marketing automation in action. This email can include additional information to engage them further.
  • Quality marketing automation software can automatically identify and label website leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs) based on criteria you set. From there, the MQLs could be automatically entered into an email workflow for longtime nurturing.

The goal with marketing automation is to make everyone’s lives easier—think marketing, sales, and even your prospects.

How marketing automation helps senior living marketing teams

Your marketing team can “set it and forget it.” This frees up senior living marketing teams to do more important things like brainstorm and try out new ideas, create more of what works, efficiently move prospects through the sales funnel, and tweak existing campaigns based on results.

Remember, the majority of your website visitors are NOT ready to buy yet. They are researching and comparing. Marketing automation helps you capture these otherwise anonymous visitors (through forms) so that you can continue the conversation with them at their pace.

How it helps senior living sales teams

Sales can now spend more time focusing on true sales-qualified leads (SQLs). For example, if someone requests info on pricing, the automated system might label them as an SQL because of that action—and automatically notify sales to follow up with that particular lead.

Sales can focus on converting SQLs to tours and move-ins while the MQLs “marinate” in a lead nurturing program that readies them to become SQLs when the time is right. This means better close rates for sales teams.

How it helps prospects

Let’s say a prospective resident is browsing your site at midnight and is interested in reading your guide on “How to Finance Senior Living for Aging Parents.” Instead of requesting it and waiting for someone to manually email or snail mail it, the person will get it instantly—without anyone on your end having to lift a finger.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

If you’d asked this question a decade ago, the answer would have been “it depends.” As we enter this new decade, however, we’d argue that all senior living communities need some form of marketing automation in order to remain competitive.

The question you need to ask is what level you need.

Do you need the Cadillac version with all the bells and whistles or would basic software do? We’re huge fans of HubSpot (we’re a certified HubSpot agency). We’ve had a ton of success working with senior living communities who install HubSpot.

Marketing automation IS an investment.

But if your teams use it correctly, it will pay for itself over time by identifying sales-qualified leads when they’re truly “hot,” nurturing cool and warm leads over time, improving efficiencies, and providing deep insights in terms of analytics.

Still on the fence?

Or maybe you know you need some form of marketing automation but you don’t know what to do next? Don’t go it alone! The only thing worse than NO marketing automation is the wrong marketing automation for your needs—or setting it up incorrectly.

We LOVE helping our clients get the most out of their marketing automation. Let’s talk solutions.

The Magic of Higher Funnel Thinking Webinar

The Magic of Higher Funnel Thinking Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • Valuable insight into marketing resource and effort allocation
  • Actionable tips for engaging older adults and their families sooner with minimal effort
  • Information about how decision science can influence marketing content
  • Proven path to getting families “unstuck” in their senior living decision process
Evaluating Your Senior Living Website: Expert Tips

Evaluating Your Senior Living Website: Expert Tips

Why should you audit your senior living website? First, it’s easy to get too close to something and gloss over problems. Second, your senior living website isn’t static. In order for it to work hard for you, it needs to constantly evolve.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to auditing your site, broken down into relevant sections: the buyer’s journey, the senior living website design, technical stuff, content, and analytics/results.

THE BUYER’S JOURNEY

All of your marketing and sales efforts should begin and end with the buyer’s journey. If you truly understand your buyers—who they are, what they want, where they are in their process—then you’re already way ahead of the game.

So how can you tell if your website effectively serves your buyers during the various points of their journeys?

Many strategies exist from heat mapping (a tool that allows you to see where site visitors focus and click) to user studies to  website’s analytics.

But sometimes the best thing you can do is ask yourself to view the site from different perspectives.

For example, if I’m an adult child who is researching living arrangements for an aging parent with dementia, does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next? Or if I’m a senior who is searching for a next step for my spouse and myself—and I need to make a move this year—does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next?

Your site needs to clearly communicate the right message to different buyers. This includes the various stages the buyer might be in—awareness, consideration, decision. And your site needs to help people self-identify so they know where to click next.

LOOK AND FEEL

Does senior living website design say 2020 or 1999?

Your senior living website design needs to be modern and fresh. It’s surprising how quickly designs can look dated. Even a five-year-old design can feel old.

Does the site render well/correctly on various devices?

You absolutely need a website that’s “responsive.” In other words, it must automatically adjust itself to render properly on devices of various sizes—desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.

Does the site design work for your audience?

Your site talks to an older demographic. But not all modern fonts were developed with aging eyes in mind. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice a modern feel for excellent functionality in today’s design landscape. But you do need to be aware—and, more importantly, make sure your designer is aware—of this specific need.

Does the site design SPEAK to your audience?

More than just colors and font size, you need images that convey and capture your community. Avoid stock photography and invest in pictures depicting real places and real people. Got an awesome bar with a cozy fireplace that residents love using? Make sure you have a photo of that.

Is the website navigation simple and clear?

Organize the navigation in a way that makes sense to site visitors and to the all-mighty Google. Your navigation also needs to adjust for small devices (think hamburger menus on phones). In fact, the navigation in the desktop version of your site will and should look different from the way it displays on phones.

You also need to think beyond top navigation. Website footers are important, too. Why? Because people are used to doing the long scroll on their phones. They expect the information to be relevant from top to bottom. Your footer serves as a good place to call out important items in addition to other basic footer elements, such as privacy and terms of use.

TECHNICAL STUFF

Is your site optimized for search?

Essentially, you need to build your site in a way that’s easy for search engines like Google to find, crawl, and index the various pages on your site. Sounds simple on the surface, but there’s a lot that goes into effective search engine optimization (SEO).

Is the site fast?

Your site must load quickly. You’re already working in a crowded space. Don’t make it any easier for people to write off your community’s website.

Is the site secure?

A secure site is important for two reasons. First, it’s important to your prospective buyer. More and more people know to only click on secure websites (those that begin with https) even if they can’t articulate why. Second, Google now uses https as a ranking signal.

Do the techie add-ons/tools serve the site visitor?

Cool tools abound. But whatever plug-in you add to your site, it needs to help prospects on their journey. Live chat that’s operated by real humans (at least some of the time) is better than a bot you install and forget about.

Do you need to change hosting companies?

This is often an overlooked technical item, which is why we talk about seven signs it’s time to change hosting companies.

CONTENT

Is the messaging clear, concise, and consistent across the entire site?

Again, thinking of your buyers first, you need messaging that speaks directly to them in clear, concise, and consistent language. We wrote a post a few years ago about four important questions your site visitors want answered on senior living websites. These questions are still true today: can I afford it, where will I live, what will I do, and will I be cared for?

Demonstrate through words, images, and downloadable content how you answer these questions and perceived problems.

Does the site have compelling offers for people at various points in their journey?

By “offers,” we mean premium content that people get for free in exchange for giving up some information about themselves—particularly name, email, and where they are in their journey. You need to develop content for every stage of the infamous sales “funnel.”

Does the site have enticing calls-to-action (CTAs)?

CTAs essentially tell people what you want them to do next. That next step, in most cases, won’t be something like “Call now.” Think about the page you’re adding the CTA to. The next step might be reading a blog post with further information or it might be downloading a free guide. And yes, in some cases, it might be “Call now.”

Do you offer plenty of ungated content that demonstrates expertise?

Not everyone is ready to give their name, email, and phone number. Make sure your site has plenty of “ungated” content (meaning no form required) like a blog. And make sure the material isn’t fluffy and superficial.

ANALYTICS & RESULTS

A truly effective senior living website is one the delivers results. For most of us, the all-important benchmark is the lead-to-move-in conversion rate. Of course, other metrics along the way are important, such as page views and bounce rates.

Make sure you have someone on the marketing side and sales side tasked with regularly reviewing analytics and understanding 1) how to interpret them correctly and 2) how to respond to them appropriately.

For example, maybe site traffic has gone up and everyone is cheering. But unless your conversions have gone up as well, what does it matter, right? More traffic is simply that: more. You need targeted traffic that results in increased move-ins. Hint: Here are five marketing metrics everyone on the team should understand.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone.

Your marketing and sales teams are busy as it is. At Senior Living SMART, we provide just the right amount of support your team needs.

Experience the difference. Let’s chat for 30 minutes → No obligation!

Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital marketing has become a catch-all phrase for a wide variety of marketing and even sales activities. We thought it would make sense to define what we mean by digital marketing for senior living.

The word “digital” is key.

Synonyms of digital marketing include online marketing or Internet marketing. Essentially, digital marketing is all the marketing stuff you do that isn’t tangible (in the physical sense). Think emails, blogs, social media, pay-per-click advertising, and—of course—websites. You get the idea. All of those things happen in cyberspace, as opposed to some of the more traditional marketing efforts senior living communities are used to doing, like giving tours or hosting events or sending direct mailers.

Digital marketing for senior living vs. inbound marketing – what’s the difference?

Some folks make the mistake of thinking senior living digital marketing is the same thing as inbound marketing. In our minds, the reverse is truer: all inbound marketing is digital marketing, but not all digital marketing is inbound.

Inbound marketing involves attracting the people who are already looking for your services/products through tactics like excellent website optimization, compelling offers, and sticky blogs and social media profiles. And where do people typically “look” for products or services these days? Online.

So, if you’ve got an optimized website and an awesome blog filled with keyword-rich terms your audience is searching on—and said audience is coming to your site organically to learn more about your senior living community, then that’s inbound marketing/digital marketing.

But what if you buy a list of email addresses and send “cold” emails to the entire list? Emails come under the umbrella of digital marketing, but, in this case, the emails wouldn’t qualify as inbound marketing. Rather, it’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare.

Or think about ads you see online. Some hit the mark—the ads might actually be for something YOU are interested in, so you click. But often times, they don’t match your needs/wants, so you ignore them. Again, that’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare. See the difference?

Yeah, we might be splitting hairs, and, no doubt, some people will disagree with our definitions. We always tell our clients that they shouldn’t get too hung up on definitions anyway. In order for everything to make sense, use common sense. It likely makes sense to most people that “digital” means “online.”

Why is digital marketing so important to the senior living industry?

You already know the answer. Think about it. Many of your current residents began their search online, right? And the majority of your future residents (and their families) will definitely begin their search online. So you need digital marketing to help attract these folks and keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You’ll accomplish this through digital marketing efforts, such as the following:

  • Having an optimized website that allows people searching for a senior living community like yours to pop up regularly in their searches
  • Offering excellent content that people can’t get anywhere else (e.g., download of floor plans, virtual tours, guides about things to do in the area)
  • Having an easy way to score prospects who visit your site (e.g., cold, warm, hot) – and to have the appropriate automated follow-ups for each type
  • Making sure other sources of information about your community—particularly review sites and business listings—are up to date and responsive to both positive and negative feedback
  • Creating thoughtful pay-per-click advertising strategies wherever you do them (Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, digital ads on third-party sites)

 Senior Living SMART "Why Digital Marketing?" eBook

Senior living digital marketing is more than simply a necessity.

Digital marketing isn’t just something you need to do in this competitive online world. Yes, you need to play, but digital marketing also offers several benefits.

When done right, it takes a heavy load off marketing and sales.

You can’t have a sales person working 24/7, but your digital marketing efforts can work 24/7. For example, when you build a wonderfully optimized website with excellent info, it doesn’t matter if someone enters at 2PM or 2AM, as long as they can find the info they need and you can engage with them (e.g., via a form submission, newsletter sign-up, request for more info, even a helpful bot-chat).

When done right, it’s easy to duplicate/replicate.

Some of the sweetest words in a marketer’s ears: “Lather, rinse, repeat.” In the old days of direct snail mail, marketing and sales teams were at the mercy of designers, printers, and budgets. Today’s digital marketing is all about turnkey customization, like email templates you can make your own with a few clicks, clone with another click, and schedule as far out as you want. Take “winning” campaigns (email, social, PPC) and duplicate them to run again and again.

When done right, it’s easy to measure success.

The ultimate metric in senior living marketing is move-ins. But the great thing about digital marketing is you can measure all the other benchmarks that lead to the move-in, such as first contact, tour requests, and so forth.

How much of your senior living marketing budget should you spend on digital marketing?

The bulk of your marketing budget today will be spent on digital marketing efforts (welcome to 2020!). We’re talking a powerful, high-converting website and all that goes with it (e.g., hosting, maintenance, basic updates, content creation, and any special elements like live chat); email marketing (newsletters, lead-nurturing/drip campaigns); social media; reputation management (review sites); and, most likely, some form of online advertising.

Sure, you’ll likely still have some outbound efforts/needs as well (e.g., snail mail, billboards, traditional advertising), but we’re definitely seeing more and more of a shift in budgets. Depending on your goals and your community’s size, your split might be 60% digital marketing and 40% more “traditional” marketing, or you might be seeing more of an 80/20 split. Our point: more and more of your marketing dollars will be going towards digital marketing efforts this decade.

Digital marketing in the senior living space is a lot to take in. Don’t go it alone.

In fact, why not work with digital marketing experts who are ALSO experts in the senior living industry? That would be us. :)  We can guide your digital marketing efforts, making sure they follow industry best practices (and we mean both industries: senior living and marketing!).

Let’s Chat

30-minute no-obligation brainstorming session.

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

What senior living marketing trends should you be paying attention to?

So glad you asked.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #1: Always Think Mobile First.

An average of 68% of our clients’ website views and conversions happen on mobile phones. Websites built with a “mobile first” design will outperform websites built for only desktop experiences.

Remember, the real estate for messaging and lead conversion shrinks dramatically on smartphones. This means you must put the most important info at the TOP of the site.

Let’s break it down:

  • Copy. Messaging must be clear, concise, and explain the problem you solve and who you serve.
  • Navigation. Think simple organization. Focus on the most important information prospects are looking for, like locations and care levels. Design elements should include drop-down menus to easily access specific information. Or you should implement a properly-tested hamburger menu or jumbo menu.
  • CTAs (Calls to Action). Encourage visitors to take an action, but give them different options. Use colorful buttons designed for clumsy thumbs on the go. Be sure the phone numbers on the website are dynamic, too. For example, use “click to call” with tracking to measure website conversions.

FREE Website Assessment

Get out your cell phone and pull up your website to test the mobile experience.

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #2: Hyper-Target Prospects.

A recent user experience study published by Acquia reports that 80% of customers want greater personalization. In fact, respondents claim they would be more loyal to a brand that demonstrates an understanding of who they are.

The only way to get the right content to the right prospect at the right time, however, is to have the ability to track their behavior. Here is what you should need to track:

  • Everything prospects are doing on your website: You need to know how often they visit and what pages/blogs they’re visiting so you can personalize your follow-up based on each prospect’s specific interests. Marketing automation is an effective way to accomplish this.
  • Engagement: Consider the following…
    • Email opens and clicks
    • Paid advertising clicks and conversions from Google AdWords and Facebook
    • CTA interactions to track if they have downloaded a brochure or guide, requested a call back or scheduled a tour, and/or engaged with live chat or a survey.

Score leads based on the actions prospects take on your website. This will help you identify prospects with the greatest opportunity to advance and close.

  • ROI. Senior living providers should have a way to track the return on investment of every lead generation source. Your marketing team or agency should have the technology to quantify the cost per conversion and cost per move-in by channel. Extra points if you can also calculate the resident lifetime value based on actual revenue and length of stay data.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #3: Move to Open Source Technology.

“Consistently delivering convenient, personalized experiences across all channels requires technology that can readily access all the data personalization demands and flexibly support CX online, in-store, and everywhere else,” reports Acquia.

The senior living technology space has been dominated by closed-source platforms that do not allow integration into all of the data sources operators need to optimize their marketing results.

Our clients are moving away from these antiquated solutions in favor of newer open source technology providers that allow operators muhc more freedom and choice.

Here are the signs that it’s time to change your website hosting or CRM company:

  • The website is built on a proprietary platform. What this can mean…
    • You cannot make changes, updates, or edits to your own website.
    • They do not have or will not share an API key to allow integration with marketing automation, live chat, interactive surveys etc.
    • They decide what to measure. The problem? It’s usually not what really matters.
  • The senior living CRM is not integrated with a marketing automation platform OR it forces you to use their solution rather than the best-in-class that you would prefer. It does not connect to your website forms and/or third-party lead providers. This means any data entry on your end will have to happen manually. You cannot get the reports you need, such as lead generation by channel.

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

Schedule a call with the Senior Living SMART team today. These senior living marketing trends will likely define the next decade. Don’t get left behind! Simple, strategic changes can make all the difference.

The Top 3 Things That Senior Living Prospects Want from Their Online Experience

The Best Senior Living Websites Give Prospects What They Want

Let’s discuss strategies for creating the best senior living websites, shall we?

According to a study by Acquia, 90% of prospects report that the brands they are researching fail to meet their expectations of a good customer experience. What are they looking for? These three things: convenience, greater personalization, and regular interactions.

What’s even worse is this: 63% of consumers report that they will abandon a brand if the online experience is poor.

So how can senior living brands meet prospects’ expectations as people search online? Below we review each area—convenience, greater personalization, and regulation interactions—and provide hints and pro tips for improving each one on your senior living website.

1. Convenience.

senior-living-conversions

Convenience means that when a prospect lands on your website, they understand what you do and who you serve. Plus, they have choices in how to explore your site to find the information that they’re looking for. On average, prospects take 8 seconds to decide if your website is worthy of their time—or if they should move on.

The best thing you can do is make sure your website navigation is clear and intuitive—and that it meets the many different needs that prospects have.

Hint: The top navigation should include the following:

  • Locations. And if there are multiple states, communities should be organized by state first and then city/ town.
  • Lifestyles. Include hover-overs/drop downs to represent the care levels you offer (e.g., independent living, assisted living, etc.).
  • Resources. Offer un-gated content (like your blog) and premium content that requires a form in order to get the goods (like guides, infographics, and tips).

Your site should also have plenty of calls-to-action (CTAs). On the home page especially, you should have two to three CTAs for prospects to choose how they can engage with you, such as Download Our Brochure (a pdf from the website), Schedule a Tour, and Click to Call (with tracking number).

  • Pro Tip: Grab a timer, pull up your website and your competitors’ sites, and set the timer for 8 seconds. In that time, is it easy to tell what you do and who you serve? Is it easy for people to find their way around? How does the experience on your website compare to that of your competitors?

2. Personalization.

Senior Living Personalization

Prospects are looking for a personalized experience. The brands that strive to understand each prospect as an individual—and then customize the journey to the individual—will win. Keep in mind that 87% of all prospects will visit your website before they ever pick up the phone, so the personalization must start at your website.

Hint: Use marketing automation technology, such as HubSpot, to track prospect behavior on your website (e.g., number of visits, pages viewed, content downloaded, and email opens/ clicks) so you can enroll them in custom workflows based on their interests.

Strategically insert persona, stage, and motivation questions on all forms/landing pages. For example, if a prospect wants to download a brochure, ask them who they are inquiring for (self, parent, spouse, etc.) and what is most important to them in finding the right community (e.g., lifestyle/amenities; affordability/cost; socialization; access to healthcare). Then, create separate journeys for each.

  • Pro Tip: A high-performing website gathers information about persona/role (the adult daughter responds to different messaging than the adult son); understands the stage for each prospect (awareness, consideration, or decision); offers resources for each stage to keep prospects engaged throughout their journey; and uses this information to provide the right content/information to the right prospect at the right time.

3. Regular Interactions.

Senior Living Interactions

The majority (90%) of senior living website visitors are in the awareness stage, so it is important to create ways to keep them engaged and advance them along their journey.

At the beginning of their research, they will be interested in the basics: cost, services and amenities, activities, etc. Interactive surveys and blog posts/guides discussing financial scenarios, senior living overview, and family decisions work well in this stage.

In the consideration stage, prospects begin to explore floor plans, virtual tours, and reviews, so blogs and guides related to finding the right community, home vs. community pros & cons, and downsizing tips are valuable at this stage.

In the decision stage, most prospects are in direct communication with the sales team, but the website can support this stage with helpful items like packing lists and transitional topics.

Hint: Call Senior Living SMART for a website audit to find your best opportunities to improve website traffic and lead conversion.

  • Pro Tip: Create a content calendar with topics and keywords related to each prospect stage. Hire a professional copywriter! (And remember: you get what you pay for in that department.) Link all blogs to a piece of premium content, such as a guide, tip sheet, or infographic—gate it (put the item behind a form) so you can turn anonymous blog readers into contacts that you nurture.

Interested in learning more strategies for exceeding prospects’ expectations?

Let’s chat! We’ll spend 30 minutes brainstorming with you.

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

Senior Living Sales: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) reported that assisted living occupancy reached a new low last quarter (Q2-2019).

If you operate an assisted living facility (or other type of senior living community), what can you do to remain competitive and boost occupancy? You can’t change your location, product, or competitors. You probably don’t want to turn over the management team or cut rate. You might even think you have the best community (your competitors probably think the same thing). You say that you care more, that you have the best team, that you are resident-focused, just like everyone else says.

How can you improve your sales conversions?

Well, for one thing, you need a super star sales counselor, and they are a rare breed. But if you know what to look for, you might just be able to find one in the wild. Here are the five top characteristics of the best senior living sales talent.

1. The Best Senior Living Sales Rep Sees Prospects as Real People.

Unfortunately, too many sales people in our industry treat prospects as a commodity. These sales folks tend to take the position of “subject expert.” They want to be right, and they believe they have heard it all before. They perceive prospects as numbers and assign them a value: top 10, hot, warm, cold, or future. This value assignment drives their effort and engagement. Their approach is to talk prospects into the community, and they often use fear and manipulation to create urgency.

You want to avoid this type of sales “talent” at all costs.

Because the greatest sales people seek to understand the prospect’s wants, needs, and goals. Solving the problem on behalf of the prospect is their biggest concern—and they are passionate that they have the best solution. This dedication to the prospect drives their engagement.

2. The Best Senior Living Sales Rep Sells Value, Not Features.

After listening to thousands of mystery shops, it’s clear that too many sales people still approach interactions as a transaction. They spend most of the time talking, listing every feature, and hoping something will stick.

Great sales people spend time developing rapport with the prospects. In other words, they take a relational approach. They listen and reflect back what they hear to demonstrate that they care about the prospect. This builds enough trust to empower the prospect to open up and communicate their needs and goals. After this, the sales person can focus on personalizing the value of their community to each individual prospect.

3. The Best Senior Living Sales Reps Are Respectfully Persistent.

Rejection is common in sales since more prospects will say “no” rather than “yes.” Most sales people give up after a couple of attempts because they are uncomfortable with rejection. But what these sales folks don’t understand is that it often takes multiple attempts simply to connect and build rapport. Still, these sales people would rather focus on the new leads and hot leads rather than nurture the leads that aren’t ready yet.

The greatest sales counselors understand that most prospects are stressed and emotionally exhausted. The best sales counselors know it takes multiple attempts to engage and build trust. They focus on what they can do and they are politely persistent in staying connected. They do not take rejection personally because they understand that when someone is making an emotional decision, the path is rarely linear.

These sales folks also embrace technology that can help nurture these “not ready” leads over time. They work with marketing to make sure relevant lead nurturing workflows are set up that will resonate with different buyer personas.

4. The Best Senior Living Sales Rep Are Not Afraid of Silence.

Super star sales counselors leave space for silence to give prospects time to process the information. This type of sales person wants to hear what’s important to the prospect (or what the prospect is questioning).

In an interview, I always ask why the candidate thinks they will be successful in a sales role. The interview is over when they say, “I’m a good talker!” This type of sales person will not do well in an emotional selling environment because they will make the conversation about them, rather than about the prospect. Instead, I always perk up if the job candidate says, “I’m a good listener. I hear what people are saying and can respond accordingly.”

5. The Best Senior Living Sales Reps Embrace Follow Up – Creatively, Personally, and Energetically!

It takes energy, effort, and optimistic persistence to continue to follow up with prospects over the course of their sales journey. Prospects inquire, go dark, re-engage, and change direction throughout the process. Most sales people work the hot leads and new leads because they are only interested in closing sales in the next 30 days—they’re not thinking about the long game.

Super stars realize they need to keep the pipeline full with leads at every stage of their journey. They meet them where they are and stay in touch throughout the sales cycle – without any strings attached. Super stars drop off dinner, write a personal note (yes, handwritten!), leave a plant with a note on a doorstep, and/or send a book they know will help. When they leave a voicemail, it’s to let the prospect know they are thinking of them, not just “checking in” for an update.

Bottom line: When it comes to filling your community with super star sales talent, hire for heart first. You can always train them on specific skills as they go along.

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

I recently listened to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast featuring Mark Shaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. The podcast addresses the “new reality” of marketing strategy. The insights are timely and relevant for the senior living industry.

The new reality is that the customer is in control of their own journey—and no two customers are alike. The buying journey in senior living is complex and emotional, often involving multiple decision makers and influencers. This journey is rarely linear, so today’s senior living marketers have to create an environment for prospects to be able to engage with the brand at every stage of their journey. We need to meet them wherever they are. Then, we must provide the information they need and nurture them along the path. Finally, we must keep them engaged until they make the decision to move forward.

When it comes to senior living marketing today, there have been three distinctive shifts.

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

Information is power, and we senior living marketers used to have it. Prospects had to call or visit the community to get any information. For example, pricing, floor plans, and marketing collateral were provided personally or snail-mailed out. And prospects waited for the information to come in their mailboxes!

Today, prospects expect to get information about everything on your senior living website. And if you don’t give it to them, they will quickly move to a competitor or third-party lead aggregator site. We are now marketing to a “shop-around” society, and they expect to be able to independently research and compare their options.

2. Shift in Transparency

There is no room for secrets in today’s senior living marketing strategy. Trust in business, brands, and advertising has declined for the last 10 years, and today’s prospects want to self-qualify or self-disqualify without a sales pitch.

What can a senior living marketer do? One of the most important things is putting your pricing on your website (the starting rates at the very least). If you don’t provide your pricing, the lead aggregators will, and you will be buying back your own leads!

3. Shift in Control

Our prospects are becoming the marketers, because we no longer control the conversation. They listen to each other, they learn from each other, and they trust each other (more than they trust us). We no longer control our message—social channels and review sites do. Our job has shifted from leading the conversation to finding ways of being invited into the conversations that prospects are already having.

We can, however, initiate conversations and offer expertise and resources, such as blogs, guides, and infographics. And we can make sure that our messaging intersects with where prospects are researching.

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

Successful senior living marketing today starts with the right strategy. Operators that jump at every bright shiny new marketing tactic will end up wasting a lot of money without results. There is no point in spending budget on a paid digital advertising campaign if the website is not designed to convert the leads generated. More traffic does not equal more prospects, and more leads won’t always translate into the right leads.

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.

7 Signs It's Time to Change Your Website Hosting Company

Senior Living Website Tips: Make Sure You Own Your Website

Consider this important statistic: 87% of senior living prospects will visit a community website before they pick up the phone, attend an event, or schedule a tour. Your website is your virtual front door!  

If you put the work and money into your website, make sure you OWN it. Because older, closed, and proprietary platforms will limit your ability to own your strategy, decisions, and results

Senior living website tips: warning signs to watch out for 

1. The website will be hosted on a proprietary CMS (content management system).

Your web designer or digital marketing agency might talk about their cool content management system. But what happens to your senior living website if you decide you want to work with a different agency or designer? The digital agency will own the license and, therefore, your brand…and they might not be willing to part with either.

If that’s the case, you’ll basically be a captive of the agency since there won’t be a way to simply “move” the site from one vendor to another. You’ll need to completely rebuild the site at a cost of many thousands of dollars.

2. The designer/agency doesn’t have an open API because they don’t want their clients to integrate with solutions other than their own.

Controlling integration on the website means providers will have to buy packaged solutions owned by the agency rather than allowing clients to choose their own integrations and tools.

3. Automated lead response emails are signed by the website hosting company, not the community sales and marketing team.

The goal of marketing automation is to build rapport and trust with your brand, not with the hosting company’s brand!

4. Website designs are out-of-the-box with locked-down templates.

This means that providers will have to pay extra (and wait in line) for customization. And again, see the first point: You might not even OWN the customization on your senior living website.

5. The only people that can make changes to the website are employed by the digital agency.

Just, no! You and your team should be able to easily make changes on your own. That’s the beauty of WordPress sites or sites built using content management systems where you own the files/content (like on HubSpot).

6. There is no written guarantee that the content on your senior living website belongs to you.

If there’s no written guarantee, then the digital agency could claim it as their content. This includes copy, images, videos, history, analytics, and reports. We can’t stress this point enough. READ CONTRACTS CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU SIGN. Here’s a good article that gets into the nitty-gritty of website ownership and clauses to look out for.

7. There is a 12-month commitment, lengthy notice period, and/or or auto-renewal clause.

You should be able to take your business elsewhere whenever you want (or at least within a reasonable time frame, like 30 days). Sure, it can sound appealing to have an “all in one” solution, but the lower price point and so-called conveniences are NOT worth it if you end up losing control of your senior living website and brand. Not to mention that the lost lead-generation opportunities will cost you more in the long run.

Work with a digital marketing agency that will RESPECT your brand—and your autonomy! Hint: That would be us!

We hope these senior living website tips were helpful. Need more help? Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session ASAP!

The Marketing Agency Trap in Senior Living

The Senior Living Marketing Agency Trap

We are a senior living marketing agency. Over the years, we’ve worked with marketing agencies, and weve hired marketing agencies at various times throughout our growth. This gives us a unique perspective on the pros and cons of the typical marketing agency model. 

Here are some of the lessons weve learned about the agency world. 

Lesson #1: Be Wary of the Ol’ Bait & Switch.

Too often, a strategic leader in the marketing agency will woo you, but the minute the deal closes, they disappear.

That’s a big problem because the greatest value provided by an industry-specific marketing agency is in the development of the strategy. If you don’t have a sound marketing strategy, nothing else matters.

On a couple of occasions in our earlier years, we were “sold” by a charismatic and strategic agency leader with great insights and ideas. But after we signed the contract, we never saw or spoke to that person again.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, learn how often the strategic leader will be joining results calls and strategy sessions.  (They should be involved at least quarterly.) Make sure you have this point outlined in the contract. Psst: When you work with Senior Living SMART, you always get one of us—the founders—on your team.

Lesson #2: Remember, You Get What You Pay For.

In the world of marketing agencies, the budget you’re willing to spend will determine the experience and quality of the team assigned.

Only clients with the largest budget will get the A Team. Agencies employ marketing specialists with a wide variety of experience levels from entry level on up. This means, you may end up with a B, C, or D team based on your spend.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, find out all you can about the people on your marketing “team.” This should include their professional marketing experience, how long they’ve been with the agency, and what other senior living clients they’ve worked with. You can learn all about our senior living marketing team here.

Lesson #3: Make Sure Your Brand is NEVER Held Hostage.

Read your marketing agency contract carefully and be sure that you own your content and brand elements! We’ve worked with senior living clients who’ve discovered their agency would not release their logos, images, and creative files to them. In essence, the agency was basically holding the brand hostage.

Pro Tip: Always retain the original art files, brand guidelines, logos, and images you purchase. And have an attorney double check your contract before signing.

Lesson #4: Be Skeptical of Too Many Trade Secrets.

In the course of delivering a great digital marketing experience, agencies will employ multiple technologies for analytic and diagnostic purposes. Most will “white label” these resources so they can retain the licenses and own the marketing “secrets.”

This might be OK while you’re working with the agency. But in the future, you might want to transfer the licenses to yourself or another agency—and you shouldn’t have to lose your historical data in order to do so. Here are some examples where the data and analytics can really pile up: marketing automation software, reputation management, social sharing platforms, SEO, and heat mapping tools.

Pro Tip: Before signing the contract, get a list of all tools and technologies that will be used to manage your account and be sure there is a process to transfer all licenses to you or your next agency.

Lesson #5: Your Agency’s Idea of “Success” Doesn’t Match Yours.

We worked with marketing agencies that were always excited to report their wonderful results in reaching various goals. The problem? Their goals were NOT our goals.

Goal setting should be collaborative and realistic. Don’t be fooled by the fluff reporting of impressions, views, clicks, and website traffic. In the senior living industry, the best measurements of success are conversions-to-leads, tours, and move-ins.

Pro Tip: Ask about reporting up front. What will be measured? What are the sources of truth? How will ROI be determined?

Learn from our lessons and avoid these mistakes!

And if you’re looking for a senior living marketing agency that works exclusively in the senior housing and care industry, we’d love to chat. Click here to schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session.