Ideas for compelling YouTube videos

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: YouTube Content Ideas

In our previous blog post on senior living social media marketing, we noted the most popular social media platforms among the Boomer generation, and YouTube sits at the top of the list at 70%.

Some folks might not think of YouTube as a social media platform, but it most definitely is since users can like, share, comment, and reply on videos. YouTube videos also rank well in organic search results (provided you optimize your video titles and descriptions—treat these the same way you do optimization elements on your website).

When thinking through your senior living marketing plan and budget, diversification is important—but so is a smart strategy. YouTube is an excellent platform to invest in not only because Boomers spend time on the platform, but also because you can easily use your YouTube videos on other platforms, like Facebook, blog posts, and Google My Business listings.

When it comes to content, what sorts of videos should you develop for your senior living community’s YouTube channel? Here are some ideas . . .

1. Give a virtual tour of your entire community.

No doubt, you might be tired of hearing the words “virtual tour” thanks to the pandemic. But virtual tour videos offer people a great bird’s eye view of your community.

They can also be an excellent way to move people from the marketing-qualified stage to the sales-qualified stage. For example, if you embed your tour video in a lead nurturing workflow and someone books an in-person tour after viewing it, you’ll know that you’ve got an interested prospect on your hands.

Not to mention, virtual tours are excellent vehicles for people who are coming from outside the immediate area. So, for example, if adult children are looking for places for mom and dad in another state, virtual tours can provide important info.

  • Pro tip: Your tour of the community itself is just that—it should provide a solid overview. Don’t make it overly long, either. Three to four minutes should be enough to give everyone a good sense of place.

2. Provide a tour of various room layouts/floorplans.

Consider these your “drill-down” videos where you provide a deeper look into one aspect of your community. Most prospects want to know about the residences themselves. What floorplans are available? How big are the bedrooms? Is there a patio/deck? What other amenities do certain floorplans have? You get the idea. Create videos for each type of residence your community offers.

  • Pro tip: Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each video so people can download the actual floorplan. You could choose to give away the floor plan free and clear (no name required) or put it behind a VERY brief form so that you can nurture the person further.

3. Show off your dining areas (inside and out).

Anyone who’s worked in senior living sales for any length of time knows that one of the most popular questions centers around food. What are the dining options? Who’s the chef? Are any residences outfitted with full kitchens? Does the community offer a private function room for family events like birthdays and anniversaries? Is there a pub on site? And so forth.

Think of all the questions you get about food in your community and create a video (or set of videos) that focuses on cuisine and other culinary aspects.

  • Pro tip: What truly differentiates your community from others in the area when it comes to dining? Do you have an award-winning chef? Then, do a video interview with them. Do you cater to different diets, including contemporary diets, like keto and paleo? Talk about how you accommodate.

4. Stroll the grounds.

Setting is everything, and if this is what makes your community special—perhaps it sits on a golf course or overlooks conservation land or is a stone’s throw from the ocean—then create a video that captures the magic. Get footage from different times of day and, ideally, different times of year.

  • Pro tip: Regarding our last suggestion, you could create a series of “seasonal strolls.” So if you have a senior living community in the northeast, make sure you have a video of your community in every season. Play up the gorgeous maples with their leaves ablaze in the fall and the blooming dogwoods in the spring. Capture residents sipping cocktails on the veranda on a hot summer’s evening. Celebrate how your community looks decked out in holiday decorations in December.

5. Record events.

Think guest musicians, sing-alongs, poetry slams, comedy nights, and the like. Residents who missed an event can watch on demand from the comfort of their home. Prospects will get a good feel for how active and engaging the event schedule is in your community.

  • Pro tip: When recording an event, ask the videographer to also get b-roll of the space and to get reaction quotes from attendees (i.e., your current residents and their family/friends). While these “candid” clips won’t make it into the cut of the event itself, you’ll have the footage available for other marketing purposes. (Like our next idea.) 

6. Create yearly retrospectives.

Put out a “best of” video every December that features clips from events and anything else that was new that year (such as the opening of a new amenity, for example). These can be great videos to share across social media in December, since people are always eager to reflect on the past 12 months. And they can serve as great marketing vehicles moving forward.

7. Highlight area attractions.

When it comes to senior living—and truly demonstrating that it is indeed a different lifestyle than the myths that persist around “retirement homes”—you need to go beyond the community itself. Because while all the amenities your community provides are certainly important things to share and show off, you also want to give people a flavor for what life in the town/city and nearby areas has to offer.

  • Pro tip: Ask your existing residents about their favorite nearby spots. If you keep hearing the same answer, make sure you add that spot to the list.

8. Interview residents, family members, and staff.

Highlight the people who reside and work within your community. Record a resident or group of residents with a great story. Tape short resident testimonials (this should be an ongoing item). Feature staff members from various departments. Again, look for people with interesting stories, who’ve been part of your community’s family for a long time, and/or who are popular with residents/staff.

  • Pro tip: Videos with staff can perform double duty. Yes, they can be a great marketing tool, but they can also be a great recruitment Post your videos to places like your community’s company page on LinkedIn.

9. Experiment, play, and try new things.

What we shared above isn’t an exhaustive list. Honestly, the sky’s the limit when it comes to YouTube content ideas. Be willing to experiment and try new things. Ask people in your community for ideas. (You might be surprised at the creativity!)

  • Pro tip: If you need help, seek it, which brings us to our final point.

More likes equals profits

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: 4 Reasons to Invest

We’re getting ready to unleash a series of blog posts on senior living social media marketing. First up, why should you invest in social media anyway? Here are four good reasons.


1. Your prospective buyers are already hanging out on social media.

Social media use has skyrocketed among all demographics, including older adults. According to Tech.co, among people 55+, there’s been a 66% increase in product discovery via social media over the past four years, and 70% have bought something online in the last month.

Here’s the breakdown for social media usage among U.S. Baby Boomers. (Source: Statista.)

  • YouTube – 70%
  • Facebook – 68%
  • Pinterest – 27%
  • LinkedIn – 24%
  • Instagram – 23%
  • Twitter – 17%

Bottom line: Your prospects are already spending ample time on social media. So why not meet them where they are? This is why senior living communities need a strong overall digital presence. Having a great website is important, but it’s not enough. Your brand needs to extend to social media as well.

2. Solid ROI is possible, provided your social media marketing is done right.

Too often, communities take a willy-nilly approach with their senior living social media. They might post occasionally to Facebook. Or maybe they start an Instagram page, only to abandon it after a few months. Or maybe the marketing team is posting the same things across ALL channels, thus giving themselves (and only themselves) the appearance that the community is “active” on social media.

None of this is strategic. And none of this is smart. None of this is going to give you a good return on investment (ROI).

Remember, senior living social media ROI doesn’t magically happen. Like everything else in marketing, you need to have a smart strategy to achieve the ROI you’re looking for.

In addition to strategy, you also need a way to measure your results. This will absolutely require robust analytics and a senior living website that’s built to convert visitors into leads—along with marketing automation to nurture those leads.

By the way, if you’re wondering what we mean by ROI, we’re typically talking two big things when it comes to senior living social media marketing:

  • Lead generation
  • Brand awareness

And keep in mind that ROI opportunities exist within both paid and organic social media.

You likely understand how paid social media advertising can result in ROI. But people sometimes forget that ROI applies to organic social media as well. It takes time and people to do the work that can deliver strong organic results (and those hours and people cost money!).

3. Senior living social media channels provide a great way to share your community’s “essence.”

Your senior living website is a great place for information, both factual (e.g., locations, amenities, floor plans, price ranges) and educational (e.g., “10 tips for financing senior living”). All of this is essential and important info for your prospective buyers to have. However, as we often acknowledge, so many senior living websites sound the same because they’re all essentially selling the same basic “product.”

Social media provides the perfect place to elevate your community and share its true essence. Post a shot of a resident enjoying a cup of coffee on a summer morning as she sits on her patio marveling at the view. The way the sun spills onto the patio, the smile on her face, the view itself—this is REAL. It’s not posed. It’s not a stock image. It can help a prospective buyer picture what their morning might be like waking up with a cup of coffee in your community.

4. Content for social media channels can be easier and less stressful to create than traditional marketing materials.

People expect your website and printed sales collateral to be slick and polished. But with social media, people crave authenticity. While some might feel overwhelmed by this, we think that the casual nature makes it easier to create content, not harder.

Strike a truly conversational tone in posts, captions, and comments. Sound like a real person. Talk about real, relevant things in an honest way. Have fun with emojis. Be playful in your tone. If you make a typo, don’t sweat it.

Take pics with your phone (they don’t need to be perfect). In fact, you’ll be rewarded for more authentic shots. This makes it easier for more people to participate beyond your marketing and sales teams. Anyone with a phone has the ability to capture something special that you can share.

For example, that fabulous shot we described above of the resident enjoying a cup of coffee? You can share it across multiple channels. Sure, you should resize the image according to the platform’s specs. And you will need to tweak the description/caption, depending on where you’re posting it. But still—you get more mileage from that one shot.

Repurpose content across channels (but do so thoughtfully). Keep in mind that repurposing content doesn’t mean simply copying, pasting, and sharing it across five different channels. Instead, be thoughtful in your approach. Where should you use that one awesome shot you took of a resident enjoying coffee? The shot is great for Facebook and Instagram, but probably less so for LinkedIn since LI focuses on professional networking.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Don’t go it alone! Turn to experts in social media and senior living. (That would be us!)

Thanks to our decades of experience working in senior living, we understand what prospects crave. And as digital marketers, we get social media as well. We can bring it all together and deliver the results you’ve been looking for. Let’s chat!

Senior Living Marketing Strategy: What is Premium Content?

If you want to have an excellent senior living marketing strategy, you need an excellent content strategy. Content can take many forms—emails, landing pages, blog posts, and one of our favorites: premium content.

In today’s article, we’re going to answer commonly asked questions about premium content.


What is premium content?

Simply put, premium content is (usually) long-form content that lives behind a website form. You might also hear the term “gated” content. If a website visitor wants to access the content, they need to give something in return—most often their name and email address.

What are some examples of premium content?

Any piece of content could be premium content. While premium content is usually long-form, it doesn’t have to be. The content’s value is what ultimately matters. For example, a prospect might consider a one-pager on your community’s pricing to be extremely valuable.

That said, examples of premium content include the following:

  • Brochures
  • Case studies
  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • Pricing lists
  • White papers

Why is premium content critical to an effective senior living marketing strategy?

Premium content is critical to a senior living marketing strategy because it can help define where someone is in their buying journey. From there, we can “score” them. Are they a marketing-qualified lead or a sales-qualified lead?

For example, someone who downloads a free guide from your site on “Questions to ask when you begin researching senior living options” is likely in a vastly different place from the person who requests pricing for your community.

The person wanting the guide isn’t ready for a sales interaction. They are still in the research stage. So if a sales rep called them, the rep would be wasting everyone’s time. Not to mention, the rep might label the lead as “cold” or “dead,” which wouldn’t be accurate. The lead simply isn’t ready.

The person wanting your community’s specific pricing is probably closer to making a decision. So a follow-up call from the sales rep would likely yield better results—such as a tour or a sit-down conversation.

But what about that person who downloaded the guide? They’ve engaged with content on your site and they’ve shown interest and curiosity in senior living. We’d call them a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). And because we have the person’s email address, we can continue staying in front of them by sending them helpful information via email. All of this can happen seamlessly behind the scenes via marketing automation.

Bottom line: Sales reps should only work leads that are truly sales-qualified. Meanwhile, the marketing automation can continue to nurture the marketing-qualified leads. And it all begins with the various kinds of premium content you have on your site, and who engages with what.

So when I create premium content for my senior living community, do I have to think about different types of content for MQLs and SQLs?

Short answer: Yes. But the longer answer goes like this. It’s better to think about content according to your different types of buyers and the various points they’ll likely hit on their journey.

For example, a seventy-year-old couple who is just beginning the process of thinking about downsizing and moving into a community is in a different mindset than the adult daughter who needs to find a place for her eighty-nine-year-old mother with dementia. What types of content would be helpful to each persona? THAT’S how you have to think about it.

Oh, boy. That sounds confusing. Can you break down content development into steps?

We sure can!

  • List your buyer personas. (Need help? Check out our guide on persona development.)
  • List the various points they’ll be in their respective journeys—research stage, consideration stage, decision stage.
  • Then, list the various types of content that would help each persona in each stage.

Yes, you’ll likely have some overlap between certain personas/stages. But this gives you a rough idea about how to approach this senior living marketing strategy.

Wow! That sounds like A LOT of content to develop.

It is, but keep in mind we’re big fans of repurposing content.

So let’s say you write a guide called “10 Financial Mistakes to Avoid When Considering Senior Living.” Once you write the guide, you can use snippets in other channels:

  • Blog – do a series of 10 blog posts, one on each mistake
  • Tweet/post different mistakes on social media and link to the complete guide
  • Do a podcast about the mistakes
  • Do a 10-minute video—one minute for each mistake

You get the idea. You can use one good piece of long-form content in multiple ways. So while the initial content is an investment (we recommend using a professional copywriter), the ROI will be huge.

Can Senior Living SMART help my community write, design, and publish premium content?

Absolutely! Not only do we create premium content that gets results (in other words, conversions!), we can also help you implement marketing automation. (Including lead scoring and lead nurturing.) Contact us for a complimentary brainstorming session!

Senior Living marketing automation best practices - the do's and don'ts

4 Email Marketing Automation Best Practices

Email marketing automation might seem like a magic wand. But you have to set it up correctly to get the biggest benefits.

Below, you’ll find four email marketing automation best practices that’ll help your senior living community experience the magic.


1. Email marketing automation best practices: Don’t buy lists.

Recently, we’ve had several clients interested in purchasing email lists. We advised them against it. (And we told them we wouldn’t upload the lists to HubSpot or Active Campaign.) Why are we anti purchased lists? For several reasons.

  • First, purchased lists are truly COLD lists. List vendors can only deliver on demographics, such as location, age, sex. They can’t deliver on need or intent. Meaning, they have no way of knowing whether someone on their list needs a senior living community or currently has any intention of moving to one.
  • Second, purchased lists violate the terms of most (if not all) quality marketing automation software, like HubSpot or Active Campaign. (That’s one of the reasons we refuse to upload these lists.)
  • Third, a better way exists. Why not create keyword-rich content that your prospective buyers are already searching for in Google and use this content to attract them to your site? Doesn’t that make more sense? It’s not rocket science either. Inbound marketing, when done right, will produce more qualified leads than a purchased list—every single time.

2. Email marketing automation best practices: When it comes to messaging, one size doesn’t fit all.

The most effective email marketing automation is custom. We realize that might sound like an oxymoron. How can something be “custom” and “automated” at the same time? Simple. You start by knowing the personas for your senior living community.

Let’s say you have five key personas. You should focus on writing custom content for each persona. Why? Think about it. An email to the adult daughter of an eighty-year-old woman with memory issues should be different from the email you send to a seventy-year-old couple looking to start the next chapter of their lives.

Once you have your custom content for each persona, THEN you can automate the delivery via email.

3. Email marketing automation best practices: Revisit copy regularly.

Messages will change over time. The year 2020 served as a great example. Most (if not all) messages in your emails should have referenced COVID-19, even if it was only a link in your signature. (Something like, “Visit our COVID-19 resource center for current information on how we’re navigating the pandemic.”)

Auditing email copy should be a regular part of your marketing plan. You don’t need to audit everything at once. But every quarter, make sure you’re reviewing some email campaigns. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4. Email marketing automation best practices: Review analytics and make adjustments accordingly.

Marketing automation doesn’t simply exist to make life easier in terms of sending out emails. Yes, that’s a benefit. But marketing automation’s main purpose is to help increase conversions by moving marketing-qualified leads down the sale funnel.

The only way you’ll know if it’s working is by monitoring the results. Marketing automation software like HubSpot provides excellent analytics that’ll show you things like open rate, click-through-rate (on links and offers you include in your emails), and conversion rates. Depending on how sophisticated your marketing automation is, you can even A/B test the all-important email subject lines so you can identify a clear winner.

The biggest mistake we see senior living communities make is they’ll give the analytics a cursory glance every month or quarter. That’s not enough. You need to make decisions based on what the data is telling you.

For example, do you have an email marketing campaign where one email isn’t getting many clicks? Change the offer and/or revise the copy and see if that helps boost clicks.

Or maybe you’re getting clicks, but once people get to the landing page with the offer, they bounce away. Make some tweaks to the landing page (or adjust the email copy’s messaging so it better reflects what people can expect once they get to the landing page).

Analytics offer a treasure trove of intel that you can use to get your email marketing automation working better for you. Take advantage of these insights.

Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy Post COVID

It would be irresponsible of us to even suggest we’ve entered some sort of “post COVID” world. But after a year, we are moving forward and making progress. To that end, we wanted to provide ideas for your senior living marketing strategy as you enter this new phase.

A word about messaging right now:

  • Be careful, sensitive, and most of all—transparent—with your messaging. Focus on facts, such as the fact X percent of your community’s residents AND staff have received the vaccine. This implies that making the decision to move into your community now is a lot less fraught than it was ten months ago.
  • Be careful about overpromising or making guarantees. For example, don’t make assertions about 100% vaccination compliance since that isn’t realistic.
  • Continue to be transparent about any outbreaks and/or positive cases in your community. There’s no reason to hide or downplay numbers.

1. Ideas for direct mail or lead nurturing via email

Now might be a good time to send postcards to prospects who expressed interest in making the move to your community, but they put the decision on hold due to the pandemic. Below, we’re providing copy inspiration. Note: You could easily turn this into a lead nurturing email workflow if you don’t want to spend dollars on design and print.

Welcome home. Finally.

We know 2020 was tough on everyone but especially older adults who postponed big decisions, like moving into a senior living community.

But that was last year.

Today, our residents and staff members are getting vaccinated and looking forward to returning to some semblance of normalcy. Seeing family. Meeting new people. Giving long overdue hugs.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Make the move to one of our communities in 2021!

  • Enjoy stress-free living in a healthy environment
  • Experience everything our luxurious senior living community has to offer
  • Get back to the life you had hoped to be leading when everything was put on “pause” in 2020

Why wait? The time is now! SCHEDULE A VISIT!

2. Ideas for senior living social media posts

Here are various messages to consider. You can tweak according to your community’s needs and state’s guidelines.

Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn

  • Option 1: Our residents and staff members are in the process of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. As if you needed one more reason to make the move to our senior living community, right?! (Hint: Schedule a tour and see what we’re all about.) <insert link> #SeniorLiving
  • Option 2: Our residents and staff members are looking forward to getting the vaccine—and to having a healthier, happier 2021! Interested in joining us? Schedule a visit. <insert link> #SeniorLiving
  • Option 3: Good news! Many of our residents and staff members have been vaccinated. If you or someone you know is looking to make a move to senior living, schedule a visit with us soon! <insert link> #SeniorLiving

Facebook/Instagram Ideas

  • Show a picture of a staff member and/or resident getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The message: “The COVID-19 vaccination is underway in our communities! Learn more about how we’re rolling it out.” Then, link to a page or blog post on your site that outlines the process in your community. Address common questions, like how you’ll handle it if a staff member or resident refuses to get the vaccine.
  • Vaccinations 101 – We got you! Message: Now is a good time to remind people that senior living communities have built-in processes for things like vaccinations. You do it every year already for flu shots. So, again, you can share a reassuring message that the vaccination rollout is going smoothly.

3. Ideas for senior living websites and blogs:

  • Update your main COVID-19 page with information regarding the protocol for the COVID-19 vaccines. Address FAQs, such as how you’ll handle it if a resident or employee refuses the vaccine? What’s the process for new residents as they move in? And so forth.
  • As noted above, now’s a great time to highlight how healthcare works in your community. Discuss how senior living communities have built-in processes and procedures in place for dispensing vaccines, since you do it every year for the flu vaccine.
  • Do a Q&A with your medical director/NP – in other words, someone healthcare affiliated who can speak to the vaccine, its efficacy, and how you’re monitoring the community.

4. Ideas for email marketing

  • Current residents/families: You’ll want to send an email to current residents/families with information regarding the process you’ll be following for the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • For nurturing workflows: Revisit current email workflows. You don’t necessarily need to overhaul all of them. Consider adding a visual CTA button that says “The COVID-19 vaccine is now available in our community. Learn how we’re dispensing it.” Then, link to the blog or page on your site. Make a note in your marketing calendar to update/remove this later in the year. (For example, six months from now, you might have a CTA that says “Our communities have been vaccinated. Learn what this means.”)

Need more senior living marketing strategies as we emerge from COVID?

Let us help! Since we’re a virtual agency, we haven’t missed a beat this last year. Our team members have worked hard to help our clients market effectively during the pandemic. We can help you, too! Get in touch!

Senior Living Marketing During a Pandemic: 5 Things We Learned

On the night of March 11, 2020, three things happened: The President of the United States addressed the nation about COVID-19. The NBA announced it had suspended its season. And Tom Hanks tweeted that he and his wife (the actor Rita Wilson) had contracted the coronavirus and were being treated in Australia.

That night, a Wednesday, turned out to be a watershed moment. Even though the virus had already reached our shores and begun taking lives, the declarations on the evening of March 11, 2020, made the pandemic real in a way it hadn’t been before.

A recap of what happened next is unnecessary. Anyone reading this has already lived it. Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge this pivotal one-year anniversary.

In marketing, we constantly review our marketing efforts, like campaigns, conversions, and customer lifecycles. So it makes sense for us to stop and reflect on senior living marketing during a pandemic—what we learned, what surprised us, and what we can do better the next time disaster strikes. (Although we’re hoping none of us sees anything like this again in our lifetimes!)

1. Senior living sales teams found ways to engage and continue selling.

This didn’t necessarily surprise us, but it did surprise many of our clients, at least in the beginning. At first, sales teams panicked. “How are we going to sell during lockdowns if we can’t give people tours?”

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Creating virtual sales experiences became second nature to sales reps . . .

  • They gave live virtual tours to prospects via smartphones or tablets, walking prospects through the lobby, the dining room, the gym, the residences, etc.
  • They held one-to-one video conferences. Sales staff realized they could still have “sit-down” meetings with prospects, thanks to platforms like Zoom and Skype.
  • They uploaded paperwork to tablets so that people could virtually sign on the dotted line from the comfort and safety of their cars.

In addition, they focused on doing more of the simple things—thing that are often easy to overlook during “normal” times. For example, they made more house calls (masked, of course) and dropped in to check on prospects and/or to share info about helpful things, like a list of curbside pickups for groceries or pharmacies (this was in the early days). They cleaned up their senior living CRMs. They worked more closely with their marketing counterparts in developing virtual senior living marketing events.

2. Having a quality website that was easy to update became incredibly important.

Too many senior living communities treat their websites as static digital brochures. Often, these sorts of websites are built on platforms that don’t make updating them easy.

That can (and did) create a huge problem for some communities when it came time to update their home page with info about COVID-19. Accurate information—and easy access to it—was incredibly important in those early days when there was so much confusion, chaos, and fear.

Your senior living website is the most important marketing and sales asset that you have. It’s your hub. And yes, it is in an investment to do it right, but one that pays off.

Communities that had good websites were able to make updates quickly, create new pages, and provide critical info to residents’ families and friends as well as prospects. Communities that didn’t have a solid website suffered—and looked woefully unprepared and out-of-date.

3. How, when, and where you communicated your messages mattered.

Yes, your website serves as your communication hub. But keep in mind the many spokes connected to that hub:

  • Emails
  • Social media
  • Pay-per-click ads/remarketing ads
  • On-hold messaging
  • After-hours messaging
  • Text messaging
  • Chat bots
  • Live chat
  • On-site info for residents
  • Snail mail communications with residents/families

Having info on your home page about COVID was essential—but it wasn’t enough. The messaging had to be communicated consistently over a variety of media. Why? Simple. Because you never knew where, when, or how someone was going to access it.

One thing we discovered is that in times of a crisis like COVID-19, people crave immediate, current, and LIVE communications. One of our clients held Facebook LIVE events in the early days with the company CEO along with other folks from the organization who had relevant, helpful info.

These regular briefings reassured families that their loved ones were safe. Plus, one of the many benefits of FB Live is that these videos are then available for people to watch “on demand.”

4. Even when you turn a corner, you still face more unknowns.

We think this feeling/trend is going to continue for a while. Yes, we’re all grateful that several vaccines are now available and older adults and other vulnerable populations have been among the first to receive the vaccines. That’s good news for the senior living industry, but that doesn’t mean things will be returning to normal any time soon.

Sales reps will still need to think creatively and continue embracing “virtual selling” through the end of this year—at least. Marketing teams will need to stay on top of messaging across all media and be willing to adjust messages (often quite quickly) as things change.

The best thing communities can do is show that they’re current about what they communicate, how often they communicate, and what channels they use to communicate critical messages.

5. Our team made us incredibly proud.

At Senior Living SMART, our team was incredibly fortunate. We’re a virtual agency to begin with. Our team members already work from home—and know how to do so, even with kids and animals underfoot.

Of course, once home-schooling began, that did make things more challenging for some of our team members. Not to mention, everyone had concerns about the virus and any family and friends who contracted it. But we can honestly say our team didn’t miss a beat. Our wonderful team members worked hard to help clients and to make sure everything continued running as smoothly for them as possible.

Bottom line: We're here for you!

Even as we serve our existing clients, we look forward to collaborating with new clients who need a reliable, trusted partner during these uncertain times. If you’re among the latter, be sure to check out our free COVID-19 Marketing Resources where you can access many items that will help you better market your communities during the pandemic—and beyond.

Senior Living Marketing Events: 5 Tips for Going Virtual

When it comes to hosting senior living marketing events, everyone has had to pivot this last year, thanks to the pandemic. The good news? Learning how to create effective virtual events will serve your community long after COVID-19 is over.

Why? Well, because virtual events offer two key benefits:

  • Anyone can attend. In other words, people aren’t limited by location. This is important for people who might be looking at senior living communities in your area, but they live out of state (or in another part of a big state, like Texas).
  • Instant access. Recording virtual events and posting them on your site or social channels means that people can access them when they

Now, let’s discuss tips for creating engaging senior living marketing events for virtual audiences!

1. Develop different types of events for different personas.

For example, create one set of events for seniors/older adults. Create another set of events for adult children who are searching on behalf of their parents. You’ll also want to customize the event to various stages in the buyer’s journey.

For example, an educational seminar called “Can you afford to move into a senior living community?” is quite different from virtual armchair yoga for residents and their families.

And keep in mind that the events you plan for people interested in independent living will (and should) be different from events you plan for people who are interested in memory care.

2. Decide how you’ll broadcast your senior living marketing events.

You’ll do this step in conjunction with the previous step. But it’s so important to a virtual event’s success that we wanted to give it its own step. A variety of platforms exist. Two of the most popular include Zoom and Facebook Live.

Zoom is great for truly formal events. Think events where you want people to register and the topic is incredibly targeted. You have control over who can access/enter the Zoom event. It’s not “open” to the masses—people need a link to access. With Zoom, you have a free version and a paid version. The free version has limitations (like how long you can have a video call).

Facebook Live is excellent for more casual events. Think conversations or last-minute events. Many of our clients had standing Facebook Live chats planned in the early days of the pandemic. For these “events,” anyone could hop on and watch the Facebook Live stream as it was happening. Or they could go to the Facebook page after the event ended and watch the video. (You can also do Instagram Live Events as well.) Facebook Live is also free!

3. Once you’ve selected a platform, pay attention to the details.

You’ll want to test the technology, such as microphones, recording capabilities, and even the lighting in your space. In addition, figure out how interactive you want your event to be. For example, will you use chat, live Q&A sessions, or polls to survey attendees?

Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry!

We have free guides that’ll walk you through the specifics:

4. Advertise and promote the events appropriately/accordingly.

In other words, make sure you understand the difference between low-cost promotional options and higher-cost options—and which options make the most sense for your events.

  • Low-cost promotional options include social media posts, social media advertising (because you can get good results with a small budget), website pop-ups, and email alerts.
  • Higher-cost advertising includes print ads in newspapers, direct mail pieces, and radio advertising. You’ll probably want to reserve the higher-cost ads for bigger events, such as authors or big-name speakers.

Keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t a smart strategy. You’ll use different ad combinations, depending on the type of event, your budget, and how much lead time you have to promote it.

Like anything else, measure results. You might discover that running Facebook advertising gives you the biggest bang for your buck—maybe even more so than print ads. Or you might discover the opposite is true—that print ads work better for older adults in your area.

5. Follow up and share your senior living marketing events!

When it comes to these events, record them! Then, SHARE them. Too often, people put on great events and they either forget to record or they don’t share the on-demand events.

  • Have a designated area of your website for webinars and past events. Your “Resources” section is a good place for this. For particularly engaging/successful events, you should highlight them on your home page for added traction.
  • Send a follow-up email to all registered attendees. Include a link to the recorded event (do not require them to fill out a form).
  • Promote the events on social media. And continue to promote them. The shelf life of a social media post isn’t long. You need to continually promote all your content (including recorded events) via all your senior living social media channels.
  • Use the events in your ongoing lead nurturing. On-demand webinars and events that people can watch at their leisure make for GREAT lead nurturing fodder.
  • Speaking of lead nurturing, create event-specific lead nurturing workflows. For example, if you’ve just delivered an event on the amazing food options in your dining room, the follow-up lead nurturing can share related content, like downloadable dinner menus, a Q&A with your head chef, or a video of a happy resident talking about the food.

Need fresh senior living marketing event ideas?
We can help!

We’ve got decades of experience in the industry. We know what excites prospects. Let us help you create fabulous senior living marketing events that get the results you want—more move-ins and happier residents/families. Get in touch and let’s brainstorm!

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: The Marketing Hourglass

When it comes to effective marketing strategies for senior living, we follow the marketing hourglass, which our friends at Duct Tape Marketing developed.

The marketing hourglass involves seven important steps: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Retain, and Refer. This differs from the classic marketing and sales “funnel” approach, which typically involves Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.

Duct Tape Marketing contends that the funnel ignores an important fact: that happy customers are often your best tools when it comes to lead generation and referral generation. The hourglass approach, on the other hand, takes customers into account (especially in the “retain” and “refer” steps).

Let’s break down the seven steps so you can apply them to your marketing strategies for senior living . . .

Step #1: KNOW

Basically, can people find you? If you operate a senior living community in Dallas, Texas, and someone in Dallas searches on “senior living near me” or “senior living Dallas,” will your community’s website come up on the first page of Google? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no (or you’re not sure), then you’ve got some work to do!

For your community to be “known,” you need to create a highly secure and highly optimized digital presence. This includes doing the following (at the very least):

  • Make sure your site is optimized with relevant keyword phrases. You want to use keyword phrases that your ideal prospects are searching on. (This requires research and know-how.) Then, you want to use these phrases naturally throughout your site, both on the page itself and in the meta data (the title tag and meta description).
  • Make sure your site has SSL security. How to tell? Call up your senior living website in a browser and look at the URL. Do you see a warning that says it’s “not secure”? Google penalizes sites that don’t have SSL security, meaning you’re less likely to rank well in organic search.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. More and more people (yes, even seniors) conduct searches on their phones or tablets. Your site needs to automatically “respond” to different devices (and screen sizes). Again, if your site isn’t built for mobile, Google will penalize you.
  • Make sure you site is speedy. It needs to load quickly! This is critical for the user experience (no one likes watching an endless pinwheel while a page loads). Again, Google takes note of slow sites as well. Incorrectly sized photos, bloated and unnecessary code, and big videos can slow down sites.
  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date. Google cares about Google products. Google consistently serves up Google My Business listings when people search for things, particularly physical locations, like senior living communities. Consider your Google My Business listing as a mini website. Apply the same level of care you would on your main site. Include updated contact info, compelling text, great images and videos, and lots of reviews.

Step #2: LIKE

Once prospects find your senior living website, what happens next? Keep in mind that people have only so much patience when it comes to websites. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a few seconds, they WILL bounce off your site—and go to a competitor’s site.

To encourage website “stickiness,” make sure . . .

  • The website navigation is clear and intuitive. Make it easy for people to work their way through the site. Keep in mind you’ll be dealing with older eyes. Think larger fonts and good color contrasts.
  • The keyword-phrase that brought people to the page is relevant and fully “dealt” with in the copy. For example, if someone landed on a page about “senior living community prices in Dallas,” the page better thoroughly deal with that topic and deliver the goods. (Rule of thumb: each page of your site should have one main keyword-phrase focus.)
  • The design is welcoming . . . and authentic. DON’T USE STOCK IMAGES. If someone is doing research on senior living communities in Dallas, chances are good they will see the same tired and unoriginal stock images on multiple sites. Don’t let your site be one of them. Invest in custom photography that highlights your community—and that helps people remember it.
  • The website is truly helpful. Make sure the site has a Resources section, contact info at the top of every page, and, ideally, some sort of Live Chat function so people can get answers right away.

Step #3: TRUST

You’ve lured prospects to your site. Now, you need to build trust. A variety of “trust signals” exist. The best websites will use a combination.

  • Both text-based and (ideally) videos of real people talking about how much they love your community. (A combo of residents and staff can work well! A happy staff indicates a happy place, too!)
  • Relevant logos for any awards, recognitions, certifications. Your website—particularly the home page—is a great place to highlight “best of” and other awards.
  • In-depth resources that you offer for free. Position your community as the go-to place for information about senior living in your area. Offer educational content on hot topics like financing, how to move, checklists for evaluating options, resources for family members, and so forth.
  • A clear and compelling “team” and/or management page. Prospects want to get a sense of the people behind the scenes. Supply warmly written bios and photos that capture the people who bring your community to life.
  • Relevant info about COVID-19. For the immediate future, you need to have information front-and-center about how your community is navigating COVID-19. And guess what? This section isn’t static. It NEEDS to change to reflect what’s going on in your community. (Hint: Check out our free resource on how to market your senior living community during a pandemic.)

Step #4: TRY

Today’s prospects expect websites to be interactive. Yours should provide opportunities for prospects to “try” out your community so they can picture themselves or their loved ones living there.

  • Offer virtual room builders/floor plans. Room builders allow people to get a sense of space and décor. In addition, they help people envision how their belongings would work in the space.
  • Offer “on demand” tours. In this case, we’re referring to a tour you’ve recorded on video. While being able to experience a community in person is always preferable, it’s not always possible—due to things like COVID-19 or even location. If someone in Boston wants to get a feel for your community in Florida, an on-demand tour or other virtual event can help.
  • Let people download menus and activity calendars. It’s one thing to tell people about everything your community offers. It’s a whole other thing to allow them to see a breakdown on a real day-to-day calendar.
  • Make it easy for people to access your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram. Your social media channels are a great place to go “behind the scenes” in your community. While professionally shot videos and pictures are great for your site, your social channels can house the candid shots and videos (which often come across as more authentic and relatable anyway).
  • Allow people to schedule tours (in-person or virtual) directly on your site at a day/time that’s convenient for them. This empowers the prospect and eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth between a sales rep and the prospect.

Step #5: BUY

You need to make it easy for prospects to buy from you. Now, we know what you might be thinking: “If someone wants to buy into our senior living community, all they need to do is talk to a sales rep.”

But that’s not how most people buy today. People do their homework first (as we described above). For senior living especially, prospects also try to self-qualify by researching and requesting pricing.

So ask yourself: How transparent is your senior living website when it comes to things like pricing, financing options, and so forth? Even if you don’t list pricing, you need to ADDRESS pricing so that people have a sense of ranges—and an understanding about what’s included. Then, beyond that, how easy is the overall buying process when someone does indeed want to buy?

Focus on the following:

  • Evaluate your website from a “I’m ready to buy now” perspective. Is there an area that clearly addresses the buying process soup to nuts? Bottom line: you want to enable prospects to buy from you.
  • Audit the overall buying process from start to finish. Begin with the moment someone says “Yes, I want to move in.” How easy is it to make a deposit? What happens next? Do you offer transitional services? Have you streamlined paperwork? Do you provide move-in checklists and downsizing tips?

Step #6: RETAIN

A prospect who becomes a happy resident will be your best form of advertising going forward. So the question is, how do you keep your residents happy?

  • Make sure you have programs in place designed specifically for new residents and their families. Think welcome kits, orientations, and “meet your neighbors” events that help new residents acclimate.
  • Conduct surveys. We recommend doing surveys two weeks after move-in. Why? Because 17% of all move-outs happen in the first 30 days! If you can get feedback/insight into how new residents are acclimating (or not), you and your team can identify any issues and (hopefully!) address them before someone decides to move out.

Note: The insights you gather during the “retain” step can inform your marketing and sales efforts. For example, use positive quotes from surveys and highlight them on your website.

Step #7: REFER

Did you know resident and family referrals have a 30 – 35 % closing rate? (For comparison, third-party leads close at 3 – 6 %).

  • Make sure you have an easy system in place for soliciting referrals from residents and their family members. One idea: “I’ve just moved!” postcards that you supply as part of your welcome kit to new residents. Encourage them to send these to their friends.
  • Make it easy for residents and their family members to review your community. In addition to referrals, the words of real residents can be incredibly compelling. Encourage people to leave reviews on your Google My Business page and via social media.

Growing business through marketing practices

Our Senior Living Marketing System

We recently became part of Duct Tape Marketing, a network of marketing agencies and consultants from around the world.

As the Duct Tape Marketing website explains, “Duct Tape Marketing is founded on the simple belief that marketing is the most important small business system. And we just so happen to believe that small business owners are the true heroes of business, so we’ve made it our mission to build, train, support, and teach small business marketing strategies and tactics to as many of these heroes as possible.”

For us, we joined Duct Tape Marketing for three reasons:

  1. We wanted to bring in thought leadership from outside the senior living industry.
  2. We wanted to participate in a community of professionals who are as passionate about marketing as we are.
  3. We wanted to use a proven system that simplifies digital marketing.

Being a part of the network has helped us refine how we work with our clients. This has resulted in our ability to offer clients more choices, dependable delivery of work within budget and timeframes, and consistent results.

So, what is this marketing “system” that Duct Tape promotes? The system’s foundation involves creating three levels of marketing support: Build, Grow, and Ignite.

For the Build phase, we create a solid digital foundation that enables prospects to easily find your senior living community.

A strong digital foundation includes many components:

Once that work is complete, we move into Grow.

This is when we focus on content, such as . . .

When it comes to content, we create compelling pieces for all stages of the prospect journey so they will keep coming back to your website. With this new content, we can also optimize a variety of social channels (think Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest). In addition, we often start (or re-start) a monthly email newsletter to re-engage existing leads.

Then, we move to Ignite.

We fire up the lead generation turbo booster known as marketing automation. Marketing automation offers many benefits, but the biggest one is that it automatically scores and segments leads.

Remember, not all leads are created equal! Some leads are in the early stages of their journey, conducting research. They have no interest in talking to sales—yet. Other leads need to decide soon. And still other leads will fall somewhere in between.

How you treat different leads will—and should—vary, based on where the lead is in their journey. Your marketing team will work on nurturing the “not ready” leads (i.e., marketing-qualified leads or MQLs). In the meantime, the sales team will work on the sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

The marketing automation system makes this process seamless, by automatically serving up the SQLs to the sales team (and, ideally, your senior living CRM). For the MQLs, the marketing automation funnels them to appropriate lead nurturing workflows based on how they engaged with your site and what answers they provided on opt-in website forms.

This saves everyone time, and it increases conversions, since your sales team will only be focusing on high-intent leads rather than ALL leads.

During the Ignite phase, we often implement paid advertising to increase the number of qualified prospects coming to your site. We are good stewards of client budget. And we don’t recommend pursuing paid advertising until we reach the Ignite phase. After all, why waste money driving people to a bad website with poor navigation, limited content, and nothing to do when they get there?

This three-prong approach to senior living marketing has many advantages.

First, it aligns expectations and timelines for deliverables. Second, it keeps everyone focused on results. And, finally, it works! Interested in learning more? Let’s set up a complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session so we can discuss your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Connect with us to learn more!

Let’s chat about your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Business man finding the perfect fit marketing automation solution

Senior Living Marketing Automation Platforms: How to Choose

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know we’re big fans of marketing automation platforms for senior living communities.

Last year, we provided some tips for evaluating different platforms. That discussion resulted in some good questions from readers, including costs and our recommendations. So we’re addressing some of these questions here.

What’s the most important thing to consider when choosing marketing automation?

The most important thing to consider is the functionality your marketing and sales teams need. THIS WILL VARY COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY. Survey your teams regarding what they want and what they feel is currently lacking when it comes to things like scoring leads (marketing-qualified vs. sales-qualified), segmenting leads, nurturing leads, and analyzing leads and conversions.

For example, maybe you simply need lead nurturing, not a centralized marketing hub that does everything (including your laundry).

Or maybe your teams have gotten adept at deciphering Google Analytics. If that’s the case, you might opt for marketing automation that provides only basic key performance indicators (KPIs) rather than endless options for sophisticated reports.

Or perhaps you already have a thriving blog on your senior living website. You won’t need blogging functionality, which tends to be a popular option in many high-end automation platforms.

How much does marketing automation cost?

Price points vary just as widely as the products themselves. And here’s the thing: Pricier products aren’t always better. Typically, the more expensive, the more functionality. (But, of course, some products might have inflated price points. Always make sure you understand what you’re buying.)

Remember, buy for your marketing and sales teams’ needs. Start with what the automation software must do. Then, look for companies that offer products that match those desired capabilities.

Going back to our example above: If you don’t need blogging capabilities, don’t consider products (or product tiers) that have a blogging function since that will only jack up the price.
A few other things to consider when comparing price points:

  • Will you be paying monthly or annually? Some marketing automation companies offer a discount if you opt for an annual subscription.
  • How does the automation company base its subscriptions? Is it based on the entire number of contacts in your database? How does it alert you if you’re skirting close to the next subscription tier? (Which can often result in a price increase.)
  • Do you need to consider who will be managing the marketing automation implementation and ongoing management? If you outsource this to a marketing agency, like ours, you need to consider those costs as well.
  • Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. This should be obvious, but in case someone needs to hear it, there you go!

Should my senior living CRM integrate with my marketing automation platform?

We believe integration is critical because you want marketing and sales to work in harmony. No more silo mentality here! Marketing automation, when implemented correctly, will serve up sales-qualified leads to sales while continuing to nurture the marketing-qualified leads until they’re ready for a sales interaction.

Connecting your CRM and your marketing automation software helps “close the loop” and supplies important insights to both teams about the quality of leads and conversions.

That said, buyer beware! You should NOT settle for an inferior marketing automation product that is “built in” to your senior living CRM. Sherpa, Enquire, and Eldermark have “white labeled” a product called ActiveDEMAND. We’re not fans of this product, based on our experience with it.

Ugh, so does this mean I’ll be limited in marketing automation platforms based on the CRM I’m already using?

Not necessarily. The best solution is to find the marketing automation platform that best meets your needs and then find a CRM integration partner (like us!). We’ve have done a variety of successful marketing automation integrations with Yardi, Sherpa, Enquire, and Welcome Home.

What marketing automation platforms do we recommend?

HubSpot is an excellent “Cadillac” solution with plenty of sophisticated capabilities, like lead scoring, personalization tokens, smart CTAs, and amazing analytics (just to name a few items). ActiveCampaign marketing automation (not to be confused with ActiveDEMAND) is an excellent budget-friendly option for basic emailing and lead nurturing functionality.

If someone wants to have a centralized marketing portal to run their paid/social campaigns, blog, and lead nurturing plus CRM integration and robust custom reporting, HubSpot is the way to go. But we recommend that you work through a HubSpot certified partner (like us!). An integration partner will make sure you get the right package. In addition, they can negotiate pricing on your behalf. We recently saved a client over $70,000 in first-year licensing fees!

Still need help choosing a marketing automation platform? You're in the right place!

Trust us, we get how overwhelming it can be. We’d be happy to provide guidance and/or our thoughts on the products you’re considering (even if you plan on handling everything in-house!). Get in touch and let’s chat about your marketing automation needs.