Promoting Connectivity and Purpose in Senior Living

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

Boost your website speed and SEO performance with a website audit from Senior Living SMART

Senior Living Website Audits: 6 Signs You Need One

Most marketing and sales teams understand the benefits of a senior living website audit. The question, however, is this: When should you conduct one? Here are six signs that it’s time.

1. You haven’t done one since . . . ?

Ideally, you should audit your online presence at least once a year. (In addition to assessing your website, you should review your social media, Google My Business listings, and the overall competitive landscape.) If you can’t remember the last time your team has done any of this, schedule an audit ASAP.

2. You suspect something’s broken, but you’re not sure what.

Have you ever driven a car and it’s made a weird sound? You know something is off—or possibly even broken—but you don’t know what it is. The same thing can happen with senior living websites.

Maybe you’ve encountered a broken link on your site, and now you’re suddenly wondering how many other broken links exist. Or maybe a prospect mentions they had trouble submitting a form. Or perhaps you’re seeing a drop in traffic and you’re wondering about SEO.

Schedule an audit! After all, you get your car oil changes, tune-ups, and multi-point inspections, right? You should do the same with your website.

3. People complain about your site.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Maybe you’ve been hearing more complaints, like the site is slow. The opt-in forms don’t work. The navigation is confusing. Or the content is full of typos and just plain unhelpful.

If you’re hearing more complaints in general—either directly from prospects or from review sites—pay attention. Even more so if the complaints consistently gripe about the same issues. All are signs that it’s time to schedule a website audit so you can see what’s what.

4. Your senior living website isn’t delivering the ROI you’re looking for.

Remember, your senior living website should attract targeted traffic and convert that traffic into bona fide leads—leads that ultimately book tours and become move-ins. If your site isn’t consistently doing this, it’s failing you.

How to perform a quick gut check? Ask yourself if any of the following sounds familiar:

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, it’s time for a senior living website audit.

5. You want to refresh or redesign your senior living website, but you don’t know where to begin.

Even if you know where to begin, take a step back and perform an objective audit of where your site is today. An audit is a smart and cost-effective way to get a sense of what’s working, what isn’t, what you should “take with you” (to a new platform, for example), and what you need to do differently.

An audit might even convince you that you don’t need to make as big of a change as you were originally anticipating. Plus, having a baseline will also make it easier to measure how well the refreshed website performs in comparison to the current one.

6. Your team is too close to it.

We’ve all been there where we’re too close to something to see what’s really going on. This is especially true with websites. You stop “seeing” the look and feel or what’s broken (or what’s working).

Or the opposite can happen as well. Because you spend so much time on the site, day in and day out, it’s tempting to think you need to change things up simply because you’re getting bored. The reality might be that the site is fine “as is.” An objective third-party website audit can provide an honest and fair assessment.

 


5 Strategies for Powerful Senior Living Branding

Marketing jargon like “branding” can often sound equal parts mysterious and intimidating. But effective senior living branding doesn’t have to be either.

1. First, make sure you understand what a brand is.

An effective brand evokes a reaction in people whenever they come across the company’s name. They might get excited (Game of Thrones!). Or hungry (Krispy Kreme!). Or nostalgic (Fun Dip or Pop Rocks!).

Bottom line: Effective branding will make people feel. HOW they feel very much depends on the experience you deliver to them—or that people have heard you deliver.

For example, if you’ve never eaten at Awesome Pizza Shop, but you’ve heard your friends ooh and ahh about the food, the prices, and the customer service, you’ll likely have a very positive reaction to the brand even though you haven’t experienced it yourself yet. That’s the power of branding.

2. Develop accurate and insightful buyer personas.

Before you can develop an effective brand that delivers the type of experience your ideal prospect craves, you need to understand your ideal prospect first. We accomplish this through persona development.

Don’t rush this process. Taking the time to understand and develop your buyer personas will help you develop a brand that accurately reflects your community and truly resonates with people.

The ONLY way you can develop an accurate senior living persona is by talking to . . .

  • Real residents (and/or the adult children) who chose your community (including those who love the community as well as some who might be disappointed in it)
  • Lost prospects (to discover why they didn’t choose your community)

You can’t rely on your sales and marketing teams to develop the personas on their own. They will (and should) have input, of course. But you need to talk to real people in order to challenge and confirm assumptions. Bottom line: You can’t develop effective senior living branding if you don’t know your ideal buyer inside and out.

3. Choose words, colors, and visuals that reflect and reinforce what you discovered during the persona development process.

If you’re developing a brand for people in their 60s when your ideal persona is 80, your messaging is probably going to be off the mark. If your ideal buyer tends to skew conservative, but you’ve created a brand that has a more progressive tone or feel, it’s not going to resonate.

So, how can you make sure you’re developing messaging and visuals that hit the mark? Share your persona work with your writers and designers. (The best writers and designers will ask you for your persona info; but if they don’t, you should share your key findings.) Learn more about writing and designing for senior living audiences here.

4. Always be authentic and honest.

Which do you think will resonate more with your prospective buyers: images of older adults where everything is posed? Or natural, candid photos of people from your community? Or how about this: Do your personas want to hear cliched stories about the “golden years” or a refreshing take on growing older in your community?

Authenticity can go a long way in helping to create a winning senior living brand. But brand authenticity has to be exactly that—authentic. And remember this: you MUST deliver on your brand promise. If not, you will be called out on it in places like social media and online reviews. And that could damage your brand for the long-term.

In fact, Chief Marketer recommends that you begin your brand development by looking internally to the people who deliver your brand every day—because being “self-aware” is just as important as being honest. For senior living communities, this would include not only your sales and marketing teams, but everyone on the operations side—activities, facilities, dining, health, and so forth.

Chief Marketer says, “Make it a collaborative process, and be sure to include the right people. It’s just as important to hear from customer-facing staff as it is the C-suite. Involve your internal stakeholders early in the process, and empower them to ‘be your brand.'”

5. Be consistent with your senior living branding across all media.

Too often, we see senior living communities do awesome branding work, but they forget to update all marketing and sales channels. Think website, social media, email signatures, collateral materials, business cards, stationery—the list is seemingly endless. And it can get even more complex when you have multiple communities that fall under the same brand umbrella.

Task someone within your marketing team as the “brand manager.” This person will serve as the keeper of the brand, making sure the look and feel and messaging are consistent across all media.

To make their life easier, they should check out SMART Brand and SMART Stores. These solutions will help them manage the brand consistently within the community as well as across multiple locations.

Need help? Choose a marketing agency that "gets" senior living branding.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is partner with an agency that has experience in the senior living industry and experience in branding. Not all marketing agencies do branding, and even fewer have dedicated industry experience in senior living. The good news? At Senior Living SMART, we’ve got deep experience in both. Schedule a complimentary brainstorm session with us today and let’s talk about your community’s brand identity!.

Concept of business men and women evaluating senior living marketing services

How to Evaluate Senior Living Marketing Services

If you’re thinking of changing marketing agencies or maybe using one for the first time, this article is for you. As you evaluate different agencies and the senior living marketing services they offer, keep the following questions in mind.

1. Does that agency have experience in the senior living industry?

The senior living industry is special. We don’t have to tell you that, right? After all, it’s real estate, healthcare, and lifestyle all rolled into one. An agency with senior living industry experience will have a much shorter learning curve. This saves time—and money.

2. Does the agency offer comprehensive senior living marketing services?

Are you OK juggling multiple agencies? Perhaps one that can handle your website, another for advertising, and still another for print materials? Or would you prefer to have a streamlined experience with one agency that handles everything soup to nuts? If you’d prefer the latter, then make sure you investigate all the services the agency offers. (A good place to start is the agency’s website.)

3. Does the agency only offer marketing services a la carte? Or does it provide strategy as well?

You don’t want to approach senior living marketing services like you do ordering from a fast-food menu. “I’ll take two website pages, a round of lead nurturing emails, and a PPC ad campaign to go.” Before you can think about marketing services, you need a marketing strategy. A good marketing agency will devise a strategy based on your community’s challenges and goals.

Marketing agency business men and women working together in a streamlined fashion to meet project goals

4. Does the agency demonstrate a deep understanding of each marketing service it offers—particularly how it relates to the senior living industry?

Anyone can provide a laundry list of marketing services on their website. You want to work with an agency that has expertise in the services it offers. How to tell? Look for examples of thought leadership.

Does the agency regularly blog about marketing topics? Are the blog posts well written and informative? Does the agency participate in industry webinars and podcasts? Does it offer guides about various marketing topics? Does the agency get quoted by relevant publications, like Senior Housing News?

5. Does the agency outsource any of its senior living marketing services? Or does it handle most stuff in-house?

This is a trick question. It’s not unusual for marketing agencies to outsource some work to contractors or to trusted partners. (For example, some marketing agencies might have a trusted PPC vendor they work with.) But if the agency outsources most work to third parties, this raises red flags.

First, it might cost you more in the long run since the agency is essentially serving as the middleman. Second, this approach can dilute the strategy since one of the positives a good marketing agency brings to the table is overseeing the BIG marketing picture. It’s easier to manage and oversee the various senior living marketing services when everything happens under the same roof.

6. Does the agency deliver real, quantifiable results?

Unless the agency can provide you with real, tangible results—think increased conversions and more tours and move-ins—what’s the point? To evaluate, ask the agency to share the results of three recent campaigns. Read case studies on their website. Ask to speak to several of their current clients. (And ask the clients the same questions about real, measurable results). Finally, read the agency’s reviews for more insight into not only deliverables, but also how the agency works with clients.

Marketing ideas leading to results you can see

7. Is the agency named Senior Living SMART? :)

All kidding aside, we pride ourselves on devising strong marketing roadmaps and delivering real, measurable results to our clients. Plus, we only focus on the senior living industry. It’s our passion! Interested in learning more about our senior living marketing services? Let’s chat!

Hands dropping different currencies in multiple baskets, concept of diversifying advertising budget

3 Tips for Better Senior Living Advertising Campaigns

Want to create better senior living advertising campaigns—ones that entice people to click, call, or visit? Here are three tips to keep in mind.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in the same advertising basket.

If you were advertising to, say, twenty-somethings, you’d likely focus most of your advertising efforts online. With older adults, however, you need to spread your advertising dollars across different media—print, radio, direct mail, pay-per-click, and remarketing.

This isn’t surprising, considering the demographic. After all, older adults grew up reading the daily paper and listening to the radio, habits that continue even in this hi-tech age.

  • According to Statista, 23% of adults aged 60 or older read a print newspaper daily, 13% read the paper several days a week, and 18% once a week.
  • According to Statista, older generations are more inclined to listen to the radio regularly.

At the same time, however, older adults are also embracing technology and spending more time online. Consider the following stats:

  • In 2000, 14% of those aged 65 and older were internet users; now 73% are. [Source: Pew Research Center]
  • Baby Boomers spend more time online than Millennials, and a staggering 92% of Boomers shop online. [Source: The Shelf]
  • 75% of all Boomers are on Facebook, and 35% use business-focused networking sites, such as LinkedIn. [Source: Kenshoo]
  • Boomers are almost as likely as Millennials to own a tablet. [Source: Marketing Charts]
  • 68% of Boomers own a smartphone. [Source: Pew Research Center]

So, how should you allocate your advertising budget?

This will depend on a variety of factors. Recent past success is often a good indicator of future success, so you can start by evaluating what has worked best in the recent past (within the last year or two).

For example, if the best ROI has historically come from running spots on your local country radio station, it probably makes sense to allocate a chunk of your budget to a new radio campaign.

But even as you rely on “tried and true” methods, you should continue to experiment with pay-per-click and remarketing ads. (The latter refers to ads that seemingly “follow” people around after they visit your site.)

And you should avoid dismissing an ad vehicle—especially a digital one—simply because it didn’t work in the past. For example, just because Facebook advertising didn’t work well for your community eight years ago, that doesn’t mean it won’t work today. Quite the opposite, in fact. As more Boomers spend time on Facebook, chances are good that Facebook ads will work better now than they did a decade ago.

2. Measure, measure, measure.

The biggest mistake that senior living communities make is that they spend all this money on advertising, but they haven’t built in ways to measure success. Talk about a waste of valuable marketing budget!

Make sure you’re following best practices when it comes to measuring an ad campaign’s effectiveness:

  • For online ads, make sure tracking URLs are set up. Tracking URLs will help you see which online ads are delivering the most traffic and conversions.
  • For any print or radio ads, make sure you include ad-specific phone numbers and/or website addresses. For example, for all the radio ads you run on that country station, you’d use a specific phone number that you only include in those ads. Ditto website URLs. (Companies like CallRail can help with this.)
  • Make sure your website’s backend provides the insight and visibility you need. Ideally, you’ll want to have some sort of “traffic resources” option available in your marketing automation software that easily breaks down the traffic referral sources.
  • Make sure staff always asks the question “How did you hear about us?” And make sure you have a central repository for recording this info.

Allow the metrics to inform your ad-buying decisions.

Complacency can easily take over when it comes to advertising. Not to mention, you might have long-term relationships with sales reps, newspapers, radio stations, and so forth. Still, you need to make decisions based on real data, not relationships.

For example, if you’ve been running radio ads for years on the country station, but the ads are no longer delivering results, ask questions. What’s changed? Is the copy stale? Do you need to adjust the flight schedule/time of day the spots run? Has something changed with the station’s demographics? (Maybe the country station has tweaked its format to a more contemporary feel, rather than classic country tunes. As such, it’s skewing younger.)

Yes, you should resist dumping something the minute it stops working. But be open to moving on if the metrics are indeed telling you something is no longer delivering ROI despite tweaks and fixes. And make sure you’re paying attention to the right metrics. A boatload of website traffic can feel good. But unless that anonymous web traffic is converting into leads and those leads into tours and move-ins, what’s the point?

3. When it comes to the ad’s content, be human.

You’re selling a very personal experience to older adults—the next chapter of their lives. (And, for many, the final chapter of their lives.) This is a BIG deal. Listing a bunch of amenities isn’t going to make your community memorable.

So, what can you do to create personal content? Tell stories. Humans love hearing stories. Stories help us experience another world and another life, which is precisely what you want your ads to do—to help the reader or listener picture themselves living in your community.

For example, imagine coming across this blurb in a nicely designed print piece and/or direct mailer:

Meet Margot Benoit. Margot is 87 years old. She worked as a nurse for thirty years, raised a family of four, and is a proud grandmother to six. Margot loves extra dry martinis, knitting, yoga, collecting lighthouses, and watching The Crown on Netflix. She’s been residing in Maple Grove since 2018 and loves playing bridge with her neighbors, going out for cocktails in our pub, and organizing day trips to New York City with all the friends she’s made in our community.

Margot calls Maple Grove home. You could, too.

Ready to stop by, meet Margot, and learn more about us?

www.MapleGroveCommunities.com/meet-margot

Stories can involve residents, but also staff—your head chef, your groundskeepers, the facilities manager, etc. You could also highlight adult children who helped get Mom or Dad into the community. And the stories could serve as themes. The Margot “story” could work as a print ad and direct mailer. But you could also have Margot voice the radio spot and be part of a video ad that you run on Facebook.


Creating a marketing plan for 2021

Your Senior Living Marketing Plan for 2021

Too often, marketing and sales teams stress out when creating their yearly senior living marketing plan. At the end of December or beginning of January, they will create complex, color-coded spreadsheets with endless tasks and dates and “ownership.” (Often, no one ever looks at the plan again!)

Don’t get us wrong: Planning is important. But it’s impossible to plan a whole years’ worth of marketing tasks in one fell swoop. Instead, it makes more sense to develop an overarching plan for the year—that famous 30,000-foot view. From there, you can create tasks per quarter. (And you don’t need to create the quarterly tasks all at once, either.)

Talk about a much easier approach, right?

The purpose of this post is to help you with that 30,000-foot view.

We recommend getting your team together and talking through the following four main buckets. An important note: You will need to think about them in conjunction with each other. But to start, devote four separate afternoons. Spend each one on a different bucket. On the fifth day, bring it all together and develop your broad-stroke senior living marketing plan to guide you for the year.

What comes out of your discussions will vary depending on your community. It will also depend on the type of year you had, your goals for next year, and your budget. Below, we’re including some questions to get the ball rolling.

CAVEAT: If you’re reading this in 2020, you can’t go into 2021 without thinking about the pandemic. So your 30,000-foot view needs to include the reality of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will be a different story when we enter 2022. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to get instant access to our COVID-19 marketing assets.

1. Senior living marketing plan: Think search.

Let’s face it: Almost everyone begins their searches online. This is certainly true for older adults, which is why the foundation of every senior living marketing plan needs to be search and SEO.

Some questions to ponder or to kick-start your discussion:

  • How often did you conduct keyword research last year? Be honest! If you’re reading this in 2020, we wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is “not much” since everyone was dealing with COVID. If that’s the case, make it a priority going into 2021.
  • When’s the last time you did a site optimization audit? Your website is a machine. Like any machine, it requires maintenance.
  • If you’ve been running paid search campaigns, how have they been working? Review metrics, including the most important one: move-ins. Have your PPC campaigns performed well? Do you want to increase the budget? If they haven’t performed, is it because they’re not the right campaigns? Or is PPC not right for your particular community at this time? Meaning you might want to put the budget towards something else for part of next year and revisit?

No doubt, you’ll come up with plenty of other discussion points around search. Keep track of the big items and themes. For example, maybe you come out of this meeting with something like the following:

  • Perform fresh keyword research in Q2.
  • Re-optimize site, as needed, in early Q3.
  • Increase budget on Facebook ads, decrease budget in Google AdWords.

2. Senior living marketing plan: Think content.

As we like to say around here, content isn’t king—it’s emperor. People crave content at every stage of their journey. Your job is to make sure what they need is available to them when they need it.

At the very least, your content strategy will involve discussions around:

  • Blogging. You should enter January with a three-month editorial calendar in place. The calendar should include keyword-rich topics, blog writing assignments, and due dates. In fact, when you enter January, you should already have the completed January content in hand. Your team should be working on February content.
  • Premium content. Aim for a good mix of gated pieces that will entice people to provide their email address so you can continue nurturing them.
  • Social media. We don’t have to tell you how personal senior living is. Your community should have an active and engaging presence on places like Facebook and Instagram. From a business standpoint, maintain a good LinkedIn page so you can continue to attract great employees. (Make sure you’ve claimed listings on places like Glassdoor and LinkedIn as well.)
  • Email marketing associated with automaton. We’ll dig into this more in the automation section below. Bottom line, though: Don’t simply set it and forget it.

Again, the above will get you started, but it isn’t an exhaustive list of items to think about. Always look at content holistically. For example, is there a “theme” you’d like to focus on for the first half of 2021? Maybe it’s around “choosing senior living during uncertain times.” How can different channels—blog, email, social, premium content, and so forth—support that theme?

Try to walk away from this brainstorming session with a couple of larger themes for next year that will drive your month-to-month content creation.

3. Senior living marketing plan: Think automation.

We’ve written A LOT about marketing automation. If there’s one thing ALL senior living communities can do better, it’s in this area.

If you have marketing automation…

  • When’s the last time you looked at analytics? Review the last two quarters. What surprised you? What made you excited? What worried you? Bottom line: you’ll want to do more of what’s working. And you’ll want to reassess what isn’t.
  • When’s the last time you reviewed the content of your lead nurturing campaigns? Too often, we see communities set up their lead nurturing email campaigns and never look at them again. Some messages will be evergreen. But others will need tweaking. For example, what you said in May of 2020 will (thankfully) sound different from emails sent during May of 2021.
  • Consider your leads. Not just the number of overall leads, but conversions to move-ins. What’s the quality of SQLs? What’s the breakdown of MQLs to SQLs in the database? Etc.

If you don’t have marketing automation . . .

While your marketing team will be involved in all of these discussions, you should absolutely include sales in any discussion pertaining to lead gen. They know the leads. They can speak to their quality—or their perceived quality.

4. Senior living marketing plan: Think outsourced marketing agency.

Are you currently working with a marketing agency? If yes, are you happy with the engagement? If not, why not? Can you communicate your concerns with the agency and discuss strategies for moving forward together? Or is it time to make a change? If it’s time to make a change, what will be the process for making a switch? (Who will own it?)

  • Hint: What’s the sign of a truly good agency? They’re actively involved in planning next year’s marketing. In fact, they’re likely driving the discussion.

If you’re not working with an outsourced marketing agency, discuss whether it would make sense to do so. What sort of budget do you have? What are your expectations?

And on the fifth day of planning your senior living marketing . . .

Now, you’ll bring it all together: Your themes. Your goals. Your plans around search (organic and paid). Your content strategy. Your marketing automation tasks. Your budget. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding these things. Then, create your Q1 marketing calendar. Use your tool of choice—Asana, Trello, Google docs, Basecamp.

Think of your senior living marketing plan as the roadmap. Think of the month-to-month calendar as the actual driving directions and milestones (tasks) along the way.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't have time to plan?

Hey, we get it! Its been a tough year. Here’s the good news, though: We can do ALL the leg work for you (with your input, of course). We can distill everything you tell us—your goals, your budget, what’s working, what isn’t—and put together a strategic marketing roadmap for your community. Your team can execute it, or we can. (Or a combination!)

Let’s talk about your marketing plan!

man and woman searching for blog posts related to their location

Senior Living Blog Topics: How to Approach Location Keywords

Most of your senior living blog topics should be “top of the funnel” content. In other words, articles optimized for keyword phrases that will attract prospects in your area who are in the awareness stage.

The challenge with this approach: When prospects are searching for senior living options, they’re often searching on “dry” phrases like “senior living communities near me” or “senior living communities in South Florida.” (Or whatever city people are considering. You get the idea.)

You need to get creative in how you write blog content around these phrases.

It’s not enough to simply get someone to your site based on the location keyword phrase. You need to provide quality senior living blog content that inspires them to stick around. How can you do this?

Let’s use our example of “senior living communities in South Florida.”

According to SEMrush, the keyword tool that we use, people search on this phrase approximately 50 times per month. It’s a good long-tail keyword phrase to focus on. But how many engaging senior living blog topics can you get from that one keyword phrase? More than you might think!

Here’s our quick brainstorm:

  1. X Tips for Evaluating Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  2. Fun Day Trips for Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  3. Tips for Researching Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  4. Touring Senior Living Communities in South Florida? What to Ask
  5. Financing Options for Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  6. Why Consider Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  7. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: What to Watch For
  8. X Facts About Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  9. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: Right For You?
  10. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: X Considerations

You should also research related keyword phrases and brainstorm even more senior living blog topics.

We love the “related” search function in SEMrush. After we did a search on “senior living communities in Florida,” we hit the “related” button. Here’s a snap shot of the results.

Screen shot of SEMrush report highlighting related search results

Here’s a quick brainstorm of potential senior living blog topics:

  1. How We Deliver the Best Independent Living in Florida
  2. Rethinking Retirement Facilities in Florida
    • We know, we know! You’re bristling at the word “facilities.” But people DO search on the term. Reclaim it and reinvent it! Take it back.
  3. 10 Reasons Why Nothing Beats Senior Living in Florida
  4. Best Independent Living in Florida: How to Tell
  5. Senior Living in Florida: X Things to Keep in Mind

Note: You could use ALL of the above as blog titles and title tags since they’re all within 65 characters.

While all of the proposed titles have a consistent theme, each angle is different. And a good writer can create compelling blog content that will fulfill the title’s “promise” while also finding a way to weave in aspects of your community.

Remember, the content should be helpful, not promotional.

For the article titled “Best Independent Living in Florida: How to Tell,” you could provide a solid checklist that people can use to audit the communities they’re researching and that they will eventually visit. You’d only mention your community tangentially.

For example, one of the items on the checklist might be “Read reviews about each senior living community.” And you could link that phrase to your community’s Google reviews. At the end of the article, you might include a call-to-action that says something like “Discover how our community offers the best independent living in Florida. Schedule a visit!”

Again, a skilled blog writer can help breathe life into these topics.

A good writer will understand how to write for search engines and humans. The more interesting and helpful the senior living blog content is, the better chance the person reading it will click around your site and learn more.

Remember, the goal is to get visitors to convert on something, like a Live Chat or downloadable piece of premium content. A prospect’s email address is worth its weight in gold. Because once you have it, you can continue to engage and nurture them. (Provided you have good marketing automation.)

Need help developing senior living blog topics that convert visitors into leads?

We’re a marketing agency that knows the senior living industry inside and out. We have excellent writers who can help you get the most out of your blog. Let’s chat about your needs.

What to look for when choosing a Senior Living CRM software

3 Tips for Evaluating Senior Living Software: Marketing Automation

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

First, what is marketing automation?

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

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

Learn more about what marketing automation is.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

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

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

How should you evaluate different marketing automation solutions?

1. Consider what your teams need.

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

Questions to ask as you evaluate marketing automation:

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

2. Read reviews on marketing automation software.

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

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

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

3. Ask for recommendations from senior living marketing agencies.

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

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

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

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

 

Four Strategies to Optimize Websites for Improved Conversions

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

Business man excited about maintaining five star review

Senior Living Reputation Management: How to Respond to Reviews

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

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

1. Never argue.

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

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

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

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

3. Be genuine in your response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Flag any reviews that are truly inappropriate.

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

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

7. Combat negative reviews with more positive reviews.

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

Some ideas:

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