senior living leads, MQL SQL Blocks

Senior Living Leads: Why You Should Think Beyond 60 Days

Our industry has gotten into a bad habit. Too many marketers and sales folks neglect senior living leads that haven’t signaled a need to move within 30 to 60 days. In addition, many communities purchase marketing software like HubSpot thinking they’ll suddenly have an influx of sales-qualified leads (SQLs) for sales reps to work their magic on. 

What most of these sales reps and marketing folks don’t seem to understand is that the majority of senior living leads come in as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), not sales qualified.

Ignoring MQLs isn’t the answer. Learning how to nurture MQLs to sales-qualified status is. Follow the best practices below for doing exactly that.

Create different paths for different buyers.

We’re famous for saying that not all senior living leads are created equal. Now, let’s take it a step further: Not all MQLs are created equal, either. 

Some MQLs will be older adults looking for a place to move in 6 to 12 months. Others will be adult children looking on behalf of their parents. The older adults might be married, divorced, or widowed. Some might be in excellent shape and others might have health challenges. In the older children camp, some might be searching for a loved one who’s resisting the move. Others might be dealing with complex family dynamics (sibling against sibling).

  • Your Task: Create plenty of marketing paths on your website to satisfy many different types of MQLs. For example, the content an adult child needs will be different from the needs of an older adult who’s buying for herself. The first step in this process involves doing buyer persona work.

Create compelling lead nurturing campaigns.

The keyword is “compelling.” The biggest mistake communities make is treating lead nurturing like a box they need to check off, meaning not much thought is given to the emails in each campaign.

Content matters. Don’t send emails simply for the sake of sending them out. Think about what the campaign is trying to accomplish. Are you trying to get someone to download another piece of content? To view a video? To schedule a tour? While it’s easy to think “Yes! I want everyone to schedule a tour,” keep in mind that not all MQLs are ready for tours just yet. Nurture, don’t rush.

Monitor your lead nurturing campaigns.

The next big mistake that communities make with their lead nurturing is setting up and forgetting about it. Marketing automation is the culprit here. Don’t get us wrong: Automation is great! It was designed to eliminate manual, rote processes, after all. But setting up something to automatically go out and never following up to see if what you’re sending out is actually working isn’t a smart strategy.

  • Your Task: Look at overall conversions for each campaign. Is the lead nurturing campaign accomplishing what you set it up to do? If the goal of the campaign was to get someone to download the next piece of content that makes sense for them in their journey, how many folks in the campaign did exactly that? A dismal 1%? Or an impressive 20%?

For the campaigns that aren’t delivering impressive conversions, take a deeper dive.

  • Look at the analytics for each individual email. Look at open rates. Yes, open rates can be misleading/deceiving, but you need to start somewhere. Study the subject lines in the winning emails from your successful lead nurturing campaign. Can you draw any conclusions on why they’re so effective? (Such as length or use of personalization.) Tweak the subject lines in the emails that aren’t enjoying high open rates and see if things improve.
  • Look at the content in the emails that have high open rates, but low conversions. Try changing one thing—perhaps the call to action or the length of the email—to see if it improves conversions.

While analytics are based in real numbers, how you respond to the analytics and what you decide to fix/change to get more senior living leads will be less scientific. 

The numbers might be telling you that email #1 has a 42% open rate but 1% conversions on the offer. You know something isn’t working. But now you have to experiment to see if you can figure out why it isn’t converting—and if you can come up with a solution. This part is more art than science. Once you make your adjustment, you’ll then return to the analytics in a few weeks or months to see if your adjustment changed things for the better.

Track what successfully moves an MQL to an SQL to an actual customer.

As you nurture more MQLs to SQLs, and convert SQLs to residents, pay attention to where the lead conversions happened. Is there a certain piece of content that’s doing the trick? You might want to spend more time promoting that content (and not just on your site, but through other means, like paid search). Is there a specific call-to-action that gets people to schedule a tour? Use that CTA in other emails and on your site.

  • Your Task: Do more of what gets you the results you crave and less of what doesn’t.

Work with a senior living marketing agency that can help you maximize your MQLs.

Even with automation, you still need to keep track of a lot in order to get the amount of senior living leads you’re looking for. And you’re already juggling ten million other things. That’s where we come in. We can help you maximize your MQLs. Reach out and let’s chat →

 

senior living marketing event ideas, food truck

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

Need some fresh senior living marketing event ideas as we emerge from the pandemic? Here are some to consider. 

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Boost General Awareness about Your Community

With these events, the goal is to create awareness about your community with the people who live in the surrounding area. These events cast a wider net—in fact, some of the events might skew younger—but the idea is everyone knows (or is connected to) someone who fits your ideal buyer persona

In other words, that twenty-five-year-old might have a grandparent in the area, or that forty-year-old might have a mother who’s been thinking of making the move to senior living.

Host a blood drive.

The American Red Cross has a turnkey system for hosting a blood drive. You provide the space, the volunteers, and the donors. The Red Cross takes care of everything else.

  • Who to invite: General population in the area, current leads, residents/families. The nice thing about this event idea is that you gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop. 
  • How to promote the event: Promote it to your lead database via email, promote it to residents and families, and promote it to people in the area through local advertising (such as Patch.com and the local paper—you can often submit event listings for free).
  • How to market your community at the event: After people donate blood, send them off with a goody bag with collateral about your community and a fun branded promotional item. Have sales reps on hand in case people have questions about the community. And make sure the reps are prepared to conduct impromptu tours if someone is interested.

Host “Food Truck Friday.”

Reach out to local food truck vendors in the area and designate a “Food Truck Friday” event. The trucks come from, say, 4-8 and park in your lot for residents/families and people from the larger community to enjoy.

  • Who to invite/how to promote the event: Same as above.
  • How to market your community at the event: You bring dessert! Set up a candy booth with your company’s signage. (Like the candy tables that are popular at weddings.) People can fill a bag of candy (for free). The bag will be branded with your community info and include collateral. Again, have sales staff available in case someone attending the event has questions about your community.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Woo Hot Prospects

When it comes to creating events to court prospects who’ve already expressed sincere interest in your community, you need to think strategically. These events will be “smaller” in terms of scale—and if any particular event proves successful, be prepared to start running it on a more regular basis.

Spaghetti Supper to Go

One of the most popular questions that prospects ask sales counselors is this: “How’s the food?” Show off your chef’s mad skills by offering spaghetti dinners to go—complete with garlic bread and cannolis. Serious prospects can finally taste food that they’d see on your menu if they lived in your community.

  • How it works: Prospects can reserve their order and drop by to pick it up between five and seven on the appointed day. With each order, make sure someone greets the prospect, helps them carry the dinner to their car, and offers a swag bag with some extras, like fun branded promo items. The next day, the sales rep can follow up and ask what the prospect thought of the meal.
  • Who to invite: Limit the initial send to hot sales-qualified leads (SQLs). And if this is your first time doing an event like this, limit the total number. Discuss with your chef about a reasonable number of spaghetti suppers they can prepare for one evening and start with that number as the upper limit. (So if the number is 10, send the offer to 10 prospects. There’s little chance that all 10 would say yes, but if by some chance they did, the chef could still accommodate all of them.)
  • How to promote it: Use a combo of email marketing and good old-fashioned phone calls. 
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up the next day with the prospect and ask what they thought of the food and to see if they’re any closer to making a decision. Plus, once you get in a rhythm, this can be an easy ongoing event—one you do every month for hot SQLs you’re trying to close.

Backstage Pass

You’re trying to sell how great your community is as a place to live, right? So give some of your hot prospects backstage passes to try out certain amenities.

For example, do you have a fabulous fitness center with lots of fun classes? Give the prospect a free pass to try it out for a week. Got an amazing restaurant on site? Give prospects a pass to enjoy a meal on the house. You get the idea. The goal is to give the prospect the opportunity to experience the community without a sales person hovering.

  • How it works: Determine ahead of time 3-4 amenities that you’ll allow free passes to (and any rules/conditions). Create a nicely designed oversized “backstage pass”—something that reflects your community’s branding. Give it to the prospect and explain how it works. Even if they don’t use the pass, the offer itself will likely have a powerful—and memorable—effect.
  • Caveat: Make sure relevant team members are aware of the backstage pass. So, for example, if the pass is for the fitness center, everyone who works in the fitness center should A) be aware of this promotion and B) be alerted when someone is given a pass to the fitness center. This way, the fitness center employees can greet/help the prospect accordingly.
  • Who to invite/how to promote it: Determine on a case-by-case basis. If the hot prospect seems really interested in your community, this might be the offer to help seal the deal. Or if the prospect is wavering between your community and another one, this offer might help them decide.
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up with the prospect after the person has “used” the backstage pass. Again, inquire about the person’s experience and see if they’re any closer to a decision.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas for Thanking Referral Sources

Coffee and Donuts On Us

Don’t underestimate the value of your existing referral sources. It’s always good to thank them and remind them you’re there. Invite them to a quarterly “drive through breakfast” at your community. The goal is to reconnect with those you know and to show your gratitude for their referrals.

  • How it works: Buy boxes of coffee and donuts/bagels ahead of time. (It’s always good to order them ahead.) Have a team managing a booth at your entrance with all the goodies between, say, 6 and 9. Invite your referral sources to stop by and pick up breakfast—on you. Offer a little swag bag with a gift card to Starbucks and some collateral that they can use to promote your community (like a stack of postcards or brochures).
  • Who to invite: Referral sources—active ones and ones who’ve gone quiet.
  • How to promote the event: Create an ongoing email list of your referral sources and do a three-prong email blast. Send the first a week out. Send the second a few days before. Send the final one either the night before or early AM on the day of. The gist is simple: Go for a “thank you for your referrals. Enjoy donuts and coffee on us” message.
  • Bonus tips: Record who shows up! Get names. Then, follow up with the person individually via email saying you hoped they enjoyed the coffee/donuts, and you’d love to have them over to the community for lunch sometime. Again, you’re trying to stay top of mind in these folks’ heads while also giving them reasons to promote your community (by experiencing the great food, seeing the gorgeous grounds, and so forth).

After-hours Networking

Hosting an after-hours networking event is always a great way to mingle with referral sources—and possibly meet new ones! In terms of how to set it up . . . you can be in charge of doing everything—securing the location, food, etc. Or if your community is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they often have sponsorship opportunities for after-hours networking events.

  • How it works: Host a cocktail hour at your community or a nearby restaurant. Invite referral sources and prospective referral sources for an evening of cocktails and networking. Make sure everyone leaves with a swag bag (filled with a promo item, something special like a gift card, and collateral about your community that they can hand out on your behalf).
  • Who to invite: Your current referral sources and a list of referral sources you’d like to get.
  • How to promote it: Follow the same steps as above for your current referral sources. For your prospective referral sources, create a separate email list. You’ll use similar messaging—”Join us for a night of networking. Sponsored by Awesome Senior Living Community.”
  • Bonus tips: Have several team members at the event and make sure they mingle. They should pass out business cards and get cards from whoever is there. Then, the next day, they should send a personal email to each person they met (new referral sources and existing ones) and ask to set up a one-to-one coffee chat to foster the relationship further.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Virtual Events

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re all itching for more in-person events, which is why we focused on those sorts of ideas above. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: Virtual events can be effective—and can sometimes even work better for certain personalities (like introverts) or for people who want to explore your community from afar.

So don’t stop hosting virtual events. Your best bet moving forward is to offer a combo of in-person events and virtual events—and to monitor the results.

Check out these helpful articles for more info:

Remember, the Key to a Successful Event is Starting with a SMART strategy.
Be strategic in your planning—from the purpose of the event, to how you’ll market it, to how you’ll follow up. Need help along the way? Reach out. We love helping our clients develop and execute effective senior living marketing events.

senior living sales consultant, two women talking

Hiring a Senior Living Sales Consultant? Read This First

If you’re thinking about hiring a senior living sales consultant because something isn’t working with your sales team, read this first. Not all issues require an outside consultant. In fact, many issues are fixable within the team itself, especially if yours is grappling with one of the very common issues below.

Are the marketing and sales teams working in silos?

Departmental silos are so last century—and for good reason. Collaborative efforts between sales and marketing teams reduce friction and unnecessary redundancies. When marketing and sales teams work in harmony, the results can be powerful. (HubSpot refers to this alignment as “smarketing.”)

How can you tell if an alignment issue exists? Well, do your sales and marketing teams meet regularly to discuss goals and results? If the answer is no, that’s usually the first (and biggest) clue that your sales and marketing alignment is out of whack.

Is the sales team attempting to work all leads?

It doesn’t make sense for sales departments to work all the leads that come in. Why? Because most leads aren’t ready for a sales interaction. The lead wants time to engage with your site and content (often upwards of eight times!) before talking to anyone in sales. Here’s the good news, though: When a lead is ready to talk to sales, they’re going to be much easier to close.

How is the overall lead quality?

Maybe the problem isn’t the sales process, but the lead quality itself. We often remind clients that more website traffic isn’t always better—sometimes it’s just more. Don’t get taken in by vanity metrics. Instead, focus on quality. Attracting a smaller volume of highly quality website traffic is much better than a high volume of low quality traffic.

  • SOLUTION: Revisit your buyer personas and audit your website’s messaging and keyword strategy. What messages and keywords brought in the types of leads that have converted in the past—and that you’d like to see more of? Again, making this adjustment might cause you to see a dip in overall website traffic. Don’t panic! If lead quality and conversions increase, even if traffic has decreased, you know you’re on the right track. (And, of course, you’ll follow the above tip about scoring leads appropriately!)

Has a lead nurturing program been developed and properly executed?

If your sales team has been treating all leads the same way, then the answer to this question is “probably not.” Remember, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) aren’t ready to talk to a sales person just yet. That’s OK. Your job is to provide helpful info that will empower them during this journey. A good lead-nurturing workflow will do all of that in the low-pressure way today’s buyers crave.

Has the team given up too quickly on leads?

If your sales team has been working all leads, no doubt you have a high number of leads in your senior living CRM that are labeled cold or dead. The problem? Many of those leads were likely only marketing-qualified, not sales-qualified. So of course a high number of them didn’t answer the phone or return your sales reps’ calls.

Implementing lead-scoring and lead nurturing workflows for MQLs is a great solution for moving forward. But what about all those so-called cold or dead leads already sitting in your CRM? Aren’t at least some of them still viable? 

Still not sure what you need? Give us a shout.

We work closely with marketing and sales teams and can help identify ways to shore up your processes without dumping valuable dollars into a senior living sales consultant. (But if we think a sales consultant is the answer, we’ll tell you that, too!) Reach out and let’s chat →

 

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.

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!

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

Senior Living Sales Tips: Marketing Qualified vs. Sales Qualified

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

What’s the difference? Let’s dig in!

What is a marketing-qualified lead (MQL)?

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

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

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

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

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

What is a sales-qualified lead (SQL)?

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

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

Why is it important to differentiate MQLs from SQLS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

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

Here are three surprising benefits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

1. Developing a sound strategy

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

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

2. Having a senior living website optimized for conversions

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

An optimized senior living website will have the following:

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

3. Being realistic about your online advertising budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How marketing automation enhances the prospect journey

1. Keeps prospects engaged with your brand

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

2. Entices prospects back to your site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stay In Touch cold and lost lead re-engagement program

Re-Engage Cold Senior Living Leads with Our Stay in Touch Program

When it comes to the senior living leads in your database, does any of this sound familiar?

  • You have a CRM filled with hundreds of leads that fizzled and went cold—and you don’t know what to do with them.
  • Your sales team has strategies for nurturing leads that come in now—but no strategies for nurturing leads that are eighteen, twelve, or even six months old.
  • You don’t have the people-power to manually call or email all your colds leads, yet you know that you’re missing out on good opportunities.

If you were nodding your head YES as you read through the above, you’re not alone. Your senior living CRM is likely home to many old/cold leads—leads that never received any follow up.

Why didn’t they receive any follow up?

Well, as you know, prospects inquire at various stages of readiness, but sales people can only work 10 – 12 active leads at a time, so they focus on leads closest to decision. Providers know this is a problem. But most don’t have a strategy for addressing it. So, what do they do? They just keep buying new leads.

This isn’t a SMART approach.

And that’s precisely why we created our “Stay in Touch” program-to help busy sales and marketing teams re-engage cold senior living leads through a SMART marketing automation solution.

All you have to do is provide the list of cold leads, and we take it from there. Sounds great, right?

Below are some FAQs about the program.

How does the Stay in Touch program help re-engage cold senior living leads?

We’ve already created a series of surveys, offers, and emails that have proven to re-engage colder senior living leads. This content will help score and segment the leads according to their level of interest.

  • Leads with good potential get served up to your sales team.
  • Cooler leads continue through the various lead nurturing paths until they’re closer to decision and ready to talk to sales.

Why should my community use the Stay in Touch program?

We’ve done the heavy lifting for you! We’ve thought through the messaging that will most likely resonate, the offers that will entice people to take action, and the branching “logic” for the workflows.

We customize all pieces according to your community’s branding guidelines, set up everything (from emails to landing pages), and schedule emails at a rate that makes sense. Once it’s set up, it works on its own. (That’s the power and beauty of marketing automation!)

What will my community “get” from the Stay in Touch program?

The benefits are many. You’ll get . . .

    • A turnkey solution to engage cold leads and turn some of them into warm and hot leads that convert into tours and move-ins
    • More accurate views of your sales pipeline
    • A cleaner, nimbler database/CRM
    • Buy-in from marketing and sales regarding marketing automation
    • And did we mention cold leads that actually CONVERT?

I want the Stay in Touch program. What should I do next?

Let’s set up a 30-minute brainstorming session. There’s no cost for this session (and no obligation, of course). It’s simply an opportunity for you to get to know us and for us to get to know more about your community (or communities) and how you manage your senior living leads. We can also walk you through how the various elements of the Stay in Touch program work.