hubspot for senior living

7 Reasons Why We Love HubSpot for Senior Living

We think HubSpot for senior living is the bees knees. And no, we’re not saying that because we’re a HubSpot Solutions Partner. We became fans of HubSpot long before we entered their Partners Program, and the main reason is simple. (Cue Tina Turner, please.) HubSpot is simply the best. Better than all the rest! Here are seven reasons why.

1. HubSpot remains the leader in inbound marketing.

While there are many inbound marketing pioneers to thank, from Seth Godin to Meerman Scott, the founders of HubSpot are the ones who made the concept stick. Today, businesses around the globe embrace the inbound methodology. And even though many competitors have popped up, HubSpot remains the leader.

2. HubSpot believes in continuous innovation — and practices what it preaches.

One of the reasons HubSpot holds onto its leadership position is because it refuses to rest on its laurels. (Doing so is the fastest route to obsolescence.) Since its founding, HubSpot has constantly innovated and reimagined the marketing software that made it famous. 

From developing a CRM that can hold its own against all the big guys (like Salesforce) to developing marketing automation that’s equal parts robust and intuitive, HubSpot continuously impresses.

Best of all? It listens to its customers and community. HubSpot bases updates and product improvements on community feedback.

3. HubSpot for senior living is more than just marketing automation software.

When we talk up HubSpot for senior living with our clients, we often lead with marketing automation, since that’s the foundation upon which effective inbound marketing is built.

But HubSpot offers senior living marketers and sales reps so much more: an excellent CRM (or the ability to integrate with popular CRM brands), powerful analytics, and easy-to-use content management tools (just to name a few impressive product features).

Different levels of HubSpot make it easy to find the right package for your community’s size and its goals. And if you’re not sure which level is right for you, don’t worry: HubSpot works with partners (like us!) who can help. Which brings us to our next point.

4. HubSpot values partnership.

HubSpot values creating strong relationships with its customers and its formal partners (like us). HubSpot’s Solutions Partner Program enables us to deliver the best experience to our clients. So when you choose us and HubSpot, you get the support and backing of the entire HubSpot ecosystem. (Read more about the platinum tier that we achieved in 2021.)

5. HubSpot practices what it preaches and makes it easy to learn how to do inbound marketing right.

Visit the HubSpot website, download a piece of content, follow HubSpot on social media, and/or interact with HubSpot sales folks, and you’ll quickly get a lesson in effective inbound marketing tactics.

And when you need a tutorial for how to do something within HubSpot, you don’t need to look any further than HubSpot itself. It has an impressive HubSpot Academy where you can earn accreditations that’ll transform you into an inbound marketing rockstar. (And many of the certifications are free and clear, meaning you don’t even have to be a paying customer.)

6. HubSpot has great reviews and stacks up well against popular competitors.

Don’t take our word for it; read independent reviews on meaningful places like Capterra and G2. Capterra breaks down reviews on different HubSpot products (for example, CRM, CMS, HubSpot Sales), but that doesn’t make a difference: HubSpot always has at least 4 out of 5 stars (and regularly shows 4.5 stars).

Reviews on other reputable sites, like G2, are equally impressive.

7. HubSpot for senior living works, and our clients are proof.

Remember, we’re not just HubSpot promoters—we’re also a HubSpot customer. We wouldn’t recommend something that we didn’t believe in or use ourselves. Our clients are proof that HubSpot for senior living works. Check out our case studies. Then, get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help your community rock HubSpot.

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: The Marketing Hourglass

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

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

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

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

Step #1: KNOW

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

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

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

Step #2: LIKE

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

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

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

Step #3: TRUST

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

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

Step #4: TRY

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

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

Step #5: BUY

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

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

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

Focus on the following:

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

Step #6: RETAIN

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

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

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

Step #7: REFER

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

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

Our Senior Living Marketing System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A strong digital foundation includes many components:

Once that work is complete, we move into Grow.

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

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

Then, we move to Ignite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with us to learn more!

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

Business man finding the perfect fit marketing automation solution

Senior Living Marketing Automation Platforms: How to Choose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much does marketing automation cost?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What marketing automation platforms do we recommend?

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

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

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

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

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.

 


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.


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!

 

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

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

Here are three surprising benefits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

1. Developing a sound strategy

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

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

2. Having a senior living website optimized for conversions

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

An optimized senior living website will have the following:

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

3. Being realistic about your online advertising budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Living Websites: Why You Should Avoid Templates

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

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

1. Little to no flexibility.

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

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

2. Problematic backends.

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

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

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

3. Too similar to your competitors’ sites.

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

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

4. Too generic.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Little to no reliable customer service.

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

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

7. More expensive in the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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