What You Need to Know About Your Online Senior Living Competition

Competitor Analysis: How Senior Living Communities Need to Evaluate Online Competition

You’ve likely set goals and key performance indicators (KPI) for your digital marketing strategy. Hopefully, you’re reviewing the data and adjusting your strategy based on the results against your goals. But to truly analyze your digital marketing success, you have to compare it to the results from your market. In other words, you need to conduct competitor analysis. This involves monitoring and measuring your competitors’ digital marketing efforts as well.

Want to be a better online sleuth? Focus on these top four areas and follow our tips.

Content

Look at what types of content perform best. Which blogs have the most reads or the greatest number of likes and shares? What sort of content offers does the competition promote? What about videos? Infographics? You get the idea.

Pro tip: And speaking of ideas, keep track of content topics that your organization hasn’t been capitalizing on—yet. We’re not suggesting that you plagiarize, but we guarantee looking at your competitors’ content will get your own creative juices going.

Website Traffic

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when looking at competitors’ websites and related analytics. Focus on these metrics for a solid overview of a site’s performance:

  • Overall traffic by month
  • Unique traffic
  • Main sources of traffic
  • Who is visiting
  • Time on site

Pro tip: HubSpot has an excellent (and free) online website grader that can provide this top-level intel. If you want to go deeper, SimilarWeb has free and paid subscriptions.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization has changed dramatically in the last two decades. One of the foundational elements is keywords (although the way we approach keywords has also evolved over the years).

  • What keywords are they bidding for?
  • What keywords are they ranked for?
  • Do they have any quality backlinks?

Pro tip: SpyFu is a great tool for SEO competitor analysis. WordStream takes a deep dive into eight tools (including SpyFu).

Social Media and Ads

When it comes to social media, look beyond “vanity metrics,” such as the number of followers, since those are rarely accurate. Instead, focus on engagement, such as the number of shares and comments. This will give you a better idea about what content is resonating with people.

Pro tip: Social Media Examiner offers a great list of four free tools to help you analyze and compare.

See how you compare with your competition!

Want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you? That’s what we do!  Click HERE to schedule a free consultation!

What Senior Living Marketing Agencies Don't Want You to Know

What Senior Living Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to Know About Senior Living Branding

You may think you’re paying the senior living marketing agency for “custom” collateral, but in the end, it’s all the same: whatever they give you is simply another version of re-purposed designs.

Why? Because they can. Senior living marketing agencies have been doing it for decades, and richly rewarded during the process.

But here’s the good news: operators now have a better option for their senior living branding needs: our brand-on-demand technology: SMARTbrand.

Before we get into what SMARTbrand is, let’s quickly review design basics, copy, and collateral shelf life—and the inherent problems with each when it comes to senior living.

Senior Living Design Basics

Regardless of the senior living marketing project—brochures, rack cards, pocket folders, sell sheets, post cards, flyers, or invitations—limitations exist within the design structure itself. You have only so many placement options for the image, headline, copy, CTA, date and time, and RSVP fields.

Not to mention that only certain fonts work well for senior living branding (you need to avoid fonts that are too thin or too “scripty” because older eyes will have a harder time reading the copy).

And let’s face it: everyone buys the same stock images.

Senior Living Marketing Messages

There are only so many ways to describe the services, amenities, and programs that senior living communities offer. Sure, we can personalize the copy to add our branded names to the programs, but there are no new words.

Don’t believe me? Mystery-shop all of your competitors and lay out all of their collateral on the table (along with yours!) and you will see that it all looks the same and it all sounds the same.

Shelf life of Senior Living Collateral

The shelf life for most senior living collateral is under 30 days (longer perhaps for Independent Living). Event collateral and direct mail have a shelf life of under two weeks! These are the types of products that are best fulfilled with a brand-on-demand solution.

Say Hi to Our Brand-On-Demand Technology: SMARTbrand

Imagine taking all the marketing content that you’ve developed and paid for over the years and creating your own custom library for your teams to access—and doing so without ever involving an agency again.

Users could select a project, customize image and font selections from an approved gallery, and add their details (like dates, times, CTAs, RSVP info, and so forth). They then see a proof instantly and either download or professionally print the piece. And it’s not just print pieces, either. Users could also create digital assets, such as email banners and Facebook posts.

THAT’S the power of brand-on-demand technology, and it’s something we’ve perfected for the senior living industry with our SMARTbrand platforms.

Ready to save dollars, time, and endless headaches?

Demo our brand-on-demand solutions

A quick 30-min demo showcasing real web-to-print examples could change the way your

marketing department achieves slick and affordable campaigns, without the big overhead costs

associated with a third party agency!

Top 5 DIY Marketing Tips for 2019

Top 5 DIY Marketing Tips for 2019

Already working on your Q1 marketing plans? Join your fellow senior living sales and marketing professionals for this 45- minute webinar where you’ll learn helpful tips to get your promo plans in place for 2019.

  • Goal set based on numbers
  • Identify target personas
  • Select the right promotion for the job to be done
  • Select the right media for the job to be done
  • Measure a job well done

The takeaways from this webinar will help you better structure your goals, strategies, tactics and actions to drive more move-ins more effectively. We’ll also answer some of your questions.

The Five Most Important Resident Marketing Trends

The Five Most Important Resident Marketing Trends

In 2017, LeadingResponse marketed to, and surveyed, more than 250,000 prospective residents, their adult children and caregivers to gain insights, and generate new move-ins for their senior living community clients.  During this hot topic webinar, you’ll learn more about the amazing data and results that were born out of this initiative and how to use that information to dramatically improve your occupancy.

What You Will Learn:

  1. Provide the latest resident marketing trends
  2. Discuss best practices based on data to generate new move-ins
  3. Gain consumer behavior details that increase your conversion rate
  4. Learn more about very targeted efforts to yield the strongest qualified leads
  5. Discuss the difference in behaviors between face to face leads vs digital leads
What Happened? How to Improve the Customer’s Experience Webinar

What Happened? How to Improve the Customer’s Experience Webinar

Marketing, sales and operations have a blind spot into the offline customer journey once a call lands with the sales channel.  Learn ways to deliver a consistent, branded customer experience to improve revenue performance.

You’ll learn:

  • Inbound call handling best practices
  • Understanding where breakage occurs in the customer journey
  • How to effectively score all inbound customer calls
  • How to optimize media to drive more opportunities
Ensuring a Successful CRM Adoption Webinar

Ensuring a Successful CRM Adoption Webinar

You’ve done all the research and decided on your new CRM. That was the easy part. The next step – CRM Adoption – is critical in getting the most value out of your CRM. How do you get user buy-in and engagement in embracing a new CRM? How do you create a culture of inclusion, in the selection and implementation process? And most importantly, how do you engage users during training and leverage the tools after implementation?

In this recorded webinar, you’ll learn:

  1. Why User Adoption is Important
  2. How to Use Best Practices to Get High User Adoption
  3. How to Involve the Team in the Selection Process
  4. Why Management Support is So Important
  5. How Training Impacts Use Adoption

Kristin Hambleton is the Vice President of Business Development for Continuum CRM. She began her career in senior living in 2010 as the Director of Sales for a multi-site CCRC. Her strengths in leveraging the CRM data for strategic planning, coaching her team to success, and improving processes within the organization led her to her current role. Kristin’s passion is assisting other marketing & sales teams in becoming more effective in their role using their CRM.

Making It Stick - Healthcare CRM Adoption

Making It Stick – Healthcare CRM Adoption

Let’s face it: one of the least favorite tasks of senior living sales and marketing professionals is updating their lead management database or healthcare CRM.

They prefer building relationships with seniors, families, and professionals. Or maybe they gain energy from personal interactions rather than administrative tasks. Entering data, updating notes, and documenting activities . . . not so much. However, for sales managers, this documentation is crucial to identifying trends, barriers, and opportunities. Not to mention creating effective strategies.

Reduce resistance and improve healthcare CRM adoption:

1. Create a User Advisory Board

Include all user groups and stakeholders in the vetting and decision-making process. Create focus groups comprised of community, regional, and corporate sales and operations team members.

  • Assess. Make a list of everything that the team likes and dislikes about what they are using. Ask each group to make a list of their “hopes and dreams.” Sometimes teams are more comfortable using a terrible system that they know and despise rather than making a change to a better solution. Why? Fear of change. Or concerns about losing their job.
  • Brainstorm. Create a wish list of features and functions that would make their jobs easier. Ideas include intuitive user experience to simplify data entry, automated lead integration with website, live chat,  goal setting, quick links to social media, integration with training resources, and document libraries. Dream big. This is an important decision!
  • Test. When you get to the testing stage with vendors, select a representative sampling from the advisory board to have them test and provide feedback. Always include your lowest-tech community user. Because if it is too complex at that level, then none of the fancy reports, dashboards, or bells and whistles will matter.  Provide each tester with prospect info to enter. Test the steps throughout the sales process. Think documenting advances, adding notes, scheduling tours, and so forth.

Be Mindful Regarding Your Healthcare CRM Selection

  • Compare. Take the feedback from the focus groups and look for commonalities. Select a CRM that meets everyone’s needs. Each user group needs to get a win—something that saves them time, makes documentation easy, integrates systems etc.
  • Alignment. One of the most important considerations is to align your new CRM with your sales culture. For example, if your goal is to motivate your sales team to spend time developing relationships with prospects and referral sources, the CRM should have the ability to measure and reward for that behavior. If your sales culture is more task, activity, and conversion ratio-driven, select a CRM that provides that data in real time. Your CRM won’t stick if your sales culture and training says one thing, and your CRM measures something else. Your sales team will always behave according to the structure of the CRM rather than the culture and training.

Selecting the Healthcare CRM Isn’t Enough

Once you’ve made your selection, you need to prepare your team for implementation. Here’s what to do.

  • Training & Reinforcement. Budget generously for the rollout! If possible, use a training center to train small groups outside of the community setting to limit distractions and interruptions. It usually takes two to three days for the initial training. Day one is a reinforcement of your sales culture and training to create alignment with the new CRM. This can be done in a community setting. You’ll then need a full day of classroom training using a test site to practice entering leads and explore all the features and functions. Day 3 can be either a half day or whole day training to demonstrate report functions, dashboards, and more sophisticated features, such as marketing automation. Users should leave this initial training feeling competent and confident. Schedule ongoing training sessions using remote screen sharing as well as open hours and help desks for questions.
  • Data Migration. This is a great opportunity to clean up your data. Work with your CRM vendor to “de-dupe” or merge your duplicate records for leads and referral accounts. Decide if you want to migrate all of your data or move only those within a specific timeframe (for example over two years old) or with specific stages (e.g., leads labeled as “lost”). Providing a clean data set will go a long way in getting users onboard.

Want to learn more about senior living CRM adoption? Watch for our FREE WEBINAR

What Should Go On Your 2019 Marketing Wish List?

What Should Go On Your 2019 Marketing Wish List?

It’s budget season and a time to dream BIG. That is, until you realize your budget hasn’t increased from last year, even though expectations have.

Not to mention there are so many choices: digital, paid search, social media, direct mail, marketing automation, advertising, radio—the list is seemingly endless. And each of these broad categories requires more decisions (for example, Instagram vs. Pinterest or Google AdWords vs. Facebook ads).

So how should you go about creating a reasonable marketing wish list for the 2019 fiscal year? Ask yourself the following questions to get started—they cover the most important areas that we recommend to our clients. Then, build your list accordingly.

1. Is your website on its last legs?

If your website is more than two to three years old, it’s time for a new one—or a solid refresh at the very least, one that includes enhancements to improve traffic and conversions.

If your communities are on separate URLs, consider integrating them into one domain so you don’t compete against yourself for SEO and so that you create a better experience for your site visitors.

Where to begin? Start by developing buyer personas to attract your ideal prospect, investing in a keyword analysis of your rankings compared with your competitors, and building a content strategy that combines the interests of your personas with relevant topics.

Oh, and make sure your site is secure, meaning your site should be using HTTPS and not HTTP. You could see your site traffic drop considerably otherwise. Learn why here.

2. Is your content getting results?

If you blog regularly with quality content, you should expect to see three times more visitors and 3.5 times more leads per month and a 79% increase in sales revenue from website leads within one year.

Is your content struggling to give you these results? Remember: consistency and quality are the essential elements—and harder to achieve than you might think. That’s why content should always make it onto your marketing wish list. You can always improve it and make it better.

At the very least—and especially if your content is currently underperforming—invest in an editorial calendar that is keyword enriched to improve your search ranking and use professional writers to create educational content.

Also, you should budget for at least one piece of premium content per quarter (think guides, e-books, toolkits). “Gate” this content in order to convert anonymous website visitors into prospects. Invest in quality landing pages to collect contact information.

3. Would automating your marketing help convert prospects to customers?

Ninety percent of the leads on your website are not ready to buy right away. Marketing automation technology nurtures the “not yet ready” leads by providing relevant content based on their expressed interests and creates workflows to keep them engaged until they are ready for a sales interaction—and once it’s set up, it’s completely turnkey.

Marketing automation completes follow-up in a way that is dependable, timely, and consistent with brand standards. It’s like having a 24/7 virtual sales person available at all times to ensure that leads are nurtured and advanced.

But good automation technology, like HubSpot, is an added expense—but one that will pay for itself over time—which is why you should add it to your marketing wish list.

4. How’s your CRM? (You have one,right?)

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology has come a long way in the last five years. You should not settle for an old, outdated, clumsy system that is a pain for your sales team and does little more than track tasks and activities.

Good CRMs help sales teams stay focused, build stronger relationships, and leverage excellent data to inform decisions. Choose a CRM that is in alignment with your sales culture, budget, and users’ technological skillsets. Make sure it offers training and onboarding to support adoption and success.

5. Is your data easy to digest and access?

It’s not that there is a lack of data available. It’s just that it is fragmented and un-integrated.

You should be able to track every marketing channel and every touch point in the customer journey and calculate ROI to inform strategy and spending, both online and offline. You should be able to access all this info in one dashboard, in real time, and analyze it by location, portfolio, service line, or investor – any way you need it.

If you currently can’t do this, make sure you add it to the wish list. Hint: often times you can get analytics and marketing automation software in one package, so look for products that can solve both problems.

Can you think of any other smart questions to ask as people prepare their 2019 marketing wish lists? Share in the comments.

senior living marketing

The Power of Storytelling in Marketing: Use Real Images

You’ve probably heard about the power of storytelling in marketing. Resident photography and videos can be excellent ways to tell the “story” behind your brand. These images and stories can also help prospects overcome fears and stereotypes typically associated with senior living communities.

In our quest to better understand the benefits of telling stories in marketing materials, we interviewed Tom Sanders, founder of Senior Living Visuals. Tom does an excellent job of creating powerful stories through visuals. He’s created films and photo shoots seen by millions of prospects. Many of these images include residents who are veterans, artists, painters, centenarians, and long-married couples. Many have truly unique stories, such as working under John F. Kennedy or playing baseball with Jackie Robinson.

Below is our interview with Tom about the power of storytelling in marketing. Specifically, we talk about the importance of using real images.

SLS: Tell us about a compelling story that you brought to life for a senior living community.

TS: I made a three-minute film with MBK Senior Living on a painter who is going blind and has an optimistic outlook on life to keep discovering and evolving as an artist. The film titled “Lynn the Painter” was picked up by the positive news website Upworthy. To date, the film has received over a million views worldwide. Lynn chose to live at an MBK community up in northern California because it matched her personality.

SLS: What strategy or process should people follow to create a positive emotional response?

TS: In most cases, every story generally needs some sort of a story arc where there is a struggle. The “Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Conrad is a universal book that explains the struggle and overcoming of a challenge you want in every story (the book is not an easy read; you can watch this documentary on “The Hero’s Journey” here if you have limited time).

SLS: So once you’ve created these compelling themes, how do you integrate them into marketing strategies and tactics?

TS: You need to know which resident portraits are applicable to print, digital, direct mail, display ads, events, and on-site at the community. In most cases, if a photo series is photographed on a certain subject matter, such as couples who have been married for over fifty years, the photos can be used at the community level and all the way up to the corporate level for any kind of marketing.

A series shot on 80-year-old-plus athletes might only function for a calendar and the wellness/fitness section on a senior living community’s website. Films, in most cases, can live on the community’s main websites and social media platforms for two years. After two years, the wardrobe begins to look out dated and reflects poorly on your branding.

SLS: Is there any particular project that has touched you most personally?

TS: Yes, my ongoing veteran photo series with Belmont Village. Each community proudly displays a permanent exhibition of the veteran portraits of their residents. This resulted in my book from Random House, The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII.

SLS: We so often see the same stock photography used repetitively in digital and print campaigns. Most of the time, we see images that are completely unrealistic or silly, such as seniors taking rides in wheelbarrows. Do you have any thoughts on that?

TS: Please try hard not to buy stock photography and films. Your competitors are using the same stock imagery that your company is using. Photograph and create films on your residents for your marketing materials. This way, the stuff you use will be truly unique to your company, you can build a library of your own films and photos, and the marketing materials will match the real heart and soul of the characters that live within your communities.

More info on Senior Living Visuals and Tom Sanders: Senior Living Visuals was founded by Tom Sanders, a photographer, author, and filmmaker. Tom has been creating films and photography for the senior living industry nationwide for over 13 years. His book, The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII, was published with Random House in 2010. In addition, the book was named the non-fiction book of the year by Foreword Magazine.

Sanders traveled the country photographing and interviewing WWII veterans at retirement communities, launching him into the aging industry right out of college. Sanders has been interviewed on TV news over one hundred times. His short commercial films have received millions of views worldwide.

Interested in learning more strategies for exceeding prospects’ expectations?

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

senior living marketing

Senior Living Websites: 6 Questions to Ask Digital Agencies

Almost anyone can “build” senior living websites, thanks to YouTube tutorials and free website templates. But that doesn’t mean the website will work from a sales and marketing perspective. Why? Because an effective website needs a strong strategy that shows an understanding of the senior living industry.

Here are six strategy questions to ask agencies before choosing one to build your senior living website.

1. How will you drive the right prospects to my website?

Not all traffic is good traffic. The right digital agency will ask YOU about your ideal prospect: who they are, what they care about, how they search. If the agency doesn’t demonstrate a keen interest in your senior living community’s buyer personas, walk away. Otherwise, you might end up with a generic “one size fits all” website that doesn’t attract targeted traffic.

2. How will you attract ideal prospects to my senior living website?

Your digital partner should conduct keyword research. In addition, the agency should have experience with search engine optimization (SEO) for senior living. This involves understanding…

  • The search terms that prospects use when looking for senior living options
  • How often each term is searched monthly
  • How difficult it is to rank for these prized terms
  • Where you and your competitors currently stack up

Note: Senior living SEO is also a skill. Don’t be shy about asking the agency to show results that they can quantify.

3. What is your strategy to turn anonymous website visitors into contacts and leads?

Driving qualified prospects to your senior living website is just the beginning. The website also has to convert visitors into tours and move-ins. Ask the agency how they plan to accomplish this.

4. How will you nurture the early stage leads to keep them engaged?

If you generate 100 form requests, you might have 10 that will make a decision in the next 30 to 60 days. The other 90% of these contacts are “not ready.” But if you put all 100 into your senior living sales CRM, your sales team will get frustrated. They will disqualify most of the leads and move them to cold since the leads are not ready. The chances of the sales team ever returning to those “not ready” leads are slim as well.

What a good agency partner will do is make sure you have a good lead scoring plan in place. The urgent leads will go to sales. The not-ready leads will be nurtured until they are ready.

5. How will you get the right information to the right prospect at the right time?

Prospects are in different stages within their journey. Again, your digital partner should be able to identify where each prospect is and provide relevant content for each stage. Having high quality blogs and premium content (e.g., guides, checklists, and e-books) aligned with your keyword strategy is incredibly important.

6. How well does your digital partner understand your sales process?

A strategic partner will be able to articulate your prospect’s journey from the point they begin their research online through their path to conversion and move-in. Marketing strategy must be aligned with sales strategy. Most digital agencies only understand marketing, but that is not enough. Understanding the discovery, advancing, and closing process is critical in designing the right experience for prospects and for the sales team.

Bottom line: Don’t hand over the keys to your senior living website to just any ol’ agency.

Remember, building a new senior living website is going to require an investment of scarce resources: time and marketing budget. Operators expect to see results, which is why you need to make a good decision when choosing the right strategic partner.

The Senior Living SMART team has years of experience on the operator side of the industry. We understand buyer personas. Not only that, we’re experts in digital marketing. Let’s chat about your website project.

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