Why should you audit your senior living website? First, it’s easy to get too close to something and gloss over problems. Second, your senior living website isn’t static. In order for it to work hard for you, it needs to constantly evolve.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to auditing your site, broken down into relevant sections: the buyer’s journey, the senior living website design, technical stuff, content, and analytics/results.
THE BUYER’S JOURNEY
All of your marketing and sales efforts should begin and end with the buyer’s journey. If you truly understand your buyers—who they are, what they want, where they are in their process—then you’re already way ahead of the game.
So how can you tell if your website effectively serves your buyers during the various points of their journeys?
Many strategies exist from heat mapping (a tool that allows you to see where site visitors focus and click) to user studies to website’s analytics.
But sometimes the best thing you can do is ask yourself to view the site from different perspectives.
For example, if I’m an adult child who is researching living arrangements for an aging parent with dementia, does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next? Or if I’m a senior who is searching for a next step for my spouse and myself—and I need to make a move this year—does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next?
Your site needs to clearly communicate the right message to different buyers. This includes the various stages the buyer might be in—awareness, consideration, decision. And your site needs to help people self-identify so they know where to click next.
LOOK AND FEEL
Does senior living website design say 2020 or 1999?
Your senior living website design needs to be modern and fresh. It’s surprising how quickly designs can look dated. Even a five-year-old design can feel old.
Does the site render well/correctly on various devices?
You absolutely need a website that’s “responsive.” In other words, it must automatically adjust itself to render properly on devices of various sizes—desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.
Does the site design work for your audience?
Your site talks to an older demographic. But not all modern fonts were developed with aging eyes in mind. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice a modern feel for excellent functionality in today’s design landscape. But you do need to be aware—and, more importantly, make sure your designer is aware—of this specific need.
Does the site design SPEAK to your audience?
More than just colors and font size, you need images that convey and capture your community. Avoid stock photography and invest in pictures depicting real places and real people. Got an awesome bar with a cozy fireplace that residents love using? Make sure you have a photo of that.
Is the website navigation simple and clear?
Organize the navigation in a way that makes sense to site visitors and to the all-mighty Google. Your navigation also needs to adjust for small devices (think hamburger menus on phones). In fact, the navigation in the desktop version of your site will and should look different from the way it displays on phones.
Is your site optimized for search?
Essentially, you need to build your site in a way that’s easy for search engines like Google to find, crawl, and index the various pages on your site. Sounds simple on the surface, but there’s a lot that goes into effective search engine optimization (SEO).
Is the site fast?
Your site must load quickly. You’re already working in a crowded space. Don’t make it any easier for people to write off your community’s website.
Is the site secure?
A secure site is important for two reasons. First, it’s important to your prospective buyer. More and more people know to only click on secure websites (those that begin with https) even if they can’t articulate why. Second, Google now uses https as a ranking signal.
Do the techie add-ons/tools serve the site visitor?
Cool tools abound. But whatever plug-in you add to your site, it needs to help prospects on their journey. Live chat that’s operated by real humans (at least some of the time) is better than a bot you install and forget about.
Do you need to change hosting companies?
This is often an overlooked technical item, which is why we talk about seven signs it’s time to change hosting companies.
Is the messaging clear, concise, and consistent across the entire site?
Again, thinking of your buyers first, you need messaging that speaks directly to them in clear, concise, and consistent language. We wrote a post a few years ago about four important questions your site visitors want answered on senior living websites. These questions are still true today: can I afford it, where will I live, what will I do, and will I be cared for?
Demonstrate through words, images, and downloadable content how you answer these questions and perceived problems.
Does the site have compelling offers for people at various points in their journey?
By “offers,” we mean premium content that people get for free in exchange for giving up some information about themselves—particularly name, email, and where they are in their journey. You need to develop content for every stage of the infamous sales “funnel.”
Does the site have enticing calls-to-action (CTAs)?
CTAs essentially tell people what you want them to do next. That next step, in most cases, won’t be something like “Call now.” Think about the page you’re adding the CTA to. The next step might be reading a blog post with further information or it might be downloading a free guide. And yes, in some cases, it might be “Call now.”
Do you offer plenty of ungated content that demonstrates expertise?
Not everyone is ready to give their name, email, and phone number. Make sure your site has plenty of “ungated” content (meaning no form required) like a blog. And make sure the material isn’t fluffy and superficial.
ANALYTICS & RESULTS
A truly effective senior living website is one the delivers results. For most of us, the all-important benchmark is the lead-to-move-in conversion rate. Of course, other metrics along the way are important, such as page views and bounce rates.
Make sure you have someone on the marketing side and sales side tasked with regularly reviewing analytics and understanding 1) how to interpret them correctly and 2) how to respond to them appropriately.
For example, maybe site traffic has gone up and everyone is cheering. But unless your conversions have gone up as well, what does it matter, right? More traffic is simply that: more. You need targeted traffic that results in increased move-ins. Hint: Here are five marketing metrics everyone on the team should understand.
Remember, you don’t have to go it alone.
Your marketing and sales teams are busy as it is. At Senior Living SMART, we provide just the right amount of support your team needs.
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