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senior living marketing strategy, hands with gears

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

As we wrap up third quarter, now’s a good time to think about your senior living marketing strategy for the fourth quarter (as well as next year). Below, you’ll find seven mistakes to avoid as you develop your strategy.

Mistake #1. Thinking you don’t need a senior living marketing strategy in the first place.

For some things in life, you can fly by the seat of your pants. But marketing your senior living community isn’t one of them. The benefits of having a formal marketing strategy are many:

  • It provides clear goals.
  • It keeps everyone accountable (marketing and sales).
  • It provides important insights to the C-suite.
  • It will help inform future strategies based on real intelligence.

Mistake #2. Simply going through the motions of creating a strategy.

Don’t treat your marketing strategy as one more thing you need to cross off your to-do list. Your strategy should be your team’s constant companion, the blueprint everyone refers to week in and week out. 

Mistake #3. Treating your strategy as if it’s set in stone.

Your senior living marketing strategy must remain fluid. The best example we could possibly offer: Consider the strategy you had going into 2020. Given the pandemic, if you had “stayed the course” with your original strategy, that would have been a big mistake. Strategies will and should change based on things like analytics and conditions on the ground. 

Mistake #4. Making your strategy too vague.

On the flip side of #3, you still need to have a concrete marketing strategy—one with clear goals and specific initiatives to support those goals. If it’s too loosey goosey, it won’t serve anyone. A good way to approach developing your strategy: Focus on key areas. Think website/SEO, paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing/automation, social media marketing, and print/traditional marketing (like direct mail). Define what you’ll be doing under each, as needed.

Mistake #5. Making your strategy too long.

Planning too far out can result in unwieldy and unrealistic initiatives. Better to focus on shorter time frames. Consider creating quarterly marketing strategies or even month-to-month marketing plans, if that makes following them easier.

Mistake #6. Not revisiting the results of previous strategies before developing this one.

Think of strategies as chapters in a novel — they should all flow together, rather than function as separate books. You should always review past strategies and develop new strategies based on measurable results. 

For example, is your paid advertising delivering excellent ROI? Great! You might decide to reserve more budget for pay-per-click campaigns. Are you finding you’re not gaining any traction on Twitter, but Facebook is lively? Wonderful. You might decide to downgrade (or eliminate) Twitter initiatives and make Facebook the focus of your social media strategy.

Mistake #7. Developing your strategy in a silo and/or forging ahead on your own, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

There’s no shame in saying you’ve never created a formal senior living marketing strategy before. And there’s no shame in saying you’d like some guidance (even if you have created strategies in the past). In fact, though it might sound self-serving, we do believe working with an objective third-party on your strategy can be extremely beneficial — precisely because it will be objective. You and your team might be too close to things. Or you might not have the experience in developing a sound strategy. 

Whatever you do, don’t develop the strategy by yourself. Work with team members in marketing and sales at the very least. Or do yourself a favor and reach out to us about developing a strategic marketing roadmap for your community.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, mature couple navigating websites

Make Your Web Content More Accessible to People with Disabilities with UserWay

Have you heard of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

In a nutshell, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is “developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.”

The ultimate goal? To make web content more accessible to everyone, particularly people with disabilities. 

At Senior Living SMART, we’ve always advocated making senior living websites accessible to site visitors (think older people with aging eyes, for example). We’ve taught many clients over the years about the value of adjustable text sizing, strong color contrast with fonts and backgrounds, avoiding layering text over images, and using alt tags to describe images. (Just to name a few best practices.) 

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

That said, WCAG takes accessibility to a whole new level. As Mozilla notes, “It is comprehensive but incredibly detailed, and quite difficult to gain a rapid understanding of.” And depending on what sort of business you’re in, you could face legal repercussions if your site doesn’t comply (for example, federal agencies and their contractors). 

Now, we’re not sharing this info to make you nervous. Our job is to make sure you’re aware—and to tell you about our approach to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. We’re proud to announce we’re working with UserWay as our accessibility compliance partner. 

As its website explains, “UserWay’s Accessibility Technology is the world’s most advanced and popular AI-powered accessibility compliance solution that ensures your website provides a digital experience that meets and exceeds WCAG 2.1 AA requirements, as required by the ADA and other governmental and regulatory bodies.”

UserWay has been installed in over 1.2 million websites around the globe (and counting!). It makes compliance straightforward. As noted on this user review site, UserWay’s “AI-powered widget does the job of making smart modifications on your website without the need to make dramatic changes to the existing code.”

Bottom line: UserWay is our way to help clients’ websites remain compliant and accessible to all.

Need help with your Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)? Talk to us!

We’re experts in senior living and website marketing. Let’s talk about your community’s specific needs, including making your web content accessible to everyone.

Note: Affiliate links are used in this post.

Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry, infographic

Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry

The Senior Living industry is currently undergoing a massive transition, due to the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. No aspect of the industry has been spared, including management, operations, and sales and marketing. Sara Nay, host of Duct Tape Marketing’s Agency Spark Podcast, interviewed Debbie Howard, CEO and Founder of industry marketing agency Senior Living SMART, to talk more about this. In the interview, Howard was candid about how this disruption has impacted her experience growing an agency, and how they have pivoted to better meet the needs of their clients.

A solution for the pandemic disruption

There is an entirely new reality for the industry that has been evolving since the start of the pandemic. The senior living providers that wish to survive and succeed will be those that are most innovative in working to create value-added platforms for the future. That’s where Senior Living SMART comes in. “We had to reimagine the entire prospect journey,” Howard said. “We had to create solutions that would normally be touchpoints that HAD to happen in person.” On top of that, the Senior Living SMART team found that prospects were craving content that felt “real” and provoked a feeling of human connection. The solution? Technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic created rapid and powerful momentum for the technology movement that Howard admitted had already started transforming the industry years ago. Howard recognizes that this change can be uncomfortable for the client, but she encourages them to embrace it. “Prospects are empowered to have more choice in how they want to engage,” she said.

Senior Living SMART helped clients bolster their digital footprint by incorporating:

  • Still photography (showcasing interactions between staff and residents)
  • Architectural stills with movement
  • Virtual tours
  • Facebook Live events to engage with prospects

Staying focused on the prospect

Though some of the Senior Living SMART strategy had to change, their client-focused mission never wavered. Their focus on the client’s ideal prospect (through very comprehensive persona work), set them apart. Howard cites for example the difference in experience for the adult daughter versus the adult son – emphasizing that the strategy must resonate with both. In addition to personas, Senior Living SMART provides clients with:

  • A TOPA (total online presence audit) to inform website optimization.
  • Content development (blogs, guides, eBooks, newsletters).
  • Email marketing and marketing automation.
  • Social media & paid search.

Howard emphasized that they do the paid part of the strategy last because they want to make sure the website is set up to convert inquiries to leads.

Senior Living SMART strives to be the best partner for its clients, providing comprehensive solutions based on experience and research. “In our industry, we have to make things turn-key,” she states. As part of that goal, Senior Living SMART offers clients entry to its Marketplace, which provides access to carefully vetted, best-in-class resources that will help clients grow their occupancy.

Senior Living Advertising: PPC Campaigns that Drive Conversions

Do you run pay-per-click (PPC) ads simply because everyone else does? Senior living advertising and retargeting can be extremely effective, but you need a thoughtful strategy in order to get results. Let’s Talk About Your Paid Advertising →

content marketing agency cell phone infographic

What to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency for Senior Living

When it comes to online search, content is still king. The words you use on your senior living website, blog, and social channels matter—big time.

If you’re thinking about working with a content marketing agency, here’s what to look for as you research your options.

Does the content marketing agency offer only writing services? Or can it provide a strategy as well?

Strategy informs the writing. But here’s the thing: A good content strategist doesn’t always translate into being a good writer. And a good writer doesn’t always make for a good strategist. Ideally, look for a content marketing agency that can deliver both.

Questions to ask:

  • How do they conduct their strategy work? How involved are the clients? (You should absolutely have input.)
  • How do they communicate strategy to the writer or writers?
  • How do they monitor the writer’s content to make sure it’s on track with the strategy?
  • How do they measure the content and the strategy’s overall effectiveness? What metrics do they use?

Does the agency have writers in-house? Or does it farm out everything?

It’s perfectly OK if a content marketing agency uses freelance writers. Not all agencies can employ dozens of writers. But a reputable agency should have a core staff and a solid stable filled with good freelancers. Think of it like starting pitchers and bullpens. To have a winning team, you need both.

What you want to avoid, however, is the firm that claims it’s a content marketing agency, but it outsources everything to another firm, or it outsources all writing to cheap resources. The former situation results in marked-up prices. The latter usually results in weak copy.

When it comes to writing, this old chestnut always holds true: You get what you pay for. If you want your content to convert leads into move-ins, then you need capable writers who can write compelling copy.

Do the writers understand the tenets of search engine optimization (SEO)?

Lots of great writers exist out there. But not all of them understand SEO—or how to write optimized content without sounding awkward.

Do the writers and content strategists have experience in senior living?

While this isn’t a must-have, it can be extremely helpful to work with writers and content strategists who already have working knowledge of the senior living industry. If they don’t have any experience, ask the agency how it gets writers up to speed when collaborating with clients in new industries.

What to look for in their answers:

  • Buyer personas. If the content marketing agency asks about your buyer personas and/or recommends starting with this work, that’s a good sign.
  • Keyword research. A good content marketing agency should discuss its approach to keyword research, since this work will shed valuable light on the industry itself. (Keyword research might come up during the SEO discussion as well.)

Can the content marketing agency provide examples of content and strategy that delivered big ROI?

Remember, strategy and copy go together like peanut butter and jelly. Reputable content marketing agencies shouldn’t have any qualms about sharing examples of strategies and content that converted.

If the agency has direct experience in senior living, make sure you ask to see industry-specific examples of blog posts and premium content, like guides and e-books. Ask specifically about conversions: marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads to move-ins. After all, increasing occupancy is the number one goal for senior living communities.

Do you like the agency’s content?

A content marketing agency should be putting its best face forward on its website and in its marketing materials. This means compelling, clear, and clean copy.

  • How does the site read?
  • Does the copy have personality?
  • If the agency has a blog, is it regularly updated with interesting content?
  • Does the agency offer premium content, like e-books and white papers? If yes, what’s the copy “experience” like from landing pages to thank-you emails?
  • How about social media? What do you think of the voice, the content, and the topics being discussed in different social media channels?
  • Does the site have a team page with bios? Do the writers’ bios demonstrate strong experience? (Check out the various writers’ LinkedIn profiles for further insights, including any public endorsements.)

Listen to your gut. If you’re not liking the agency’s own website or you spot errors (like grammar issues), move on.

marketing senior living communities couple on computer

Marketing Senior Living Communities: 3 Ways to Keep it Real

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to marketing senior living communities is making sure the community sounds different from all the other ones out there. This is no easy feat since most communities are essentially selling the same thing.

Need some help standing out? Here are three strategies for creating authentic content so that you don’t sound like everyone else.

1. Paint vivid pictures and tell compelling stories.

Most senior living communities talk about the same features and amenities—and in the same boring ways.

  • We have a fitness center and lots of fun activities! (Really? So does the gym down the street.)
  • We have a chef who makes nutritious and delicious meals! (As opposed to all those chefs making unhealthy, yucky meals?)
  • We have the most beautiful grounds and views! (Prove it. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

While these features are no doubt relevant, you should recast them in a fresh light if you want to differentiate your community from all the others.

Ask yourself…

  • What makes your fitness center and activities so special?
  • What makes your food so great?
  • What makes your grounds so special?

Dig deep. Find the diamonds. What do we mean by that? Well, consider the following blurbs—and the pictures they paint and the stories they tell.

Fitness is a way of life in our community. One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit our community is our on-site fitness center. It’s near the main entrance, and it’s in a gorgeous building with lots of natural light thanks to all the windows. But that’s not why you’ll notice it. You’re going to notice it because you’re going to FEEL the energy pulsing out of it, thanks to always-full classes in things like yoga, Tai Chi, Zumba.

Life is delicious, and so is our food—just ask Barbara. Barbara likes her eggs sunny side up and her coffee strong and black. She loves Reubens for lunch or our chef’s chicken salad—although she’s been known to opt for freshly made sushi when the mood strikes. For dinner, she loves a good roast or hearty pasta with meat sauce. And don’t forget the wine and charcuterie board beforehand that she has in our on-site pub. And did we mention the after-dinner drinks, cake, and conversation? In the warmer weather, you can find Barbara having her meals outside on our lovely patio. In the winter, she likes sitting by the roaring fire with a hot cuppa. She loves attending bread-making class on Saturday mornings and the gingerbread house-decorating party during the holiday season. (Barbara’s grandkids love this as well). But perhaps what Barbara likes best? “Someone else is doing all the cooking and cleanup!” she says with a laugh. “I just get to enjoy!” Wouldn’t you like to be Barbara?

Welcome to your happy place. We have five miles of gorgeous walking trails. In the spring, our gardens bloom with tulips and daffodils. Our resident bird-watching group keeps everyone up to speed on the various activities—from hummingbird sightings in May to hawk watching in September. Our property is filled with flowering dogwoods, mighty oaks, and maples with leaves so red they rival a sunset. Every window has a view—and offers up something new to see, like a chipmunk skittering over a rock wall, a turkey wandering near the woods, even a fox or two! Nature is so incredibly calming and revitalizing. We have plenty of benches to sit and simply “be.”

We’re riffing here, but you get the idea. Describe all the “usual” things like food, activities, and the property itself, but do it authentically so that no one could ever confuse your community with another one down the road.

2. Don’t use stock photos.

Stock photos can’t adequately capture the essence of your community. Not to mention, we often see the same stock photos showing up on competing websites. Don’t do this! Custom photography is an investment, but a worthwhile one.

With custom photography . . .

  • You can show real people living real lives in a real environment—your community.
  • You won’t have to worry about the same photo showing up on a competitor’s website.
  • You can caption the photos and reinforce the fact these are real residents and real staff in your community.

Update your photo library at least once a year (ideally, once a quarter). Photos can and should be repurposed for blog posts, print collateral, and—perhaps most importantly—social media, like Facebook and Instagram.

3. Give people click-worthy info.

If you’re going to write compelling narratives and paint vivid pictures, you need to do so every step of the way on your website. Entice people with interesting calls-to-action (CTAs) and make sure the content you’re serving up is worthy of a click.

For example, in the food/dining blurb we included in our first point above . . . what if you included two CTAs at the end of it: MEET OUR CHEF and EXPLORE OUR SUMMER MENU.

The “Meet Our Chef” CTA would open a lightbox with a video of your chef talking about their culinary point of view and what they love about creating food in your community. Or perhaps it leads to a Q&A blog post, complete with pictures that help your chef tell their story.

For the “Explore Our Summer Menu” call-to-action, this would open an actual menu that highlights different dishes. Think of nice restaurants and their menus—the way they describe ingredients and techniques as well as the pictures of scrumptious-looking dishes. Think of how you feel after you look at one of these yummy-looking menus. That’s the same feeling you’re trying to achieve here.

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

Last week, we discussed why all senior living websites should have a blog. Now, let’s talk about the anatomy of a great senior living blog post.

1. Have a plan and a point of view for your senior living blog.

This is also known as “write regularly about compelling topics that your prospects care about.” Keep things organized and moving forward by creating an editorial calendar. It doesn’t need to be fancy, either. Add a working title (one that’s compelling and that includes a keyword phrase you’re targeting), any relevant notes, the due date, and the assigned writer.

Need ideas for topics? Turn to…

  • FAQs. Think about the common questions people ask your sales team and/or the questions you get on Live Chat.
  • Your competitors. Are they covering any topics you’ve overlooked? We’re not suggesting plagiarizing—the content you write should always be original—but you can certainly go to other sites for inspiration.
  • Senior-focused publications. Both online and in print. Again, think inspiration.
  • Your staff. And not just marketing and sales, either. Ask everyone—operations, dining, activities, and so forth—about topics they think would be important to cover. (Bonus: you might be able to use these folks as subject matter experts and/or as guest contributors.)
  • Analytics. Google Analytics and Good AdWords reveal keyword phrases that are bringing people to your site. Could any of those keyword phrases become additional blog content?
  • Keyword tools, such as SEMrush and BuzzSumo, can provide excellent insights—and ideas.

2. Focus on a keyword phrase (but don’t be spammy about it).

Again, always write for humans first, search engines second. You’ll find lots of advice online about where to place keyword phrases and how many times to use each phrase, but the truth is that no one knows what goes into Google’s algorithm.
Yes, it makes sense to use the keyword phrase in the title tag since that cues Google—and readers—what the blog post is about. And it makes sense to use it in your compelling headline. From there, just use the phrase—and various synonyms—naturally in your blog post.

Note: Google does tend to like an organized format, so if you can use the keyword phrase (naturally) in sub-headlines and bulleted/numbered lists, go for it.

3. Mind your grammar, spelling, and punctuation!

This matters to readers AND Google. (Google is wicked smart.) Nothing can torpedo a great topic like lousy mechanics. If the person writing the blog post isn’t a writer by trade, that’s OK—just make sure you have someone with writing/editing chops who can review the work before it goes live.

4. Watch your tone.

Your blog is a great place to be friendly and conversational. And yes, you can still be those two things while also being professional. Avoid “stiff” writing. It’s OK to use contractions, end sentences with prepositions, start sentences with “and” or “but,” and write fragments, all of which will help support a friendly, approachable, conversational style.

5. Write about those things that no one else wants to talk about.

OK, this tip isn’t for every senior living community, but if you truly want your community to stand out, then this could be a good differentiator.

Talk about hard things, but in a friendly, approachable way. Example: Tips to Prevent UTIs for Healthier Bladders.

Or how about this: Sex After 70 – It’s Good For You! You get the idea. These aren’t the sorts of topics you’ll see on many other senior living community blogs, but they ARE the types of topics that—if done right—can help your community stand out in a good way.

6. Consider hiring a professional writer.

So, here’s the thing: lots of people can write, even though they don’t wear the label “professional writer.” As long as the mechanics are sound (see point #3 above), it’s good to have a variety of voices and styles on your blog. So you might not need a professional writer, provided you have a solid marketing person who can lead the efforts and proofread/revise posts as needed.

That said, if you don’t have a person like this available on staff (and not all communities do), then yes—it does make sense to hire a professional writer. But hiring a pro doesn’t mean you should get lazy about having original content. You should make sure the writer has access to “people on the ground” (in other words, the subject matter experts in your community). Otherwise, you can expect generic content that readers can find anywhere (like “5 chair exercises for seniors”).

7. Tell people what they should do when they get to the end.

When people get to the end of the blog post, tell them what to do. This is called the call to action or CTA. It might be links to related content, an invitation to subscribe to the blog, or a download. Bottom line: Engage them further. They got to the end of your blog post, after all, so you have their attention.

You can also experiment with providing CTAs throughout the content. Just make sure these CTAs don’t distract people. You can determine this through your website and blog analytics by seeing how long people stay on the page or even if they get to the bottom of the page.

8. Measure results.

Speaking of blog analytics, you want to get a sense of topics that tend to be popular so you can develop more content like it. But you also want to pay attention to lower-performing blog posts so that you can give them some extra TLC and help them perform better.

It takes less time and money to fix/tweak existing content than it does to create new stuff, so you might as well spend the time getting ALL content to hum. Experiment with page titles, try tweaking/revising sections, re-format, add different CTAs, and so forth. If you substantially change a blog post, add a note somewhere that says “Updated on THIS DATE” and consider republishing it to gain some traction.

9. Lather, rinse, repeat (aka: do more of what works).

Blogging is a long-game. Do more of what works, tweak and improve what’s lagging, and keep an open mind when it comes to trying something new and different.

Need help with blogging?

We have writers, editors, and strategists available for short-term or longer-term contracts. Choose what works for your situation. Let’s chat about it.

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!

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.