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The Magic of Higher Funnel Thinking Webinar

The Magic of Higher Funnel Thinking Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • Valuable insight into marketing resource and effort allocation
  • Actionable tips for engaging older adults and their families sooner with minimal effort
  • Information about how decision science can influence marketing content
  • Proven path to getting families “unstuck” in their senior living decision process
Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital marketing has become a catch-all phrase for a wide variety of marketing and even sales activities. We thought it would make sense to define what we mean by digital marketing for senior living.

The word “digital” is key.

Synonyms of digital marketing include online marketing or Internet marketing. Essentially, digital marketing is all the marketing stuff you do that isn’t tangible (in the physical sense). Think emails, blogs, social media, pay-per-click advertising, and—of course—websites. You get the idea. All of those things happen in cyberspace, as opposed to some of the more traditional marketing efforts senior living communities are used to doing, like giving tours or hosting events or sending direct mailers.

Digital marketing for senior living vs. inbound marketing – what’s the difference?

Some folks make the mistake of thinking senior living digital marketing is the same thing as inbound marketing. In our minds, the reverse is truer: all inbound marketing is digital marketing, but not all digital marketing is inbound.

Inbound marketing involves attracting the people who are already looking for your services/products through tactics like excellent website optimization, compelling offers, and sticky blogs and social media profiles. And where do people typically “look” for products or services these days? Online.

So, if you’ve got an optimized website and an awesome blog filled with keyword-rich terms your audience is searching on—and said audience is coming to your site organically to learn more about your senior living community, then that’s inbound marketing/digital marketing.

But what if you buy a list of email addresses and send “cold” emails to the entire list? Emails come under the umbrella of digital marketing, but, in this case, the emails wouldn’t qualify as inbound marketing. Rather, it’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare.

Or think about ads you see online. Some hit the mark—the ads might actually be for something YOU are interested in, so you click. But often times, they don’t match your needs/wants, so you ignore them. Again, that’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare. See the difference?

Yeah, we might be splitting hairs, and, no doubt, some people will disagree with our definitions. We always tell our clients that they shouldn’t get too hung up on definitions anyway. In order for everything to make sense, use common sense. It likely makes sense to most people that “digital” means “online.”

Why is digital marketing so important to the senior living industry?

You already know the answer. Think about it. Many of your current residents began their search online, right? And the majority of your future residents (and their families) will definitely begin their search online. So you need digital marketing to help attract these folks and keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You’ll accomplish this through digital marketing efforts, such as the following:

  • Having an optimized website that allows people searching for a senior living community like yours to pop up regularly in their searches
  • Offering excellent content that people can’t get anywhere else (e.g., download of floor plans, virtual tours, guides about things to do in the area)
  • Having an easy way to score prospects who visit your site (e.g., cold, warm, hot) – and to have the appropriate automated follow-ups for each type
  • Making sure other sources of information about your community—particularly review sites and business listings—are up to date and responsive to both positive and negative feedback
  • Creating thoughtful pay-per-click advertising strategies wherever you do them (Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, digital ads on third-party sites)

 Senior Living SMART "Why Digital Marketing?" eBook

Senior living digital marketing is more than simply a necessity.

Digital marketing isn’t just something you need to do in this competitive online world. Yes, you need to play, but digital marketing also offers several benefits.

When done right, it takes a heavy load off marketing and sales.

You can’t have a sales person working 24/7, but your digital marketing efforts can work 24/7. For example, when you build a wonderfully optimized website with excellent info, it doesn’t matter if someone enters at 2PM or 2AM, as long as they can find the info they need and you can engage with them (e.g., via a form submission, newsletter sign-up, request for more info, even a helpful bot-chat).

When done right, it’s easy to duplicate/replicate.

Some of the sweetest words in a marketer’s ears: “Lather, rinse, repeat.” In the old days of direct snail mail, marketing and sales teams were at the mercy of designers, printers, and budgets. Today’s digital marketing is all about turnkey customization, like email templates you can make your own with a few clicks, clone with another click, and schedule as far out as you want. Take “winning” campaigns (email, social, PPC) and duplicate them to run again and again.

When done right, it’s easy to measure success.

The ultimate metric in senior living marketing is move-ins. But the great thing about digital marketing is you can measure all the other benchmarks that lead to the move-in, such as first contact, tour requests, and so forth.

How much of your senior living marketing budget should you spend on digital marketing?

The bulk of your marketing budget today will be spent on digital marketing efforts (welcome to 2020!). We’re talking a powerful, high-converting website and all that goes with it (e.g., hosting, maintenance, basic updates, content creation, and any special elements like live chat); email marketing (newsletters, lead-nurturing/drip campaigns); social media; reputation management (review sites); and, most likely, some form of online advertising.

Sure, you’ll likely still have some outbound efforts/needs as well (e.g., snail mail, billboards, traditional advertising), but we’re definitely seeing more and more of a shift in budgets. Depending on your goals and your community’s size, your split might be 60% digital marketing and 40% more “traditional” marketing, or you might be seeing more of an 80/20 split. Our point: more and more of your marketing dollars will be going towards digital marketing efforts this decade.

Digital marketing in the senior living space is a lot to take in. Don’t go it alone.

In fact, why not work with digital marketing experts who are ALSO experts in the senior living industry? That would be us. :)  We can guide your digital marketing efforts, making sure they follow industry best practices (and we mean both industries: senior living and marketing!).

Let’s Chat

30-minute no-obligation brainstorming session.

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

What senior living marketing trends should you be paying attention to?

So glad you asked.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #1: Always Think Mobile First.

An average of 68% of our clients’ website views and conversions happen on mobile phones. Websites built with a “mobile first” design will outperform websites built for only desktop experiences.

Remember, the real estate for messaging and lead conversion shrinks dramatically on smartphones. This means you must put the most important info at the TOP of the site.

Let’s break it down:

  • Copy. Messaging must be clear, concise, and explain the problem you solve and who you serve.
  • Navigation. Think simple organization. Focus on the most important information prospects are looking for, like locations and care levels. Design elements should include drop-down menus to easily access specific information. Or you should implement a properly-tested hamburger menu or jumbo menu.
  • CTAs (Calls to Action). Encourage visitors to take an action, but give them different options. Use colorful buttons designed for clumsy thumbs on the go. Be sure the phone numbers on the website are dynamic, too. For example, use “click to call” with tracking to measure website conversions.

FREE Website Assessment

Get out your cell phone and pull up your website to test the mobile experience.

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #2: Hyper-Target Prospects.

A recent user experience study published by Acquia reports that 80% of customers want greater personalization. In fact, respondents claim they would be more loyal to a brand that demonstrates an understanding of who they are.

The only way to get the right content to the right prospect at the right time, however, is to have the ability to track their behavior. Here is what you should need to track:

  • Everything prospects are doing on your website: You need to know how often they visit and what pages/blogs they’re visiting so you can personalize your follow-up based on each prospect’s specific interests. Marketing automation is an effective way to accomplish this.
  • Engagement: Consider the following…
    • Email opens and clicks
    • Paid advertising clicks and conversions from Google AdWords and Facebook
    • CTA interactions to track if they have downloaded a brochure or guide, requested a call back or scheduled a tour, and/or engaged with live chat or a survey.

Score leads based on the actions prospects take on your website. This will help you identify prospects with the greatest opportunity to advance and close.

  • ROI. Senior living providers should have a way to track the return on investment of every lead generation source. Your marketing team or agency should have the technology to quantify the cost per conversion and cost per move-in by channel. Extra points if you can also calculate the resident lifetime value based on actual revenue and length of stay data.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #3: Move to Open Source Technology.

“Consistently delivering convenient, personalized experiences across all channels requires technology that can readily access all the data personalization demands and flexibly support CX online, in-store, and everywhere else,” reports Acquia.

The senior living technology space has been dominated by closed-source platforms that do not allow integration into all of the data sources operators need to optimize their marketing results.

Our clients are moving away from these antiquated solutions in favor of newer open source technology providers that allow operators muhc more freedom and choice.

Here are the signs that it’s time to change your website hosting or CRM company:

  • The website is built on a proprietary platform. What this can mean…
    • You cannot make changes, updates, or edits to your own website.
    • They do not have or will not share an API key to allow integration with marketing automation, live chat, interactive surveys etc.
    • They decide what to measure. The problem? It’s usually not what really matters.
  • The senior living CRM is not integrated with a marketing automation platform OR it forces you to use their solution rather than the best-in-class that you would prefer. It does not connect to your website forms and/or third-party lead providers. This means any data entry on your end will have to happen manually. You cannot get the reports you need, such as lead generation by channel.

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

Schedule a call with the Senior Living SMART team today. These senior living marketing trends will likely define the next decade. Don’t get left behind! Simple, strategic changes can make all the difference.

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

I recently listened to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast featuring Mark Shaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. The podcast addresses the “new reality” of marketing strategy. The insights are timely and relevant for the senior living industry.

The new reality is that the customer is in control of their own journey—and no two customers are alike. The buying journey in senior living is complex and emotional, often involving multiple decision makers and influencers. This journey is rarely linear, so today’s senior living marketers have to create an environment for prospects to be able to engage with the brand at every stage of their journey. We need to meet them wherever they are. Then, we must provide the information they need and nurture them along the path. Finally, we must keep them engaged until they make the decision to move forward.

When it comes to senior living marketing today, there have been three distinctive shifts.

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

Information is power, and we senior living marketers used to have it. Prospects had to call or visit the community to get any information. For example, pricing, floor plans, and marketing collateral were provided personally or snail-mailed out. And prospects waited for the information to come in their mailboxes!

Today, prospects expect to get information about everything on your senior living website. And if you don’t give it to them, they will quickly move to a competitor or third-party lead aggregator site. We are now marketing to a “shop-around” society, and they expect to be able to independently research and compare their options.

2. Shift in Transparency

There is no room for secrets in today’s senior living marketing strategy. Trust in business, brands, and advertising has declined for the last 10 years, and today’s prospects want to self-qualify or self-disqualify without a sales pitch.

What can a senior living marketer do? One of the most important things is putting your pricing on your website (the starting rates at the very least). If you don’t provide your pricing, the lead aggregators will, and you will be buying back your own leads!

3. Shift in Control

Our prospects are becoming the marketers, because we no longer control the conversation. They listen to each other, they learn from each other, and they trust each other (more than they trust us). We no longer control our message—social channels and review sites do. Our job has shifted from leading the conversation to finding ways of being invited into the conversations that prospects are already having.

We can, however, initiate conversations and offer expertise and resources, such as blogs, guides, and infographics. And we can make sure that our messaging intersects with where prospects are researching.

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

Successful senior living marketing today starts with the right strategy. Operators that jump at every bright shiny new marketing tactic will end up wasting a lot of money without results. There is no point in spending budget on a paid digital advertising campaign if the website is not designed to convert the leads generated. More traffic does not equal more prospects, and more leads won’t always translate into the right leads.

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.

7 Signs It's Time to Change Your Website Hosting Company

Senior Living Website Tips: Make Sure You Own Your Website

Consider this important statistic: 87% of senior living prospects will visit a community website before they pick up the phone, attend an event, or schedule a tour. Your website is your virtual front door!  

If you put the work and money into your website, make sure you OWN it. Because older, closed, and proprietary platforms will limit your ability to own your strategy, decisions, and results

Senior living website tips: warning signs to watch out for 

1. The website will be hosted on a proprietary CMS (content management system).

Your web designer or digital marketing agency might talk about their cool content management system. But what happens to your senior living website if you decide you want to work with a different agency or designer? The digital agency will own the license and, therefore, your brand…and they might not be willing to part with either.

If that’s the case, you’ll basically be a captive of the agency since there won’t be a way to simply “move” the site from one vendor to another. You’ll need to completely rebuild the site at a cost of many thousands of dollars.

2. The designer/agency doesn’t have an open API because they don’t want their clients to integrate with solutions other than their own.

Controlling integration on the website means providers will have to buy packaged solutions owned by the agency rather than allowing clients to choose their own integrations and tools.

3. Automated lead response emails are signed by the website hosting company, not the community sales and marketing team.

The goal of marketing automation is to build rapport and trust with your brand, not with the hosting company’s brand!

4. Website designs are out-of-the-box with locked-down templates.

This means that providers will have to pay extra (and wait in line) for customization. And again, see the first point: You might not even OWN the customization on your senior living website.

5. The only people that can make changes to the website are employed by the digital agency.

Just, no! You and your team should be able to easily make changes on your own. That’s the beauty of WordPress sites or sites built using content management systems where you own the files/content (like on HubSpot).

6. There is no written guarantee that the content on your senior living website belongs to you.

If there’s no written guarantee, then the digital agency could claim it as their content. This includes copy, images, videos, history, analytics, and reports. We can’t stress this point enough. READ CONTRACTS CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU SIGN. Here’s a good article that gets into the nitty-gritty of website ownership and clauses to look out for.

7. There is a 12-month commitment, lengthy notice period, and/or or auto-renewal clause.

You should be able to take your business elsewhere whenever you want (or at least within a reasonable time frame, like 30 days). Sure, it can sound appealing to have an “all in one” solution, but the lower price point and so-called conveniences are NOT worth it if you end up losing control of your senior living website and brand. Not to mention that the lost lead-generation opportunities will cost you more in the long run.

Work with a digital marketing agency that will RESPECT your brand—and your autonomy! Hint: That would be us!

We hope these senior living website tips were helpful. Need more help? Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session ASAP!

The Marketing Agency Trap in Senior Living

The Senior Living Marketing Agency Trap

We are a senior living marketing agency. Over the years, we’ve worked with marketing agencies, and weve hired marketing agencies at various times throughout our growth. This gives us a unique perspective on the pros and cons of the typical marketing agency model. 

Here are some of the lessons weve learned about the agency world. 

Lesson #1: Be Wary of the Ol’ Bait & Switch.

Too often, a strategic leader in the marketing agency will woo you, but the minute the deal closes, they disappear.

That’s a big problem because the greatest value provided by an industry-specific marketing agency is in the development of the strategy. If you don’t have a sound marketing strategy, nothing else matters.

On a couple of occasions in our earlier years, we were “sold” by a charismatic and strategic agency leader with great insights and ideas. But after we signed the contract, we never saw or spoke to that person again.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, learn how often the strategic leader will be joining results calls and strategy sessions.  (They should be involved at least quarterly.) Make sure you have this point outlined in the contract. Psst: When you work with Senior Living SMART, you always get one of us—the founders—on your team.

Lesson #2: Remember, You Get What You Pay For.

In the world of marketing agencies, the budget you’re willing to spend will determine the experience and quality of the team assigned.

Only clients with the largest budget will get the A Team. Agencies employ marketing specialists with a wide variety of experience levels from entry level on up. This means, you may end up with a B, C, or D team based on your spend.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, find out all you can about the people on your marketing “team.” This should include their professional marketing experience, how long they’ve been with the agency, and what other senior living clients they’ve worked with. You can learn all about our senior living marketing team here.

Lesson #3: Make Sure Your Brand is NEVER Held Hostage.

Read your marketing agency contract carefully and be sure that you own your content and brand elements! We’ve worked with senior living clients who’ve discovered their agency would not release their logos, images, and creative files to them. In essence, the agency was basically holding the brand hostage.

Pro Tip: Always retain the original art files, brand guidelines, logos, and images you purchase. And have an attorney double check your contract before signing.

Lesson #4: Be Skeptical of Too Many Trade Secrets.

In the course of delivering a great digital marketing experience, agencies will employ multiple technologies for analytic and diagnostic purposes. Most will “white label” these resources so they can retain the licenses and own the marketing “secrets.”

This might be OK while you’re working with the agency. But in the future, you might want to transfer the licenses to yourself or another agency—and you shouldn’t have to lose your historical data in order to do so. Here are some examples where the data and analytics can really pile up: marketing automation software, reputation management, social sharing platforms, SEO, and heat mapping tools.

Pro Tip: Before signing the contract, get a list of all tools and technologies that will be used to manage your account and be sure there is a process to transfer all licenses to you or your next agency.

Lesson #5: Your Agency’s Idea of “Success” Doesn’t Match Yours.

We worked with marketing agencies that were always excited to report their wonderful results in reaching various goals. The problem? Their goals were NOT our goals.

Goal setting should be collaborative and realistic. Don’t be fooled by the fluff reporting of impressions, views, clicks, and website traffic. In the senior living industry, the best measurements of success are conversions-to-leads, tours, and move-ins.

Pro Tip: Ask about reporting up front. What will be measured? What are the sources of truth? How will ROI be determined?

Learn from our lessons and avoid these mistakes!

And if you’re looking for a senior living marketing agency that works exclusively in the senior housing and care industry, we’d love to chat. Click here to schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session.

Another At-Bat: How to Rescue A Missed Opportunity Webinar

Another At-Bat: How to Rescue A Missed Opportunity Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • Inbound call handling best practices
  • Understand why calls fail
  • Expose blind spots in the customer journey
  • See how to calculate what its costing your organization to not effectively capture calls.
To Publish or Not to Publish? That is the Question About Community Pricing Webinar

To Publish or Not to Publish? That is the Question About Community Pricing Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • How to build a family/prospect experience strategy that scales.
  • How to interject powerful touch points that wows the family/prospect.
  • How to measure the efficacy of your customer experience strategy.
  • How to build your customer experience plan to deliver.
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!

How to Build Your 24/7/365 Senior Living Sales Team

How to Build Your 24/7/365 Senior Living Sales Team

Fifty percent of all senior living sales inquiries occur outside of regular business hours. Prospects often engage during early mornings, after work, and on weekends when full-time sales teams are not typically in the community. And keep in mind that these prospects aren’t just looking at your community; they’re likely engaging with several at the same time.

This can create challenges since studies show that the sales person who responds to the prospect first—”speed to the lead”—has the best chance of converting them. So building a 24-hour virtual sales team is a must if you want your community to remain competitive.

Sound like a daunting task? Here’s the good news: Many solutions exist to help you fill in the sales “gap” during off hours.

Website – Your 24-Hour Sales Office

Eighty-seven percent of your prospects begin their journey on your website—and it’s open 24 hours a day.

What information should you have on your site? Think about the top 10 questions that prospects ask your sales people during the inquiry process (and what resources the sales team provides) and make sure that those answers and resources are easily accessible on your website.

For example, prospects usually want to know what your community offers, so information on accommodations, amenities, activities, and care should be accessible with downloadable brochures, calendars, menus, and floor plans. Extra points for video tours and photo galleries, since most people prefer to consume information visually rather than reading a lot of copy.

Prospects also want to know about pricing, so tell them (at least the “starting at” pricing). Pricing transparency improves qualified lead conversion. People use pricing information to self-qualify—or disqualify—themselves, which will give your sales teams a better chance to work with high-conversion opportunities.

Finally, prospects want to educate themselves before they get a sales pitch, so having educational blogs, guides, and checklists to help prospects make an informed decision will go a long way in building trust.

Make sure that there are CTAs (calls to action) throughout your website to lead your visitors down a path to conversion, such as scheduling a visit, requesting a call back, or subscribing to a newsletter. Each CTA creates an opportunity to convert an anonymous visitor into a lead.

Download our eBook

for marketers looking to get the most out of inbound phone calls

See real-time, working community examples of integrating these technology solutions helped to complement existing sales team.

Marketing Automation/ Lead Nurturing

If someone called into your community or scheduled a tour, your onsite sales team would follow up, right? Marketing automation creates workflows for ongoing lead nurturing after prospects leave your website—without your community sales team doing a thing.

Even better? The most powerful marketing automation will allow you to personalize the content and messaging based on each prospect’s interests. Lead nurturing that is both automated and personal tends to have the highest conversions.

Not convinced? Well, imagine this: someone comes to your website at 10 PM on a Saturday and they request a brochure. Your sales team is not available and your prospect does not want to wait for the information. No worries! As soon as the person requests the brochure, they would receive it right from the website along with a “thank you” email that demonstrates the community team is ready to help. From a backend perspective, the person would be automatically enrolled in a lead nurturing workflow.

Then, a day or so later, they receive a second email to see if they have any questions. The second email might also include a CTA to request a call back and a second piece of content, like “how to make a decision” guide. Finally, a few days later, they receive a check-in email with encouragement to schedule a visit.

Notice how each interaction offers resources, builds trust, and encourages them to take the next action—and it’s all happening automatically in the background without your sales team needing to do anything.

Remember, 90% of your first-time website visitors are “not ready to buy”—yet. Marketing automation keeps prospects engaged, brings them back to your website, and exposes them to your brand until they are ready to move forward.

Technology that is Always On Duty

Complete your virtual sales team with these technology solutions (vetted and approved by us, Senior Living SMART):

SiteStaff humanizes your website via chat services with college-educated American hosts hired for empathy, trained in senior living sales skills, and ready to answer questions with information available in a community-specific knowledgebase.

Roobrik offers interactive assessments to match needs with solutions. Prospects spend four to five minutes answering up to 28 questions about their situation, challenges, finances, cognitive status, and readiness to embrace change. A “Care Fit” report scores each person based on urgency and then matches them to care and housing recommendations.

Marchex provides a lens into the customer journey, their experience, and sentiment. And the entire process is automated—every single call. With the data surfaced, your sales team will be able to deliver a better, branded customer experience, which will result in greater revenue performance. By understanding “breakage” in the customer journey, you can advise your staff about lost opportunities and tips for correcting them. Information gathered will help the sales team to personalize their interactions, which will give you an advantage over competitors.

And, of course, if you need help with your website or marketing automation, give us a shout!