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What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

With marketing automation, you can easily schedule and duplicate various marketing tasks (typically connected with actions on your website) to happen without any further work on your part.

Marketing automation examples:

• When someone downloads a piece of content from a site and they automatically receive a thank you email—THAT’s marketing automation in action. This email can include additional information—like other downloads—to engage them further.

• Quality marketing automation software can automatically identify and label website leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs) based on criteria you set. And then, from there, the MQLs could be automatically entered into an email workflow for longtime nurturing.

The goal with marketing automation is to make everyone’s lives easier—think marketing, sales, and even your prospects.

How marketing automation helps marketing teams

Your marketing team can “set it and forget it,” although we don’t REALLY advocate forgetting any marketing tasks you set up. But the point is marketing teams can easily create workflows for various buyer personas, set them up once, and then voila—the automation does the heavy, ongoing lifting.

This frees up marketing teams to do more important things like brainstorm and try out new ideas, create more of what works, efficiently move prospects through the sales funnel, and tweak existing campaigns based on results (good systems usually have excellent analytics).

Remember, the majority of your website visitors are NOT ready to buy yet—they are researching and comparing. Marketing automation helps you capture these otherwise anonymous visitors (through forms) so that you can continue the conversation with them at their pace.

How marketing automation helps sales teams

Sales can now spend more time focusing on true sales-qualified leads (SQLs) since a good marketing automation system will allow you to set parameters to automatically identify and label genuine SQLs vs. MQLs. For example, if someone requests info on pricing, the marketing automation system might label them as an SQL because of that action—and automatically notify sales to follow up with that particular lead.

Sales can focus on converting SQLs to tours and move-ins while the MQLs “marinate” in a lead nurturing program that readies them to become SQLs when the time is right. This means better close rates for sales teams.

How marketing automation helps prospects

Let’s say a prospective resident is browsing your site at midnight and is interested in reading your guide on “How to Finance Senior Living for Aging Parents.” Instead of requesting it and waiting for someone to manually email or snail mail it, the person will get it instantly—without anyone on your end having to lift a finger. AND not only do they get the guide, they also receive a personalized thank you email along with a series of follow-up emails with other calls-to-action and suggested content based on the buying stage they’re in.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

If you’d asked this question a decade ago, the answer would have been “it depends.” As we enter this new decade, however, we’d argue that all senior living communities need some form of marketing automation in order to remain competitive.

The question you need to ask is what level of marketing automation you need.

Do you need the Cadillac version with all the bells and whistles or would basic marketing automation software do? At Senior Living SMART, we’re huge fans of HubSpot (full transparency: we’re a certified HubSpot agency), and we’ve had a ton of success working with senior living communities who install HubSpot. HubSpot offers several marketing automation tiers as well.

Marketing automation IS an investment.

But if your teams use it correctly, it will pay for itself over time by identifying sales-qualified leads when they’re truly “hot,” nurturing cool and warm leads over time, improving efficiencies, and providing deep insights in terms of analytics.

Still on the fence?

Or maybe you know you need some form of marketing automation but you don’t know what to do next? Don’t go it alone! The only thing worse than NO marketing automation is the wrong marketing automation for your needs—or setting it up incorrectly.

We LOVE helping our clients get the most out of their marketing automation. Let’s talk solutions.

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.

Inbound Marketing: Your Best Employee Recruitment Tool

Inbound Marketing: Your Best Employee Recruitment Tool

In today’s job market, the candidates have the upper hand. We know that 95 percent of the people that companies want to hire for critical roles are not actually looking for a job. As a result, companies are competing for the best candidates. In order to effectively vie for great talent, you need the right tools.

As part of their recruitment strategy, many companies are using outbound marketing. This involves reaching out to potential candidates through job postings, paid advertising, or a third-party recruiter.

But today’s recruitment efforts need a more advanced strategy—one that you’re likely already using to attract residents: inbound marketing.

With inbound marketing, you create content that attracts new prospects to your company. From there, you can engage with them and determine if they’re the right fit. It’s an opportunity to establish a dialogue with passive and active job seekers, create a unique candidate experience, and build relationships with top talent.

Here are five quick ways to get started with inbound marketing as a recruitment tool:

1. Define Your Objectives

Before you start, decide on which positions you are trying to attract. Do you want to focus on executive level and above? Or do you also want to also use inbound marketing to source your nursing and care staff?

2. Define the Candidate “Persona”

Once you know which roles you want to recruit for, you also have to determine the characteristics that you are looking for in your ideal candidate. You should start with educational background, previous experience, and any technical requirements (licensure, software knowledge, etc.) that you may want in a candidate. Then dig a little deeper. Look at employees who are successful in their roles and identify traits and skills that help them prosper.

3. Define Your Culture

Think about your company culture. How do you define success in your company? What are the company non-negotiables when it comes to character and performance? What are the top 10 words you would use to define your culture?

4. Create “Hooks”

According to Career Builder, 75% of job seekers start their search on Google. So you should create search-friendly content that will attract the ideal candidates to your site (which is one of the reasons you develop the candidate personas).

Content can include why you are the best company to work for, associate testimonial videos, and educational info. Find the best channels to connect with your prospective candidate. This could be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, You Tube, as well as industry sites.

Get creative where you share this content. Based on chats with your current successful employees, is there anything that most have in common? For example, maybe most are members of the local YMCA. If that’s the case, see if you can conduct an informal job fair there or post some info about open positions on the Y’s bulletin boards.

5. Create Opportunities to Build Relationships

Applying for a job is an investment. Today’s candidates want to know more about the company culture and role before they commit to the process. If a candidate isn’t ready to apply, create opportunities to engage them and develop a relationship. Give them opportunities to learn more about your company. This can be done with additional educational content, blog content, company resources, or signing up for a “keep in touch” newsletter.

It often takes many touch points to influence a decision, so invest the time in these relationships now to reap future rewards.

Learn more in this webinar: Inbound Marketing: Your Secret Weapon In Winning the Recruitment Game →

senior living marketing

Senior Living Website Audits: 3 Reasons Why They’re a Must

My dad would always tell me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And when it came to my 1979 beat up Dodge Aspen, his advice made perfect sense.

But when it comes to your senior living website, you must anticipate the broken bits (ideally, before they happen or just as they’re happening) so you can nip them in the proverbial bud. How? By conducting regular website audits.

Here are three reasons why you need to make this a part of your ongoing web marketing strategy:

1. Improved website performance will lead to better user experience (and happier users make for happier leads/customers).

Even your website needs a yearly physical to see how the systems are running. A website audit will help you determine your website’s technical performance. Think framework and infrastructure, page speed/load time, and navigation—all of which affects the user experience (UX). When auditing your site, pay close attention to the following:

  • Is your website mobile-friendly? According to @similiarweb, mobile drives 56% of all traffic.
  • Is your website error free? Dead ends and broken links can be frustrating to the user.
  • Is your page size below 9.5 mb? The heavier the site page, the slower the load time.
  • Do your web pages load within three seconds? Any slower and visitors will abandon your site, reducing conversions and sales.
  • How many page requests do you have? The more HTTP requests your website makes, the slower it becomes. Combine files to minimize the number of requests made.

2. Enhancing your SEO means your site stands a better chance of coming up in organic searches.

By conducting an SEO site checkup, you’ll be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any SEO mistakes.

  • Does your website have XML sitemap files? This tells Google and other search engines what pages on your site you want crawled and indexed.
  • Do you have a title tag and how long is it? The title tag is an HTML title that is used to briefly and accurately describe the topic and theme of an online listing. Your title tag should be no longer than 70 characters in length.
  • Are your page titles optimized? Remember, 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. Optimize your page titles and use a compelling meta description to get off on the right foot.
  • Are you reviewing your keywords? Look at your keyword performance. Find out which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads and make sure you are adding relevant content to your website that targets those keywords.

3. Reviewing and tweaking conversion paths will help you boost overall visitor-to-leads and leads-to-customers.

A website audit enables you to re-evaluate your lead generation and conversion funnels.

  • Are you providing high quality content on your website that provides value to your prospects? Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that don’t. Blogging is the best way to reach your target audience with useful, educational information they’re out there looking for. Not to mention how much it helps your search rankings.
  • Do you have a variety of content that appeals to all your different prospects (e.g., potential resident, adult child), including where they are in their journey (e.g., research, planning)? Understanding your buyers by developing (and regularly revisiting!) personas will help you create targeted content that speaks to them and gets them to act.
  • Do you have a system of following up with your leads and keeping them engaged in your content and brand? Calls-to-action, marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website.

Free Senior Living Website Assessment

Ready to find out how your website matches up? See how your site is performing with our instant report that you may save and share. Get started here.