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senior living leads, MQL SQL Blocks

Senior Living Leads: Why You Should Think Beyond 60 Days

Our industry has gotten into a bad habit. Too many marketers and sales folks neglect senior living leads that haven’t signaled a need to move within 30 to 60 days. In addition, many communities purchase marketing software like HubSpot thinking they’ll suddenly have an influx of sales-qualified leads (SQLs) for sales reps to work their magic on. 

What most of these sales reps and marketing folks don’t seem to understand is that the majority of senior living leads come in as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), not sales qualified.

Ignoring MQLs isn’t the answer. Learning how to nurture MQLs to sales-qualified status is. Follow the best practices below for doing exactly that.

Create different paths for different buyers.

We’re famous for saying that not all senior living leads are created equal. Now, let’s take it a step further: Not all MQLs are created equal, either. 

Some MQLs will be older adults looking for a place to move in 6 to 12 months. Others will be adult children looking on behalf of their parents. The older adults might be married, divorced, or widowed. Some might be in excellent shape and others might have health challenges. In the older children camp, some might be searching for a loved one who’s resisting the move. Others might be dealing with complex family dynamics (sibling against sibling).

  • Your Task: Create plenty of marketing paths on your website to satisfy many different types of MQLs. For example, the content an adult child needs will be different from the needs of an older adult who’s buying for herself. The first step in this process involves doing buyer persona work.

Create compelling lead nurturing campaigns.

The keyword is “compelling.” The biggest mistake communities make is treating lead nurturing like a box they need to check off, meaning not much thought is given to the emails in each campaign.

Content matters. Don’t send emails simply for the sake of sending them out. Think about what the campaign is trying to accomplish. Are you trying to get someone to download another piece of content? To view a video? To schedule a tour? While it’s easy to think “Yes! I want everyone to schedule a tour,” keep in mind that not all MQLs are ready for tours just yet. Nurture, don’t rush.

Monitor your lead nurturing campaigns.

The next big mistake that communities make with their lead nurturing is setting up and forgetting about it. Marketing automation is the culprit here. Don’t get us wrong: Automation is great! It was designed to eliminate manual, rote processes, after all. But setting up something to automatically go out and never following up to see if what you’re sending out is actually working isn’t a smart strategy.

  • Your Task: Look at overall conversions for each campaign. Is the lead nurturing campaign accomplishing what you set it up to do? If the goal of the campaign was to get someone to download the next piece of content that makes sense for them in their journey, how many folks in the campaign did exactly that? A dismal 1%? Or an impressive 20%?

For the campaigns that aren’t delivering impressive conversions, take a deeper dive.

  • Look at the analytics for each individual email. Look at open rates. Yes, open rates can be misleading/deceiving, but you need to start somewhere. Study the subject lines in the winning emails from your successful lead nurturing campaign. Can you draw any conclusions on why they’re so effective? (Such as length or use of personalization.) Tweak the subject lines in the emails that aren’t enjoying high open rates and see if things improve.
  • Look at the content in the emails that have high open rates, but low conversions. Try changing one thing—perhaps the call to action or the length of the email—to see if it improves conversions.

While analytics are based in real numbers, how you respond to the analytics and what you decide to fix/change to get more senior living leads will be less scientific. 

The numbers might be telling you that email #1 has a 42% open rate but 1% conversions on the offer. You know something isn’t working. But now you have to experiment to see if you can figure out why it isn’t converting—and if you can come up with a solution. This part is more art than science. Once you make your adjustment, you’ll then return to the analytics in a few weeks or months to see if your adjustment changed things for the better.

Track what successfully moves an MQL to an SQL to an actual customer.

As you nurture more MQLs to SQLs, and convert SQLs to residents, pay attention to where the lead conversions happened. Is there a certain piece of content that’s doing the trick? You might want to spend more time promoting that content (and not just on your site, but through other means, like paid search). Is there a specific call-to-action that gets people to schedule a tour? Use that CTA in other emails and on your site.

  • Your Task: Do more of what gets you the results you crave and less of what doesn’t.

Work with a senior living marketing agency that can help you maximize your MQLs.

Even with automation, you still need to keep track of a lot in order to get the amount of senior living leads you’re looking for. And you’re already juggling ten million other things. That’s where we come in. We can help you maximize your MQLs. Reach out and let’s chat →

 

senior living sales consultant, two women talking

Hiring a Senior Living Sales Consultant? Read This First

If you’re thinking about hiring a senior living sales consultant because something isn’t working with your sales team, read this first. Not all issues require an outside consultant. In fact, many issues are fixable within the team itself, especially if yours is grappling with one of the very common issues below.

Are the marketing and sales teams working in silos?

Departmental silos are so last century—and for good reason. Collaborative efforts between sales and marketing teams reduce friction and unnecessary redundancies. When marketing and sales teams work in harmony, the results can be powerful. (HubSpot refers to this alignment as “smarketing.”)

How can you tell if an alignment issue exists? Well, do your sales and marketing teams meet regularly to discuss goals and results? If the answer is no, that’s usually the first (and biggest) clue that your sales and marketing alignment is out of whack.

Is the sales team attempting to work all leads?

It doesn’t make sense for sales departments to work all the leads that come in. Why? Because most leads aren’t ready for a sales interaction. The lead wants time to engage with your site and content (often upwards of eight times!) before talking to anyone in sales. Here’s the good news, though: When a lead is ready to talk to sales, they’re going to be much easier to close.

How is the overall lead quality?

Maybe the problem isn’t the sales process, but the lead quality itself. We often remind clients that more website traffic isn’t always better—sometimes it’s just more. Don’t get taken in by vanity metrics. Instead, focus on quality. Attracting a smaller volume of highly quality website traffic is much better than a high volume of low quality traffic.

  • SOLUTION: Revisit your buyer personas and audit your website’s messaging and keyword strategy. What messages and keywords brought in the types of leads that have converted in the past—and that you’d like to see more of? Again, making this adjustment might cause you to see a dip in overall website traffic. Don’t panic! If lead quality and conversions increase, even if traffic has decreased, you know you’re on the right track. (And, of course, you’ll follow the above tip about scoring leads appropriately!)

Has a lead nurturing program been developed and properly executed?

If your sales team has been treating all leads the same way, then the answer to this question is “probably not.” Remember, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) aren’t ready to talk to a sales person just yet. That’s OK. Your job is to provide helpful info that will empower them during this journey. A good lead-nurturing workflow will do all of that in the low-pressure way today’s buyers crave.

Has the team given up too quickly on leads?

If your sales team has been working all leads, no doubt you have a high number of leads in your senior living CRM that are labeled cold or dead. The problem? Many of those leads were likely only marketing-qualified, not sales-qualified. So of course a high number of them didn’t answer the phone or return your sales reps’ calls.

Implementing lead-scoring and lead nurturing workflows for MQLs is a great solution for moving forward. But what about all those so-called cold or dead leads already sitting in your CRM? Aren’t at least some of them still viable? 

Still not sure what you need? Give us a shout.

We work closely with marketing and sales teams and can help identify ways to shore up your processes without dumping valuable dollars into a senior living sales consultant. (But if we think a sales consultant is the answer, we’ll tell you that, too!) Reach out and let’s chat →

 

Our Senior Living Marketing System

We recently became part of Duct Tape Marketing, a network of marketing agencies and consultants from around the world.

As the Duct Tape Marketing website explains, “Duct Tape Marketing is founded on the simple belief that marketing is the most important small business system. And we just so happen to believe that small business owners are the true heroes of business, so we’ve made it our mission to build, train, support, and teach small business marketing strategies and tactics to as many of these heroes as possible.”

For us, we joined Duct Tape Marketing for three reasons:

  1. We wanted to bring in thought leadership from outside the senior living industry.
  2. We wanted to participate in a community of professionals who are as passionate about marketing as we are.
  3. We wanted to use a proven system that simplifies digital marketing.

Being a part of the network has helped us refine how we work with our clients. This has resulted in our ability to offer clients more choices, dependable delivery of work within budget and timeframes, and consistent results.

So, what is this marketing “system” that Duct Tape promotes? The system’s foundation involves creating three levels of marketing support: Build, Grow, and Ignite.

For the Build phase, we create a solid digital foundation that enables prospects to easily find your senior living community.

A strong digital foundation includes many components:

Once that work is complete, we move into Grow.

This is when we focus on content, such as . . .

When it comes to content, we create compelling pieces for all stages of the prospect journey so they will keep coming back to your website. With this new content, we can also optimize a variety of social channels (think Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest). In addition, we often start (or re-start) a monthly email newsletter to re-engage existing leads.

Then, we move to Ignite.

We fire up the lead generation turbo booster known as marketing automation. Marketing automation offers many benefits, but the biggest one is that it automatically scores and segments leads.

Remember, not all leads are created equal! Some leads are in the early stages of their journey, conducting research. They have no interest in talking to sales—yet. Other leads need to decide soon. And still other leads will fall somewhere in between.

How you treat different leads will—and should—vary, based on where the lead is in their journey. Your marketing team will work on nurturing the “not ready” leads (i.e., marketing-qualified leads or MQLs). In the meantime, the sales team will work on the sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

The marketing automation system makes this process seamless, by automatically serving up the SQLs to the sales team (and, ideally, your senior living CRM). For the MQLs, the marketing automation funnels them to appropriate lead nurturing workflows based on how they engaged with your site and what answers they provided on opt-in website forms.

This saves everyone time, and it increases conversions, since your sales team will only be focusing on high-intent leads rather than ALL leads.

During the Ignite phase, we often implement paid advertising to increase the number of qualified prospects coming to your site. We are good stewards of client budget. And we don’t recommend pursuing paid advertising until we reach the Ignite phase. After all, why waste money driving people to a bad website with poor navigation, limited content, and nothing to do when they get there?

This three-prong approach to senior living marketing has many advantages.

First, it aligns expectations and timelines for deliverables. Second, it keeps everyone focused on results. And, finally, it works! Interested in learning more? Let’s set up a complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session so we can discuss your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Connect with us to learn more!

Let’s chat about your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Business man finding the perfect fit marketing automation solution

Senior Living Marketing Automation Platforms: How to Choose

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know we’re big fans of marketing automation platforms for senior living communities.

Last year, we provided some tips for evaluating different platforms. That discussion resulted in some good questions from readers, including costs and our recommendations. So we’re addressing some of these questions here.

What’s the most important thing to consider when choosing marketing automation?

The most important thing to consider is the functionality your marketing and sales teams need. THIS WILL VARY COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY. Survey your teams regarding what they want and what they feel is currently lacking when it comes to things like scoring leads (marketing-qualified vs. sales-qualified), segmenting leads, nurturing leads, and analyzing leads and conversions.

For example, maybe you simply need lead nurturing, not a centralized marketing hub that does everything (including your laundry).

Or maybe your teams have gotten adept at deciphering Google Analytics. If that’s the case, you might opt for marketing automation that provides only basic key performance indicators (KPIs) rather than endless options for sophisticated reports.

Or perhaps you already have a thriving blog on your senior living website. You won’t need blogging functionality, which tends to be a popular option in many high-end automation platforms.

How much does marketing automation cost?

Price points vary just as widely as the products themselves. And here’s the thing: Pricier products aren’t always better. Typically, the more expensive, the more functionality. (But, of course, some products might have inflated price points. Always make sure you understand what you’re buying.)

Remember, buy for your marketing and sales teams’ needs. Start with what the automation software must do. Then, look for companies that offer products that match those desired capabilities.

Going back to our example above: If you don’t need blogging capabilities, don’t consider products (or product tiers) that have a blogging function since that will only jack up the price.
A few other things to consider when comparing price points:

  • Will you be paying monthly or annually? Some marketing automation companies offer a discount if you opt for an annual subscription.
  • How does the automation company base its subscriptions? Is it based on the entire number of contacts in your database? How does it alert you if you’re skirting close to the next subscription tier? (Which can often result in a price increase.)
  • Do you need to consider who will be managing the marketing automation implementation and ongoing management? If you outsource this to a marketing agency, like ours, you need to consider those costs as well.
  • Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. This should be obvious, but in case someone needs to hear it, there you go!

Should my senior living CRM integrate with my marketing automation platform?

We believe integration is critical because you want marketing and sales to work in harmony. No more silo mentality here! Marketing automation, when implemented correctly, will serve up sales-qualified leads to sales while continuing to nurture the marketing-qualified leads until they’re ready for a sales interaction.

Connecting your CRM and your marketing automation software helps “close the loop” and supplies important insights to both teams about the quality of leads and conversions.

That said, buyer beware! You should NOT settle for an inferior marketing automation product that is “built in” to your senior living CRM. Sherpa, Enquire, and Eldermark have “white labeled” a product called ActiveDEMAND. We’re not fans of this product, based on our experience with it.

Ugh, so does this mean I’ll be limited in marketing automation platforms based on the CRM I’m already using?

Not necessarily. The best solution is to find the marketing automation platform that best meets your needs and then find a CRM integration partner (like us!). We’ve have done a variety of successful marketing automation integrations with Yardi, Sherpa, Enquire, and Welcome Home.

What marketing automation platforms do we recommend?

HubSpot is an excellent “Cadillac” solution with plenty of sophisticated capabilities, like lead scoring, personalization tokens, smart CTAs, and amazing analytics (just to name a few items). ActiveCampaign marketing automation (not to be confused with ActiveDEMAND) is an excellent budget-friendly option for basic emailing and lead nurturing functionality.

If someone wants to have a centralized marketing portal to run their paid/social campaigns, blog, and lead nurturing plus CRM integration and robust custom reporting, HubSpot is the way to go. But we recommend that you work through a HubSpot certified partner (like us!). An integration partner will make sure you get the right package. In addition, they can negotiate pricing on your behalf. We recently saved a client over $70,000 in first-year licensing fees!

Still need help choosing a marketing automation platform? You're in the right place!

Trust us, we get how overwhelming it can be. We’d be happy to provide guidance and/or our thoughts on the products you’re considering (even if you plan on handling everything in-house!). Get in touch and let’s chat about your marketing automation needs.

Sales and marketing professionals getting to know their leads better through information collected from website forms and social media input and other internet activity

Senior Living Leads: How to Gain Deeper Insights

Your website is bringing in senior living leads. Congrats! Now what? Enticing anonymous site visitors to give up their information is only the first step. Now, you must learn how to quickly gain insights into the website leads so that your marketing and sales teams know what to do next.

The following three tactics will help you effectively manage your senior living leads.

Keep in mind that you must have good marketing automation software to do any of these tactics. In fact, if you had to do any of these things manually, it would be impossible to keep up.

Tactic #1: Implement progressive profiling on website forms.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume your community website has multiple gated “offers.” By “offers,” we’re referring to guides, ebooks, checklists, and the like—information people seek when evaluating communities and senior living in general.

“Gating” means that the offer is behind a form. In other words, the website visitor fills out the form to access the content. Oftentimes, people will download several items during one visit. Or they might return in subsequent days/weeks and download more info. Each time they do so, they fill out another website form. This is where progressive profiling comes in.

Simply put, progressive profiling helps you get more information about the person every time they fill out a new form on your site. On the first website form someone fills out, you’ll capture the essentials like first name, last name, phone, email, and timeframe for making a decision.

When you set up progressive profiling thanks to good marketing automation software, the prospect can bypass most of these questions when they fill out subsequent forms. Why? Because the system will recognize the person (thanks to the magic of website cookies).

So, instead, you can ask the prospect other relevant questions that can help you market and sell to them better. For example, perhaps you ask the person about their hobbies and interests. The person’s new answers will automatically sync with their contact record in the system’s backend (as well as your senior living CRM if you’ve integrated the two). Now, marketing and sales have even deeper insights into the lead.

BENEFITS: Progressive profiling provides deeper insights that will allow your marketing and sales teams to create more relevant follow-up communications. For example, if the lead says they love traveling and going on day trips, your team can highlight any programs or amenities that speak specifically to this interest.

Tactic #2: Give your senior living leads a score.

With good marketing automation software, you can teach it how to score your senior living leads appropriately.

At its simplest, lead scoring allows you to automatically label those leads that are ready for a specific action. In most cases, we’re referring to the sales hand-off. You can teach your marketing automation software how to identify a high-value lead for sales to follow up on immediately.

Your marketing and sales teams would determine the criteria that would go into scoring a high-value lead. The criteria will likely include things like:

  • Specific content the lead downloaded
  • Engagement with lead nurturing emails (what did they open, what did they click on)
  • The amount of time spent on the site
  • What the lead indicated regarding timing for making a decision

The above is an incomplete list. Your marketing and sales teams will determine the criteria based on experience with leads who’ve gone on to ultimately convert into move-ins. What do those leads have in common? That’s the stuff that will fuel your lead-scoring criteria. Leads that aren’t ready to go to sales will continue to be nurtured.

BENEFITS: With lead scoring, your sales team can put its focus on high-value leads that stand a good chance of converting rather than on leads that aren’t ready. Marketing, on the other hand, can continue to nurture not-ready leads with relevant follow-up emails that will help move them down the sales funnel.

If you want to take a deeper dive into lead scoring, check out HubSpot’s detailed instructions. Or better yet, have us set up lead scoring for you!

Tactic #3: Segment your website leads according to personas.

If you do nothing else, at least do this. Segmenting leads according to your will help your marketing and sales teams have more meaningful follow-up conversations.

For marketing, this means the follow-up lead nurturing emails will talk to that persona, specifically the concerns and challenges the persona faces. For sales, this means the conversations the rep has with the person will be based on persona attributes.

Reminder: When we say “persona,” we’re talking about the prospective buyer and/or person influencing the buying decision. For senior living, personas can be divided into two main groups: seniors shopping for themselves or an adult child researching on behalf of a parent or older adult in their lives (like an aunt or uncle).

Those are BROAD categories. You can (and should) break them down even more:

  • Adult daughter researching for her mother
  • Adult daughter researching for her father
  • Senior searching for options for herself
  • Senior searching for options for himself
  • Adult son researching for his mother
  • Adult son researching for his father
  • Senior couple looking for options

Keep in mind that the above list is just a start. It doesn’t cover all the scenarios.

Our point is simple: How you communicate with an adult son researching on behalf of his father should be different from the way you communicate with an adult daughter researching for her mother. How you communicate with a single eighty-five-year-old man will be different from a 70-year-old couple getting ready to retire.

BENEFITS: Marketing automation will once again save the day by automatically identifying the persona it should attribute the lead to—and what communications should be served up to the lead as a result. And yes, persona identification will likely be one of the factors that goes into determining the overall lead score.

Bottom line: How you manage your senior living leads matters!

You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into getting leads from your website. Don’t let them just “sit there.” And don’t group all of them together in one bucket. We know this might sound overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. Especially when you work with a partner like Senior Living SMART. Give us a shout and let’s talk about scoring your senior living leads appropriately!

Waiting For Your Pitch – Swinging in Your Sales Strike Zone

T

onight I am watching the World Series and watching the psychological battle between pitchers and hitters.  The pitcher’s goal is to avoid throwing anything over the plate while convincing the batter that every pitch will eventually rise, sink, curve or break into the strike zone. The batters instinctively want to rip every pitch and the balls coming at them look like cantaloupes with seams right up until the last moment of commitment. Getting on base ultimately depends on having the patience to wait for the right pitch in the strike zone and then making contact. It takes a keen eye to discern balls posing as strikes and actual hittable pitches.

This analogy is equally relevant in describing the sales process in senior living. The key in being a top closer is the ability to separate Prospect from Suspects early in the sales process before you spend a lot of energy swinging at an opportunity outside of the strike zone. Every community has a unique strike zone comprised of key demographics, strengths and unique differentiators. The strike zone may be comprised of geographical, educational, ethnic, religious, clinical, cultural, recreational or desirable amenities that attract your unique buyer persona. Your strike zone is also defined by basic sales realities such as the match of the buyers wants/ needs and your solutions, the access to key decision makers, financial qualification, the ability to manage the acuity and availability of the desired apartment type and location. Top Closers focus their energy on the prospects who fall within their strike zone.

There is a difference between the lead who is an unrelated friend of someone who is considering moving into the area from out of state with high care needs and limited financial information and the lead who lives up the street who attends the church/ synagogue/ mosque across the street, with a daughter and grandchildren in the neighborhood who was referred by a very happy family, is going to be released from rehab in less than two weeks and does not want to go home alone. All leads deserve empathy, information, and a helpful interaction to offer support and resources. Those in the strike zone need a focused, personalized plan with consistent follow up and a roadmap leading them to your doorstep.  The reality is that not every lead is equal and Closers spend their time with those with the highest conversion opportunities. This is about prioritizing – not permission to avoid lead follow up! Leads that may not start off in your strike zone, can become strike zone leads with nurturing and creative follow up.

Ok sales team, it’s the Bottom of the 9th (the last week of the month!) and you need to score another move-in so take a look at your Hot Leads and prioritize those within your strike zone. Look for those with strong referral sources (professional, friend & family, grass-roots community, & referral agency leads) and those with an imposed urgency (imminent discharge date, break in support system such as private duty/ home care/ family care) and those who would respond to a short-term incentive.  Keep your eye on the ball and when you are ready, swing for the fences – there is still time to get one more on the scoreboard this month!