Posts

senior living leads business infographic

Senior Living Leads: Think Quality vs. Quantity

Whenever we deploy lead scoring and marketing automation for a client, we always receive the inevitable panicked call from someone on the sales team: Where did all the leads go?

Here’s the thing: The leads are still there. What’s changed is the way the leads are being handled. And that’s a good thing. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) move onto the sales team, while the marketing automation nurtures the not-ready-yet leads. (Also known as marketing-qualified leads or MQLs.)

Why do we follow this strategy instead of the old “move all leads to sales no matter what” approach? Simple. Most senior living leads aren’t ready to buy.

Consider the following:

  • 80% of new leads never translate into sales. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 50% of the leads you generate are qualified, but not ready to buy right now. [Business.com]
  • 25% of the leads you generate are totally unqualified; they won’t ever buy. [Business.com]
  • 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage. 60% want to connect during the consideration stage. 20% want to talk during the decision stage. [HubSpot]
  • At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. [HubSpot]

Obviously, mileage will vary depending on a variety of factors, but the overarching theme to keep in mind is this: Since most leads aren’t ready to buy, most won’t be interested in a sales interaction. So why serve up not-ready leads to the sales team?

Doesn’t it make more sense for your sales team to work the leads that have the highest potential of converting while your marketing team nurtures the cooler and warmer leads to turn red-hot? Of course it does!

Still, this can be a hard sell to a sales team that’s used to seeing a big bucket of all leads. So, what can you do to help your sales team embrace the idea that lead quality trumps quantity? Get them to focus on other things.

Instead of fixating on the number of senior living leads, sales reps should focus on the following:

1. Give sales-qualified leads the VIP treatment.

Sales-qualified leads are gold! Treat them as such. In other words, don’t give up on your SQLs after only one or two attempts.

Here’s more compelling stats from our friends at HubSpot:

  • 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes. And yet 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow-up attempt.
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls. And yet 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call.
  • 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back.

2. Revisit buyer personas to ensure a solid understanding of prospects’ pain points.

Revisiting your buyer personas will help ensure the sales reps are familiar with all the relevant details—details that will help the reps ultimately sell better.

Reminder, personas are fictional representations of your ideal prospect. These personas provide important insights into things like challenges the prospect is facing, their financial health, and what they’re looking for in senior living.

Why is persona work so critical? If sales reps are only focusing on sales-qualified leads, the leads will probably closely match a corresponding persona. Now, instead of the sales rep having to rely on a broad one-size-fits-all sales pitch, they can customize their presentations to solve for the lead’s specific challenges, thanks to the intelligence provided by the persona.

Isn’t that a much smarter sales strategy?

3. Audit sales collateral used in follow-up communications with SQLs.

Sales reps might be working fewer leads, but they’ll be working better leads. Once again, you need to consider these your VIP leads and give them the VIP treatment. This most certainly includes how you follow up with them—including the words you use in your emails and the content you provide in brochures and guides.

Audit your existing follow-up materials, especially all emails. Create email templates that cover most scenarios you encounter. For example, create a set of emails for that awesome lead who is on the fence between your community and one of your competitors. Another set of emails for the hot lead who is leaning your way, but just needs a nudge. And so forth.

Doing this legwork now will make it easier to quickly customize when you need to send something out.

4. Offer an array of options for interacting with senior living leads.

If the pandemic taught us anything it’s this: It is possible to sell senior living via virtual methods like Zoom and online tours. And just because the pandemic is winding down doesn’t mean you need to abandon these methods, either.

Providing VIP prospects with multiple ways for them to interact with you will help make it easier for them to do exactly that.

5. Provide input to marketing teams regarding ideas for emails that nurture marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).

The marketing team usually manages the lead nurturing campaigns, but sales should provide input. After all, everyone’s goals are aligned—to convert MQLs to SQLs to move-ins. Sales reps often hear feedback from prospects regarding info that the prospects sought during the buying process but couldn’t find. Share these learnings with your marketing counterparts.

Remember: When it comes to senior living leads, quality beats quantity. Every. Single. Time.

We can help get your marketing and sales teams up to speed with lead scoring, marketing automation, and effective lead nurturing. Get in touch and let’s chat.

senior living digital marketing man-struggling with bullseye graphic

Senior Living Digital Marketing: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

What are some of the biggest senior living digital marketing mistakes that we see day in and day out? Keep reading!

Mistake #1: Not having a plan or strategy.

It’s OK to wing some things in life, like creating a soup using whatever is in your fridge. But marketing is not one of those things. Well, we suppose you could try to wing it. But we guarantee you won’t be happy with the results.

Why is this the case? Well, marketing has gotten a lot more complex in the last two decades thanks to search, social media, and smartphones. In the “old days” of marketing, you could get by with an ad in the Yellow Pages (remember those?) and direct mail. That’s not the case now. You need to think about organic search, paid search, your website and blog, social media, and yes—some of those traditional marketing methods, like direct mail and print ads.

Because marketing is so complex, you need to have a senior living digital marketing plan in place. A good plan will make sure you’re implementing tasks that will achieve your goals. It will also keep everyone “honest” in that everyone knows what needs to happen day to day, week to week, and month to month.

Bottom line: Sure, you might be able to get by for a little while if you opt for a haphazard seat-of-your-pants approach. But it will catch up with you. Why wait to fail? Focus on developing a strong senior living marketing strategy now so your community (and marketing and sales teams) can reap the rewards.

Mistake #2: Not being consistent.

Too often we see senior living marketing teams getting psyched once they have a plan, but then the reality of work life interferes, and that awesome plan falls by the wayside or fizzles out over time.

Here’s the thing: effective senior living digital marketing is all about consistency. Lather, rinse, repeat—that’s the name of the game. Marketing guru Seth Godin refers to this as the “Drip, drip, drip” of marketing. You need to show up every day and engage prospects and delight them before you can turn them into residents and—hopefully—raving fans.

Bottom line: If you fall off your marketing horse, be kind to yourself. It happens. And before you get back on, ask yourself and your team a few questions: Was the plan realistic? Do you need to delegate more? Do you need outside help from a digital marketing agency?

Mistake #3: Not paying attention to results.

Why do all the work if it doesn’t deliver the results you’re looking for (i.e., move-ins)? We hate busy work just for the sake of looking busy. That’s where strategy comes into play. But not all strategies are going to be winners, which is why you need to monitor and measure the results.

Bottom line: If one particular marketing activity isn’t generating any leads—or it isn’t moving the marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads—then you need to reconsider and recalibrate. You might want to tweak the activity in question and see if you get better results. Or you might want to put more time and money into the task that is working.

Mistake #4: Not embracing automation.

This one goes hand-in-hand with #2. The biggest reason that communities become inconsistent with their marketing is because they haven’t implemented tools that’ll help them be successful. And the tool we’re talking about here is marketing automation.

It would be impossible for one person or even one team to be responsible for manually doing things like analyzing and scoring leads, serving up and assigning the sales-qualified leads to the sales reps, and sending specific emails with specific content on a specific day and time to the marketing-qualified leads.

The only way to make it all work is through some sort of marketing automation. Any senior living community that shuns the idea is only hurting itself—and its marketing and sales teams. Don’t be this community!

Bottom line: Marketing automation makes life easier for marketing and sales teams while also delivering excellent results. (Provided it’s implemented correctly!) Psst: Need help sourcing and setting up the right marketing automation for your community? We can help!

Mistake #5: Not seeking expert help when you need it.

There’s no shame in outsourcing some of your digital marketing work. Even the most competent teams could use support—or even some strategy guidance from an objective third party. The key is making sure you use a senior living digital marketing agency, one that has experience in both digital marketing and senior living.

Bottom line: Senior Living SMART is the only agency whose team members have experience in digital marketing and senior living. We can help you avoid the big mistakes and get the results you crave. Get in touch!

Marketing Automation graphic, HubSpot for senior living

Got HubSpot for Senior Living. Now What?

We’ve had several senior living communities contact us because they recently purchased a license for marketing automation technology, like HubSpot for senior living, only to realize they had no idea what to do next.

We liken this experience to the holiday season when you’ve scored the one thing your child desperately wants, only to discover there are a thousand pieces you need to put together before your kid can play with the thing. And, come to find out, the special little magic wrench that screws everything together is missing.

That’s exactly how it can feel after you’ve signed a license for marketing automation like HubSpot. As you enter your shiny new online portal, you suddenly realize how many moving parts are involved—and how much work it’s going to take to get campaigns and workflows up and running. Not to mention, where the heck is that special little magic wrench anyway?

Our biggest piece of advice to senior living marketing teams is this: First, take a deep breath. Second, ask yourself the following questions. Because the truth is you might need to outsource the onboarding work to an agency partner that has experience in HubSpot for senior living.

1. Do you have existing staff to power your HubSpot for senior living?

Think in terms of immediate onboarding (the first 90 days are important). But consider the long haul as well. Is your marketing department one person? Or do you have a larger department where you can assign someone ownership of HubSpot? Is anyone on your team HubSpot certified? Or do you have someone in-house who’s ready to become a HubSpot master?

What to look for in the answer: First, there’s no right or wrong answer here. People bring different skill sets to their senior living marketing roles, and that’s OK. You might get lucky and have someone who is fluent in HubSpot—or who is a quick learner and willing to put in the time to get there.

If you don’t currently have a HubSpot person on staff—and no one has the bandwidth to take it on—then that’s a good sign it’s time to work with a HubSpot agency partner, like us.

2. Do you know what info you need from prospects—and how to use this info to inform your lead-nurturing workflows?

Good marketing automation helps you give the right person the right piece of content at the right time. But this process doesn’t magically happen on its own. You need to understand your prospective buyers—and their journeys. And you need to configure HubSpot so that you’re asking site visitors for the right info when they fill out a form. And by “right,” we mean information that’s relevant to your prospective buyers, such as their role in the decision, the decision stage, and their motivation.

What to look for in an answer: We love the adage, “You don’t need to know how to build a watch in order to tell time.” The same is true for marketing automation like HubSpot for senior living. It’s OK if you don’t know how to configure it. What’s essential is that you understand what you want it to do—and that you can articulate this to a HubSpot agency partner who can set it up properly for you.

3. Do you have multiple properties that are on your HubSpot portal?

Onboarding one property can be hard enough for a senior living marketing department to do on its own. But when multiple properties are involved? That’s when things can get super complicated super quick.

You need to build templates, create nurturing workflows with branching logic, create a strategy for lead scoring, develop lead distribution lists, and understand how to use personalization tokens so all communities can share the same email, landing page, and newsletter templates. When you successfully do the latter, you won’t have to copy these items over and over again for each property.

What to look for in an answer: Honestly, if multiple properties are involved, you should definitely work with a marketing automation expert. Even if it’s simply to spot check and test the setup your own team did. The only thing worse than no marketing automation is broken automation that sends the wrong piece of info to the wrong person. (Or does silly things like getting the name field wrong, so the email says, “Dear Fred” instead of “Dear Mary.”)

4. Do you have the right content to keep the right prospects engaged?

When we say the “right” content, we mean content that will move marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads. Think relevant blogs, e-books, videos, infographics, and the like. You’ll be serving up this content to prospects based on their lead score and the email nurturing cadence you assign.

What to look for in an answer: If your content is lacking, it makes sense to work with a digital agency that can provide guidance on HubSpot and produce strong content. Remember, HubSpot can only do so much on its own. HubSpot is powerful, but if your current content offerings are weak, the results will be mediocre at best.

5. Is your HubSpot for senior living aligned with your sales process?

When communities start using marketing automation, the sales teams often panic due to what they perceive as a sudden drop in leads. Sales teams are used to working “all” leads. Yet this approach is inefficient because the majority of leads aren’t ready for a sales interaction.

Marketing automation helps segment leads into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Sales teams only need to follow up on the SQLs. The marketing automation will continue to nurture MQLs.

What to look for in the answer: The best way to avoid the panic is to educate the sales teams about this shift before you implement the software. This way you can address concerns. However, it can be hard to educate sales folks on this concept if it’s still a new concept to marketing teams as well. A good HubSpot agency partner can often provide training for both teams and ensure everyone’s goals are aligned.

How’d you do on our little “quiz”?

Did your answers surprise you? Did they make you realize that yes, your community needs assistance with configuring HubSpot? Let us help. We recently achieved the Platinum Tier in HubSpot’s Solutions Partners Program. This tier recognizes our expertise with all things HubSpot. We can help your community get yours up and running in no time. Get in touch and let’s talk HubSpot for senior living.

Senior Living marketing automation best practices - the do's and don'ts

4 Email Marketing Automation Best Practices

Email marketing automation might seem like a magic wand. But you have to set it up correctly to get the biggest benefits.

Below, you’ll find four email marketing automation best practices that’ll help your senior living community experience the magic.


1. Email marketing automation best practices: Don’t buy lists.

Recently, we’ve had several clients interested in purchasing email lists. We advised them against it. (And we told them we wouldn’t upload the lists to HubSpot or Active Campaign.) Why are we anti purchased lists? For several reasons.

  • First, purchased lists are truly COLD lists. List vendors can only deliver on demographics, such as location, age, sex. They can’t deliver on need or intent. Meaning, they have no way of knowing whether someone on their list needs a senior living community or currently has any intention of moving to one.
  • Second, purchased lists violate the terms of most (if not all) quality marketing automation software, like HubSpot or Active Campaign. (That’s one of the reasons we refuse to upload these lists.)
  • Third, a better way exists. Why not create keyword-rich content that your prospective buyers are already searching for in Google and use this content to attract them to your site? Doesn’t that make more sense? It’s not rocket science either. Inbound marketing, when done right, will produce more qualified leads than a purchased list—every single time.

2. Email marketing automation best practices: When it comes to messaging, one size doesn’t fit all.

The most effective email marketing automation is custom. We realize that might sound like an oxymoron. How can something be “custom” and “automated” at the same time? Simple. You start by knowing the personas for your senior living community.

Let’s say you have five key personas. You should focus on writing custom content for each persona. Why? Think about it. An email to the adult daughter of an eighty-year-old woman with memory issues should be different from the email you send to a seventy-year-old couple looking to start the next chapter of their lives.

Once you have your custom content for each persona, THEN you can automate the delivery via email.

3. Email marketing automation best practices: Revisit copy regularly.

Messages will change over time. The year 2020 served as a great example. Most (if not all) messages in your emails should have referenced COVID-19, even if it was only a link in your signature. (Something like, “Visit our COVID-19 resource center for current information on how we’re navigating the pandemic.”)

Auditing email copy should be a regular part of your marketing plan. You don’t need to audit everything at once. But every quarter, make sure you’re reviewing some email campaigns. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4. Email marketing automation best practices: Review analytics and make adjustments accordingly.

Marketing automation doesn’t simply exist to make life easier in terms of sending out emails. Yes, that’s a benefit. But marketing automation’s main purpose is to help increase conversions by moving marketing-qualified leads down the sale funnel.

The only way you’ll know if it’s working is by monitoring the results. Marketing automation software like HubSpot provides excellent analytics that’ll show you things like open rate, click-through-rate (on links and offers you include in your emails), and conversion rates. Depending on how sophisticated your marketing automation is, you can even A/B test the all-important email subject lines so you can identify a clear winner.

The biggest mistake we see senior living communities make is they’ll give the analytics a cursory glance every month or quarter. That’s not enough. You need to make decisions based on what the data is telling you.

For example, do you have an email marketing campaign where one email isn’t getting many clicks? Change the offer and/or revise the copy and see if that helps boost clicks.

Or maybe you’re getting clicks, but once people get to the landing page with the offer, they bounce away. Make some tweaks to the landing page (or adjust the email copy’s messaging so it better reflects what people can expect once they get to the landing page).

Analytics offer a treasure trove of intel that you can use to get your email marketing automation working better for you. Take advantage of these insights.

Senior Living SMART Achieves Platinum Tier in HubSpot Solutions Partner Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Paul Trusik, Director of Digital & Inbound Marketing
Senior Living SMART
888.620.9832 | [email protected]

PLYMOUTH, MA, March 12, 2021 – Today, Senior Living SMART announced that it has achieved the Platinum tier in HubSpot’s Solutions Partner Program.HubSpot, a leading growth platform, works hand-in-hand with partner experts to grow their businesses through inbound software, services, and support.

The Solutions Partner Program is an ecosystem of experts who offer marketing, sales, customer service, web design, CRM, and IT services. It’s a global community that believes putting customers first is the key to growth. It also enables its members to offer a wide breadth of more sophisticated solutions across the entire customer experience.

According to HubSpot’s website, the Partner Tier program is designed “to acknowledge those solutions partners who have not only brought the inbound message to the most clients, but also those who executed inbound marketing services to the highest standards.” Solution Partner tiers include Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Elite.

Senior Living SMART CEO and co-founder Deborah Howard says,

“Over the last several years, we’ve worked tirelessly to educate marketing and sales teams in senior living communities about the value of the inbound marketing methodology, particularly the role of automation—and how HubSpot’s solution streamlines processes and gets results. Our clients are now seeing these results firsthand—yes, even during a pandemic—and we couldn’t be more thrilled for them.”

Andréa Catizone, COO and co-founder, adds,

“We’re incredibly proud to be a Platinum Solutions Partner. We love the relationship we’ve built with HubSpot, especially our Channel Account Manager, Kathleen Rush. We look forward to more great years ahead.”

Regarding Senior Living SMART’s elevation to Platinum, Rush says,

“This is an incredible achievement during any year, but it’s absolutely astounding during a pandemic. Senior Living SMART’s commitment to customer success has always impressed me. This commitment—along with their effective solutions and personal and professional integrity—sets them apart from other agencies. They’re the perfect example of what happens when a great team uses the best tools available: success for all involved.”

About Senior Living SMART

Founded in 2012, Senior Living SMART is a digital marketing agency powered by people with deep experience in—and a passion for—senior living. This industry expertise helps the Senior Living SMART team serve up effective marketing and sales strategies that get real results like boosting occupancy. By focusing on attracting the right prospects and nurturing them through the various stages of an often emotional journey, SLS teaches senior living community marketing and sales teams a better way to turn leads into move-ins. Learn more at SeniorLivingSmart.com →

##

Growing business through marketing practices

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.

What to look for when choosing a Senior Living CRM software

3 Tips for Evaluating Senior Living Software: Marketing Automation

Senior living communities need a wide variety of senior living software to support operations—from electronic medical records to CRMs to everything in between. Today, we’re going to talk about an important piece of senior living software for the marketing and sales department: marketing automation.

First, what is marketing automation?

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.

For example, you can have your marketing automation “score” every lead that comes into your website as a marketing-qualified lead or a sales-qualified lead based on criteria you set. The marketing leads will automatically enter email workflows that will nurture them. The sales leads will immediately go to sales for follow up. All of this happens AUTOMATICALLY without anyone having to label things manually. This frees up the marketing and sales teams to focus on substantive tasks.

Learn more about what marketing automation is.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

The goal with marketing automation is to make everyone’s lives easier. Think marketing, sales, and even your prospects. Every senior living community operating today needs some level of marketing automation in order to remain competitive.

In other words, the question isn’t whether you need it. The question is what type of marketing automation you need. Below, we discuss three tips for evaluating this important piece of senior living software.

How should you evaluate different marketing automation solutions?

1. Consider what your teams need.

Marketing automation companies typically offer different tiers ranging from basic products to the Cadillac version. Get the right solution for your needs. You don’t want to spend dollars on features your teams don’t need or won’t use.

Questions to ask as you evaluate marketing automation:

  • What’s your number one reason for investing in marketing automation right now? Make sure you can articulate this clearly.
  • How easily does the marketing automation software scale? For example, if you’re looking to expand your senior living portfolio in 2021 and 2022, how easily can new communities get on board with the solution?
  • How much does it cost? When comparing products, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Some solutions might bill based on the number of contacts. Others might bill on the number of marketing emails you send. Understand ALL the costs.
  • Can it easily integrate with your existing technology? Will it “play nice” with your current website? Will it integrate with your senior living CRM? These are the two most important pieces of technology to consider. But if your community uses any other apps/technology, make sure you understand any integration limitations.
  • Is it intuitive? You’ll want to sit in on a few demos. Does the interface make sense? Can you follow along with how things work? Can you see your team using the software?
  • Is it built specifically for the senior living industry? If not, can it adapt to the industry’s needs? Most marketing automation companies will highlight the industries they serve. Check out their websites. Look for case studies that talk about how the software is used in other senior living settings.
  • What sort of support does the company offer? Ideally, look for a company that builds relationships with its customers. You will need tech support at some point.
  • What are the analytics like? The best marketing automation provides solid insights into results—click-through rates, conversions, engagement, etc.
  • Will you be managing the marketing automation yourself? Or will a third party, like a marketing agency, be assisting? While marketing automation does save time by automating many functions, you shouldn’t treat it as a “turn it on and forget it” sort of system. If you only have the budget for one or two people to manage it, then you might want to opt for a simpler solution or a basic version of a product that has tiered options.

2. Read reviews on marketing automation software.

Capterra does an excellent job curating reviews and providing objectives pros and cons. However, the list for marketing automation software is overwhelming. So you might want to start with Capterra’s Top 20 Report.

When perusing reviews, don’t simply read the five- and one-star reviews. Those will be predictable. The five-star reviews will make the product sound like the best thing since sliced bread. The one-star reviews will make the product sound like it was developed by a child. Instead, pay close attention to the three-star reviews. Those will often provide the most revealing—and helpful—insights regarding the solution.

Pay attention to how the marketing automation company responds to negative reviews. You can tell a lot about a company by how they respond to critical feedback.

3. Ask for recommendations from senior living marketing agencies.

Again, you could ask any marketing agency for its preference. (They will definitely have one!) But asking an agency with senior living experience makes much more sense. A senior living marketing agency will understand the types of software a community like yours needs in order to achieve its marketing and sales goals.

At Senior Living SMART, we’re big fans of HubSpot. (Full disclosure: We’re a HubSpot Gold Solutions Partner.) But that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of other products. Many good marketing automation products exist. (As well as not-so-good products.) If you’ve whittled down your list to three or four (even if HubSpot isn’t on the list), we’d be happy to discuss your options in a free 30-minute brainstorm.

And if you're just getting started with thinking about marketing automation, even better!

We can help you from start to finish, including choosing the right product for your community, setting it up, and analyzing the results. Get in touch!

 

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

We don’t have to tell you that senior living is an ultra-competitive industry. You live and breathe it every day, right? Which is why you always need to find ways to enhance your senior living sales strategies. Good news! Marketing automation is an effective budge-friendly way to do exactly that.

Here are three surprising benefits.

1. Say hello to your “always on” sales assistant.

When it comes to successful lead conversion, here are the two biggest factors:

  • How quickly leads are responded to
  • The persistence of follow-up attempts

Let’s tackle that first factor. Marketing automation ensures that your senior living leads receive an instant response after they take an action on your site. If they fill out a form, for example, they’ll automatically be redirected to a thank-you page that speaks directly to them. AND they’ll receive an auto responder email.

Everything happens automatically in the background—whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. And it happens no matter what’s going on in the world, like a pandemic. In other words, marketing automation becomes your 24/7 sales assistant.

Now, let’s discuss the second factor: persistence of follow-up attempts. Remember, you want to implement effective senior living sales strategies. With marketing automation, instead of lumping all leads together and handling them the same way, you can segment leads, score them appropriately, and create custom lead nurturing workflows.

Gone are the days of treating cool leads the same way you do hot leads. Truly hot leads—for example, someone requesting a tour tomorrow—can be passed off to sales and handled ASAP. But cooler leads can be nurtured according to their needs, interests, and timelines. You can customize your messaging so it speaks TO the person (rather than simply some generic message that you share with everyone).

BENEFITS RECAP: Marketing automation ensures that every prospect gets an almost instantaneous response and a reliable follow-up plan. Follow-up effectiveness and timeliness no longer depend on the availability or skillset of the community sales person. Now, the sales team members can focus on their strengths, such as building relationships with prospects, rather than performing rote tasks (like sending brochures).

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

Marketing automation provides visibility into every action a prospect takes on your site. Think the number of times the person visited a specific page, the blog posts they read, how long they spent on a page, and so forth.

So, for example, if someone requests a tour and the sales person can see that the prospect spent a lot of time consuming financial-related info as well as articles about amenities your community offers, the sales rep can be sure to discuss those two areas.

In addition, when you integrate your marketing automation software with your senior living CRM, you’ll get an excellent big picture regarding sales conversion points (i.e., tours, deposits, and move-ins). With this knowledge, you can measure the ROI of every marketing effort and channel. This is critical since more and more marketing budgets are being slashed and/or coming under greater scrutiny.

BENEFITS RECAP: Building a profile of each prospect and passing that information on to the sales team empowers them with relevant information to personalize their interactions.

3. Nurture “not ready” leads until they ARE ready to decide.

We touched on this in the first point, but let’s take a deeper dive. The majority (up to 90%) of the prospects visiting your website are “early stage” opportunities. They want to remain anonymous and gather knowledge, information, and resources in a self-directed way.

Your website should provide everything the early-stage prospect seeks. You should provide this info without requiring the prospect to engage in a sales interaction.

Once you get people’s info, you need to be thoughtful in how you handle it. Your sales team shouldn’t be wasting valuable time pestering “not ready yet” leads with calls and emails.

Instead, marketing should handle these leads by entering them into custom lead nurturing workflows. When we say “custom,” we mean custom, too. The workflows shouldn’t be one size fits all. You should have a set of workflows to match specific lead attributes, like buyer persona and timeframe. Robust marketing automation can ensure the right person gets the right set of emails at the right time.

BENEFITS RECAP: With strategic lead nurturing, you’ll build trust and demonstrate your community’s expertise. When the person is ready to book a tour, request pricing, or make the leap and move in, your community will be top of mind. (BONUS: We’ve designed a turnkey lead nurturing program for SUPER COLD senior living leads. We’re talking leads that have been sitting in your CRM for over six months. LEARN MORE.)

 

marketing automation targeting customer head mind niche target market marketing concept business

Senior Living Sales: How to Cater to the Prospect’s Journey

When it comes to senior living sales and marketing, understanding what your prospects want and need at any given moment is critical. But here’s the thing: The prospect journey is rarely linear. A prospect doesn’t wake up one day and decide to move into a senior living community the next.

For some prospects, they might research and think through options for several years before making the move. Other prospects might be on a tighter timeframe and make a decision within six months. For others, it might be three months.

Plenty of prospects aren’t even buying for themselves, but rather someone they love. Not to mention, many prospects often go back and forth between being “sales qualified” and “marketing qualified.” And, of course, the sales cycle for all of the above has grown more complex, thanks to COVID-19.

The biggest challenge for senior living marketing and sales teams is finding a way to meet each prospect wherever they are on their individual journey. This level of customization was impossible two decades ago. But now, thanks to marketing automation, you can create custom experiences based on a prospect’s actions, interests, and motivations.

How marketing automation enhances the prospect journey

1. Keeps prospects engaged with your brand

Even if the prospect doesn’t always open your lead nurturing emails, simply seeing your name show up in their inbox helps to keep your community front and center in their minds. For those who do open the emails, a personal touch and warm, reassuring tone can go a long way in helping the prospect feel positive about your brand.

2. Entices prospects back to your site

Through engaging lead nurturing emails, you’ll offer helpful content that entices prospects back to your site. Once there, and depending on how well your site is developed, you can engage with them further by offering more content or by providing ways to interact with the site (through live chat or interactive surveys, for example).

3. Automatically matches the right content/message to the right prospect

Again, the main tenet of successful lead nurturing is providing the right content to the right prospect at the right time. You can gather much of this intel through your website opt-in forms and lead scoring. This info will automatically funnel to your marketing automation system. From there, every lead will enter a workflow that makes the most sense for them.

4. Provides real-time insights on what’s resonating and what isn’t

Instead of cold calling all leads (regardless of their level of interest), your sales team can dip into the backend analytics and see how prospects are responding to lead nurturing in real time.

For example, maybe your sales rep notes a prospect who has opened the last three lead nurturing emails and clicked on each offer inside. From there, the person ends up spending 10-15 minutes on the site. This person might indeed be a “hot prospect” and the sales rep might actually get somewhere if they call the person.

In addition, marketing and sales can get a good sense of what type of content works best. Perhaps your prospects love videos. Or maybe they love free guides. You can develop more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

5. Helps move marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs) over time

Lead nurturing’s main purpose is to move MQLs to SQLs over time. A thoughtful approach and robust marketing automation can help make sure you achieve this goal.

6. Offers a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay in front of prospects

People will often engage with a brand a half dozen (or even more) times before they’re interested in taking a call with a sales rep. Lead nurturing caters to this shift by providing a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay connected with prospects.

Of course, before you can create the right customized journeys, you need to understand your prospects.

We call this work persona development. Think about your favorite residents. Wouldn’t you want to fill your community full of residents just like them? You can! Persona development helps you identify the traits and behaviors of your ideal prospect. You then develop a customized journey that will attract and nurture more of these ideal prospects.

Remember, when it comes to senior living marketing and sales, it’s not about getting more leads. It’s about getting the right leads—those that match your ideal prospect persona and are a good fit for the lifestyle services that you provide.