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5 Strategies for Powerful Senior Living Branding

Marketing jargon like “branding” can often sound equal parts mysterious and intimidating. But effective senior living branding doesn’t have to be either.

1. First, make sure you understand what a brand is.

An effective brand evokes a reaction in people whenever they come across the company’s name. They might get excited (Game of Thrones!). Or hungry (Krispy Kreme!). Or nostalgic (Fun Dip or Pop Rocks!).

Bottom line: Effective branding will make people feel. HOW they feel very much depends on the experience you deliver to them—or that people have heard you deliver.

For example, if you’ve never eaten at Awesome Pizza Shop, but you’ve heard your friends ooh and ahh about the food, the prices, and the customer service, you’ll likely have a very positive reaction to the brand even though you haven’t experienced it yourself yet. That’s the power of branding.

2. Develop accurate and insightful buyer personas.

Before you can develop an effective brand that delivers the type of experience your ideal prospect craves, you need to understand your ideal prospect first. We accomplish this through persona development.

Don’t rush this process. Taking the time to understand and develop your buyer personas will help you develop a brand that accurately reflects your community and truly resonates with people.

The ONLY way you can develop an accurate senior living persona is by talking to . . .

  • Real residents (and/or the adult children) who chose your community (including those who love the community as well as some who might be disappointed in it)
  • Lost prospects (to discover why they didn’t choose your community)

You can’t rely on your sales and marketing teams to develop the personas on their own. They will (and should) have input, of course. But you need to talk to real people in order to challenge and confirm assumptions. Bottom line: You can’t develop effective senior living branding if you don’t know your ideal buyer inside and out.

3. Choose words, colors, and visuals that reflect and reinforce what you discovered during the persona development process.

If you’re developing a brand for people in their 60s when your ideal persona is 80, your messaging is probably going to be off the mark. If your ideal buyer tends to skew conservative, but you’ve created a brand that has a more progressive tone or feel, it’s not going to resonate.

So, how can you make sure you’re developing messaging and visuals that hit the mark? Share your persona work with your writers and designers. (The best writers and designers will ask you for your persona info; but if they don’t, you should share your key findings.) Learn more about writing and designing for senior living audiences here.

4. Always be authentic and honest.

Which do you think will resonate more with your prospective buyers: images of older adults where everything is posed? Or natural, candid photos of people from your community? Or how about this: Do your personas want to hear cliched stories about the “golden years” or a refreshing take on growing older in your community?

Authenticity can go a long way in helping to create a winning senior living brand. But brand authenticity has to be exactly that—authentic. And remember this: you MUST deliver on your brand promise. If not, you will be called out on it in places like social media and online reviews. And that could damage your brand for the long-term.

In fact, Chief Marketer recommends that you begin your brand development by looking internally to the people who deliver your brand every day—because being “self-aware” is just as important as being honest. For senior living communities, this would include not only your sales and marketing teams, but everyone on the operations side—activities, facilities, dining, health, and so forth.

Chief Marketer says, “Make it a collaborative process, and be sure to include the right people. It’s just as important to hear from customer-facing staff as it is the C-suite. Involve your internal stakeholders early in the process, and empower them to ‘be your brand.'”

5. Be consistent with your senior living branding across all media.

Too often, we see senior living communities do awesome branding work, but they forget to update all marketing and sales channels. Think website, social media, email signatures, collateral materials, business cards, stationery—the list is seemingly endless. And it can get even more complex when you have multiple communities that fall under the same brand umbrella.

Task someone within your marketing team as the “brand manager.” This person will serve as the keeper of the brand, making sure the look and feel and messaging are consistent across all media.

To make their life easier, they should check out SMART Brand and SMART Stores. These solutions will help them manage the brand consistently within the community as well as across multiple locations.

Need help? Choose a marketing agency that "gets" senior living branding.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is partner with an agency that has experience in the senior living industry and experience in branding. Not all marketing agencies do branding, and even fewer have dedicated industry experience in senior living. The good news? At Senior Living SMART, we’ve got deep experience in both. Schedule a complimentary brainstorm session with us today and let’s talk about your community’s brand identity!.

Concept of business men and women evaluating senior living marketing services

How to Evaluate Senior Living Marketing Services

If you’re thinking of changing marketing agencies or maybe using one for the first time, this article is for you. As you evaluate different agencies and the senior living marketing services they offer, keep the following questions in mind.

1. Does that agency have experience in the senior living industry?

The senior living industry is special. We don’t have to tell you that, right? After all, it’s real estate, healthcare, and lifestyle all rolled into one. An agency with senior living industry experience will have a much shorter learning curve. This saves time—and money.

2. Does the agency offer comprehensive senior living marketing services?

Are you OK juggling multiple agencies? Perhaps one that can handle your website, another for advertising, and still another for print materials? Or would you prefer to have a streamlined experience with one agency that handles everything soup to nuts? If you’d prefer the latter, then make sure you investigate all the services the agency offers. (A good place to start is the agency’s website.)

3. Does the agency only offer marketing services a la carte? Or does it provide strategy as well?

You don’t want to approach senior living marketing services like you do ordering from a fast-food menu. “I’ll take two website pages, a round of lead nurturing emails, and a PPC ad campaign to go.” Before you can think about marketing services, you need a marketing strategy. A good marketing agency will devise a strategy based on your community’s challenges and goals.

Marketing agency business men and women working together in a streamlined fashion to meet project goals

4. Does the agency demonstrate a deep understanding of each marketing service it offers—particularly how it relates to the senior living industry?

Anyone can provide a laundry list of marketing services on their website. You want to work with an agency that has expertise in the services it offers. How to tell? Look for examples of thought leadership.

Does the agency regularly blog about marketing topics? Are the blog posts well written and informative? Does the agency participate in industry webinars and podcasts? Does it offer guides about various marketing topics? Does the agency get quoted by relevant publications, like Senior Housing News?

5. Does the agency outsource any of its senior living marketing services? Or does it handle most stuff in-house?

This is a trick question. It’s not unusual for marketing agencies to outsource some work to contractors or to trusted partners. (For example, some marketing agencies might have a trusted PPC vendor they work with.) But if the agency outsources most work to third parties, this raises red flags.

First, it might cost you more in the long run since the agency is essentially serving as the middleman. Second, this approach can dilute the strategy since one of the positives a good marketing agency brings to the table is overseeing the BIG marketing picture. It’s easier to manage and oversee the various senior living marketing services when everything happens under the same roof.

6. Does the agency deliver real, quantifiable results?

Unless the agency can provide you with real, tangible results—think increased conversions and more tours and move-ins—what’s the point? To evaluate, ask the agency to share the results of three recent campaigns. Read case studies on their website. Ask to speak to several of their current clients. (And ask the clients the same questions about real, measurable results). Finally, read the agency’s reviews for more insight into not only deliverables, but also how the agency works with clients.

Marketing ideas leading to results you can see

7. Is the agency named Senior Living SMART? :)

All kidding aside, we pride ourselves on devising strong marketing roadmaps and delivering real, measurable results to our clients. Plus, we only focus on the senior living industry. It’s our passion! Interested in learning more about our senior living marketing services? Let’s chat!

Creating a marketing plan for 2021

Your Senior Living Marketing Plan for 2021

Too often, marketing and sales teams stress out when creating their yearly senior living marketing plan. At the end of December or beginning of January, they will create complex, color-coded spreadsheets with endless tasks and dates and “ownership.” (Often, no one ever looks at the plan again!)

Don’t get us wrong: Planning is important. But it’s impossible to plan a whole years’ worth of marketing tasks in one fell swoop. Instead, it makes more sense to develop an overarching plan for the year—that famous 30,000-foot view. From there, you can create tasks per quarter. (And you don’t need to create the quarterly tasks all at once, either.)

Talk about a much easier approach, right?

The purpose of this post is to help you with that 30,000-foot view.

We recommend getting your team together and talking through the following four main buckets. An important note: You will need to think about them in conjunction with each other. But to start, devote four separate afternoons. Spend each one on a different bucket. On the fifth day, bring it all together and develop your broad-stroke senior living marketing plan to guide you for the year.

What comes out of your discussions will vary depending on your community. It will also depend on the type of year you had, your goals for next year, and your budget. Below, we’re including some questions to get the ball rolling.

CAVEAT: If you’re reading this in 2020, you can’t go into 2021 without thinking about the pandemic. So your 30,000-foot view needs to include the reality of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will be a different story when we enter 2022. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to get instant access to our COVID-19 marketing assets.

1. Senior living marketing plan: Think search.

Let’s face it: Almost everyone begins their searches online. This is certainly true for older adults, which is why the foundation of every senior living marketing plan needs to be search and SEO.

Some questions to ponder or to kick-start your discussion:

  • How often did you conduct keyword research last year? Be honest! If you’re reading this in 2020, we wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is “not much” since everyone was dealing with COVID. If that’s the case, make it a priority going into 2021.
  • When’s the last time you did a site optimization audit? Your website is a machine. Like any machine, it requires maintenance.
  • If you’ve been running paid search campaigns, how have they been working? Review metrics, including the most important one: move-ins. Have your PPC campaigns performed well? Do you want to increase the budget? If they haven’t performed, is it because they’re not the right campaigns? Or is PPC not right for your particular community at this time? Meaning you might want to put the budget towards something else for part of next year and revisit?

No doubt, you’ll come up with plenty of other discussion points around search. Keep track of the big items and themes. For example, maybe you come out of this meeting with something like the following:

  • Perform fresh keyword research in Q2.
  • Re-optimize site, as needed, in early Q3.
  • Increase budget on Facebook ads, decrease budget in Google AdWords.

2. Senior living marketing plan: Think content.

As we like to say around here, content isn’t king—it’s emperor. People crave content at every stage of their journey. Your job is to make sure what they need is available to them when they need it.

At the very least, your content strategy will involve discussions around:

  • Blogging. You should enter January with a three-month editorial calendar in place. The calendar should include keyword-rich topics, blog writing assignments, and due dates. In fact, when you enter January, you should already have the completed January content in hand. Your team should be working on February content.
  • Premium content. Aim for a good mix of gated pieces that will entice people to provide their email address so you can continue nurturing them.
  • Social media. We don’t have to tell you how personal senior living is. Your community should have an active and engaging presence on places like Facebook and Instagram. From a business standpoint, maintain a good LinkedIn page so you can continue to attract great employees. (Make sure you’ve claimed listings on places like Glassdoor and LinkedIn as well.)
  • Email marketing associated with automaton. We’ll dig into this more in the automation section below. Bottom line, though: Don’t simply set it and forget it.

Again, the above will get you started, but it isn’t an exhaustive list of items to think about. Always look at content holistically. For example, is there a “theme” you’d like to focus on for the first half of 2021? Maybe it’s around “choosing senior living during uncertain times.” How can different channels—blog, email, social, premium content, and so forth—support that theme?

Try to walk away from this brainstorming session with a couple of larger themes for next year that will drive your month-to-month content creation.

3. Senior living marketing plan: Think automation.

We’ve written A LOT about marketing automation. If there’s one thing ALL senior living communities can do better, it’s in this area.

If you have marketing automation…

  • When’s the last time you looked at analytics? Review the last two quarters. What surprised you? What made you excited? What worried you? Bottom line: you’ll want to do more of what’s working. And you’ll want to reassess what isn’t.
  • When’s the last time you reviewed the content of your lead nurturing campaigns? Too often, we see communities set up their lead nurturing email campaigns and never look at them again. Some messages will be evergreen. But others will need tweaking. For example, what you said in May of 2020 will (thankfully) sound different from emails sent during May of 2021.
  • Consider your leads. Not just the number of overall leads, but conversions to move-ins. What’s the quality of SQLs? What’s the breakdown of MQLs to SQLs in the database? Etc.

If you don’t have marketing automation . . .

While your marketing team will be involved in all of these discussions, you should absolutely include sales in any discussion pertaining to lead gen. They know the leads. They can speak to their quality—or their perceived quality.

4. Senior living marketing plan: Think outsourced marketing agency.

Are you currently working with a marketing agency? If yes, are you happy with the engagement? If not, why not? Can you communicate your concerns with the agency and discuss strategies for moving forward together? Or is it time to make a change? If it’s time to make a change, what will be the process for making a switch? (Who will own it?)

  • Hint: What’s the sign of a truly good agency? They’re actively involved in planning next year’s marketing. In fact, they’re likely driving the discussion.

If you’re not working with an outsourced marketing agency, discuss whether it would make sense to do so. What sort of budget do you have? What are your expectations?

And on the fifth day of planning your senior living marketing . . .

Now, you’ll bring it all together: Your themes. Your goals. Your plans around search (organic and paid). Your content strategy. Your marketing automation tasks. Your budget. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding these things. Then, create your Q1 marketing calendar. Use your tool of choice—Asana, Trello, Google docs, Basecamp.

Think of your senior living marketing plan as the roadmap. Think of the month-to-month calendar as the actual driving directions and milestones (tasks) along the way.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't have time to plan?

Hey, we get it! Its been a tough year. Here’s the good news, though: We can do ALL the leg work for you (with your input, of course). We can distill everything you tell us—your goals, your budget, what’s working, what isn’t—and put together a strategic marketing roadmap for your community. Your team can execute it, or we can. (Or a combination!)

Let’s talk about your marketing plan!

rocket ship shooting past hot air balloons representing custom websites standing out from and exceeding competition's templated websites

Senior Living Websites: Why You Should Avoid Templates

Opting for a templated senior living website (also called “websites in a box”) might be hard to resist. Promises of rock-bottom prices and so-called “ease of use” can lure people in. But like so many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s why you should avoid templates for your senior living website.

1. Little to no flexibility.

A templated site doesn’t allow much flexibility. For example, if a content block only allows 50 words, but you need 300 words to effectively communicate your message, you’ll probably be out of luck. That is, unless you pay someone to customize the page, which can get pricy fast (not to mention cumbersome).

Bottom line: You should have control over how much content you want on a page—and where you want to place it. Same with imagery and other design elements.

2. Problematic backends.

With cheap website templates, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. Templates are famous for having too much bloated code beneath the surface, which can make doing updates or scaling of any kind a big hassle.

Plus, poorly coded sites tend to break easily, resulting in frustrations for site owners and site visitors. Remember: Your visitors are your prospective buyers! You want them to have a good experience on your website. The only thing more frustrating than owning a website that constantly breaks is trying to navigate a shoddily built site with lots of broken or dysfunctional bits.

Bottom line: Custom senior living websites require a thoughtful approach. This thoughtful approach extends to the coding and backend development work.

3. Too similar to your competitors’ sites.

Companies that produce so-called budget-friendly website templates will often target specific industries. This makes perfect sense for their business model. They create templates that (attempt to) check off all the boxes for a particular industry. They do this so that they can sell their templates across the industry. The problem for you is that your site might end up looking like all the other senior living websites that use the same template.

Bottom line: The senior living industry already suffers from differentiation issues. After all, most communities essentially sell the same thing. A custom website offers an excellent opportunity to differentiate your community from the rest. Don’t forget most people begin their search online. If you want your site to truly stand out and tell your brand’s story, you need to invest in a custom senior living website that does exactly that.

4. Too generic.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. In addition to being too similar to other senior living websites, templates also have a tendency to feel too generic. After all, the template is designed to satisfy “everyone.” The problem with this approach is the template will feel incredibly safe, boring, and generic.

Bottom line: Prospects aren’t going to visit your templated website and say, “UGH. This is so generic.” But the FEELING will be there, like an undercurrent. Remember: Subliminal messages can be extremely powerful. A custom site will enable you to tell your brand’s unique story.

5. Not typically built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.

Many templates will claim to be optimized for search. And some might be—to a certain extent. But senior living SEO is a process, not a “thing” you set up once and forget about. Plus, so many different elements influence your SEO process—buyer personas, the prospect journey, and your competitors’ approach to keywords (just to name a few items). A templated website doesn’t take all those things into consideration—only real humans thinking through the process can truly optimize a site.

Bottom line: Why bother having a website unless it can effectively compete in Google by attracting targeted traffic? A custom SEO strategy is essential.

6. Little to no reliable customer service.

Who do you call when something inevitably goes wrong or you need help adding a page or making an update? Sure, there might be a 1-800 number. But will the person you reach know the ins and outs of your site, your goals, and the senior living industry? Probably not.

Bottom line: Work with a web developer or agency partner who takes the time to understand your business. They will provide a better finished product and better customer service.

7. More expensive in the end.

Website templates can work for certain businesses, but senior living communities are not one of them. We guarantee that the “awesome deal” you got will cost you more in the long run—particularly when it comes to lost revenue due to people being unable to discover your site through search. Or worse: They find your site, but it doesn’t engage them, so they navigate away.

Bottom line: Yes, you’ll pay more for a custom website up front, but the ROI it delivers over the long term will be worth it.

All of that said, you do need to find the RIGHT custom website builder for your senior living website.

Not all web designers are created equal. That’s often another reason why people might opt for a templated, out-of-the-box design. It feels “easier” to deal with, at least, on the surface. It’s true that finding a reputable web designer and managing the build-out can feel like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be, though. Entrepreneur has five suggestions for finding a good web developer. CIO also has an in-depth list of 10 tips for finding a good web developer.

Another option is to work with a marketing agency (like ours!) that has experience in managing the senior living website design and development process from soup to nuts. The benefits of working with an agency is that you can often get all the other items you need in order to elevate your site—website copywriting, SEO services, marketing automation, etc.

Remember, a great looking website isn’t enough. It needs to attract targeted traffic that it successfully converts into marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Even the best web development firms don’t always have their eyes on conversion strategies and metrics. But a good marketing agency will since it has the ability to see the big picture—and all the elements that influence it.

 

 

Business man learning from data trends

Senior Living Sales in the Post-COVID Era: 3 Things We’ve Learned

When it comes to senior living sales, we’re a long way off from the “post-COVID” era. But we’re (thankfully!) turning the corner on COVID-19 (the first wave anyway).

As more and more senior living communities open their doors and return to this “new normal,” now is a good time to pause and consider the things you’ve learned over the last five months. What worked? What didn’t? And what can you do differently from a sales perspective as you move forward?

Here are three things we’ve learned about marketing during a pandemic. This includes insights from our own clients as well.

  1. Virtual sales experiences can be effective.

In our industry, the in-person tour has always been the ultimate “get” in the sales process. (Well, the ultimate get before the actual move-in!) But what many of our clients have learned during lockdown is this: virtual sales experiences can deliver move-ins, too.

So, what does this revelation suggest?

Well, maybe we’ve been spending too much time thinking about what the sales folks need to move prospects down the funnel. Instead, we should focus on the prospects’ needs. In other words, maybe the sales reps’ role is figuring out how they can help empower prospects to move themselves through the funnel.

That’s just one thing that’s been bubbling up.

It makes sense when you think about the shifts in how people research and buy today. We’ve all grown accustomed to being in control. For example, we all like being able to read reviews or use AI to improve the buying process (“Hey, Alexa!”). In addition, we can lodge complaints publicly on Twitter and ignore calls from unknown numbers. So much happens from the comfort of our couch with nothing more than a phone. People can now buy a car without having to leave their house or interact with a sales person.

So of course people are going to demand more and more opportunities for virtual sales experiences from senior living communities, like a 3D virtual tour. Or a reassuring live chat (with a real human). Or unvarnished videos of your residents and staff experiencing daily life in your community.

An important note: We don’t think virtual experiences are going to eliminate in-person tours. Buying a residence is still very much a tactile experience, and people want to see, touch, and smell. But perhaps sales people need to put less emphasis on pushing the in-person tour. Instead, they should focus on delivering targeted and effective virtual experiences that people crave. The better these experiences are, the easier it will be for the prospect to organically move themselves into the position of requesting the in-person tour when they’re ready.

TAKEAWAY: Rethink your overall marketing and sales process. The marketing team will definitely need to be part of these conversations since they often spearhead the creation of assets the sales team needs, like videos and live chat on the website.

Perhaps consider creating two “paths.”  The first path will be the “live” sales experience. The second path can be a virtual one. What would the process look for each path, from start to finish? How would you nurture leads differently? How would you follow up with them differently? Don’t forget about measuring results! What would be considered successful? Will a longer sales cycle be OK if it produces more conversions?

  1. Crisis communication isn’t a one-time exercise for senior living sales teams.

COVID-19 forced everyone to dust off their crisis communication plan (provided they even had one) and put it into action.

How’d yours do? If your answer is “meh,” you’re not alone.

Too often, we simply go through the motions once or twice a year of holding drills and reviewing emergency preparedness plans. But drills and a real life global pandemic are two different things.

Another important point: crisis communications shouldn’t be issued only when a crisis hits. Effective crisis communication is an ongoing task, one that you should mix in with your regular content marketing.

For example, every season brings its own challenges and potential crisis. Perhaps your community is located in an area of the country that experiences severe weather from June to November (think hurricanes). Instead of waiting for something to happen, create and share your crisis communication plan for severe weather NOW.

No, you don’t need to be alarmist. But if your community is in a hurricane zone, perhaps it makes sense to have a section on your website that proactively talks about your community’s approach to bad weather. What happens if there’s a power outage? Flooding? What’s the approach depending on the storm category (the difference between a Cat 1 and Cat 5 storm)? How can families stay in touch? How do you send messages/alerts to families and/or where can they call into?

And this goes without saying, but ALL communities should be working on a crisis communication plan for COVID and flu for the fall of 2020/winter of 2021.

TAKEAWAY: Think about the worst case scenarios that could affect your community. Disease and weather top the list, so you should have content sections on both. Include an overview page. In addition, have FAQs about each particular topic. Other sections to consider: chemical accidents, fire, terrorist events. Yes, we know these are scary topics, but your content can be calming and reassuring.

Promote these sections on social media, to prospects and new residents/families, and to local reporters (who are always looking for go-to experts when disaster hits). Be the resource that residents, families, and prospects crave.

This information will go a long way in demonstrating that your community has put the time and effort into planning. It will also show that you learned from any mistakes/missteps from COVID-19. Because, let’s face it: no one was fully prepared.

  1. When it comes to delivering essential messages, lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat, repeat, repeat.

Over the last five months, have you found yourself repeating things to people because they’ve forgotten you told them already? Have you found that you’ve had trouble remembering things?

You’re not alone. This pandemic has worn out everyone mentally. As CNN.com notes, “Experts say it all has to do with how the pandemic is affecting our cognitive health—meaning, our ability to clearly think, learn and remember.”

TAKE AWAY: Before COVID-19, you typically had to repeat marketing messages anywhere from 7-12 times (at least) before it started to sink into people’s heads. When it comes to senior living sales today, plan on doubling that—even for simple messages.

Ideas for pushing out your core messages:

  • Update and republish evergreen blogs that promote core messages.
  • Increase how often you share certain content, like a blog post, over time. For example, if you publish a new blog tomorrow, do you tweet and post about it a couple times and then forget about it? Make sure you have a promotion plan that continues to pump out your most valuable content. Marketing automation can help with this. Write a tweet once, but schedule the same tweet 10 times over 30 days.
  • Keep messages short and punchy—especially on social media. Make it easy to digest and remember.
  • Finally, use a variety of media to say the same thing. Some people like to read. Others like to watch video. Still others like to listen.

Need help transitioning your sales process?

We spent our careers working on the operator side. We understand the challenges senior living sales and marketing teams face—and we have smart strategies and solutions that’ll get you the results you desire.

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

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

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

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

Need ideas for topics? Turn to…

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

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

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

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

3. Mind your grammar, spelling, and punctuation!

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

4. Watch your tone.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Consider hiring a professional writer.

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

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

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

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

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

8. Measure results.

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

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

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

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

Need help with blogging?

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

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

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

So glad you asked.

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

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

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

Let’s break it down:

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

FREE Website Assessment

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

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

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

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

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

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

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

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

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

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

2. Shift in Transparency

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

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

3. Shift in Control

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

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

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

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

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.