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

Senior Living Website Tips: Make Sure You Own Your Website

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

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

Senior living website tips: warning signs to watch out for 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marketing Agency Trap in Senior Living

The Senior Living Marketing Agency Trap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn from our lessons and avoid these mistakes!

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

What You Need to Know About Your Online Senior Living Competition

Competitor Analysis: How Senior Living Communities Need to Evaluate Online Competition

You’ve likely set goals and key performance indicators (KPI) for your digital marketing strategy. Hopefully, you’re reviewing the data and adjusting your strategy based on the results against your goals. But to truly analyze your digital marketing success, you have to compare it to the results from your market. In other words, you need to conduct competitor analysis. This involves monitoring and measuring your competitors’ digital marketing efforts as well.

Want to be a better online sleuth? Focus on these top four areas and follow our tips.

Content

Look at what types of content perform best. Which blogs have the most reads or the greatest number of likes and shares? What sort of content offers does the competition promote? What about videos? Infographics? You get the idea.

Pro tip: And speaking of ideas, keep track of content topics that your organization hasn’t been capitalizing on—yet. We’re not suggesting that you plagiarize, but we guarantee looking at your competitors’ content will get your own creative juices going.

Website Traffic

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when looking at competitors’ websites and related analytics. Focus on these metrics for a solid overview of a site’s performance:

  • Overall traffic by month
  • Unique traffic
  • Main sources of traffic
  • Who is visiting
  • Time on site

Pro tip: HubSpot has an excellent (and free) online website grader that can provide this top-level intel. If you want to go deeper, SimilarWeb has free and paid subscriptions.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization has changed dramatically in the last two decades. One of the foundational elements is keywords (although the way we approach keywords has also evolved over the years).

  • What keywords are they bidding for?
  • What keywords are they ranked for?
  • Do they have any quality backlinks?

Pro tip: SpyFu is a great tool for SEO competitor analysis. WordStream takes a deep dive into eight tools (including SpyFu).

Social Media and Ads

When it comes to social media, look beyond “vanity metrics,” such as the number of followers, since those are rarely accurate. Instead, focus on engagement, such as the number of shares and comments. This will give you a better idea about what content is resonating with people.

Pro tip: Social Media Examiner offers a great list of four free tools to help you analyze and compare.

See how you compare with your competition!

Want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you? That’s what we do!  Click HERE to schedule a free consultation!

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

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

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

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

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

Website – Your 24-Hour Sales Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download our eBook

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

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

Marketing Automation/ Lead Nurturing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology that is Always On Duty

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Living Sales: It Doesn't Have to Be Like "Groundhog Day"

Senior Living Sales: It Doesn’t Have to Be Like “Groundhog Day”

I sometimes miss working on the operations side of senior living, so much so that I’ll do occasional sales trainings and coaching projects to stay sharp. Whenever I dip my toes back into sales, the thing that surprises me most is this: marketing is like The Jetsons – innovative and exciting. Sales, however, is still like that Bill Murray classic: Groundhog Day. It’s as though time has stood still over the last 15 years as sales reps continue to struggle with the basics.

So let’s change that for good, shall we? Here are some ways to improve the sales process and results.

1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Look at your community through prospects’ eyes and be honest about the basics. Start with the experience of arriving at the community. Can you improve the locations, landscaping, and visibility of signage (even at night)? Will zoning allow you to add feather banners or A-frames? Is there dedicated parking reserved for tours near the front door or are prospects circling endlessly? Is the landscaping inviting year-round? Is the outdoor furniture clean and arranged?

These small details can make a huge difference between your tour arriving relaxed and feeling welcome or stressed out and frustrated.

Bonus tip: Personalize your tour parking signage to add the names of expected guests so there will be a parking spot with their name on it.

2. Create a sense of belonging.

Prospects are typically looking at four to six communities. And let’s face it: most communities are very similar in design, services, and amenities. Prospects make decisions emotionally, which means you must build a strong sense of belonging from the minute they walk through your door. This starts with planning the visit to incorporate their life story, preferences, wants, needs, motivations, and non-negotiables.

Spending time as a team to plan every step of the visit will pay off with higher conversions. The better the discovery call, the better the planning and conversions. It takes the whole team to create a sense of belonging. For example, be sure the front desk is notified of all visits and has all the information they need to personalize their greeting. Also, provide notification to the line staff so they can participate more personally in the tour – and reward them when they do a great job!

 

 

 

Bonus tip: Use our turnkey “Red Carpet Tour” kit with all the resources needed to plan and execute the perfect tour.

3. It’s a $100,000 lifetime value sale, so why is there Styrofoam?

It now costs an average of $1200 to get a family to tour. This is an emotional decision and families will be sharing personal concerns, so setting up a hospitality suite with refreshments is a must. Conference rooms and offices are not conducive to sensitive and personal conversations.

And let’s get rid of Styrofoam, paper cups, and plastic cups and plates once and for all! The average resident lifetime value is usually greater than $100,000, so let’s roll out the glassware and china. Please use name-brand beverages. Store brand and generic brands shout “cheap.”

Bonus tip: Here is everything you need to create an inviting hospitality suite.

4. Location of the model apartment is critical.

I can’t tell you how many times I find the model apartment at the farthest end of the building. Why? So the maintenance department will not have to move it! The result? By the time the family gets to the model, they are already questioning if their loved one will be able to manage due to physical or memory deficits.

Always think of your prospect first—and what will be convenient to them. Ideally, the model apartments should be located in proximity to the hospitality suite. The model apartment should engage all senses: lights on, music playing, scented plug-ins, soft fabrics, and refreshments available. This is a place to linger, so have calendars, newsletters, floor plans, and menus out to create meaningful conversations.

Bonus tip: Use this model apartment checklist to see if your models are up to snuff! (download model apartment checklist)

5. Goodbyes and Advances.

Once the visit is wrapping up, it’s time to get a commitment to advance the relationship. This will be different for each prospect based on their unique situation. For earlier stage leads, a home visit, luncheon, or upcoming event may work best. For those closer to making a decision, a deposit, assessment, or re-tour with other decision-makers would be appropriate. Giving prospects something special is a memorable way to part ways, so consider having a swag collection available so you can find the right gift for each prospect. I recommend having dog/cat treats, teas/coffees, mugs, candies, small books etc. so I can find just the right gift for each prospect.

Bonus tip: Walk all tours out to their car to end the visit with a personal gesture.

Try free samples of our Red Carpet Tour kit!

Execute the perfect tour with planning tools, including forms, signs, staff recognition & post-tour gifts and followup resources.

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Digital Marketing for Senior Living: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

A few years ago, Eat This, Not That! was published to provide advice on how to replace unhealthy food choices with better alternatives.

Today, we’re sharing Ask This, Not That! – a guide for VPs of marketing and the C-Suite to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing for senior living.

We recommend focusing on five critical metrics:

1. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Conversions, Not Traffic

Don’t be distracted by website traffic. Instead, focus on what matters: conversions. As in traffic that actually converts into customers.

Invest your budget in creating more website conversion points rather than simply increasing traffic. Here are some ideas for doing exactly that:

  • Blog more. Websites that publish new blog posts every week get 3.5 times more leads per month.
  • Create premium content such as guides, e-books, tool kits, and infographics. Gate them (put them behind a form) to increase conversions of anonymous visitors to leads.
  • Add live chat (like SiteStaff) to respond to prospects’ questions and convert chats to leads and tours.
  • Make your website experiential with interactive surveys (Roobrik), room planners (Design Floor Plans), and financial calculators.

Note: Marketing teams should be able to quantify how many leads have converted to inquiry calls (using call tracking, such as Marchex), scheduled tours, and brochure/ pricing requests.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What are the conversion rates for each marketing channel?”

2. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Asking how many leads are generated is the wrong question. A better question to ask is this: How many leads are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) vs. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)? You should have a way of measuring both.

  • MQLs are early stage leads in research mode. They engage by reading blogs, downloading guides and brochures, and checking out pricing. Or maybe they are trying to self-qualify, but they’re not ready for a sales pitch. They want to be left alone until they are ready!
  • SQLs, on the other hand, are in the consideration and decision stages. These leads will opt into calls-to-action, such as “schedule a tour” and “speak with an advisor.” As such, it’s imperative that the sales team has immediate access to these leads.

Having technology that can apply lead scoring to quickly sort leads into MQLs and SQLs is critical in today’s competitive “speed to the lead” environment. And your marketing team should be able to provide the number of MQLs and SQLs in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “How do we identify MQLs vs SQLs so the sales team is working with the prospects most likely to convert?”

3. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Nurturing the “Not Ready” Leads

Pressure on getting move-ins TODAY has created dangerous behaviors of focusing exclusively on urgent (high acuity) leads rather than building a healthy pipeline.

Each sales team member can realistically manage only about 10 active leads. So what do you think is happening with the other 200+ leads languishing in the CRM? Not much beyond maybe a few perfunctory “just checking in” follow-up calls to make an activity quota.

Marketing teams should have a strategy to keep the “not ready” leads engaged. Marketing automation (we use HubSpot) takes rote and repetitive tasks off the sales team’s plates and uses automated workflows to ensure that “not ready” leads are given resources while being exposed to your brand. Over time, this fosters trust and encourages the lead to advance to an SQL as they continue on their decision-making journey.

The best part? You can customize these strategic “drip campaigns” to each prospect based on their expressed interests and website behaviors. Links to blogs, premium content, newsletters, and event invitations keep prospects engaged until they are “ready.”

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What is our strategy to engage, nurture, and convert ‘not ready’ leads?”

4. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Impact of Third Party Leads

The question most executives ask is “how many leads are in the CRM?” But a better question is this: “How many unique leads are in the database?”

A VP of Sales & Marketing recently told me that 80% of the leads in their CRM were generated from third party lead sources. This is important for two reasons. First, these leads averaged a 3% conversion rate. This means the sales team spends 80% of their time with low conversion opportunities. That leaves them only 20% of their time to work with leads generated from high conversion lead sources, such as friend and family referrals (35% conversion), professional referrals (40% conversion rate), and organic digital lead sources.

Second, these are shared leads – probably with five to seven of your nearest and dearest competitors. So in measuring actual lead volume, third party leads should only count as 1/5th or 1/7th of a lead. Counting third party leads as a unique lead will skew your actual lead volume and lull sales teams into a false sense of security that they have “plenty of leads” in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What’s the lead percentage from each referral source category?”

5. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: It’s All About the ROI

At the end of the day, it is all about ROI. That is the difference between a marketing expense and an investment. You should be able to measure through every marketing channel—digital, paid AdWords and social campaigns, events, and traditional print, radio and TV advertising—the dollars invested and the leads generated in return.

Ideally, you should have a way to follow every lead through their journey and measure the cost per lead, cost per qualified lead, cost per tour, and cost per move-in. At Senior Living SMART, we help our clients go even further by calculating the resident lifetime value. Our clients provide the average length of stay and average rate by lifestyle for each community so we can accurately calculate the ROI of all marketing efforts.

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Question to bring up during your next meeting with senior living marketing and sales: “What is the ROI of each marketing campaign?”

Need help analyzing your analytics?

As a senior living marketing agency, we can help you understand the metrics that matter most. Get in touch!

How to Boost Occupancy & Lead Generation Through Inbound Marketing. Learn how we helped one client experience over 1200% ROI across 10 communities in fewer than four months! In this case study, track the growth of 10 communities using marketing automation, and view measurable results with reported ROI.

The First Conversation in Senior Living Sales

The First Conversation in Senior Living Sales

Not too long ago, the first conversation with prospects happened either over the phone with the initial discovery call or in person during an event or tour. Today, the first conversation with prospects is digital in nature. Eighty-seven percent of senior living sales start online, and providers have only seven seconds to engage prospects.

Here are five tips to increase engagement and conversions.

Tip #1: It’s Not About You.

Your prospects don’t come to your website because they want to hear your “story,” meet your team, or read your mission statement. They come because they have a compelling need or concern, many questions, and a desire to connect with helpful resources to guide their decision-making journey.

Remember, you only have seven seconds. So ask yourself how you’re going to connect, engage, and convert them to a lead. Prospects today are much more experiential in their research style. If you have relevant information, they will stay on your site. If not, they will bounce off to a competitor or third party lead aggregator site.

So make sure you put the most relevant and helpful info front and center on your most trafficked pages, particularly the home page. Include calls-to-action that will lead people to helpful resources they can download. Make sure FAQs are easily accessible in the navigation (better yet, include a Live Chat feature so you can address their questions in real-time).

Tip #2: Create Content for All Stages in The Buyer’s Journey.

Ninety percent of website visitors are not sales qualified. Prospects in the Awareness Stage are looking for basic information (e.g., What are the options? What’s included? Can I afford it?).

When they move into the Consideration Stage, they are weighing pros and cons and transitional issues (e.g., Is home or community the best setting? What will we do with all the stuff? Is the family on board? How do we broach the subject with Mom/ Dad?).

By the time prospects move into the Decision Stage, urgency replaces ambivalence and the conversation shifts to timing and location (e.g., Which community is going to be the best fit? what funding sources can we tap into? How do we make a smooth transition?).

To meet prospects where they are, your website must offer a range of content types to consume throughout the journey and multiple CTAs (calls to action) to advance leads. You’ll want to gate some content, but you should also “un-gate” some content as well. Blogs make great un-gated content (we recommend two to four original educational blog posts per month). Offering downloadable activity calendars, menus, and newsletters works well, too.

Guides, e-books, and tool kits work best for gated content (the prospect must exchange limited contact information in exchange for the valuable resource). Offering digital brochures and pricing resources are very popular with prospects and have high engagement and conversion metrics. We have found that e-newsletters are the number one tool to re-engage website visitors.

Need more help getting your website up to snuff?

Check out the following offers:

Tip #3: Make Your Website Interactive.

Websites today have to be more than online brochures. Less copy and more interactive experiences will make the website “sticky” so prospects stay longer and come back often.

Need some ideas? Live chat (not self-managed, not bots, and not foreign-based) produces high conversion rates with 40% of chats turning into leads and 20% converting to a scheduled tour. Interactive surveys (such as financial calculators) and self-guided decision tools (such as Roobrik) engage and convert anonymous website visitors into marketing- and sales-qualified leads. Interactive site maps, virtual tours, and room planners allow prospects to explore from their couch, without the drive time or sales pitch.

Tip #4 Optimize the Contact Us Form.

Prospects at each stage will respond to different CTAs, so offer them a menu of choices. Create a “pick list” with options such as the following:

  • Download a brochure
  • Check pricing
  • Join us for lunch
  • Schedule a home visit
  • Schedule a tour
  • Attend an upcoming event
  • Speak with an advisor
  • Subscribe to our newsletter and/or blog

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) who opt in to face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction should immediately go to the community sales team. We recommend marketing automation to nurture early stage leads with personalized workflows. This allows sales teams to stay focused on high-conversion opportunities without the distraction of following up with leads that are not ready.

Tip #5: Attract and Convert More Leads, Tours, & Move-Ins with Essential Resources.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite resources. But you can find others in our Senior Living Marketplace.

  • Senior Living SMART – website design, marketing automation, content development
  • SiteStaff – live chat staffed by college-educated Americans trained for senior living
  • Roobrik – self-guided decision tools with low lead-acquisition costs and high conversions
  • Marchex – call tracking to measure conversion points for digital, social, and traditional channels
  • Design Floor Plans – interactive sitemaps, room planners, 2- and 3-D floor plans
The Impact of Marketing Automation on One Senior Living Community

Marketing Automation: The Impact On One Senior Living Community

Sonata Senior Living operates in highly competitive markets in central and southern Florida. They were looking for a way to drive more qualified prospects to their site, convert more tour and phone interactions, and determine the ROI of their digital efforts. We recommended marketing automation, since it’s both strategic and measurable.

Here’s the philosophy behind it…

Persona Development to Attract the Ideal Prospects

A persona is a fictional representation of the most qualified prospects with the highest opportunity to convert to a resident. Think about your most successful residents. They’ve lived in the community for a long time. They enjoy the amenities and lifestyle. And their families are involved and supportive. To get more of those ideal leads, you should develop buyer personas to understand common attributes, decision-making behavior, and key motivators.

Content Development to Attract More Qualified Leads

Once the personas are developed, the next step is to create an editorial calendar with relevant topics that are compelling to your personas throughout their journey. Content development should start with a keyword analysis for the target community and their nearest and dearest competitors. We focus on building a content strategy with topics for each persona and each stage within their journey.

Our copywriters work from keyword-rich titles based on our clients’ ranking for desirable keywords vs. the ranking of their competitors. For example, Sonata ranked lower on “Florida Senior Living” than their competitors. This keyword had a strong search volume, so we increased the number of blog titles with that keyword to elevate their ranking.

Boosting Conversions through Marketing Automation

Blogs serve as the bait that attracts interested prospects to the website, but gated premium content reels them in! Simply having regular blog content (we recommend two to four original blogs per month) will improve your SEO. But once you add gated premium content, conversions will significantly increase. For example, Sonata is seeing contacts double thanks to premium content.

Optimizing contact forms is a quick win. Offering multiple choices to prospects instead of only “contact us” or “schedule a tour” will allow prospects to opt in at the level they are most comfortable.

For instance, early stage leads are not ready for a tour, but they will eagerly download brochures and pricing. We like to offer “speak with an advisor,” “join us for lunch,” “schedule a tour,” and “receive our newsletter.” Sometimes just changing the location of the contact form can increase conversions.

Creating Workflows to Nurture Leads

Once a prospect takes the bait, marketing automation ensures that each prospect is nurtured according to where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Leads in the “bottom” of the sales funnel are ready to buy. We call these Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). The goal is to get SQLs to the sales team quickly while integrating prospect information into the CRM.

Another goal is to keep Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) in a nurturing environment to build trust, provide valuable information and resources, and continue to advance them to SQL status.

Sending all leads to the senior living CRM is a distraction to the sales team. In addition, it often turns off early-stage prospects who aren’t ready for the sales pitch. Marketing automation can discern sales-qualified vs. marketing-qualified leads. Automation can also plate-up highly qualified and motivated leads to the sales team without losing the “not ready” opportunities.

Return on Investment – How Much Revenue Does Your Website Generate?

Sonata was interested in measuring the effectiveness of every marketing investment. They provided us with their average rent and length of stay by lifestyle. We tracked deposits and move-ins. Also, we were able to calculate the ROI of marketing automation and PPC efforts. In the first three months, Sonata realized a 1200% ROI. (Nope, that’s not a typo.)

Interested in learning more? Download the full case study today!

How to Boost Occupancy & Lead Generation Through Inbound Marketing.  In this case study, track the growth of 10 communities in just 3 months using marketing automation, and view measurable results with reported ROI.

What Should Go On Your 2019 Marketing Wish List?

What Should Go On Your 2019 Marketing Wish List?

It’s budget season and a time to dream BIG. That is, until you realize your budget hasn’t increased from last year, even though expectations have.

Not to mention there are so many choices: digital, paid search, social media, direct mail, marketing automation, advertising, radio—the list is seemingly endless. And each of these broad categories requires more decisions (for example, Instagram vs. Pinterest or Google AdWords vs. Facebook ads).

So how should you go about creating a reasonable marketing wish list for the 2019 fiscal year? Ask yourself the following questions to get started—they cover the most important areas that we recommend to our clients. Then, build your list accordingly.

1. Is your website on its last legs?

If your website is more than two to three years old, it’s time for a new one—or a solid refresh at the very least, one that includes enhancements to improve traffic and conversions.

If your communities are on separate URLs, consider integrating them into one domain so you don’t compete against yourself for SEO and so that you create a better experience for your site visitors.

Where to begin? Start by developing buyer personas to attract your ideal prospect, investing in a keyword analysis of your rankings compared with your competitors, and building a content strategy that combines the interests of your personas with relevant topics.

Oh, and make sure your site is secure, meaning your site should be using HTTPS and not HTTP. You could see your site traffic drop considerably otherwise. Learn why here.

2. Is your content getting results?

If you blog regularly with quality content, you should expect to see three times more visitors and 3.5 times more leads per month and a 79% increase in sales revenue from website leads within one year.

Is your content struggling to give you these results? Remember: consistency and quality are the essential elements—and harder to achieve than you might think. That’s why content should always make it onto your marketing wish list. You can always improve it and make it better.

At the very least—and especially if your content is currently underperforming—invest in an editorial calendar that is keyword enriched to improve your search ranking and use professional writers to create educational content.

Also, you should budget for at least one piece of premium content per quarter (think guides, e-books, toolkits). “Gate” this content in order to convert anonymous website visitors into prospects. Invest in quality landing pages to collect contact information.

3. Would automating your marketing help convert prospects to customers?

Ninety percent of the leads on your website are not ready to buy right away. Marketing automation technology nurtures the “not yet ready” leads by providing relevant content based on their expressed interests and creates workflows to keep them engaged until they are ready for a sales interaction—and once it’s set up, it’s completely turnkey.

Marketing automation completes follow-up in a way that is dependable, timely, and consistent with brand standards. It’s like having a 24/7 virtual sales person available at all times to ensure that leads are nurtured and advanced.

But good automation technology, like HubSpot, is an added expense—but one that will pay for itself over time—which is why you should add it to your marketing wish list.

4. How’s your CRM? (You have one,right?)

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology has come a long way in the last five years. You should not settle for an old, outdated, clumsy system that is a pain for your sales team and does little more than track tasks and activities.

Good CRMs help sales teams stay focused, build stronger relationships, and leverage excellent data to inform decisions. Choose a CRM that is in alignment with your sales culture, budget, and users’ technological skillsets. Make sure it offers training and onboarding to support adoption and success.

5. Is your data easy to digest and access?

It’s not that there is a lack of data available. It’s just that it is fragmented and un-integrated.

You should be able to track every marketing channel and every touch point in the customer journey and calculate ROI to inform strategy and spending, both online and offline. You should be able to access all this info in one dashboard, in real time, and analyze it by location, portfolio, service line, or investor – any way you need it.

If you currently can’t do this, make sure you add it to the wish list. Hint: often times you can get analytics and marketing automation software in one package, so look for products that can solve both problems.

Can you think of any other smart questions to ask as people prepare their 2019 marketing wish lists? Share in the comments.

7 Methods to Change Sales & Marketing Strategies to Engage Today’s Prospects

Senior Living Marketing Tactics That Will Engage Today’s Prospects

In my constant quest to keep up with all things senior living marketing, I recently read an article published by Senior Housing News called “The Secrets To Growing Senior Living Sales & Occupancy.

In a nutshell, here are the so-called secrets:

  • Do deep discovery.
  • Ask the right questions to get the right information.
  • Understand the difference between senior living marketing and sales.
  • View marketing as an investment, not a cost center.
  • Get the executive director involved in the sales process and train employees to understand the sales process.

Really? These are “secrets”? This same article could have been written 10 years ago!

Here’s the REAL secret: the way prospects engage with senior living communities has dramatically changed.

As such, our senior living marketing and sales tactics need to evolve, too.

We can’t keep recycling old “insights,” like the ones outlined above from that article, because our prospects expect more today than they did 10 years ago – or even three years ago.

So, what can your teams do to better engage with today’s prospects?

Keep reading…

1. Remember that your senior living website is your #1 sales tool.

According to the Senior Living Research Study, online research is the preferred method for gathering information about senior living options. It even ranked 35% higher than the second ranking method: recommendations/ word of mouth.

Other industry studies report that 87% of your prospects will visit your website before initiating any contact, like calling or walking into the community. And 37% of prospects will eliminate communities based solely on the quality of the website.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s time to change the website experience from focusing on community features and benefits (in other words, the “let me tell you about me” model). Instead, re-position your site so that it becomes a valuable resource that seniors, caregivers, and professionals will visit often as they research options. Need ideas for improving your site? Choose our affordable senior living website audit, which will deliver clear action items.

2. Live chat can turn websites into lead generators.

Organic leads are great, but unless you quickly engage them, they will bounce over to a competitor’s site or a paid referral site. (The latter means providers will be buying back move-ins who had initially visited their website!)

Live chat, on the other hand, can quickly engage website visitor by demonstrating empathy and helping visitors access the info they’re looking for. An effective live chat host can generate qualified leads that can be transferred directly from the chat host to a community representative or turned into a scheduled tour. Chat can also provide evening and weekend coverage at a very low cost.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are many chat options available, but we typically recommend SiteStaff, because the chat hosts are US-based with specialized training in healthcare settings, like senior living.

3. Videos can help convert prospects into sales.

Here’s a stat for you: 80% of website visitors will stop and watch a video. Talk about engagement! There are many ways to use video, too, from background b-roll to video testimonials from happy residents to virtual tours.

And here’s the even better news: not all video has to be professionally shot. Smartphone videos can work well, especially on social media channels, like Facebook.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pick up your phones and start shooting! Yes, you need to keep privacy laws in mind, but start shooting video. Short and sweet (think 30 seconds to a minute) can work well. Online editing software can allow you to add in calls-to-action, but you don’t even need to go to that far when sharing on social: just post with a brief intro.

And don’t underestimate using video for more formal things, like tours or room planners. One product we particularly like: DesignFloorPlan.com.

4. Transparent pricing matters.

“By far the most important senior living concern is cost” states the Senior Living Research Study.

However, most communities make it impossible to find pricing info on the website, leaving prospects to bounce over to a paid referral site who will not only provide your pricing information, but also your competitors’ info.

We understand that you want to sell your value first before providing prices, because you’re concerned prospects will experience sticker shock, particularly if they don’t have the full context. But the lack of pricing transparency is not helpful to prospects or professionals looking for information.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider making your pricing available through a short opt-in form with basic contact information. This scratches two itches: visitors get the info they want, and the sales team has the ability to follow up to establish value and offer resources to help fund senior living.

5. A better “template strategy” can reduce senior living marketing and sales costs.

One of the biggest marketing spends in senior living today is print. Think event flyers, invitations, incentives, direct mail, and postcards, just to name a few items. The problem is that the cost of graphic design, printing, and mailing continues to climb. Not to mention that the shelf life for these items is days or a few weeks TOPS.

The good news? A smarter “template strategy” can reduce these costs. Imagine having all the print items you regularly use at your fingertips as templates that are already outfitted with your logo and brand colors. All you have to do is customize them with the relevant details for that particular marketing campaign. Goodbye, design costs! Goodbye unnecessary printing!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out our SMARTbrand and SMARTbrand+ options. We have a free version and an affordable subscription service that allows you to easily create the materials you need. Or if you like the idea of creating a full-blown template strategy, check out our SMARTstores.

6. Senior living events still work!

“The majority of people who know someone in senior housing have been influenced by this experience (73.0%), most often in a positive way (57.0%)” finds Imagination in their research study. Bottom line: senior living events still work!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make sure you include the following in your senior living marketing plan:

  • Friend & family referral programs
  • New resident welcome events for friends
  • Address change cards for new residents to send to friends and neighbors
  • Coupons for meals, salon services, weekend stays, and community events

Need help? Check out our senior living event management solutions.

Senior living marketing has changed. Work with an agency that’s evolved, too.

We’re not just any agency. We’re a senior living marketing agency. Our staff has industry experience, which sets us apart from other agencies (even the ones who also “specialize” in senior living marketing). Get in touch today and request your complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session.