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More likes equals profits

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: 4 Reasons to Invest

We’re getting ready to unleash a series of blog posts on senior living social media marketing. First up, why should you invest in social media anyway? Here are four good reasons.


1. Your prospective buyers are already hanging out on social media.

Social media use has skyrocketed among all demographics, including older adults. According to Tech.co, among people 55+, there’s been a 66% increase in product discovery via social media over the past four years, and 70% have bought something online in the last month.

Here’s the breakdown for social media usage among U.S. Baby Boomers. (Source: Statista.)

  • YouTube – 70%
  • Facebook – 68%
  • Pinterest – 27%
  • LinkedIn – 24%
  • Instagram – 23%
  • Twitter – 17%

Bottom line: Your prospects are already spending ample time on social media. So why not meet them where they are? This is why senior living communities need a strong overall digital presence. Having a great website is important, but it’s not enough. Your brand needs to extend to social media as well.

2. Solid ROI is possible, provided your social media marketing is done right.

Too often, communities take a willy-nilly approach with their senior living social media. They might post occasionally to Facebook. Or maybe they start an Instagram page, only to abandon it after a few months. Or maybe the marketing team is posting the same things across ALL channels, thus giving themselves (and only themselves) the appearance that the community is “active” on social media.

None of this is strategic. And none of this is smart. None of this is going to give you a good return on investment (ROI).

Remember, senior living social media ROI doesn’t magically happen. Like everything else in marketing, you need to have a smart strategy to achieve the ROI you’re looking for.

In addition to strategy, you also need a way to measure your results. This will absolutely require robust analytics and a senior living website that’s built to convert visitors into leads—along with marketing automation to nurture those leads.

By the way, if you’re wondering what we mean by ROI, we’re typically talking two big things when it comes to senior living social media marketing:

  • Lead generation
  • Brand awareness

And keep in mind that ROI opportunities exist within both paid and organic social media.

You likely understand how paid social media advertising can result in ROI. But people sometimes forget that ROI applies to organic social media as well. It takes time and people to do the work that can deliver strong organic results (and those hours and people cost money!).

3. Senior living social media channels provide a great way to share your community’s “essence.”

Your senior living website is a great place for information, both factual (e.g., locations, amenities, floor plans, price ranges) and educational (e.g., “10 tips for financing senior living”). All of this is essential and important info for your prospective buyers to have. However, as we often acknowledge, so many senior living websites sound the same because they’re all essentially selling the same basic “product.”

Social media provides the perfect place to elevate your community and share its true essence. Post a shot of a resident enjoying a cup of coffee on a summer morning as she sits on her patio marveling at the view. The way the sun spills onto the patio, the smile on her face, the view itself—this is REAL. It’s not posed. It’s not a stock image. It can help a prospective buyer picture what their morning might be like waking up with a cup of coffee in your community.

4. Content for social media channels can be easier and less stressful to create than traditional marketing materials.

People expect your website and printed sales collateral to be slick and polished. But with social media, people crave authenticity. While some might feel overwhelmed by this, we think that the casual nature makes it easier to create content, not harder.

Strike a truly conversational tone in posts, captions, and comments. Sound like a real person. Talk about real, relevant things in an honest way. Have fun with emojis. Be playful in your tone. If you make a typo, don’t sweat it.

Take pics with your phone (they don’t need to be perfect). In fact, you’ll be rewarded for more authentic shots. This makes it easier for more people to participate beyond your marketing and sales teams. Anyone with a phone has the ability to capture something special that you can share.

For example, that fabulous shot we described above of the resident enjoying a cup of coffee? You can share it across multiple channels. Sure, you should resize the image according to the platform’s specs. And you will need to tweak the description/caption, depending on where you’re posting it. But still—you get more mileage from that one shot.

Repurpose content across channels (but do so thoughtfully). Keep in mind that repurposing content doesn’t mean simply copying, pasting, and sharing it across five different channels. Instead, be thoughtful in your approach. Where should you use that one awesome shot you took of a resident enjoying coffee? The shot is great for Facebook and Instagram, but probably less so for LinkedIn since LI focuses on professional networking.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Don’t go it alone! Turn to experts in social media and senior living. (That would be us!)

Thanks to our decades of experience working in senior living, we understand what prospects crave. And as digital marketers, we get social media as well. We can bring it all together and deliver the results you’ve been looking for. Let’s chat!

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.

 

 

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.