Image of computer with icons for creating a senior living marketing strategy

How to Create an Effective Senior Living Marketing Strategy

Are you wondering how to create an effective senior living marketing strategy that’s easy to justify to the C-suite and will boost occupancy too? Step right up! We got you.

First, picture your marketing as a hub with your ideal prospect in the center. Then, around the hub, picture six spokes:

  • Website
  • Content
  • Email
  • Search
  • Social Media
  • Paid Ads

Below, we’ll discuss each component, starting with your ideal prospect. (Are you more of a visual learner? Check out this video explanation.)


Build Grow Ignite graphic chart

Understand your ideal prospect (a.k.a. develop strong buyer personas)

Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers—in this case, your ideal residents and the adult children and loved ones involved in making decisions. Armed with a clear picture of your buyers, you can better personalize your messaging and marketing.

For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by prospect persona and tailor the messaging accordingly.

Keep in mind that personas are internal documents. Marketing and sales teams use them to guide the development of various messaging and marketing campaigns.

How do you create effective personas?

You create buyer personas through research, surveys, and interviews with happy residents and, ideally, lost prospects. Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need:

  • Interview happy residents. What made them move into senior living? Why your community? What problem did your community solve for them? Note: The “problem” isn’t necessarily going to be negative. It could be positive, like “I was ready to downsize and enjoy maintenance-free living and an active lifestyle.”
  • Gather demographics for each level of care. What’s the average age, the breakdown between women and men, marital status, etc.?
  • Review resident surveys. What services and amenities do your residents find most valuable?
  • Talk to lost prospects. Why did they choose a different community?
  • Gather intel from your website forms. What are the person’s hobbies? Take advantage of progressive fields in forms, which allow you to ask different questions as people download more content from your site.
  • Talk to your sales team. What generalizations can they make about the different types of residents and prospective residents you serve best? What are the most frequent questions they answer?

What should you do with the persona research?

Create a one-page narrative about each persona. Give the persona a real name. Use images to bring the persona to life even more. (In this case, stock images are acceptable.)

For example, you might craft narratives about “Widowed Wally” and “Single Sally” that explain who they are, their needs/pain points, and what they hope to find in a senior living community. The needs of widowed men between 70 and 85 (“Widowed Wally”) will be different from single women in their 60s (“Single Sally”).

Remember, even though these are fictional representations, your personas are based on genuine facts uncovered in your research. In other words, your personas will differ from another community’s, and your personas will help you identify what makes your community different. The latter is called your unique value proposition.

The other six components of your marketing strategy “hub”

1. A website that builds trust

Your senior living website is your most important marketing asset, one that must build trust with prospects no matter where they are in their journey.

So, what’s the number one reason most people mistrust a website? Poor site design. 

Luckily, your website’s design is something within your control. A good design does cost money, but it’s a worthy investment. (Remember that you’ll need to refresh—or possibly do a full-scale redesign—every three years or so.)

The secret sauce to a website that builds trust:

  • Aesthetically pleasing: A modern and clean design with custom photography and video (no stock images)
  • Technically sound: Mobile-friendly, fast, and accessible to all
  • Designed with the user in mind: Think simple navigation and a highly intuitive feel
  • Worthwhile content: Everything is written with the prospect in mind while still being optimized for improved search ranking
  • Thoughtful conversion strategy: Smartly designed calls-to-action (CTAs), landing pages, chat, surveys, and pop-ups help convert anonymous site visitors into leads

Successful senior living websites should have roughly 75 percent new visitors (and 25 percent returning visitors).

2. Content that your buyer personas crave

Compelling content will attract your ideal prospect and entice them back repeatedly. This is important considering how long the senior living sales cycle is—and how many “touchpoints” prospects require before they decide on a community.

Some estimates indicate it now takes over 100 days for memory care prospects and a whopping 400 days for people considering life plan communities (with assisted living and independent living falling in the middle).

The best content for senior living websites:

  • Educational: blogs, guides, e-books, FAQs
  • Emotional/Empathetic: storytelling, testimonials, reviews
  • Visual: custom photography, videos, virtual tours, image galleries, infographics

3. Engaging emails sent to the right prospect at the right time

Email marketing is an essential component of effective marketing strategies. Why? Well, most first-time visitors to your site are not sales-qualified—at least, not yet. Instead, most folks fall into the marketing-qualified bucket: They’re interested in your brand, but they’re in the top or middle of the sales funnel.

Your job is to keep your community on their radar. You can easily accomplish this through automated email nurturing.

This component ties in directly with the first one. When prospects trust your site, they’ll willingly give their name and email address in exchange for the information they seek. Armed with their email address, you can continue engaging with them by sending relevant follow-up emails.

Types of automated email content:

  • Educational content delivery: links to relevant blog posts, surveys, and other helpful downloads
  • Visual content delivery: links to videos, photo collages
  • Electronic newsletters: the latest with the community
  • Event invitations: informational events, social events, tours

By the way, email marketing offers the highest and most measurable return on investment (ROI) than other types of marketing.

4. Local search-optimized website and other online channels

When people search for a business with a physical presence—a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a senior living community—they’ve grown accustomed to adding the phrase “near me” to their search query or adding the town/city name.

Google, of course, understands the person’s intent and serves up LOCAL businesses in the search engine results.

Bottom line: Your marketing team must optimize your website and other online assets, like your Google Business Profile, for local search.

How to optimize for local search:

  • Google Business Profile: This is your most crucial marketing asset after your website.
  • Reviews & Reputation: Don’t strive for perfection (people won’t trust it anyway). The sweet spot is between 4.2 and 4.6 stars. You also need plenty of current reviews (within the last three months).
  • Directory & Citation Management: You must keep everything updated across all listings.
  • Local SEO on your site: Optimize your site for local search phrases by creating local guides and pillar pages.

5. Authentic content shared via social media

Social media allows you to show the human side of your brand, which is incredibly important for senior living communities.

Effective social media will . . .

  • Help prospects see themselves in your community
  • Reassure family members that their loved one is in a happy and safe environment
  • Highlight your community’s vibe
  • Share real stories of actual residents for added authenticity
  • Help dismantle common stereotypes about senior living

6. A strategy to capture prospects before your competitors do

Most consumers use search engines like Google to conduct their initial research into services and products (like senior living). And some of those searchers are farther down the sales funnel than others, ready to buy sooner rather than later.

Running advertisements (pay-per-click or PPC) on search engine result pages (SERPs) can effectively capture prospects ready to buy. According to a 2019 survey by Clutch, 33% of people click on a paid search ad because it directly answers their search query, and 75% say they click on a paid ad because it makes finding the info they’re looking for easier.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Paid ads don’t come into play until you’ve solidified the other five items outlined above. For example, there’s no sense in driving prospects to your website from PPC ads if your site is poorly designed and doesn’t immediately build trust.

Remember, all good marketing begins with a sound strategy

Too often, people think good marketing is about the tools you use (like your automation software) or the campaigns you develop. But good marketing isn’t about tools and campaigns. It’s about the strategy for getting the most out of the tools and campaigns.

Need guidance in fine-tuning your community’s marketing strategy?

We’ve helped communities of all sizes improve their digital marketing efforts and increase occupancy. Let’s chat about the marketing challenges facing your community.

Bottom-of-the-funnel content ideas

Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content Ideas That Senior Living Communities Should Try

Let’s talk about bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content. Oh, wait—you’re not sure what that means? No worries! We’ll walk you through what it is and why it’s essential. Plus, we’ll share fun ideas to rock your BOFU.

What is bottom-of-the-funnel content?

To understand BOFU, we need to discuss what comes before it—and this involves a quick lesson on the basic stages that buyers go through: awareness, consideration, decision.

(You might see this labeled as awareness, evaluation, conversion—same thing, different labels.)

People at the top of the funnel (TOFU) are just getting started on their journey.

They’re becoming aware of their own need or problem. For example, adult children of seniors might have a family meeting because mom is having trouble maintaining her house now that dad is gone. What should happen next? Hire in-house assistance? Downsize to a smaller house? Retire to a senior living community? Something else?

At this point, your senior living community probably isn’t on anyone’s radar yet. The family begins researching, which is when top-of-the-funnel content, or TOFU, comes in:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • General informational guides
  • Social media posts
  • Print/digital ads

People in the middle of the funnel (MOFU) have been doing their homework and considering their options.

Using our above example, maybe everyone (including mom!) agrees that downsizing and moving into a senior living community makes sense. Now, it’s a matter of learning more about IL, researching options, and evaluating them.

Types of content that speaks to the senior living MOFU crowd include:

  • Webinars
  • Surveys/quizzes
  • Deep-dive informational guides
  • Deeper educational resources
  • Review sites

When someone is in the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), they’re ready to buy.

This is known as the conversion stage. Again, using our above example, the family members might have narrowed it down to three contenders for their mom.

Types of senior living BOFU content include:

  • Events/free lunches
  • Exclusive move-in offers
  • Rate sheets
  • Photo galleries
  • Floor plans
  • Review sites

Keep in mind that there’s often overlap between stages. For example, people in the top of the funnel might not know the difference between independent living, assisted living, and memory care. They might assume nursing homes fall under the senior living umbrella.

However, people in the middle of the funnel have likely learned the basics. At this point, they might focus on the specific lifestyle they’re interested in, read reviews, and compare options.

And people in the bottom of the funnel might have their eyes on three different places. Even though they’ve already read some reviews, now they’re going back and reading more—especially what the one- and two-star reviews have to say.

Why is BOFU content important?

It’s easy to think that TOFU and MOFU content are more important than BOFU. After all, if you can get someone to the point where they’re seriously considering your senior living community, what more can you do?

Think of it this way: if someone hasn’t made a final decision, your community still has a chance. Great BOFU content can give your community a competitive edge over communities that don’t take this extra step.

And even if other communities also have a strong BOFU game, something that your BOFU content mentions might resonate more.

Bottom line: Don’t skimp on developing strong BOFU content.

BOFU content brainstorm for the win!

Need fresh BOFU content ideas? Check out the brainstorm below. Customize them to fit your needs. And if you need help bringing any of these to life, give us a shout. Our content team is ready to help.

“Real stories from happy seniors”

Showcase residents’ positive experiences to build trust and credibility. You can make a video using Canva (or its equivalent)—interspersing pics with words and audio. Then, email the prospect and their family a link with something like “This could be you in 30 days.”

Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: Happy residents talking in their own words is powerful marketing. And you never know what little nugget will motivate someone on the fence.

PRO TIP: You can create a similar version with clips from family members about how happy and relieved they are that their loved one has acclimated to your community—and how much easier it was than they were expecting.

“At your service: meet the team”

Here’s another video idea that can resonate, especially if you’re trying to create that bespoke senior living experience. Do a video montage featuring key people like the head chef and have them talk about how they can’t wait to meet “you” (the new prospect) and help you settle in.

  • Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: It’s reminiscent of high-end hotels or cruise ships. Who wouldn’t want their own staff, right?

“Move-in made easy: a little something special for our newest resident”

This is a practical suggestion, but no less effective. Moving is HARD, no matter what the person’s age. Add in other challenges, like selling a house or moving to a new state, and the move becomes even more complicated. A move-in guide shouldn’t be generic. It should assume the close—that the person is moving into your community—and outline all the necessary steps, contact names, phone numbers, and what to expect on move-in day.

Ideally, this would be a nicely designed packet. Make it even more special by including an invitation to enjoy a welcome toast at the community’s lounge. The note can say something like, “We’re looking forward to toasting your arrival the afternoon you move into your new home at Awesome Senior Living Community!”

  • Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: It’s helpful. It’s thoughtful. It gives people a taste of the service they can expect.

“What to expect your first day, week, and month”

Round up quick snippets from residents about their experience the first day, week, and month after they moved into your community. This is the place to highlight residents who might have been anxious/afraid/sad about making the move and their “pleasantly surprised” reaction to what happened the first day, week, or month.

  • Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: Some people in this stage might be hesitant about moving—or even sad and anxious. Showing real people with similar sentiments and how your community “pleasantly surprised them” will resonate (while demonstrating empathy).

“Safety and security: your peace of mind matters to us”

Highlight the community’s safety protocols, emergency response systems, and 24/7 security measures to reassure prospective residents and their families that they’re making the right choice when they choose your community.

  • Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: Safety is a big topic that doesn’t get as much airplay as it should in a community’s content initiatives. We get it. It’s not sexy. But it’s vital info—even more so to someone who’s about to make a decision.

“Your last-minute questions – including the ones you forgot to ask – answered”

Compile a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and some not-so-common but still relevant questions.

Why this is effective bottom-of-the-funnel content: The title alone should make someone want to click, open, or continue reading. Because someone in the decision stage will likely be curious about knowing the answers to a question they forgot to ask.

This is just the beginning of our BOFU content brainstorm.

Need more ideas? Set up a 30-minute brainstorming session with us at no charge.

Senior Living Marketing: Time for a Mid-Year Checkup

Senior Living Marketing: Time for a Mid-Year Checkup

June is an excellent time to review your senior living marketing strategy. If you do this mid-year checkup now, you can hit the ground running as we enter Q3.

What exactly should you review during your mid-year checkup?

Don’t worry! We got you.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Website marketing review tips
  • Social media marketing review tips
  • Email marketing review tips
  • Bonus: Three analytic points that marketers often overlook (but you won’t!)

Let’s get to it.

Senior Living Website Marketing: What To Check

How’s the overall user experience (UX) been over the last six months?

Remember, your senior living website serves as your central marketing hub. You must constantly monitor its performance—and how everyday users respond to and interact with the site.

Things to check:

  • Is the site easy to navigate and accessible to everyone? Don’t underestimate or ignore WCAG: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. And don’t assume your site is still accessible simply because it was the last time you checked. It’s amazing how quickly accessibility can break down as people add or revise new pages. Performing an audit is a good best practice.
  • Does the site load quickly across all devices? People have little patience for slow sites and may depart your site if takes longer than a few seconds to load.
  • Is the mobile site just as user-friendly as the desktop site? The mobile version of your site needs to be just as easy to read, skim, and navigate as the desktop version.

These last 2 items also factor into good SEO. Slow-loading websites and poorly performing mobile sites will cause your search engine ranking to take a hit, so don’t ignore these issues.

Does your site convert anonymous traffic into leads—and leads into move-ins?

It doesn’t make sense to continue pumping out more of the same content if you have no idea if any of it is working. The most successful communities close the loop with their marketing and sales efforts so that they know what content converts.

Things to check:

  • Review stats on form submissions, click-through rates, and phone calls. How do things compare year-over-year? If stats are down, do you know why?
  • Analyze landing page performance. Where could you optimize better? Should you run an A/B test?
  • Evaluate CTA performance and lead capture mechanisms. Sometimes making a small change, like the color of a CTA button, can have a considerable impact.
  • Use heatmaps or click-tracking tools to understand user engagement. Hotjar is a popular option.
  • Identify high- and low-performing pages. Pay attention to user behavior flow, bounce rates, and time spent on each. How can you apply what you see on the top-performing pages to those needing a little extra TLC?

Do you need to revise content due to messaging inconsistencies or poor performance?

Content marketing doesn’t mean you’re simply writing new content. You must monitor existing content and revise it as needed. The work of content marketing is never done!

Things to check:

  • Review copy on the top trafficked pages. This might seem unnecessary, but you don’t want to lose traction. Is anything outdated or off-brand? Can you freshen testimonials, videos, and content offers?
  • Revisit your content calendar for the rest of the year. Can you spot any content “gaps”? Do you need to adjust content topics or formats based on what resonates with people?
  • Review messaging from a marketing and sales alignment POV. Are the messages in synch? The last thing you want is a disconnect between your website and what people hear during tours or sales calls.

PRO TIP: If you’ve been blogging consistently over the last couple of years, chances are good that you already have plenty of the “right” content. Instead of writing new content, pause for a month and focus only on auditing existing content like blog posts and refreshing the copy. Look for ways to repurpose content: turn that white paper into a series of blog posts, or that blog post into a listicle you share on social. Finally, don’t be afraid to retire older content that’s outdated or is no longer working (and that you can’t fix).

Social Media Marketing: What to Check

Are the platforms working for you—or against you?

You don’t need a presence on every social media platform under the sun to have success. Rocking one or two platforms is better than being mediocre across five or seven. Don’t be afraid to pause platforms that aren’t delivering ROI.

Things to check:

  • Assess each platform’s overall performance. Are people engaged? Are you spending time on a platform that’s getting a lot of press (looking at you, TikTok) but that doesn’t make sense for your senior living audience—at least not yet?
  • Review follower growth. Has the platform gained followers? Are they engaged? What’s the overall reach like?
  • Evaluate ROI. First, make sure you understand how to calculate actionable social media ROI for your senior living community. Second, determine which platforms deliver the best ROI. Does it make sense to continue with what you’ve been doing? Or should you pause any platforms?

Is your social media content strategy delighting prospects?

Why continue posting content your audience has zero interest in? Keep in mind that what people like will fluctuate.

Things to check:

  • Assess the overall engagement and relevance of each social media channel. For example, have you jumped on board the TikTok train simply because everyone’s talking about it? Do you spend tons of time creating TikToks, but you’re not gaining traction? If a particular platform isn’t delivering measurable results, it’s not worth spending the time.
  • Evaluate how you and your team use visuals, videos, and storytelling techniques in your posts. What resonates? What doesn’t? Where can you improve?
  • Identify the type of content that works best and revise your social media calendar accordingly. Swap out content that isn’t getting engagement and schedule more of the content that’s been getting results.

Do you have a truly engaged community of fans (even if it’s small)?

When it comes to social media marketing, it can be tempting to focus on highly “visible” metrics, such as likes. But savvy marketers always dig deeper.

Things to check:

  • Analyze community interaction and response rates. How quickly do people respond to your posts? Do your posts continue gaining traction over a few days, or do they fizzle quickly?
  • Review comments, messages, and reviews. If your posts are getting people to comment or send direct messages with relevant questions about your community, you’re doing something right. Don’t underestimate the power of social media reviews, especially when they happen in other threads where people tag your community.
  • How’s your social media networking? Are you collaborating with/tagging relevant partners to increase visibility? If you haven’t prioritized this, now’s a good time to add this to your marketing mix.

Email Marketing: What to Check

How do the numbers look?

You can’t judge one set of numbers for one email. That’s why looking back at emails over six months is helpful. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. The numbers for your lead nurturing emails will differ from those for your community’s email newsletter.

Things to check:

  • Don’t get too hung up on open rates (unless you’re looking at adjusted open rates like HubSpot shows). Do pay attention to click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates.
  • Pay attention to unsubscribe rates and spam reports. These are inevitable, but they should be low overall. If you find a particular email in the last six months caused a spike in either, see if you can determine why.
  • What have you learned from A/B testing of subject lines? If you haven’t done any A/B testing, now’s the time to start.

Are people engaging with your emails’ content and the places you’re sending them to?

Things to check:

  • What type of content does your audience like best? Short and punchy copy? Lists? Free downloads? Videos and webinars? Knowing this will help inform your primary content calendar. For example, shift marketing dollars to video creation if your audience prefers video content to ebooks.
  • Is the email’s design helping or hindering marketing efforts? If people are receiving and opening the email but not acting, it’s not always the content’s fault. It could be the design or layout. Just as you should A/B test subject lines, you can A/B test different design elements. Sometimes simply changing the color of a CTA button can positively impact CTR.
  • Check the messaging of all automated emails. Too often, marketers set up their automated emails and forget about them. Get in the habit of reviewing all lead nurturing content from a high-level messaging and brand consistency mindset. (You should also make sure all links are working and email workflows are still operating according to the logic you initially set up.)

How’s your list hygiene?

Things to check:

  • Assess your lists’ overall health. Do you need to send a re-engagement campaign to people who’ve stopped engaging? When was the last time you purged your list of disengaged subscribers? If you continue to send emails to disengaged people, this will lower your overall sender score. (This is known as graymail.)
  • Review segmentation and personalization strategies. For example, if you’ve been using people’s names in the subject lines, have you seen a correlation with open rates, CTR, and other conversion points? If you haven’t experimented with personalization yet, now’s the time to make a plan.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of opt-in forms and lead capture mechanisms. How have sign-ups been over the last six months? Try inserting them mid-way through blog posts and see if that grows your list.

Three Analytic Points That Marketers Often Overlook

Most of our tips above included looking at analytics as part of your mid-year checkup of various areas, like the website or email marketing.

But here are three broader analytics points that too many marketers overlook. Add these to your mid-year checkup.

Make sure you’ve set up clear goals and conversion tracking:

  • Define and track specific conversion goals, such as form submissions or phone calls.
  • Analyze conversion funnels to identify potential drop-off points. (More on drop-offs below.)
  • Implement tracking codes and pixels for accurate measurement.

Analyze demographic and behavioral data:

  • Explore demographic insights of website visitors and email subscribers.
  • Analyze user engagement based on age, location, and interests.
  • Use this data to refine your buyer personas and marketing messages for them.

Pay attention to funnel drop-off points:

  • Identify stages in the conversion funnel with high drop-off rates.
  • Analyze user behavior, messaging, or design issues causing drop-offs.
  • Optimize those specific areas to improve conversion rates.

Need help doing some or all of the above?

Listen, we get it. You’re already juggling so much. That’s why sometimes the best step you can take is a step back and outsource to a marketing agency like ours to do the heavy lifting. We’ll come in with fresh eyes and see what’s working and what isn’t so that you’re in great shape heading into Q3 and Q4. Get in touch, and let’s talk about your marketing strategy.

senior living marketing strategy

Senior Living Marketing Strategy: What Is an Advertorial?

A client recently asked us about an advertorial opportunity that a newspaper was offering their community. Their first question to us was “What is an advertorial anyway?” Their second question was “Should we do it? Does it make sense for our senior living marketing strategy?”

We figured our answer would make a great blog post, so here you go!

What is an advertorial?

The word itself is known as a portmanteau. With a portmanteau, you combine two common words to create a new word. Common portmanteaus include “blog” (web + log) and “brunch” (breakfast + lunch). In this case, we’re combining the word “advertising” and “editorial” to get “advertorial.”

At its simplest, an advertorial is an advertisement. But instead of the advertisement being displayed in typical ad format, it takes the form of a newspaper editorial.

Here’s the thing, though: Not everyone understands what a newspaper editorial is.

An editorial is essentially an argument—it takes a position on something and expresses the editor’s opinion. (Think of political candidate endorsements, for example). A newspaper’s editorial section is separate from the journalistic side of things, where reporters remain objective and report only the facts.

An advertorial has the same “look and feel” as other editorials or articles in the publication. In other words, it’s a lot less obvious that you’re looking at an ad because of the format. The advertorial might even read like an article. But underneath, it’s still very much an advertisement promoting a product, service, or cause.

And advertorials aren’t just found in print publications, either. You’ll find them online as well, where they’re more commonly referred to as “native advertising.” The TV equivalent is the infomercial (another portmanteau). Same concept. It’s a sponsored advertisement, but it takes on a different format, like a talk show or news feature.

Hmm. Advertorials sound a little shady. Are they?

There’s nothing shady about advertorials that are done right. When we say “done right,” we mean advertorials that present accurate information from reliable sources, science, and the like—and the publication makes it super obvious that the advertorial is indeed a paid advertisement.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission requires transparency and clear disclaimers/disclosures around advertorials and native advertising. Unfortunately, however, not everyone plays by the rules. And even when they do, sometimes words like “Sponsored Ad” might not necessarily communicate to the reader that the big article they’re reading is actually a long-form paid advertisement.

And this, of course, is where things can get tricky.

If the advertorial has been put together in a thoughtful and ethical way—with accurate information, reputable sources, quotes from real people, and even consideration for “the other side”—then the advertorial wouldn’t pose a problem. It will simply read like a longer advertisement, one where the reader would need to assess the claims, just as they would if they were to carefully read a digital display ad or a traditional print ad.

But if the advertorial is put together in a haphazard way (remember, no one is fact-checking the advertorial) and the reader misses the disclaimer about it being a paid ad, things can get dicey since the reader could walk away with skewed information—or downright false information.

When it comes to advertising, we all bear responsibility. If we’re involved with advertising, we must endeavor to create ethical ads. As consumers, we must use critical thinking skills when assessing claims made in ads.

Bottom line: If you decide to run an advertorial or native advertisement for your community and you focus on data and facts, rather than spin, you’ll be fine. In fact, you might be more than fine. Because advertorials can be an extremely effective marketing vehicle.

Why are advertorials so effective?

For the same reason they can also be problematic—the format. We humans are much more likely to pay attention to something that’s in an article format than something that screams “ad,” even if we see the disclaimer and we know it’s an ad.

Where the advertorial is published can also influence us. For example, some folks might pay more attention to an advertorial in an advertising supplement in The New York Times because it’s The New York Times.

Advertorials also provide more space to mount a compelling “argument”—much more than a typical print ad or display ad. With a print advertorial, you can go much deeper into whatever it is you’re selling, like a product, a service, or—in this case—a senior living community (or the concept of senior living in general).

And digital advertorials (native advertisements) tend to have much more engagement than traditional online ads. Think about native ads that have come across your social media feeds—and all the likes, comments, and shares the ad got. Banner ads and display ads don’t have that sort of activity!

But advertorials probably cost more than typical ads, right?

It really depends on the publication. Running an advertorial in a supplement to The New York Times will be much more expensive than an advertorial in your town’s weekly paper.

But yes—price points for advertorials that run in premier publications like the Times will cost you a pretty marketing penny.

So should communities run advertorials and native advertising as part of their senior living marketing strategy?

It depends. Long-form ads / native advertising can be effective marketing vehicles, provided the advertorial aligns with your overall marketing strategy and is executed well.

OK, so what are some tips for producing awesome advertorials?

Our suggestions are the same for any senior living advertising campaign. You need to start by carefully answering the following questions:

  • What’s your goal? Building brand awareness, getting people to book a visit, something else?
  • Can the publication that you want to run the advertorial in help you achieve this goal? For example, do demographics align with your buyer personas?
  • Would running an advertorial integrate with your overall marketing strategy? For example, would the advertorial work with your other paid campaigns? Or did a random publication message you with a “great deal” for an advertorial and you want to try it—even though you haven’t been running a ton of advertising?
  • What metrics do you have in place to measure the advertorial’s effectiveness? How will you define success?
  • Do you have people who understand how to write and design effective advertorials? Don’t skimp on the writing. Consider using a professional writer with experience in advertorial creation.

Can Senior Living SMART help my community with advertorials and native advertising?

Absolutely! We can help you evaluate any advertising offers that cross your desk to ensure they make sense for your goals, that they align with your larger senior living marketing strategy, and that the ad buy works for your budget. Our team can also write and design effective advertorials and native advertisements as well. Get in touch and let’s talk it through.

gated vs ungated content

Senior Living Marketing Strategy: Gated Vs. Ungated Content

When it comes to developing a SMART senior living marketing strategy, one of the biggest decisions you must make is whether to gate your content. Here’s what to keep in mind.

What is gated content?

As its name suggests, gated content requires formal access. Most often, the content resides behind a website form. To access the content, a person needs to supply specific info, like their name, email address, and phone number.

Why would businesses gate content anyway?

The main reason businesses gate content is so that they can continue marketing to the people who download the content. For example, if someone downloads a piece of content from your senior living website—maybe it’s a floor plan, brochure, pricing info—they’re signaling that they’re interested in what you’re selling. No, they might not be ready to move in tomorrow—or even a year from now. Or they might be looking on behalf of someone else, like a parent. 

Here’s the thing, though: If someone takes the time to download your content, that action suggests a certain level of interest in what you’re selling. 

Businesses capitalize on this interest by staying in front of these people and continuing to market to them. The “gate” enables businesses to do exactly that since the gate is a website form that captures a person’s email address. With the email address, the business can stay in touch with prospects by sending them more info that will (hopefully) keep the prospects engaged with the brand. (This is known as email lead nurturing.)

OK, given all that, why would a business ever offer ungated content?

Ah, this is where it gets interesting. If the goal is to continue to market to people who’ve shown interest in your senior living community, why would you ever offer content “in the clear”—meaning without requiring the person to fill out a form?

Not all content deserves to be put behind forms. Take a blog, for example. If you have a blog on your senior living website, you’re offering compelling content (we hope!), but you’re giving it away in the clear. Why? Because you trust that the person who’s reading the content is capable of taking the next best step for them, whatever that is. 

Another good example is case studies. If someone is interested in reading a case study—what you might call “resident stories”—about your community, why on earth would you put that content behind a form? 

If someone wants to read a case study about your community, that suggests a high level of interest. If the case study does its job well and satisfies the questions/concerns the person has about your community, chances are good the person will contact you for a tour or to speak to a sales counselor. 

Keep in mind, too, that the way people buy things today is much different from the way they shopped even ten years ago. Buyers are now in control of the sales process, not the other way around. In fact, buyers will often engage with a company’s website and other online assets (like social media or review sites) multiple times before showing any interest in talking to a salesperson. 

If someone has no interest in being “marketed to,” they’ll ignore any methods you use to try to reach them. (And they might possibly think less of your brand as a result of all the pushiness.) If you “require” their info on a form and they don’t want to give it, they might supply a dummy name and phone number—and a “junk” email address that they only use to download stuff. They might back away from your site altogether and see if they can find the information they’re looking for in some other way—or from someone else (like a competitor), which kind of defeats the purpose, right?

So when it comes to the best senior living marketing strategy for my community, what should we offer: gated or ungated content?

We typically recommend a mix of gated and ungated content. Why a mix? Well, we do believe certain content, like a 5-page guide on understanding how to finance senior living, offers excellent value. So it’s understandable that someone would have to surrender something—like their name and email—to access the premium content. In other words, it’s a fair “ask.” 

Certain pieces of content, like pricing requests, suggest someone might be farther down the sales funnel and closer to making a decision. Having their info makes sense because they might be more inclined to talk to a salesperson. 

But other content, like case studies and blog posts, work well as ungated content. This type of content enables the buyer to self-identify if your community is right for them or their loved one. At which point, they can then raise their hand if they want a sales counselor to contact them.

What are some of the biggest mistakes communities make with ungated and gated content?

The biggest mistake people make isn’t whether to gate a piece of content. The biggest mistake involves the website forms (if the content is gated) and the resulting follow-up process. Here’s what you should keep in mind.

For first-time downloads, keep forms short. 

When we say “first-time” downloads, we mean exactly that: The person is downloading content for the first time on your website. (Good marketing automation software will know if someone is a first-time downloader.) 

On the forms, ask only the essential info: first name, email address, and a question with multiple choice options: Are you searching for a senior living community for yourself or a loved one? (The multiple choices would be: Myself, Loved One, Neither.) 

Notice that we don’t recommend asking for phone numbers for first-time downloaders. This is deliberate. Most people do NOT want a phone call the minute they submit a form. (Something that happens WAY too often in our industry.)

Implement progressive fields on forms for subsequent downloads. 

Often, website visitors who are in the education stage will download multiple pieces of content at once or over a period of time, like days or weeks. When you use progressive fields in forms, you can “program” the form to serve up new fields to the person—meaning required info they haven’t filled out before. So each time they download a piece of content, they will have a new item or two to fill out on the form. 

Why use progressive fields on forms? It’s less overwhelming for people to provide additional information over time rather than up front on one lengthy form (or worse: over and over again on various forms). You can ask different questions with each form they fill out—and the answers will provide further insight into who they are, where they are in their buying journey, and whether they are a marketing-qualified lead or sales-qualified lead for your community

Because let’s face it: Not everyone who fills out a form on your site is going to be a good senior living lead.

If you do ask for phone numbers, don’t bombard people with phone calls the minute they submit a form. 

We know that we’ll probably lose the “don’t ask for phone numbers” debate. OK. But if you ask for phone numbers, make sure your sales team or call center doesn’t dial up people the minute they download a piece of content. The sales team should have a strategy for identifying who might be a suitable candidate for a phone call (this involves segmenting leads into two main buckets: marketing-qualified vs. sales-qualified).

Enter people into appropriate lead nurturing email campaigns.

We’re big fans of thoughtful email lead nurturing. The keyword, however, is thoughtful. You need to have a sound senior living marketing strategy behind each lead nurturing campaign you create. 

Put some thought into the various workflows and journeys people are on along with the type of content people are downloading. All of those things will help determine the various email lead nurturing campaigns you need to create—and how you’ll decide which prospects should go where. (This is why strong marketing automation software, like HubSpot, is critical.)

Don’t overwhelm people with multiple email workflows, either. This goes hand-in-hand with the above. If someone downloads a bunch of stuff at once (a common experience), then you need an overarching strategy for the logic behind the workflows. This can all be done within your marketing automation, but humans still need to think through and supply the logic to the software.

So, for example, if someone downloads your pricing comparison guide, your floorplans, and the seasonal dining room menu—and each download has its own email lead nurturing workflow—you shouldn’t allow that person to be in all THREE email workflows at the same time. Talk about overwhelming! 

Instead, there should be logic for these situations. Perhaps the pricing guide trumps the other items since it suggests that someone is comparing prices/options between your community and your competitors. So the lead nurturing workflow for the pricing guide might be the most sensible one for the person to enter. You’d have the automation logic set up in such a way that it funnels the person into that workflow and not the other ones. 

Need help thinking through your senior living marketing strategy?

We love working with senior living communities and helping them develop buyer personas and smart content strategies. Get in touch and let’s chat about your content marketing needs.

Local SEO Tips

Best Local SEO Tips for Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

When it comes to the topic of best local SEO tips for your senior living marketing strategy, we probably sound like a broken record. But if you want your community or communities to effectively compete in today’s ultra-competitive landscape, you must pay attention to local search

Why local search optimization is so important

If you’ve spent any time reading about local SEO, you’ve likely heard the saying that ALL search is local search. Because optimizing for local search first means you’re automatically optimizing for overall search, period. 

Of course, in the senior living industry, optimizing for local search matters for another reason: PROSPECTS CARE ABOUT LOCATION. And yet too often we see communities ignoring location-based keywords and defaulting to generic optimization techniques with the hope that Google will “figure it out.”

Listen, Google is smart. But you’ll increase your chances of Google serving up your content to the right prospects if you take the time TO TELL GOOGLE where your communities are located. 

Need some local search stats to convince you? Here you go . . .

  • 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. [Source: SEO Expert Brad]
  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-person visit, phone call, or purchase. [Source: Duct Tape Marketing]
  • 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site. [Source: HubSpot]

Oh, we could go on and on, but hopefully you get the idea. So let’s talk local search, specifically the best local SEO tips to weave into your overall senior living marketing strategy.

Best local SEO tips: Create a strong Google My Business listing (or listings).

We recently provided lots of tips for Google My Business listings, so check it out. But the short of it goes like this: Google controls the universe (or, at the very least, the search universe). Google uses your Google My Business (GMB) listing to inform your company’s entire presence across Google, including all related products from Search to Maps.

Keep in mind that you will need a separate Google My Business listing for each senior living community’s location. Depending on how many you have, that can be a lot of work, but agencies like ours are familiar with the ins and outs of GMB, including bulk location management. Let us help.

Bonus local SEO tip: While your Google business profile is the most important one to focus on, if you’ve got time to spare, set up your Yahoo! and Bing Places for Business profiles as well.

Best local SEO tips: Make sure your social media profiles are location-specific.

It’s so easy to get lost in tweets, posts, pics, and TikToks while overlooking the critical “About” sections in each social media platform. Don’t underestimate their power. Because social media profiles do rank in Google.

As marketing guru Neil Patel notes, “While social shares may or may not affect a web page’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names.”

If you have multiple locations, get creative—and take advantage of any baked-in tools. Just as Google My Business allows you to easily manage multiple locations from one dashboard, Facebook’s “Locations” lets you do the same thing. 

As Facebook explains, “With Facebook Locations, you can connect and manage all your business locations on Facebook. Our free tool lets you quickly add new store Pages, edit information for existing stores, and manage your locations from one central spot.”

For Instagram, as of the writing of this article, you’ll need to set up separate Instagram accounts for each location, but you can manage them all from one single device.

We wouldn’t necessarily recommend having multiple Twitter accounts (that would be too hard to maintain and likely unnecessary for our industry, at this time). For something like YouTube, you could have your main channel and then create location-specific “playlists” for each location. (Yes, YouTube is important. Remember who owns it: Google.)

Like everything else in marketing, you need to think about social media strategically based on the marketing resources you have in your various locations. Bottom line: Make sure you properly optimize every account you do have for local search. (Guess what: We can help! Let’s discuss your social media strategy.)

Best local SEO tips: Run location-specific pay-per-click (PPC) and social media ads.

Running location-specific PPC ads is a great way to build awareness for your various locations. Paid ads will supplement and support organic listings (including your Google My Business listing). 

When you run social media ads, particularly on Facebook, you can create location-specific campaigns that target people within a certain radius of your location. (You can even target specific zip codes in addition to other attributes, like age and gender.) Instead of running the same generic ad to all your locations, location-specific campaigns will sound much more personal, timely, and intimate.

Best local SEO tips: Monitor and manage review sites.

Reputation management should be a cornerstone of your senior living marketing strategy. What people are saying about your community matters. According to Qualtrics, nearly all consumers (97%) use online media when researching products or services in their local area. And 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their purchasing decision.

You’ll want to monitor the “big guys” like Google reviews (which appear on your Google My Business listing) and Facebook. But don’t overlook other popular sites, like Yelp, and industry-specific listings, like and

Responding to reviews can be tricky. The thing to remember is this: People leave reviews because they want to be heard and they want to share their experience, for better or worse. They’re not writing the reviews for you—they’re writing them for other potential customers. 

For positive reviews, you can say simply say thank you or give the equivalent of a “thumbs up.” With mediocre or downright negative reviews, be mindful in your approach. Be genuine in your thanks and/or acceptance of constructive criticism. Never be defensive. And don’t engage in any back and forth—take it offline.

Keep in mind that reputation management is never done. It’s an ongoing task, one that you have to work into your marketing plan.

Best local SEO tips: Be mindful of your main hub—your senior living website.

At the very least, you should have a page on your senior living website devoted to each location (and optimized for the strongest keyword phrase for that location). The page should be compelling! In other words, it should have more than just one or two pics and contact info for that location. 

Your blog is also a good place to highlight location-specific longtail keyword phrases. If you want to get super fancy, when people subscribe to your blog, you could have them choose a location they’re interested in. You could set up the blog automation so that the person only receives evergreen content or the location-specific content that matches the location they selected.

And don’t forget: Make sure you pay attention to how your site renders on mobile. As HubSpot reports, “Mobile web traffic has consistently accounted for about half of all global web traffic since the beginning of 2017.” It’s critical that your site looks great on mobile. 

Best local SEO tips: Work with a senior living marketing agency that gets it.

And by “it,” we mean search engine optimization and senior living. At Senior Living SMART, we have specialists on our team who can help with all aspects of local SEO. Even better? Everyone is passionate about senior living. Let’s chat about your community’s local SEO needs!

Marketing Strategy Website Forms

Senior Living Marketing Strategy for Website Forms

Here’s a true story regarding one community’s senior living marketing strategy. (Or lack thereof.) 

Debbie Howard (our CEO and co-founder) was on a call with a prospective client: the COO of a senior living community. They were discussing the community’s website, and the COO said they had no idea what happened when someone filled out a form on the site. So Debbie went ahead and filled one out. She specifically requested pricing and floor plans.

Instead of receiving what she asked for, she got an immediate call from a salesperson saying, “I got your phone number, but I can’t make out what you’re looking for.”

UGH! Talk about a poor website experience.

Sadly, this is not an isolated case. Whenever we perform a website audit for clients or prospects, we always test the website forms and opt-ins. And too often, they result in an annoying sales call rather than the info we requested. Sometimes after filling out a form, nothing happens at all—no thank-you page saying our info was successfully submitted. No follow-up email. Nothing. It’s as if our request got sucked into a black hole. That’s NOT the first impression you want to give prospects.

Your senior living marketing strategy should include a thoughtful approach to website forms.

Don’t treat your website forms as an afterthought. Your forms serve as the connection between anonymity and bona fide leads. Treat website forms with the respect and reverence they deserve.

Are you asking for the right information?

Mileage will vary, but you want to ask for just enough information to get the ball rolling. Having too many fields on your forms could discourage people from filling them out. Pay attention to conversion rates on landing pages. If it’s lower than you’d like, experimenting with the form length is a good thing to test.

Do you use progressive profiling?

Good marketing automation software will offer progressive profiling. This means after someone fills out one set of fields on a form, they’ll be offered up a new set of fields on subsequent forms. You can get more information about a prospect as they explore your site and engage with more content. From there, you can serve up custom content designed for their particular needs and pain points.

Do you have a SMART senior living marketing strategy in place for what happens AFTER someone submits a form?

This is often where the trouble starts. In a perfect world, here’s what would happen after someone fills out a form on your senior living website . . .

The prospect would be redirected to a thank-you page. The page would indicate that their info was successfully submitted. If the person requested a specific piece of content—like a guide or floor plans—this content would be served on the thank-you page (usually via a link). 

The prospect would also receive an email autoresponder. The email would include the same info as the thank-you page. This way, if someone navigates away from the thank-you page, they can still access the info within the email.

The email and thank-you page would include relevant calls-to-action (CTAs). The goal is to enable the buyer by providing helpful content that speaks to where they are in their journey. If they just requested a guide on financing senior living, you could serve up other content related to financing, such as a blog post on the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

Lead scoring would automatically kick in. Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) would enter a relevant email nurturing campaign. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) would go to the sales team. Only SQLs would receive a follow-up call or email from a sales rep. (Read more about the difference between MQLs and SQLs.)

The last bit is usually the hardest pill for senior living sales teams to swallow. The temptation is to contact every single lead that comes through the site, no matter what. Remember: The buyer controls the sales process, not the sales team. 

Buyers want to engage with content on their own. And they want to self-identify when they’re ready to talk to sales. Your sales team will be wasting its time calling people who are not ready to buy. Or worse: They’ll annoy prospects with the intrusion. (Which is how Debbie felt after she filled out the form on the client’s website.) 

Bottom line: A submitted website form is NOT an automatic invitation for a phone call.

Yet too many senior living communities default to that line of thinking. Instead, they should focus on a SMART senior living marketing strategy when it comes to website forms. 

  • Make sure your form fields are the right length. Monitor results. If your landing pages aren’t converting, your forms might be the culprit.
  • Make sure you ask for the right info at the right time. Start with the most important info—name, email, location, where they are in their journey. Then, build from there by using progressive form fields.
  • Remove friction and respect boundaries. Give people what they ask for when they ask for it. If they don’t want a sales call, DON’T CALL. 
  • Spot-check forms. Things can break on the back end. It happens. Get in the habit of spot-checking forms every quarter.
  • Make sure everyone’s on the same page. Your marketing and sales teams need to agree on what happens after someone submits a form. MQLs should be nurtured with compelling campaigns designed for where they are in their journey. Sales reps should only reach out to SQLs (prospective buyers in the bottom of the funnel who’ve requested a sales interaction).

Need help with your senior living marketing strategy?

We can take an objective look at your website’s forms and get them in tip-top shape. Let’s chat about your senior living website.

senior living marketing strategy, hands with gears

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

As we wrap up third quarter, now’s a good time to think about your senior living marketing strategy for the fourth quarter (as well as next year). Below, you’ll find seven mistakes to avoid as you develop your strategy.

Mistake #1. Thinking you don’t need a senior living marketing strategy in the first place.

For some things in life, you can fly by the seat of your pants. But marketing your senior living community isn’t one of them. The benefits of having a formal marketing strategy are many:

  • It provides clear goals.
  • It keeps everyone accountable (marketing and sales).
  • It provides important insights to the C-suite.
  • It will help inform future strategies based on real intelligence.

Mistake #2. Simply going through the motions of creating a strategy.

Don’t treat your marketing strategy as one more thing you need to cross off your to-do list. Your strategy should be your team’s constant companion, the blueprint everyone refers to week in and week out. 

Mistake #3. Treating your strategy as if it’s set in stone.

Your senior living marketing strategy must remain fluid. The best example we could possibly offer: Consider the strategy you had going into 2020. Given the pandemic, if you had “stayed the course” with your original strategy, that would have been a big mistake. Strategies will and should change based on things like analytics and conditions on the ground. 

Mistake #4. Making your strategy too vague.

On the flip side of #3, you still need to have a concrete marketing strategy—one with clear goals and specific initiatives to support those goals. If it’s too loosey goosey, it won’t serve anyone. A good way to approach developing your strategy: Focus on key areas. Think website/SEO, paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing/automation, social media marketing, and print/traditional marketing (like direct mail). Define what you’ll be doing under each, as needed.

Mistake #5. Making your strategy too long.

Planning too far out can result in unwieldy and unrealistic initiatives. Better to focus on shorter time frames. Consider creating quarterly marketing strategies or even month-to-month marketing plans, if that makes following them easier.

Mistake #6. Not revisiting the results of previous strategies before developing this one.

Think of strategies as chapters in a novel — they should all flow together, rather than function as separate books. You should always review past strategies and develop new strategies based on measurable results. 

For example, is your paid advertising delivering excellent ROI? Great! You might decide to reserve more budget for pay-per-click campaigns. Are you finding you’re not gaining any traction on Twitter, but Facebook is lively? Wonderful. You might decide to downgrade (or eliminate) Twitter initiatives and make Facebook the focus of your social media strategy.

Mistake #7. Developing your strategy in a silo and/or forging ahead on your own, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

There’s no shame in saying you’ve never created a formal senior living marketing strategy before. And there’s no shame in saying you’d like some guidance (even if you have created strategies in the past). In fact, though it might sound self-serving, we do believe working with an objective third-party on your strategy can be extremely beneficial — precisely because it will be objective. You and your team might be too close to things. Or you might not have the experience in developing a sound strategy. 

Whatever you do, don’t develop the strategy by yourself. Work with team members in marketing and sales at the very least. Or do yourself a favor and reach out to us about developing a strategic marketing roadmap for your community.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, mature couple navigating websites

Make Your Web Content More Accessible to People with Disabilities with UserWay

Have you heard of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?

In a nutshell, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is “developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.”

The ultimate goal? To make web content more accessible to everyone, particularly people with disabilities. 

At Senior Living SMART, we’ve always advocated making senior living websites accessible to site visitors (think older people with aging eyes, for example). We’ve taught many clients over the years about the value of adjustable text sizing, strong color contrast with fonts and backgrounds, avoiding layering text over images, and using alt tags to describe images. (Just to name a few best practices.) 

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

That said, WCAG takes accessibility to a whole new level. As Mozilla notes, “It is comprehensive but incredibly detailed, and quite difficult to gain a rapid understanding of.” And depending on what sort of business you’re in, you could face legal repercussions if your site doesn’t comply (for example, federal agencies and their contractors). 

Now, we’re not sharing this info to make you nervous. Our job is to make sure you’re aware—and to tell you about our approach to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. We’re proud to announce we’re working with UserWay as our accessibility compliance partner. 

As its website explains, “UserWay’s Accessibility Technology is the world’s most advanced and popular AI-powered accessibility compliance solution that ensures your website provides a digital experience that meets and exceeds WCAG 2.1 AA requirements, as required by the ADA and other governmental and regulatory bodies.”

UserWay has been installed in over 1.2 million websites around the globe (and counting!). It makes compliance straightforward. As noted on this user review site, UserWay’s “AI-powered widget does the job of making smart modifications on your website without the need to make dramatic changes to the existing code.”

Bottom line: UserWay is our way to help clients’ websites remain compliant and accessible to all.

Need help with your Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)? Talk to us!

We’re experts in senior living and website marketing. Let’s talk about your community’s specific needs, including making your web content accessible to everyone.

Note: Affiliate links are used in this post.

Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry, infographic

Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry

The Senior Living industry is currently undergoing a massive transition, due to the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. No aspect of the industry has been spared, including management, operations, and sales and marketing. Sara Nay, host of Duct Tape Marketing’s Agency Spark Podcast, interviewed Debbie Howard, CEO and Founder of industry marketing agency Senior Living SMART, to talk more about this. In the interview, Howard was candid about how this disruption has impacted her experience growing an agency, and how they have pivoted to better meet the needs of their clients.

A solution for the pandemic disruption

There is an entirely new reality for the industry that has been evolving since the start of the pandemic. The senior living providers that wish to survive and succeed will be those that are most innovative in working to create value-added platforms for the future. That’s where Senior Living SMART comes in. “We had to reimagine the entire prospect journey,” Howard said. “We had to create solutions that would normally be touchpoints that HAD to happen in person.” On top of that, the Senior Living SMART team found that prospects were craving content that felt “real” and provoked a feeling of human connection. The solution? Technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic created rapid and powerful momentum for the technology movement that Howard admitted had already started transforming the industry years ago. Howard recognizes that this change can be uncomfortable for the client, but she encourages them to embrace it. “Prospects are empowered to have more choice in how they want to engage,” she said.

Senior Living SMART helped clients bolster their digital footprint by incorporating:

  • Still photography (showcasing interactions between staff and residents)
  • Architectural stills with movement
  • Virtual tours
  • Facebook Live events to engage with prospects

Staying focused on the prospect

Though some of the Senior Living SMART strategy had to change, their client-focused mission never wavered. Their focus on the client’s ideal prospect (through very comprehensive persona work), set them apart. Howard cites for example the difference in experience for the adult daughter versus the adult son – emphasizing that the strategy must resonate with both. In addition to personas, Senior Living SMART provides clients with:

  • A TOPA (total online presence audit) to inform website optimization.
  • Content development (blogs, guides, eBooks, newsletters).
  • Email marketing and marketing automation.
  • Social media & paid search.

Howard emphasized that they do the paid part of the strategy last because they want to make sure the website is set up to convert inquiries to leads.

Senior Living SMART strives to be the best partner for its clients, providing comprehensive solutions based on experience and research. “In our industry, we have to make things turn-key,” she states. As part of that goal, Senior Living SMART offers clients entry to its Marketplace, which provides access to carefully vetted, best-in-class resources that will help clients grow their occupancy.

Senior Living Advertising: PPC Campaigns that Drive Conversions

Do you run pay-per-click (PPC) ads simply because everyone else does? Senior living advertising and retargeting can be extremely effective, but you need a thoughtful strategy in order to get results. Let’s Talk About Your Paid Advertising →