Posts

content marketing agency cell phone infographic

What to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency for Senior Living

When it comes to online search, content is still king. The words you use on your senior living website, blog, and social channels matter—big time.

If you’re thinking about working with a content marketing agency, here’s what to look for as you research your options.

Does the content marketing agency offer only writing services? Or can it provide a strategy as well?

Strategy informs the writing. But here’s the thing: A good content strategist doesn’t always translate into being a good writer. And a good writer doesn’t always make for a good strategist. Ideally, look for a content marketing agency that can deliver both.

Questions to ask:

  • How do they conduct their strategy work? How involved are the clients? (You should absolutely have input.)
  • How do they communicate strategy to the writer or writers?
  • How do they monitor the writer’s content to make sure it’s on track with the strategy?
  • How do they measure the content and the strategy’s overall effectiveness? What metrics do they use?

Does the agency have writers in-house? Or does it farm out everything?

It’s perfectly OK if a content marketing agency uses freelance writers. Not all agencies can employ dozens of writers. But a reputable agency should have a core staff and a solid stable filled with good freelancers. Think of it like starting pitchers and bullpens. To have a winning team, you need both.

What you want to avoid, however, is the firm that claims it’s a content marketing agency, but it outsources everything to another firm, or it outsources all writing to cheap resources. The former situation results in marked-up prices. The latter usually results in weak copy.

When it comes to writing, this old chestnut always holds true: You get what you pay for. If you want your content to convert leads into move-ins, then you need capable writers who can write compelling copy.

Do the writers understand the tenets of search engine optimization (SEO)?

Lots of great writers exist out there. But not all of them understand SEO—or how to write optimized content without sounding awkward.

Do the writers and content strategists have experience in senior living?

While this isn’t a must-have, it can be extremely helpful to work with writers and content strategists who already have working knowledge of the senior living industry. If they don’t have any experience, ask the agency how it gets writers up to speed when collaborating with clients in new industries.

What to look for in their answers:

  • Buyer personas. If the content marketing agency asks about your buyer personas and/or recommends starting with this work, that’s a good sign.
  • Keyword research. A good content marketing agency should discuss its approach to keyword research, since this work will shed valuable light on the industry itself. (Keyword research might come up during the SEO discussion as well.)

Can the content marketing agency provide examples of content and strategy that delivered big ROI?

Remember, strategy and copy go together like peanut butter and jelly. Reputable content marketing agencies shouldn’t have any qualms about sharing examples of strategies and content that converted.

If the agency has direct experience in senior living, make sure you ask to see industry-specific examples of blog posts and premium content, like guides and e-books. Ask specifically about conversions: marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads to move-ins. After all, increasing occupancy is the number one goal for senior living communities.

Do you like the agency’s content?

A content marketing agency should be putting its best face forward on its website and in its marketing materials. This means compelling, clear, and clean copy.

  • How does the site read?
  • Does the copy have personality?
  • If the agency has a blog, is it regularly updated with interesting content?
  • Does the agency offer premium content, like e-books and white papers? If yes, what’s the copy “experience” like from landing pages to thank-you emails?
  • How about social media? What do you think of the voice, the content, and the topics being discussed in different social media channels?
  • Does the site have a team page with bios? Do the writers’ bios demonstrate strong experience? (Check out the various writers’ LinkedIn profiles for further insights, including any public endorsements.)

Listen to your gut. If you’re not liking the agency’s own website or you spot errors (like grammar issues), move on.

senior living digital marketing man-struggling with bullseye graphic

Senior Living Digital Marketing: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

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

Mistake #1: Not having a plan or strategy.

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

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

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

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

Mistake #2: Not being consistent.

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

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

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

Mistake #3: Not paying attention to results.

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

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

Mistake #4: Not embracing automation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ideas for compelling YouTube videos

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: YouTube Content Ideas

In our previous blog post on senior living social media marketing, we noted the most popular social media platforms among the Boomer generation, and YouTube sits at the top of the list at 70%.

Some folks might not think of YouTube as a social media platform, but it most definitely is since users can like, share, comment, and reply on videos. YouTube videos also rank well in organic search results (provided you optimize your video titles and descriptions—treat these the same way you do optimization elements on your website).

When thinking through your senior living marketing plan and budget, diversification is important—but so is a smart strategy. YouTube is an excellent platform to invest in not only because Boomers spend time on the platform, but also because you can easily use your YouTube videos on other platforms, like Facebook, blog posts, and Google My Business listings.

When it comes to content, what sorts of videos should you develop for your senior living community’s YouTube channel? Here are some ideas . . .

1. Give a virtual tour of your entire community.

No doubt, you might be tired of hearing the words “virtual tour” thanks to the pandemic. But virtual tour videos offer people a great bird’s eye view of your community.

They can also be an excellent way to move people from the marketing-qualified stage to the sales-qualified stage. For example, if you embed your tour video in a lead nurturing workflow and someone books an in-person tour after viewing it, you’ll know that you’ve got an interested prospect on your hands.

Not to mention, virtual tours are excellent vehicles for people who are coming from outside the immediate area. So, for example, if adult children are looking for places for mom and dad in another state, virtual tours can provide important info.

  • Pro tip: Your tour of the community itself is just that—it should provide a solid overview. Don’t make it overly long, either. Three to four minutes should be enough to give everyone a good sense of place.

2. Provide a tour of various room layouts/floorplans.

Consider these your “drill-down” videos where you provide a deeper look into one aspect of your community. Most prospects want to know about the residences themselves. What floorplans are available? How big are the bedrooms? Is there a patio/deck? What other amenities do certain floorplans have? You get the idea. Create videos for each type of residence your community offers.

  • Pro tip: Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each video so people can download the actual floorplan. You could choose to give away the floor plan free and clear (no name required) or put it behind a VERY brief form so that you can nurture the person further.

3. Show off your dining areas (inside and out).

Anyone who’s worked in senior living sales for any length of time knows that one of the most popular questions centers around food. What are the dining options? Who’s the chef? Are any residences outfitted with full kitchens? Does the community offer a private function room for family events like birthdays and anniversaries? Is there a pub on site? And so forth.

Think of all the questions you get about food in your community and create a video (or set of videos) that focuses on cuisine and other culinary aspects.

  • Pro tip: What truly differentiates your community from others in the area when it comes to dining? Do you have an award-winning chef? Then, do a video interview with them. Do you cater to different diets, including contemporary diets, like keto and paleo? Talk about how you accommodate.

4. Stroll the grounds.

Setting is everything, and if this is what makes your community special—perhaps it sits on a golf course or overlooks conservation land or is a stone’s throw from the ocean—then create a video that captures the magic. Get footage from different times of day and, ideally, different times of year.

  • Pro tip: Regarding our last suggestion, you could create a series of “seasonal strolls.” So if you have a senior living community in the northeast, make sure you have a video of your community in every season. Play up the gorgeous maples with their leaves ablaze in the fall and the blooming dogwoods in the spring. Capture residents sipping cocktails on the veranda on a hot summer’s evening. Celebrate how your community looks decked out in holiday decorations in December.

5. Record events.

Think guest musicians, sing-alongs, poetry slams, comedy nights, and the like. Residents who missed an event can watch on demand from the comfort of their home. Prospects will get a good feel for how active and engaging the event schedule is in your community.

  • Pro tip: When recording an event, ask the videographer to also get b-roll of the space and to get reaction quotes from attendees (i.e., your current residents and their family/friends). While these “candid” clips won’t make it into the cut of the event itself, you’ll have the footage available for other marketing purposes. (Like our next idea.) 

6. Create yearly retrospectives.

Put out a “best of” video every December that features clips from events and anything else that was new that year (such as the opening of a new amenity, for example). These can be great videos to share across social media in December, since people are always eager to reflect on the past 12 months. And they can serve as great marketing vehicles moving forward.

7. Highlight area attractions.

When it comes to senior living—and truly demonstrating that it is indeed a different lifestyle than the myths that persist around “retirement homes”—you need to go beyond the community itself. Because while all the amenities your community provides are certainly important things to share and show off, you also want to give people a flavor for what life in the town/city and nearby areas has to offer.

  • Pro tip: Ask your existing residents about their favorite nearby spots. If you keep hearing the same answer, make sure you add that spot to the list.

8. Interview residents, family members, and staff.

Highlight the people who reside and work within your community. Record a resident or group of residents with a great story. Tape short resident testimonials (this should be an ongoing item). Feature staff members from various departments. Again, look for people with interesting stories, who’ve been part of your community’s family for a long time, and/or who are popular with residents/staff.

  • Pro tip: Videos with staff can perform double duty. Yes, they can be a great marketing tool, but they can also be a great recruitment Post your videos to places like your community’s company page on LinkedIn.

9. Experiment, play, and try new things.

What we shared above isn’t an exhaustive list. Honestly, the sky’s the limit when it comes to YouTube content ideas. Be willing to experiment and try new things. Ask people in your community for ideas. (You might be surprised at the creativity!)

  • Pro tip: If you need help, seek it, which brings us to our final point.

Senior Living Marketing Strategy: What is Premium Content?

If you want to have an excellent senior living marketing strategy, you need an excellent content strategy. Content can take many forms—emails, landing pages, blog posts, and one of our favorites: premium content.

In today’s article, we’re going to answer commonly asked questions about premium content.


What is premium content?

Simply put, premium content is (usually) long-form content that lives behind a website form. You might also hear the term “gated” content. If a website visitor wants to access the content, they need to give something in return—most often their name and email address.

What are some examples of premium content?

Any piece of content could be premium content. While premium content is usually long-form, it doesn’t have to be. The content’s value is what ultimately matters. For example, a prospect might consider a one-pager on your community’s pricing to be extremely valuable.

That said, examples of premium content include the following:

  • Brochures
  • Case studies
  • Checklists
  • Ebooks
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • Pricing lists
  • White papers

Why is premium content critical to an effective senior living marketing strategy?

Premium content is critical to a senior living marketing strategy because it can help define where someone is in their buying journey. From there, we can “score” them. Are they a marketing-qualified lead or a sales-qualified lead?

For example, someone who downloads a free guide from your site on “Questions to ask when you begin researching senior living options” is likely in a vastly different place from the person who requests pricing for your community.

The person wanting the guide isn’t ready for a sales interaction. They are still in the research stage. So if a sales rep called them, the rep would be wasting everyone’s time. Not to mention, the rep might label the lead as “cold” or “dead,” which wouldn’t be accurate. The lead simply isn’t ready.

The person wanting your community’s specific pricing is probably closer to making a decision. So a follow-up call from the sales rep would likely yield better results—such as a tour or a sit-down conversation.

But what about that person who downloaded the guide? They’ve engaged with content on your site and they’ve shown interest and curiosity in senior living. We’d call them a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). And because we have the person’s email address, we can continue staying in front of them by sending them helpful information via email. All of this can happen seamlessly behind the scenes via marketing automation.

Bottom line: Sales reps should only work leads that are truly sales-qualified. Meanwhile, the marketing automation can continue to nurture the marketing-qualified leads. And it all begins with the various kinds of premium content you have on your site, and who engages with what.

So when I create premium content for my senior living community, do I have to think about different types of content for MQLs and SQLs?

Short answer: Yes. But the longer answer goes like this. It’s better to think about content according to your different types of buyers and the various points they’ll likely hit on their journey.

For example, a seventy-year-old couple who is just beginning the process of thinking about downsizing and moving into a community is in a different mindset than the adult daughter who needs to find a place for her eighty-nine-year-old mother with dementia. What types of content would be helpful to each persona? THAT’S how you have to think about it.

Oh, boy. That sounds confusing. Can you break down content development into steps?

We sure can!

  • List your buyer personas. (Need help? Check out our guide on persona development.)
  • List the various points they’ll be in their respective journeys—research stage, consideration stage, decision stage.
  • Then, list the various types of content that would help each persona in each stage.

Yes, you’ll likely have some overlap between certain personas/stages. But this gives you a rough idea about how to approach this senior living marketing strategy.

Wow! That sounds like A LOT of content to develop.

It is, but keep in mind we’re big fans of repurposing content.

So let’s say you write a guide called “10 Financial Mistakes to Avoid When Considering Senior Living.” Once you write the guide, you can use snippets in other channels:

  • Blog – do a series of 10 blog posts, one on each mistake
  • Tweet/post different mistakes on social media and link to the complete guide
  • Do a podcast about the mistakes
  • Do a 10-minute video—one minute for each mistake

You get the idea. You can use one good piece of long-form content in multiple ways. So while the initial content is an investment (we recommend using a professional copywriter), the ROI will be huge.

Can Senior Living SMART help my community write, design, and publish premium content?

Absolutely! Not only do we create premium content that gets results (in other words, conversions!), we can also help you implement marketing automation. (Including lead scoring and lead nurturing.) Contact us for a complimentary brainstorming session!

Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy Post COVID

It would be irresponsible of us to even suggest we’ve entered some sort of “post COVID” world. But after a year, we are moving forward and making progress. To that end, we wanted to provide ideas for your senior living marketing strategy as you enter this new phase.

A word about messaging right now:

  • Be careful, sensitive, and most of all—transparent—with your messaging. Focus on facts, such as the fact X percent of your community’s residents AND staff have received the vaccine. This implies that making the decision to move into your community now is a lot less fraught than it was ten months ago.
  • Be careful about overpromising or making guarantees. For example, don’t make assertions about 100% vaccination compliance since that isn’t realistic.
  • Continue to be transparent about any outbreaks and/or positive cases in your community. There’s no reason to hide or downplay numbers.

1. Ideas for direct mail or lead nurturing via email

Now might be a good time to send postcards to prospects who expressed interest in making the move to your community, but they put the decision on hold due to the pandemic. Below, we’re providing copy inspiration. Note: You could easily turn this into a lead nurturing email workflow if you don’t want to spend dollars on design and print.

Welcome home. Finally.

We know 2020 was tough on everyone but especially older adults who postponed big decisions, like moving into a senior living community.

But that was last year.

Today, our residents and staff members are getting vaccinated and looking forward to returning to some semblance of normalcy. Seeing family. Meeting new people. Giving long overdue hugs.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Make the move to one of our communities in 2021!

  • Enjoy stress-free living in a healthy environment
  • Experience everything our luxurious senior living community has to offer
  • Get back to the life you had hoped to be leading when everything was put on “pause” in 2020

Why wait? The time is now! SCHEDULE A VISIT!

2. Ideas for senior living social media posts

Here are various messages to consider. You can tweak according to your community’s needs and state’s guidelines.

Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn

  • Option 1: Our residents and staff members are in the process of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. As if you needed one more reason to make the move to our senior living community, right?! (Hint: Schedule a tour and see what we’re all about.) <insert link> #SeniorLiving
  • Option 2: Our residents and staff members are looking forward to getting the vaccine—and to having a healthier, happier 2021! Interested in joining us? Schedule a visit. <insert link> #SeniorLiving
  • Option 3: Good news! Many of our residents and staff members have been vaccinated. If you or someone you know is looking to make a move to senior living, schedule a visit with us soon! <insert link> #SeniorLiving

Facebook/Instagram Ideas

  • Show a picture of a staff member and/or resident getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The message: “The COVID-19 vaccination is underway in our communities! Learn more about how we’re rolling it out.” Then, link to a page or blog post on your site that outlines the process in your community. Address common questions, like how you’ll handle it if a staff member or resident refuses to get the vaccine.
  • Vaccinations 101 – We got you! Message: Now is a good time to remind people that senior living communities have built-in processes for things like vaccinations. You do it every year already for flu shots. So, again, you can share a reassuring message that the vaccination rollout is going smoothly.

3. Ideas for senior living websites and blogs:

  • Update your main COVID-19 page with information regarding the protocol for the COVID-19 vaccines. Address FAQs, such as how you’ll handle it if a resident or employee refuses the vaccine? What’s the process for new residents as they move in? And so forth.
  • As noted above, now’s a great time to highlight how healthcare works in your community. Discuss how senior living communities have built-in processes and procedures in place for dispensing vaccines, since you do it every year for the flu vaccine.
  • Do a Q&A with your medical director/NP – in other words, someone healthcare affiliated who can speak to the vaccine, its efficacy, and how you’re monitoring the community.

4. Ideas for email marketing

  • Current residents/families: You’ll want to send an email to current residents/families with information regarding the process you’ll be following for the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • For nurturing workflows: Revisit current email workflows. You don’t necessarily need to overhaul all of them. Consider adding a visual CTA button that says “The COVID-19 vaccine is now available in our community. Learn how we’re dispensing it.” Then, link to the blog or page on your site. Make a note in your marketing calendar to update/remove this later in the year. (For example, six months from now, you might have a CTA that says “Our communities have been vaccinated. Learn what this means.”)

Need more senior living marketing strategies as we emerge from COVID?

Let us help! Since we’re a virtual agency, we haven’t missed a beat this last year. Our team members have worked hard to help our clients market effectively during the pandemic. We can help you, too! Get in touch!

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: The Marketing Hourglass

When it comes to effective marketing strategies for senior living, we follow the marketing hourglass, which our friends at Duct Tape Marketing developed.

The marketing hourglass involves seven important steps: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Retain, and Refer. This differs from the classic marketing and sales “funnel” approach, which typically involves Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.

Duct Tape Marketing contends that the funnel ignores an important fact: that happy customers are often your best tools when it comes to lead generation and referral generation. The hourglass approach, on the other hand, takes customers into account (especially in the “retain” and “refer” steps).

Let’s break down the seven steps so you can apply them to your marketing strategies for senior living . . .

Step #1: KNOW

Basically, can people find you? If you operate a senior living community in Dallas, Texas, and someone in Dallas searches on “senior living near me” or “senior living Dallas,” will your community’s website come up on the first page of Google? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no (or you’re not sure), then you’ve got some work to do!

For your community to be “known,” you need to create a highly secure and highly optimized digital presence. This includes doing the following (at the very least):

  • Make sure your site is optimized with relevant keyword phrases. You want to use keyword phrases that your ideal prospects are searching on. (This requires research and know-how.) Then, you want to use these phrases naturally throughout your site, both on the page itself and in the meta data (the title tag and meta description).
  • Make sure your site has SSL security. How to tell? Call up your senior living website in a browser and look at the URL. Do you see a warning that says it’s “not secure”? Google penalizes sites that don’t have SSL security, meaning you’re less likely to rank well in organic search.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. More and more people (yes, even seniors) conduct searches on their phones or tablets. Your site needs to automatically “respond” to different devices (and screen sizes). Again, if your site isn’t built for mobile, Google will penalize you.
  • Make sure you site is speedy. It needs to load quickly! This is critical for the user experience (no one likes watching an endless pinwheel while a page loads). Again, Google takes note of slow sites as well. Incorrectly sized photos, bloated and unnecessary code, and big videos can slow down sites.
  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date. Google cares about Google products. Google consistently serves up Google My Business listings when people search for things, particularly physical locations, like senior living communities. Consider your Google My Business listing as a mini website. Apply the same level of care you would on your main site. Include updated contact info, compelling text, great images and videos, and lots of reviews.

Step #2: LIKE

Once prospects find your senior living website, what happens next? Keep in mind that people have only so much patience when it comes to websites. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a few seconds, they WILL bounce off your site—and go to a competitor’s site.

To encourage website “stickiness,” make sure . . .

  • The website navigation is clear and intuitive. Make it easy for people to work their way through the site. Keep in mind you’ll be dealing with older eyes. Think larger fonts and good color contrasts.
  • The keyword-phrase that brought people to the page is relevant and fully “dealt” with in the copy. For example, if someone landed on a page about “senior living community prices in Dallas,” the page better thoroughly deal with that topic and deliver the goods. (Rule of thumb: each page of your site should have one main keyword-phrase focus.)
  • The design is welcoming . . . and authentic. DON’T USE STOCK IMAGES. If someone is doing research on senior living communities in Dallas, chances are good they will see the same tired and unoriginal stock images on multiple sites. Don’t let your site be one of them. Invest in custom photography that highlights your community—and that helps people remember it.
  • The website is truly helpful. Make sure the site has a Resources section, contact info at the top of every page, and, ideally, some sort of Live Chat function so people can get answers right away.

Step #3: TRUST

You’ve lured prospects to your site. Now, you need to build trust. A variety of “trust signals” exist. The best websites will use a combination.

  • Both text-based and (ideally) videos of real people talking about how much they love your community. (A combo of residents and staff can work well! A happy staff indicates a happy place, too!)
  • Relevant logos for any awards, recognitions, certifications. Your website—particularly the home page—is a great place to highlight “best of” and other awards.
  • In-depth resources that you offer for free. Position your community as the go-to place for information about senior living in your area. Offer educational content on hot topics like financing, how to move, checklists for evaluating options, resources for family members, and so forth.
  • A clear and compelling “team” and/or management page. Prospects want to get a sense of the people behind the scenes. Supply warmly written bios and photos that capture the people who bring your community to life.
  • Relevant info about COVID-19. For the immediate future, you need to have information front-and-center about how your community is navigating COVID-19. And guess what? This section isn’t static. It NEEDS to change to reflect what’s going on in your community. (Hint: Check out our free resource on how to market your senior living community during a pandemic.)

Step #4: TRY

Today’s prospects expect websites to be interactive. Yours should provide opportunities for prospects to “try” out your community so they can picture themselves or their loved ones living there.

  • Offer virtual room builders/floor plans. Room builders allow people to get a sense of space and décor. In addition, they help people envision how their belongings would work in the space.
  • Offer “on demand” tours. In this case, we’re referring to a tour you’ve recorded on video. While being able to experience a community in person is always preferable, it’s not always possible—due to things like COVID-19 or even location. If someone in Boston wants to get a feel for your community in Florida, an on-demand tour or other virtual event can help.
  • Let people download menus and activity calendars. It’s one thing to tell people about everything your community offers. It’s a whole other thing to allow them to see a breakdown on a real day-to-day calendar.
  • Make it easy for people to access your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram. Your social media channels are a great place to go “behind the scenes” in your community. While professionally shot videos and pictures are great for your site, your social channels can house the candid shots and videos (which often come across as more authentic and relatable anyway).
  • Allow people to schedule tours (in-person or virtual) directly on your site at a day/time that’s convenient for them. This empowers the prospect and eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth between a sales rep and the prospect.

Step #5: BUY

You need to make it easy for prospects to buy from you. Now, we know what you might be thinking: “If someone wants to buy into our senior living community, all they need to do is talk to a sales rep.”

But that’s not how most people buy today. People do their homework first (as we described above). For senior living especially, prospects also try to self-qualify by researching and requesting pricing.

So ask yourself: How transparent is your senior living website when it comes to things like pricing, financing options, and so forth? Even if you don’t list pricing, you need to ADDRESS pricing so that people have a sense of ranges—and an understanding about what’s included. Then, beyond that, how easy is the overall buying process when someone does indeed want to buy?

Focus on the following:

  • Evaluate your website from a “I’m ready to buy now” perspective. Is there an area that clearly addresses the buying process soup to nuts? Bottom line: you want to enable prospects to buy from you.
  • Audit the overall buying process from start to finish. Begin with the moment someone says “Yes, I want to move in.” How easy is it to make a deposit? What happens next? Do you offer transitional services? Have you streamlined paperwork? Do you provide move-in checklists and downsizing tips?

Step #6: RETAIN

A prospect who becomes a happy resident will be your best form of advertising going forward. So the question is, how do you keep your residents happy?

  • Make sure you have programs in place designed specifically for new residents and their families. Think welcome kits, orientations, and “meet your neighbors” events that help new residents acclimate.
  • Conduct surveys. We recommend doing surveys two weeks after move-in. Why? Because 17% of all move-outs happen in the first 30 days! If you can get feedback/insight into how new residents are acclimating (or not), you and your team can identify any issues and (hopefully!) address them before someone decides to move out.

Note: The insights you gather during the “retain” step can inform your marketing and sales efforts. For example, use positive quotes from surveys and highlight them on your website.

Step #7: REFER

Did you know resident and family referrals have a 30 – 35 % closing rate? (For comparison, third-party leads close at 3 – 6 %).

  • Make sure you have an easy system in place for soliciting referrals from residents and their family members. One idea: “I’ve just moved!” postcards that you supply as part of your welcome kit to new residents. Encourage them to send these to their friends.
  • Make it easy for residents and their family members to review your community. In addition to referrals, the words of real residents can be incredibly compelling. Encourage people to leave reviews on your Google My Business page and via social media.

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

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

So glad you asked.

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

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

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

Let’s break it down:

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

FREE Website Assessment

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

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

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

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

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

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

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

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

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

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

2. Shift in Transparency

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

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

3. Shift in Control

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

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

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

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

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.

senior living marketing

Top 4 “Must Haves” Memory Care Benefits

By the time that families start researching memory care communities, they have usually done everything humanly possible to keep their loved one safely at home.  They have worked their way through adult day care, homecare, household safety retrofits, support groups and huge doses of family participation in meal preparation, personal care, transportation, medication management and socialization.  At some point, their heroic efforts leave them exhausted, stressed out, frustrated, and open to other solutions.  That is when our phones ring.

Our job is to listen, empathize and understand that each person and their story because each situation is unique.  It is important to acknowledge the family involvement and honor their successes.  It is a very emotional decision to entrust a precious loved one who lacks the ability to advocate for themselves to unrelated caregivers.

Here are some benefits that every memory care program must have to reassure families as they work through this difficult decision.

1. An Environment That Supports The Success of The Residents

It is very difficult to adapt a typical residential home environment for seniors with Alzheimer’s as it progresses since the disease creates unique impairments requiring a specialized environment.  Residents thrive when they can navigate their environment independently and successfully.  Visual impairments can be a barrier so ensuring that lighting, floor covering, color contrast and appropriate tableware & utensils are integrated into the environment is key.

It is best to avoid:

  • Carpets with flowers or patterns (residents may perceive these as something to pick up)
  • Wallpaper and murals (residents may perceive these as something to pick at)
  • Carpets with borders (residents may perceive these as holes or gaps)

It is best to include:

  • Adaptive lighting to simulate natural outdoor lighting patterns to reduce sundowning.
  • Even lighting so there are no dark patches in the hallways.
  • Contrasting paint color behind toilets, & contrasting toilet seats to visually distinguish the toilet and sink to encourage independence & success.
  • Contrasting table cloths and dishware to encourage independence & success during meals.

2. A Memory Care Culture of Choice and Accessibility

As much as possible, present opportunities for the residents to make choices to foster independence and respect – even non-verbal residents can point.  We had one resident who wanted only to wear her favorite yellow dress and became agitated and unhappy if it was in the laundry.  So we had her family go shopping for a selection of yellow dresses and take home everything else.  Every morning she was able to choose from a selection of yellow dresses and that solved the problem.  Choices should be allowed about when to get up in the morning, what to wear, what to eat and drink and how to spend their day.  Resident Choice Dining involves preparing two plates and offering options for residents to select.  It takes a small amount of time and effort to set up, but once it is implemented, food costs and labor is budget neutral.  Likewise, always keep back up supplies to make a sandwich, toast or a snack and have these available for the overnight shift in case a resident wakes up hungry at night.

3. Personalized Programming Based on Each Resident’s Background & Life Story

One of the greatest fears expressed by families is that the staff will not know or understand the needs of their loved one.  They are convinced that no one will be able to care for their loved one like the family does.  We had a resident who opened the first pre-school in town and every morning she would wander the halls looking for the children.  The program director went to a yard sale and picked up an old school desk & chair and reading primers.  She also encouraged the staff to bring in their children’s artwork and homework so there was always something waiting on her desk that was placed right outside her apartment door.  Mornings were much better for this resident and the staff. So, it is important to have tools and systems in place to capture the essence of every resident including:

  • Meeting with the family to capture a personal life history to learn the familiar people, places, hobbies, routines, schedule, interests, career, family members, and social and spiritual preferences.  Use this to create a personalized care plan & schedule.
  • Keeping a binder of the life stories for the staff to review, and coach them on how to incorporate this in personalizing the approach for care and interaction.
  • Have a pre-move-in team meeting to plan a successful transition.

4. Dedicated and Trained Memory Care Staff

Families work hard to provide care with little formal training, previous experience or respite.  It is easier for them to entrust their loved one to a community with dedicated, trained staff rather than a rotating schedule of changing relationships.  Being able to demonstrate that staff is selected to work with memory-impaired residents and that there is comprehensive and ongoing training provided will increase confidence.  Technology is great, but nothing comes close to the impact of a caring, committed staff with the skills and competency to manage residents throughout the disease process.

SLS_ElopementChecklist_ButtonLong-01

 Does your community have difficulty performing any of these “must have” benefits? Let’s Chat!

senior living marketing

Do You Know Your Senior Living Net Promoter Score?

Let’s talk about customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about how the residents and families feel about the services and care they receive in your community? So let’s first answer the question, “Why conduct satisfaction surveys?”

Word of Mouth

Residents and families are talking about you – to friends, relatives, neighbors, and healthcare professionals. Do you know what they are saying?

Customer Issues are a Great Way to Make a Positive Impact

Listening to customer concerns and following through on making positive changes, can turn unhappy customers into loyal customers.

Gain Insight into Your Customer

Asking your customers for ideas and identifying patterns based on their responses, gives you insight into opportunities that can benefit current and future residents. These insights can give you a competitive edge.

The knowledge from customer surveys can help assure that you don’t lose customers and that your reputation doesn’t prevent you from winning new customers. Your customer experience has a direct impact on your occupancy. There is a simple question that is found on most surveys that provides valuable insight and directly impacts your business results.

“How likely is it that you would recommend your community to a friend or colleague?”

 

This is your Net Promoter Score. The Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

  • Promoters

    (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.

  • Passives

    (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.

  • Detractors

    (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your company’s NPS, take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors. Now what? Once you know your number– What do you do with this information?

Lynn Ackerman, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Delight Officer at Sensight Surveys offers insight into how to translate the number into a plan that positively impacts your customer experience and business results.

“Your net promoter score basically represents the percentage of customers who are willing to advocate for your community offset by potential naysayers.  This number can be very useful, but by itself holds little value.  Your survey process should include the collection of more detailed information to help you pinpoint customer experiences and views that drive your net promoter score and allow you to take targeted action.

There are three things you can do:

  1. Include questions on your survey that ask customers to rate specific areas of service.
  2. Provide comment space on your survey, so customers can back up their willingness to recommend you with a positive comment or recommendation for improvement.
  3. Hold feedback sessions with your customers as part of post-survey action planning to understand their specific accolades, concerns, and ideas for improvement.

With this additional information, you will have what you need to identify top improvement opportunities and implement a targeted plan of action.”

SLS_ChoosingSurveyCompany_ButtonLong