Senior Living Marketing Budgets Brainstorming around the table

Senior Living Marketing Budgets: 4 Key Steps

Budget season is here! As you develop your senior living marketing budget for 2024, make sure you’re asking the right questions and looking at the most relevant data.

Struggling with where to begin? This article will help.

Below, we discuss the following:

  • The four main steps to developing a senior living marketing budget
  • The biggest challenge marketers face when developing their budgets (and how to overcome it)
  • Budget presentation tips
  • What to do if you need help

The four main steps to developing your senior living marketing budget

Marketing isn’t a static exercise. So many things can affect what works and what doesn’t in any given year, many of which are beyond your control. (Pandemics, anyone?) As a result, marketers must be equal parts proactive and responsive, which isn’t easy.

This reality could leave even the most optimistic marketer or COO feeling hopeless when developing a marketing budget that makes sense.

The best way to do it is to let the data guide you.

But which “data” exactly?

We recommend following this four-step process:

  1. Consider your current budget for each channel (e.g., organic, paid, social, etc.). Remember, the best way to inform future strategy is through current performance.
  2. Review each channel’s results. And not just contacts and leads—you must know which channels are producing tours, deposits, and move-ins.
  3. Identify any gaps. What don’t you have in your marketing stack? For example, if you haven’t launched a new version of your website in three years, you probably need a new one or a significant refresh at the very least.
  4. From there, reallocate your budget accordingly. Put more dollars toward what’s delivering the most tours, deposits, and move-ins.

Four steps might sound too good to be true, but remember what marketing is all about. It’s supposed to bring in leads with the best probability of turning into sales. Or, in our industry jargon, senior living marketing should deliver the leads that have the best chance of turning into move-ins.

You use various marketing channels—and campaigns within those channels—to attract those leads. Some channels and campaigns inevitably work better than others (and this can and will change over time). Your job is to know what’s working best year-to-year and to put more of your marketing budget toward those channels and campaigns.

It’s not rocket science, but that doesn’t mean this four-step process doesn’t have challenges, which brings us to our next point.

The biggest challenge marketers face when developing a budget (and how to overcome it)

The most challenging part usually involves the collection and interpretation of data. You must have accurate data to make an informed decision.

The issue: Too often, a lack of bidirectional visibility exists between sales and marketing regarding data and analytics.

If your martech platform isn’t connected bilaterally to your senior living CRM, you’ll end up with two systems that are blind to each other. One system will house initial source attribution (and possibly prospect behavior before people convert, depending on how sophisticated your system is). But once the leads are handed over to the sales team, the marketing team will be out of the loop because all data collected moving forward will be housed within the CRM.

Suppose you’re struggling with these marketing vulnerabilities. In that case, the best thing you can do for yourself, your team, and your overall marketing efforts is to choose a CRM with a related marketing automation platform that’s capturing social, paid, organic, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), event registrations, and so forth. This centralized marketing portal should allow you to create custom dashboard reports that you can easily filter by location, portfolio, region, and investor group.

If you don’t have this ability and you’re simply rolling up everything into global numbers, you’ll lack the business intelligence to make informed decisions. You’ll also need to go to each channel individually and manually export data. For example, you’ll need to go into GA4 to get organic data. Then, you must go into your Google Ads account to get details about spend, clicks, conversion rates, and cost per lead. From there, you go into each social media platform—and so on and so on.

This can take a lot of time, depending on the number of channels you use, the number of campaigns you run in any given year, and the number of properties in your portfolio. You’re bound to miss critical data points somewhere along the way simply because there’s too much data for one person to reasonably monitor and manage on their own.

Another issue marketers can face is this: They might have a martech platform bilaterally connected to the CRM, but one or both systems haven’t been set up correctly. Hint: We can help you determine the systems and integrations you need. We can also help you set them up to capture the right data at the right time and produce dynamic custom dashboards with real-time insights.

Budget presentation tips

Keep it simple with PowerPoint. Create slides that walk stakeholders and decision-makers through the key points:

  • This was last year’s budget.
  • These are the channels we invested in.
  • Here’s the number of contacts, tours, and move-ins each channel generated.
  • Here’s the recommended budget for next year—and how we’ll allocate it. (You could break it down into what you’d do if you use the same budget numbers vs. what you’d do if you had more budget.)

Be prepared to justify your recommendations. The slides themselves can present the visuals.

Remember, at the end of the day, budget time is all about negotiations. If you go in with your must-haves vs. your nice-to-haves, you’ll know what you must fight for… and what you can walk away from if necessary.

Is budget season giving you a headache? Get in touch

If you want to discuss how to approach your senior living marketing budget, schedule a complimentary 30-minute session with our CEO, Debbie Howard. She’ll be happy to review your data and help interpret it.

ChatGPT for Senior Living Marketing

ChatGPT: What to Know for Senior Living Marketing

You’ve probably heard people buzzing about ChatGPT. Its emergence has dominated headlines (it’s the fastest-growing app of all time), spurred countless debates, and worried everyone from teachers to writers to editors to ethicists to conspiracy theorists.

But what exactly is ChatGPT? And how can it be used to support your senior living marketing efforts?

Below, we’re going to answer those questions and more:

  • What is ChatGPT?
  • What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?
  • Are there any issues with ChatGPT-generated content?
  • Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing?

Let’s get to it.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a free artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. It was released in November 2022 by OpenAI. ChatGPT stands for “Chat-based Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” which is a mouthful.

Also, what the heck does that even mean?

Simply put, ChatGPT delivers text-based responses to your “prompts.” A prompt is a question or a request, such as “Write a 600-word blog post about the benefits of senior living.” ChatGPT produces its responses astonishingly fast—and the responses sound remarkably human.

ChatGPT is “trained” on massive amounts of text data. From this data, it has learned how to mimic human conversations.

It’s worth mentioning that ChatGPT isn’t the only AI game in town. Here’s a list of 30 ChatGPT alternatives (free and paid). We’re focusing on ChatGPT because everyone is talking about it.

What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?

You can prompt ChatGPT to create various content, like a well-reasoned essay about Romeo & Juliet, a poem on first love, or an explanation of the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

See the screenshot below, which includes our prompt and ChatGPT’s response.

ChatGPT definition of Veterans benefit

ChatGPT wrote the above in a matter of seconds.

Impressive, right? Well, yes and no.

The above might sound convincing, but ChatGPT’s answer is outdated. The 2023 rate for a surviving spouse is now $1,432, not $1,244. The other numbers are also incorrect.

The above example highlights two of the most significant issues with ChatGPT to date:

  • ChatGPT is “trained” only through 2021.
  • ChatGPT makes LOTs of mistakes.

ChatGPT got the details wrong about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit because of its training—it has no “knowledge” of anything after 2021, so it doesn’t know about the updated rates for 2023.

But here’s the thing: ChatGPT also makes plenty of mistakes on things it should know.

Many people have written about this issue. Here are some excellent articles to check out if you want to dive deeper.

Are there any other issues with ChatGPT-generated content?

Yes! If the lack of accuracy isn’t enough to give you pause, then the following issues might:

  • ChatGPT has trouble producing long content. It can lose the “thread” of a discussion once it hits 800 or so words.
  • ChatGPT content often sounds stilted. It’s trying to mimic humans, but it’s not human. While the content is grammatically correct, it can still sound wooden. (And good luck trying to get it to capture your brand voice.)
  • ChatGPT-generated content could have serious SEO implications. We’ll address this in a subsequent blog post, but if you use ChatGPT to create tons of content to manipulate your site’s rankings in Google, we have two words for you: keyword stuffing. (In other words, Google doesn’t like being manipulated, and it’s only a matter of time before it updates its algorithm accordingly.)

Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing efforts, like content creation?

ChatGPT shouldn’t replace your current process for creating high-quality, original, long-form content. The issues with originality, accuracy, tone, and potential SEO implications outweigh any benefits.

But ChatGPT does have potential in other areas:

Use it for brainstorming.

Brainstorming might be the best use for ChatGPT in senior living marketing. Give ChatGPT a keyword phrase and ask it to brainstorm ten potential blog post titles. Then, choose the title you like best and hand it off to a writer.

Below is a screenshot of this idea in action.

ChatGPT blog title brainstorm Vet Benefit

Use it to create outlines.

A keyword-rich blog title and solid outline can help make a writer’s job go much faster. Having ChatGPT do the heavy lifting with the outline is another smart way to use this tool.

See the screenshot below. You’d still want to review and revise the outline. But ChatGPT typically delivers a solid structure that you or your writer could easily work with.

ChatGPT blog outline

Use it for short-form content (but always review and revise).

We asked ChatGPT to write five calls to action for a guide about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Some might work better as social media posts. All would need to be revised for style and voice.


Bottom line: Be careful how you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing.

ChatGPT is one tool, not the only tool. While it might be helpful with brainstorming and generating outlines, you shouldn’t use it to generate long-form content. Stick to humans for that.

Need help developing an effective content strategy for your senior living community? Get in touch, and let’s chat!

6 tips for aligning your senior living sales and marketing teams

6 Tips for Aligning Your Senior Living Sales & Marketing Teams

The most successful senior living communities encourage collaboration among their marketing and sales teams. These communities understand that the ultimate goal—boosting occupancy—is the same for both “sides” and that working together, instead of against each other, reaps much bigger rewards. 

So how can you foster a more collaborative environment between your senior living sales and marketing cohorts—especially if the teams have been functioning primarily in their own silos? Below, you’ll find six strategies. 

1. Make sure the marketing and sales directors embrace the idea of aligning their departments.

Employees take their cues from their managers and directors. Creating a collaborative culture requires everyone’s effort and support. The managers of both departments—marketing and sales—need to work well together. This will serve as an example to the team. 

What you don’t want: A sales or marketing director who says they support aligning the departments, but behind closed doors, they undermine the initiatives by doing their own thing or making divisive comments. 

2. Bring everyone together for team-building events.

Effective collaboration takes practice and regular “doing.” Think of it like a muscle that you need to regularly exercise for ultimate fitness.  

Now, we get it. Team-building events can sometimes conjure eye-rolls from participants. Don’t schedule events to simply check off a box and say you’ve done them. Get feedback from your teams about what types of events they’d enjoy doing (or at least, that wouldn’t result in groans). Different people will crave different things. A ropes course might work great for one team while another team might dread such an event.  

And keep in mind that you don’t need to always make team-building events so formal—or a big-time commitment. Maybe in the summer, you bring everyone off-campus to the local miniature golf course for a round and ice cream. Or maybe you hire an ice cream truck to stop by one summer afternoon and everyone gets a free treat and enjoys a break together. 

If your teams aren’t in the same location or if you’ve stayed with a virtual set-up for marketing post-pandemic, you can still do virtual events. Every other week, have a virtual watercooler Zoom call for 25 minutes where you’re not allowed to discuss work—but all other topics are OK, like what people are watching on Netflix. 

3. Encourage people to get together outside the office.

It’s not always easy for camaraderie to take place while under management’s watchful gaze. Encourage events outside the office to mix things up—think a bowling league, a softball league, or simply Friday lunches at a local eatery. 

When putting together teams for things like softball, don’t make it sales vs. marketing. Create teams that include people from both sides since that’s the whole point. You could also ask for volunteers from each department to co-manage something specific, like a holiday food drive or an Earth Day event.  

4. Provide training for everyone.

Sales departments often complain that they don’t have enough leads—or the leads aren’t good enough. Marketing often complains that they’re delivering all these leads to the sales department, but the sales folks drop the ball on closing them.  

Does that sound at all familiar? 

To combat these common complaints, the sales and marketing directors need to recalibrate the conversations happening within their own departments. Sales teams need to learn about (and embrace) the differences between marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Sales departments shouldn’t be trying to work all leads—only SQLs. 

Marketing, on the other hand, should be focused on nurturing the MQLs. But marketing also needs to pay attention to feedback from sales about the quality of the SQLs.  

Everyone is ultimately working toward the same goal: more move-ins and higher occupancy. Not everyone has to agree on approaches 100% of the time. But people should be willing to work together, share ideas, listen to feedback, and adjust accordingly based on the feedback. 

This sort of collaboration happens from the top down. The sales and marketing directors need to set the tone and example—and they might need some help getting there. Provide training. And/or work with an outside agency (like ours) that has experience in both marketing and sales—and can help bridge the gap. 

5. Reward and reinforce positive behaviors. Redirect adversarial behavior (and intervene when necessary).

When directors/managers see strong alignment between their teams, they should point it out. “Hey, Mark and Cyndy worked really well on developing a lead nurturing campaign with a delivery cadence that really warmed up these cool leads and poised them for a sales interaction.”  

You’ll also want to monitor adversarial behavior and redirect negative conversations whenever possible. And, of course, you need to nip adversarial behavior in the bud. Finger-pointing or phrases like, “That’s their job, not mine” will need to be addressed. And toxic language or behaviors shouldn’t be tolerated at all.  

Again, you don’t want to call people out in front of large groups. But if you have someone on the team who doesn’t want to play ball with the other side, you need to intervene.  

If the person ultimately refuses to get on the collaboration train, you might need to make a tough decision about the person’s future with your team.  

This can be hard, especially on the sales side if there’s a person who is a good closer. You need to ask yourself at what cost is it worth keeping a good closer if their ways create an uncomfortable, antagonistic, or toxic environment.  

Would it be worth losing them now and seeing a dip in move-ins temporarily while you promote from within and/or hire someone who’ll be a better fit and embrace the “smarketing” vision? The answer is yes. Over the long term, numbers will rebound—and probably surpass where they were with the uncooperative person.  

6. Have a standing meeting on the calendar—but make sure it’s useful.

Coordinating efforts requires communication. A weekly check-in call or meeting is a good idea, provided there’s a clear agenda, a strict time limit, and that the meeting is actually useful. Be willing to cancel the meeting if no one has anything to discuss. End meetings early whenever possible. Stick to agendas that move projects forward and that provide actionable insights and tasks. 

For this meeting, talk only about things that matter to both sides. For example, the sales team isn’t going to care about the edits a marketing coordinator needs from a writer for the latest white paper. This should be a separate meeting. But the sales team will be interested in hearing about the latest results of the paid campaign. 

Finally, end meetings with positive news. For example, a campaign that benefited both sides and that both teams worked well on together. Make sure you celebrate successes that highlight collaborative efforts.  

BONUS: Collaborate with an agency that understands senior living marketing and sales. 

That would be us! We can help bridge the gap and bring people together. Get in touch and let’s chat. 

Predictions for senior living

10 Predictions for Senior Living Marketing Over the Next Decade

We’re in the midst of celebrating our 10th anniversary. You can catch up on some of our other anniversary-inspired posts below: 

For this post, we’ve rounded up 10 predictions in senior living marketing for the next 10 years. Some of the ideas are bigger and dreamier than others. But our team believes all have merit—and could very well happen in some fashion over the next decade or just beyond. 

1. Boomer marketing will need to be segmented.

We’ve been reminding clients about this, but not enough communities are embracing the idea that Boomers should be segmented into two distinct groups: Boomers 1 and Boomers 2 

The youngest Boomers are 58, and the oldest Boomers are 76. That’s a span of nearly two decades. What a 60-year-old Boomer wants will be vastly different from someone who’s approaching 80. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Make sure you have plenty of engaging content that speaks to both groups—and that you have an effective way to score and segment leads in your marketing automation so that you can successfully send the right message to the right Boomer at the right time. 

2. Climate change will continue to enter the conversation.

From operations and infrastructure standpoints, senior living communities will need to address the climate crisis since things like more powerful hurricanes and threats of fires and floods will affect the buildings themselves. There will also be a need for clearer emergency protocols and preventive measures.  

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: People buying into senior living are going to increasingly care about this issue—and how it could affect their living situation. In fact, as this article reports, Boomers care about climate change as much as their younger counterparts—if not more. Communities that want to stay ahead of the curve should already be discussing messaging around green initiatives. (And urging the C-suite to start initiatives if they haven’t already.) 

3. Offering plenty of variety and interesting options will matter more—much more.

The generations coming up—think Boomers and Gen X—have grown accustomed to ordering exactly what they want, when they want it. They’re not going to accept a cookie-cutter lifestyle that has few choices or limitations on customizing features and amenities.  

This article from The New York Times quotes one industry expert as saying, “We have to design communities that cater to what boomers want, and that’s a difference between senior housing today and housing developed 10 or 20 years ago.” 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: While this trend will affect operations and infrastructure, it will also be something marketing and sales teams will need to think about, too. Because you’re going to need to quickly convey with makes your community different from all the others—and yet also show how people can customize it to their liking. 

4. More transparency will be needed on senior living websites around pricing.

Today, most communities shy away from listing prices on their senior living websites. (Or if they do, it’s either hard to find or you have to surrender your info to get it. 

We predict that over the next decade communities will need to find a way to be transparent about pricing so that no one wastes their time—prospects and community staff members alike. 

Why do we predict this shift? The New York Times notes that there’s going to continue to be increasing separation between luxury senior living and more affordable options. “Specialized housing for older Americans has been around for decades. But shifting demographics are forcing the industry to diversify more rapidly across rates and services, yielding increasingly lavish residences for upper-income Americans as well as a growing number of affordable housing models.”  

The article discusses some interesting experiments happening presently, like one community requiring residents to volunteer 10 hours a month in the community to help take the load off staff and to feel more connected to the community. We predict more interesting experiments like that, which brings us to some of our wilder predictions below.  

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Teams will need to experiment with language and messaging around pricing discussions. This will influence so many aspects of marketing from organic search to paid ads to how you approach pricing on the website. For example, you might want to create interactive surveys that help website visitors easily self-identify whether they can afford the models that you’re specifically selling.  

5. Print ads and direct mail will go away. 

As we enter the next decade (the 2030s), we do predict that direct mail and print ads (and other print materials) will no longer be viable marketing channels. (Unless something unforeseen happens. We reserve the right to revise this prediction!)  

Print and direct mailers still work with the Silent and Greatest Generations—and older Boomers. But think of the 58-year-olds you know today. How many of them regularly read print publications? 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Closely monitor your results with direct mailers and print ads. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug once the numbers are telling you these vehicles aren’t delivering ROI. Continue to monitor what does work with younger Boomers and Gen X (and don’t be afraid to experiment). 

6. Expect to see more offers of senior living “test drives” or “free trials.”

Hey, it works for Netflix, right? And sleep trials work for mattress companies. Why shouldn’t the concept of a free trial work for senior living communities? Offering people the chance to test drive accommodations for two-week stretches might be the way to seal the deal.  

After all, most communities that offer free lunches often see increased interest and higher move-in conversions from those who attend those lunches than those who don’t. So think of this idea as simply an extension of a turbocharged free lunch. 

And no, it might not work for every senior living lifestyle (like memory care) or price point. But for AL and especially IL? Why not?   

Now, we know there will be some kinks to work out, like making sure people don’t use the two-week trial as free lodging for a vacation. You wouldn’t offer it to just anyone, either. But for truly sales-qualified leads—we’re talking serious folks who are considering your community vs. a competitor . . . why not offer a no-obligation trial for a week or two so they can experience what life would be like? 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Our point in bringing this idea up . . . it’s going to be on marketing and sales teams to come up with some of these big, hairy, scary ideas and present them to the C-suite. And if you really want one of your wildcard ideas to happen, know that everyone on the marketing and sales teams might need to step up and participate. (Nothing is worse than someone coming up with a great idea, only for that person to walk away, because it’s on someone else to execute the great idea.) 

7. Expect to see more flexible options for how, when, and where people can live. (Especially in the luxury active lifestyle space.)

Imagine a senior living community with locations in the Northeast, the South, and the West. And now imagine, as a resident, you get to split time between all three communities. Perhaps you spend your summers living in the community outside of Boston, your autumns in California, and your winters in Florida.  

Who knows? Maybe a sister community will pop up in Paris, and every other spring, you get to live there. We predict more creativity and options like this, especially for the luxury active adult lifestyle. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: So much of what we’ve been discussing in this article should sound exciting to anyone who works in marketing and sales. Because historically, one of the biggest challenges has been that senior living marketing and sales teams are all essentially selling the same thing—the same floor models, the same amenities, and the same concepts (more or less). But in order to be competitive and to cater to the younger generation’s more discerning tastes, we’re going to see more differentiators—which will make it easier and more fun to market. 

8. Expect to see even grander scenarios in the ultra-luxury senior living space.

The Times article we’ve been linking to throughout this blog post discusses the growing income disparity between luxury senior living and more moderate options. And we think this disparity will continue to grow.  

As a result, we predict some “ultra” high-end luxury communities will come into existence, ones that offer customization to the Nth degree, amazing concierge services modeled after 5-star hotels, and lots of built-in perks. Senior living will become a senior living experience—with many options for what that experience can look like. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: The behind-the-scenes teams will look very different, too. The ultra-luxury model will attract people with luxury marketing backgrounds from other industries, like hotels, rather than healthcare. (This isn’t a judgment, either! Different senior living models will need very different teams supporting them.)  

9. Death, dying, grief . . . these subjects will emerge from the shadows.

Some of the writers on our team—including this writer who authors most of SLS’s blog content—have often wondered why we don’t talk about death, dying, bereavement, and grieving more in senior living materials.  

No, it’s not a sexy topic. Or a cheery one. But it’s necessary. People residing in senior living communities—even those on the younger end—deal with death (and long-term illnesses) regularly. Think parents, spouses, and friends. Maybe even adult children.  

As this article in Psychology Today says, “We need, as a society, to acknowledge this grieving process; to talk openly to people living with a terminal condition and be kind and available. When we shun those experiencing death or loss we shut ourselves off from our more compassionate, empathetic selves and reduce our capacity to relate to those in distress.” 

Now, we’re not suggesting that a community’s marketing materials will ever lead with the subject of death and dying. But as younger Boomers and Generation X come of age, we predict an easing up on the unspoken rule that talking about death is verboten. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Writing about death in a way that people can embrace will require nuance and planning—it’s not something a writer can put together quickly. The best thing teams can do now is learn what their personas would like to know and hear about this topic. Talk to current residents. Talk to families. Talk to families who’ve recently lost a loved one who had been living in your community. What would they have wanted to be done differently? What would they have wanted to know? What materials would have helped? 

10. Another pandemic? Aliens? Something else?

Back when we founded our agency in 2012, we never would have predicted the world we’re in today—a world that’s still emerging from a two-year pandemic and that’s publicly acknowledging and investigating UFOs 

Trying to predict what the world will be like ten years from now might seem like a foolish endeavor. But it’s important to dream—and to anticipate things large and small, good and bad. We do think we’ll continue to see some big marketing shifts in general—and within senior living marketing specifically. 

Work with us now and worry less about the future tomorrow. 

Making predictions can be fun—and exhausting if you start fixating and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. Senior living marketing can be exhausting enough on its own. Let us help. You can offload many tasks to us, and we’ll always keep you informed about the latest marketing trends we’re seeing—and if any make sense for your community.  

10 interesting facts

Senior Living SMART: 10 Interesting Facts About Our Marketing Journey

Senior Living SMART is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Through the end of the year, we’re going off script each month and sharing a bonus blog post in addition to our regular marketing-related content. (Check out last month’s installment: 10 Ways Senior Living Marketing Has Changed in 10 Years.)

Since September is our actual anniversary month, we thought it would be fun to share 10 interesting facts about our marketing journey.

1. The “SMART” in our name “Senior Living SMART” isn’t us shouting about how intelligent we are.

It’s an acronym, and it stands for the following:

Strategy. Marketing. Analytics. Resources. Technology.

All five elements are at the core of what we do every day for our clients. (More on this below.)

2. We haven’t always focused on senior living marketing.

In fact, during our initial launch in 2012, we were focused on being a go-to resource for all the various departments within senior living communities. To accomplish this, we curated a marketplace filled with vendors that we carefully vetted. We also offered tons of free and paid resources.

From the beginning, our resources always reflected and reinforced the SMART acronym. And while our founders—Deborah Howard and Andréa Catizone—have excellent insights into every department, their true expertise is in senior living marketing and sales since that’s where they’ve spent the bulk of their careers.

So back in 2012, it was no surprise that so many of the requests that Debbie and Andréa fielded from customers revolved around marketing and sales topics: Can you help us build a senior living website? How do we generate leads from our website? Can you help us create downloadable content? How can we improve conversions?

It quickly became clear that Senior Living SMART should sharpen its focus instead of trying to be everything to everybody. And so, we evolved into the Senior Living SMART we are today: a nimble digital marketing agency that focuses on helping senior living communities attract the right prospects and convert those prospects into move-ins, all while following industry best practices.

3. But we didn’t adjust our name because we didn’t have to.

The SMART acronym was even more apt once we focused only on senior living marketing and sales:

  • Strategy. Strategy is at the heart and soul of what we do. Everything starts with a sound marketing strategy.
  • Marketing. Marketing has evolved dramatically over the last two decades. And even more so for senior living communities over the last 10 years since our industry tends to be a late adopter. Digital marketing has created a major shift, and not all community marketing and sales teams have been prepared.
  • Analytics. As the saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. You must have built-in metrics for measuring every marketing campaign.
  • Resources. We remain a popular go-to destination among senior living marketing and sales teams because of all the free content we make available. And we still have a Marketplace with approved vendors, too.
  • Technology. We couldn’t call ourselves digital marketing experts if we didn’t embrace all things digital—and all the technology that supports our digital marketing endeavors. We love teaching senior living marketing and sales teams about different technology, whether it’s HubSpot, a keyword tool, or on-site functionality, like live chat.

4. We’ve doubled in size every year since we started. (Even during the pandemic.)

We have an amazing team and amazing clients, and we’ve consistently grown both since the very beginning.

When the pandemic hit, we didn’t skip a beat, either. Since we’ve always been a virtual agency, our team was already adept at navigating a world that could only happen in virtual spaces like Zoom. So we were able to continue servicing clients. But we also taught senior living communities how to leverage their own virtual technologies during this stressful and chaotic time as well.

5. But despite our success, we are still very much the “shoemaker’s children.” And we’re OK with that!

You’ve probably heard the adage that the shoemaker’s kids are running around barefoot or in old shoes because the shoemaker is too busy taking care of their own customers.

That definitely sounds like us! We don’t have any print brochures. We’ve never run a paid ad. And we don’t have a sales team. What we do have is a great digital presence (which further proves our expertise in all things digital marketing) and excellent relationships with people in the industry.

6. Despite being a digital agency, we still do lots of print work for our clients.

Other digital marketing agencies eschew traditional marketing methods like direct mailers. We say NOT SO FAST. Traditional methods are still effective with older audiences (like Boomers) provided you properly integrate these methods with your overall marketing efforts, including digital.

To date, we have printed 10 million pieces of sales collateral materials, direct mail, and flyers through our Smartstores.

7. But just in case you’re suddenly questioning our digital acumen . . .

We LOVE digital marketing—and all things digital in general. We’re geeks at heart. To wit: Our senior living marketing podcast has over 6500 downloads.

8. There’s one thing that our team members all have in common.

Everyone has pets! We don’t know about you, but we think animal lovers are special people—fun, compassionate, and creative.

9. Our founder and CEO, Deborah Howard, has a fun little-known fact about her below.

Debbie says, “I had a children’s band called KidRock (I wish I had registered/ trademarked the name). We recorded an album and had a cable TV show: Circle Time Singalong.”

10. And our president and COO, Andréa Catizone, has a fun fact in the same vein.

Andréa says, “I was in a made-for-TV movie for PBS when I was 6.”

By the way, all of our team members share similar fun facts about themselves in their bios. Get to know them here.

Bonus fun fact: The success we’ve had over the last decade wouldn’t have been possible without our clients.

A special thank you to all of our clients, current and past, for making us who we are today! And to those who aren’t clients (yet!), but who’d like to be part of the Senior Living SMART family, let’s chat!


10 Ways Senior Living Marketing Has Changed in 10 Years

This year marks our 10th anniversary. For many industries, a decade isn’t a long time. But in the world of marketing where technology can have a major influence on how we do things, ten years is a lot.

Don’t believe us? Check out our list below of 10 ways senior living marketing has changed since 2012.

1. The top senior living referral sources have undergone a dramatic makeover.

In 2012, the top referral sources for senior living included the Yellow Pages, signage (like billboards), and church bulletins. Today, the top referral sources are all digital—think websites, emails, online ads, and social media.

This isn’t surprising given that “everyone” is online these days. And yes, that most certainly includes older adults. The Pew Research Center says that 75% of those 65 and older report being internet users, and 61% of people over 65 own a smartphone.

Most people looking for a product or service—whether it’s a new car or a new home in a senior living community—begin their search online, visiting websites, asking for referrals on social media, and reading online reviews.

2. Senior living marketing teams have embraced inbound marketing.

The concept of inbound marketing was coined in 2005 by HubSpot, but it only started to really take off in 2012. Of course, not all industries adopted it right away. (Cough, senior living marketers, cough.)

Our industry has been notoriously slow to adopt the latest trends. But as we write this blog post in 2022, we can say—with confidence—that the industry, as a whole, now recognizes and values the importance of inbound marketing and having a strong digital presence. (Whether all communities are executing these things properly is another story!)

3. Senior living websites have become interactive experiences.

In 2012, many senior living websites simply served as virtual brochures. Not much thought was put into the buyer’s journey, like how or where they might enter the site or how to motivate them to dig deeper with calls-to-action.

Today’s senior living websites have flipped the script. (Well, the ones built right have!) Websites are now built thoughtfully—and with purpose—using carefully researched keyword phrases and optimized content. Much emphasis is placed on the layout—colors, fonts, font size—and how everything renders across various devices from smartphones to tablets to desktops.

On each website page, the visitor is encouraged to take a meaningful next step—whether that’s reading a different article, downloading a piece of relevant content, or requesting a tour. The user experience is enriched further through other elements like live chat, interactive surveys, and videos.

Bottom line: Today’s senior living websites are built to not only attract the right prospects, but to also keep them coming back thanks to engaging content that aligns with their journey.

4. Senior living sales teams have moved to CRMs.

If you’ve worked in senior living sales long enough, you might remember the days of paper files or Excel spreadsheets. Looking back now, it seems so quaint, doesn’t it?

Change did NOT come easily in this arena—we’re creatures of habit after all. But once sales teams had a chance to get comfortable with the technology, they realized what they’d been missing and how much easier a good senior living CRM could make their lives.

5. Marketing automation is no longer optional.

We’re not going to lie: The biggest challenge we’ve encountered this last decade has been getting senior living marketing and sales teams to use marketing automation. For the most part, this is no longer an issue. Most communities get that it’s impossible to successfully compete in 2022 without some form of automation.

The next challenge—for us—is getting marketing and sales teams to leverage ALL that their marketing automation can do. But that’s a story for another blog post.

6. The social media landscape has expanded—both in terms of platforms and users.

In 2012, Facebook was only eight, Twitter was only six, and Instagram was in its infancy. TikTok wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. In 2012, social media was still a young person’s playground, too.

Now, in 2022, many older adults regularly use social media. In fact, the Pew Research Center says that “presence on social media among Americans 65 and older grew about fourfold since 2010” and “the gap between adults under 30 and adults 65 and older shrank from 71 points to 39 points.” And according to Statista, 82 percent of the population in the United States had a social networking profile in 2021.

The most successful senior living communities today are using platforms like YouTube and Facebook to great effect as well as other platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

7. Traditional marketing has taken a backseat (but still has a place).

Traditional marketing methods—think direct mailers, billboards, flyers, print advertising, radio advertising, and the like—have most definitely taken a backseat to digital marketing methods across all industries.

But many of these methods still have a place in senior living marketing (for now anyway). How’s that? Well, even though we’re starting to market more to Boomers (see #10 below), communities are still attracting people from the Greatest Generation, too. And these folks love their snail mail, newspapers, and radio stations.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next decade. Will direct mail still be a thing in any industry? What about newspapers and magazines? Only time will tell, but we suspect we’ll rely less and less on many of these so-called traditional methods.

8. The senior living sales team is no longer in control of the sales process—the buyer is.

Ten years ago, the community sales team was the “expert.” They had all the answers and resources. They were the “secret keepers,” and prospects had to talk to them or meet with them in person at the community to get all the information they needed to make an informed decision.

Now, prospects expect to get all of the information (like pricing, floor plans, brochures, and so forth) independently without speaking to a salesperson until they are ready to do so. The job of the senior living sales and marketing teams is to enable buyers to get to this point without any friction.

The good news is that by the time prospects are ready for a sales interaction, they have most of the information they need to make a decision. The bad news is that if a community doesn’t provide this information on its website, a competitor or third-party lead aggregator will have the advantage if they do offer this level of transparency.

9. Um, did someone say “pandemic”? (Do we really need to point out the obvious?)

We don’t have to remind you about what happened in 2020 and is still dragging on. The pandemic dramatically changed everyone’s lives, and it had a profound effect on every industry under the sun.

The senior living industry was no exception. The pandemic forced every community to rethink its marketing strategy and tactics. The sales cycle became much longer in most categories (only crisis-driven memory care remained exempt).

Providers that didn’t have a solid digital presence had the most trouble since most in-person sales channels (tours, lunch, events) became useless, quite literally overnight. Everyone had to reimagine the sales process and develop virtual sales experiences (for example, taking static brochures and turning them into digital flipbooks, creating virtual tours, and doing live-streamed events).

Luckily, the industry as a whole responded with aplomb, and sales teams learned that they could still sell despite a pandemic.

10. Boomers have come of age.

Today, we’re on the cusp of one of the biggest shifts. While 2012 was still all about those from the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation, this next decade will be focused on Boomers.

And let’s just say that their wants are quite different from what their grandparents and parents wanted. Boomers demand independence, transparency, and plenty of choices. They want what they want when they want it. This means senior living communities will need to rethink what it means to have someone available 24/7/365 to field questions.

Luckily, we’re living in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI and automation have created an opportunity for prospects to engage with chatbots, surveys, quizzes, and premium content at their convenience—and we suspect this trend will continue to grow over the next decade.

BONUS: We’ve changed too!

In our earliest iteration in 2012, we served as a resource hub for all the various departments within a senior living community. But we quickly realized, based on our founders’ experience, that marketing and sales were our specialties.

Over the last decade, we’ve grown into the virtual marketing agency we are today—one that’s powered by our industry expertise, our team’s passion, and our supportive partners like HubSpot (we’re a Platinum Solutions Partner). Learn more about us. Or better yet—let’s chat!


Senior Living Marketing: Why You Should Highlight New Residents

Your new resident has just moved in, which means the senior living marketing and sales teams can breathe easy since their work with that former prospect is done, right? Not so fast! Your new residents can provide ongoing help with your senior living marketing materials.

How’s that?

Well, think about it. Your newest residents aren’t that far removed from your current prospects. After all, your newest residents were prospects themselves only 30 or 60 days ago. Hearing about new residents’ experiences can help current prospects self-identify more easily.

Bottom line? Don’t forget to highlight NEW residents in your senior living marketing materials. Below, you’ll find three ways. An important caveat, however: In order for this to work, you must truly create an awesome experience for new residents. We’re talking about a red carpet welcome, which we talk about in this blog post.

So make sure your welcome program for new residents is in tip-top shape. Then, move on to these strategies . . .

1. Social media posts.

If you regularly share pics and stories on social media about new residents, you’ll reinforce that your community is thriving and the choice for many older adults. Not a bad message to convey in a low-pressure way, right?

Ideas on what to post:

Share a collage of pics featuring your newest resident—how they’ve decorated their home, how they’re enjoying the food, activities they’re involved in, and so forth.

Share a quote from the resident (along with a pic) on why they chose your community.

Share a before-and-after type of post. “Before Mary moved into The Elmwood, she thought this. After living in her new home for two months, she now thinks this.” The “this” doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, either. It could be something simple, like thinking she’d miss cooking, but discovering she loves being waited on.

BONUS CONTENT: Your new resident likely has family members who are thrilled that their loved one is so happy. Featuring THEM in social media content would also be smart.

How can you learn about which new residents are happiest? Collaborate with the activities team and resident director to get a good sense of the happiest new residents and their family members. (And, of course, make sure you get permission before taking pics and posting quotes.)

2. Videos, videos, videos.

Creating quick videos of residents talking about why they chose your community and their experience so far can be marketing GOLD.

And you don’t need to professionally shoot these videos, either. Use a ring light, your phone, and a lavalier mic along with a great editing app for your phone (we love InShot). Create short videos (30 to 90 seconds) where the new resident answers a question.

Some questions to play around with . . .

⚞ Why’d you choose our community?

⚞ What’s the biggest thing that surprised you—in a good way—about our community after you moved in?

⚞ What’s exceeded your expectations?

⚞ How long did it take you to adjust to your new home?

⚞ What are some of your favorite activities?

⚞ If you could go back in time and talk to yourself about the decision to move into the community, what would you say?

⚞ What advice/thoughts do you have for people who are thinking about moving into our community—but maybe they’re not sure?

If each new resident answers these questions, you can get seven quick videos out of it—videos you can use on social media, your website, and in important bottom-of-the-funnel interactions from sales people. Nothing can motivate a hot prospect more than seeing a new resident talk about how happy they are with their decision.

3. Pay-per-click advertising.

Remember what we said earlier about how prospects have more in common with your newest residents? And how these prospects can much more easily self-identify with new residents and see themselves living in your community as a result?

Capitalize on that!

Create pay-per-click advertising campaigns that are built around a new resident’s happy experience in your community. You could create a specific landing page that highlights the new resident’s story (and includes some of the other pieces you’ve already put together, like pictures and videos).

The call-to-action (CTA) would be “Join us for lunch and see for yourself.”

An even better CTA (provided everyone agrees) would be this: “Stop by for lunch with some of our newest residents to get an honest take on their move into our community.”

Note: Everyone should pay attention to residents who aren’t acclimating well.

Find out the source of their dissatisfaction or frustration. Did something not meet their expectations? This will happen from time to time, but if it’s a consistent refrain, you should revisit marketing and sales materials to see if something is misleading or needs clarification.

On the flip side, did someone take a little longer to acclimate than usual, but NOW they’re happy? That can be a compelling story, too, because of its authenticity and transparency.

Need help developing senior living marketing materials that adequately capture new resident stories?

That’s where we come in! We can help you find the most persuasive nuggets and turn those nuggets into social media posts, videos, PPC ads, and more. Get in touch and let’s brainstorm!

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle: Tips for Marketing & Sales Teams

In a previous blog post, we discussed how senior living leads require many “touches” before buying—and that the sales cycle can be quite lengthy.

In fact, according to a white paper by Enquire Solutions, the sales cycle can range from 107 days (for memory care) to a whopping 400 days (for life plan communities). Assisted living and independent living fall in the middle at 145 days and 203 days, respectively.

Wondering how to shorten the sales cycle—or whether it’s even possible? Here’s our take.

Accept that the sales cycle is long, but don’t use it as an excuse.

Acceptance doesn’t mean giving in. What it does mean is having realistic expectations about your sales forecasts, conversions, and pipeline.

Yes, the sales cycle is long, especially for certain types of senior living, as noted above. But keep in mind that these numbers are averages. Benchmarking is good since it gives everyone a starting point, but that doesn’t mean you and your teams can’t beat the numbers.

Experiment and measure results. Encourage your teams to experiment—with content, with emails, with in-person events, and with different senior living sales strategies. Keep close track of the results. If your team comes up with a marketing program or campaign that shortens the sales cycle, excellent! Do more of that.

Always be ready (and willing) to pivot. Lots of things can influence the sales cycle—many of which are out of your control like inflation, a recession, or a pandemic (or all three at once). Even if you come up with a “winning” program that dramatically shortens the sales cycle, this program might not produce winning results forever (which is precisely why you need to measure and monitor results). Remain nimble.

Remind prospects that “seeing is believing.” We have so many clients who say that the best way to convert people is by having them attend an in-person event that truly demonstrates what it would be like to live in the community. And the most successful in-person events usually involve food, like lunch. Offer those free lunches and see if that helps shorten the sales cycle.

Use lead scoring to segment leads.

Not every lead is ready to buy TODAY. Your job is to differentiate between marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Serve up the SQLs to the sales team since those leads have indicated sales-readiness. MQLs have future sales potential—someday. For now, however, they need nurturing, not pestering.

Segmenting and scoring leads will shorten the sales cycle since the sales team will only be focusing on SQLs rather than every lead that comes across the wire—and they’ll be converting more as a result.

Embrace progressive form fields.

Your website forms can be a treasure trove of information. The more you know about a lead, the better equipped you are to determine where the person is in their buying journey. The challenge, of course, is that no one likes answering a lengthy list of questions on a form.

What’s the solution? Progressive form fields.

As people engage with the content on your site, you can serve up different questions based on the answers they provided on other forms. This will help you better identify true SQLs—and the various subsets in each. For example, an adult child searching on behalf of her mom vs. an older adult searching for herself.

Have a smart strategy for managing third-party leads.

We’ve discussed the problems with third-party leads and lead aggregators. In short, third-party leads are shared among many communities, these leads historically have low conversion rates, and they’re expensive (just to name a few issues).

But we get it: Some sales teams might not be able to let these leads go. If that’s the case, you’re going to need a smart strategy to convert these leads faster using marketing automation technology.

Luckily for you, we’ve created a solution that can help. We call it Speed to the Lead. Thanks to an automated five-step lead nurturing workflow, this solution will help your community respond quickly to third-party leads, deliver brochures immediately, and encourage tour requests.

Always try to connect on a personal level.

People enjoy doing business with people that they like and trust—and that they feel gets them. Yes, it might require a little more effort on the sales rep’s part, but when trying to figure out how to shorten the sales cycle, getting personal could help shave off some days. “Oh, everyone there is so nice and really has gotten to know me . . . maybe this really would be a good move.”

Connecting on a personal level is just that—it’s personal. One-size-fits-all approaches won’t work. Some ways to develop your skills in this area . . .

Get in the habit of offering meaningful tokens/gifts based on what you learned about the prospect during an inquiry. Did you learn they’re religious? Give them a small book of devotionals. Did you discover they’re a Green Bay Packers fan? Give them a pair of Packers socks. Did you discover they love gardening? Gather some clippings from the gardens within your community and deliver the bouquet to their home with a nice note that you’re thinking of them.

Practice active listening. With passive listening, you’re simply going through the motions. Active listening, on the other hand, is just that—it’s active. This essential sales skill shows you’re demonstrating through your own nonverbal gestures and your thoughtful follow-up questions that you’re really paying attention to what the prospect is saying. You take notes—and you revisit those notes. You use those notes to guide and inform the next steps and subsequent interactions. Active listening shows your interest in the prospect as a person first rather than simply a potential sale.

Make sure you connect with all decision-makers—and influencers. This is especially important if adult children are involved. Keep in mind that their worries and concerns will be different from their parents’ concerns.

Need help converting more leads to move-ins?

Get in touch if you’d like fresh eyes on your senior living marketing and sales strategies. We know the industry and what works to attract the right leads, nurture them over time, and convert them to move-ins faster.

Marketing Tips

Senior Living Marketing Tips for Google My Business

In a recent blog post on overlooked marketing opportunities, we mentioned Google My Business. We received some questions and figured we should provide more comprehensive tips for Google My Business specifically.

Let’s get to it!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In early 2022, shortly after we developed this blog post, Google changed the name of Google My Business to Google Business Profile. We’ve kept the article below “as is” since everything still applies. The only thing that’s changed is the name.]

What is Google My Business (GMB) and why should I care?

Since its inception, Google has (amazingly) maintained its dominance of the search engine market. Statista reports that in September of 2021, “online search engine Bing accounted for nearly 7 percent of the global search market, while market leader Google had a market share of 86.64 percent. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s market share was 2.75 percent during that period.”

Any business that doesn’t pay attention to its presence within the Google universe does so at its own peril. And one of the biggest things that influences that presence is your Google My Business listing. Google uses it to inform your company’s entire presence across Google, including all related products from Search to Maps.

Keep in mind, too, that Google is always tweaking its algorithms so that it serves up better results for users. In late 2021, Google rolled out its biggest update to its local search algorithm in five years. The update is called Vicinity, and according to Bright Local, the update is all about targeting proximity as a ranking factor.

Bright Local says, “Although proximity has long been an important signal for local search results, it’s also been the case that businesses can optimize to successfully rank far from their actual business location. Through the Vicinity update, Google now appears to be clamping down on this, which will naturally make local search results more relevant to the user. In terms of the benefit to businesses, this gives them a greater chance to rank well in relevant local searches, as they’ll be competing less with businesses that are further away.”

Google My Business sounds more important to Google than it does to me. Do I really need to pay attention to it?

Short answer: Yes, you should. Think of your Google My Business listing as a second website—one that often gets served up long before anyone would organically land on your main website. Your GMB listing is tied closely to Google’s local search algorithm, which pays attention to a searcher’s physical location. (If you’ve ever done a search in Google and ended your search query with “near me,” like “Indian restaurants near me” or “bowling alleys near me,” you get the idea.)

The Google My Business listing takes up valuable real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), showing up in the right-hand sidebar on desktops and at the top of the results on mobile devices.

Like anything else with search results, what people can scan quickly from your GMB listing will determine whether they dig deeper into your listing or move on to a competitor.

The listing (on both desktop and mobile) will show the nuts and bolts automatically, like the name of your business, a few pics, location info, map info, and reviews. People can click in for a deeper look at more pictures, videos, reviews, and the like. 

An important point: Your GMB listing exists whether you’ve “claimed” it or not. If you don’t claim it, you risk having inaccurate info and a drabby, boring listing. By claiming your listing, you have the opportunity to manage and monitor it—and make it as engaging as possible.

How does having a Google My Business listing help my senior living community?

It can increase overall brand awareness and name recognition. If your listing keeps coming up as people conduct searches on senior living communities in your area (and related searches—more on this in a moment), people will become more familiar with your name and overall brand, even if they don’t click through. Because of the real estate the listing takes up, a person can’t not see it. Sure, they might only give it a cursory glance, but a glance is still a glance—our subconscious minds remain at work. 

Your GMB listing also reinforces brand recognition for people who are already familiar with your name. They might be doing a search on your name—perhaps trying to get an address and phone number. A robust GMB listing will give them those things—but so much more, including reviews, pictures, compelling info about the community, and any recent news or updates (think COVID).

Check out the screenshot below that we pulled from a client’s GMB analytics.

The green area shows the “direct” searchers—people searching on the client’s business name and address.

But the blue shows the “discovery” searches—people searching on a category, product, or service related to seniors and senior living in that area. This high level of discovery is not unusual for Google My Business listings, provided they’re set up properly.

How Customers Search

Bottom line: A good Google My Business Listing can help people discover your business on that all-important first page of Google search results. That’s another psychological aspect at play: Whether right or wrong, people do tend to trust what’s served up on the first page of Google, especially items that are prominently displayed, like GMB listings.

Wow! That sounds great! So all I have to do is “claim” my Google My Business listing and add a few pictures? Or are there some other tips for Google My Business that I should be following?

Remember how we mentioned earlier that your GMB listing is like a second website? Well, just as you optimized your website for search, you need to optimize your Google My Business listing for search as well. And just like you do for your senior living community’s website, you have “on-page” optimization elements as well “off-page” optimization elements to consider.

Tips for Google My Business: On-page elements

The Google My Business interface is extremely user-friendly. Your job is to simply fill out all relevant sections listed in the backend of your GMB account—and to do so clearly and compellingly. The on-page elements refer to items that are customer-facing, meaning folks who land on your listing will see the info you provide.

Sections to pay close attention to:

  • Info section. The “info” section lets you provide all the forward-facing information about your community, like a brief overview, hours, and location info.
  • Pictures. You can—and should—add plenty of pictures. And double-check how they look on desktop and mobile. Follow Google’s guidelines regarding pictures. The recommended resolution is 720 px tall, 720 px wide. The minimum resolution is 250 px tall, 250 px wide.
  • Videos. People LOVE videos. If you have good ones, add them, particularly ones that highlight the lifestyle and vibe within your community. Follow Google’s video guidelines for maximum effect.
  • Reviews. You want to make sure you’re responsive to reviews. Thank people for giving positive reviews. For negative reviews, tread carefully—avoid sounding defensive or dismissive. And don’t repeat the same canned response to negative reviews. Humility can go a long way. So can offering a real person’s name and number to contact on your end. 
  • Questions and answers. If someone takes the time to ask a question, ANSWER IT! First of all, it’s only polite to do so. If one person has the question, we can guarantee many other folks do as well. Answering the question thoughtfully helps demonstrate your community’s responsiveness. And questions can be a great source of intel for you. The questions could inspire a blog post or info you need to add to the website.
  • Ongoing updates: You can post updates, just like you do on social media. So post a link to a blog, a premium offer, etc. Keep it fresh and share items regularly.

Accessibility attributes. This is especially important for our industry since it speaks to how accessible your communities are to people in wheelchairs.

Tips for Google My Business: Off-page elements

GMB TipsWhen we say “off-page,” we’re referring to the stuff behind the scenes (people searching won’t see this info). A good example is the category you choose. As Google explains, “Categories describe your business and connect you to customers who search for the products or services you offer.”

Identify a primary category (like assisted living). You can also add additional categories (think keywords) related to your business. See the screenshot from one of our client’s listings that we helped set up.

My senior living community has multiple locations. Can I have multiple Google My Business listings?

YES! Google understands that many businesses, from banks to hotels to senior living communities, have multiple locations and, as a result, need multiple listings. Google provides excellent step-by-step instructions for bulk location management (there are different steps for businesses with fewer than 10 locations vs. those with 10 or more). 

An important caveat: When you have multiple locations to manage, the work you need to do in Google My Business increases—and often by a lot. This is why we recommend working with a senior living marketing agency like ours. We can help you set up, manage, and maintain multiple listings with consistent messaging and accurate info.

Whew! That’s a lot. Where else can I learn about Google My Business?

Honestly, the best place to start is Google—it provides excellent step-by-step instructions if you want to go the DIY route. And, of course, working with an agency partner like Senior Living SMART also makes a whole lot of sense. We can either do it all for you or double-check and make sure everything is fully optimized. Having a second set of eyes never hurts. Get in touch and let’s talk about your senior living community’s presence on Google!

Marketing CTAs

Senior Living Marketing: All About CTAs

When it comes to effective senior living marketing, the little things can make a BIG difference. And that is most certainly true when it comes to calls-to-action or CTAs. Let’s take a deeper look . . . 

What’s a call-to-action (CTA)?

A call-to-action is exactly how it sounds—words that motivate someone to do something specific, like register for a webinar, listen to a podcast, or download a piece of content.

A CTA can be subtle, like a hyperlinked line of text within a longer piece of content. The link leads to the offer; this is known as an anchor text CTA. Using anchor text CTAs in your blog posts, for example, can increase conversion rates by 121%.

CTAs can also be more obvious, like a bright red button that says: REGISTER FOR OUR WEBINAR. (One company found that using red CTA buttons increased its conversion rates by 21%.)

Bottom line: Never underestimate a CTA’s importance. Implementing a thoughtful CTA strategy throughout your website can help convert anonymous website traffic into bonafide leads—and leads into move-ins. 

What are some examples of CTAs in senior living marketing?

Popular CTAs in the senior living industry include the following:

  • Book a Tour
  • Plan a Visit
  • Get in Touch
  • Request Pricing
  • Download Floorplans
  • Chat with a Live Agent
  • Get Our Free Guide 
  • Sign Up for Our Newsletter

But honestly, the sky’s the limit when it comes to CTAs. If there’s an action you want a person to take, you can create a specific CTA to urge them to do exactly that.

By the way, using first-person phrasing in CTAs has been shown to increase conversions. Using some of the examples from above, we’d recommend rewriting and testing some of these:

  • Yes! I want to book a tour.
  • Yes! I want to plan a visit.
  • Please send me pricing!
  • Yes, I’d like to view floorplans.

Are there any best practices when it comes to creating CTAs for senior living marketing?

Always remember your audience and put yourself in their shoes. You’re either talking to older adults who are investigating senior living options for any number of reasons (both happy and sad ones). Or you’re talking to adult children (or other family members) seeking info on behalf of their older loved ones.

For senior living marketing, the best CTAs will be . . . 

  • Clear, not coy. Save playful copy for the content itself rather than the CTA. That said, “clear” doesn’t mean “cold.” The tone should reflect the overall tone of your senior living website and other marketing materials. You’ll be using only a handful of words, usually no more than five. Make every single one count.
  • Easy to read. Even if you use an anchor text CTA, make sure the hyperlink is obvious. Remember, you’re often dealing with aging eyes, so you want a clear contrast between the font color and hyperlink color. With image CTAs, like buttons, the words within any graphics should also be easy to read.
  • Accurate. Meaning that when someone clicks, they are led to a page that will make sense to them. For example, if someone clicks on “Book a Tour,” but they’re brought to your site’s main Contact page, they might feel a disconnect. Instead, the “Book a Tour” CTA should lead to a dedicated landing page for booking tours. On it, you’d have a short form to schedule a tour AND information about what to expect on a tour, like how long tours last, where people should go for the tour, current policies about masks, and so forth.
  • Used thoughtfully throughout the site (and other marketing materials). Be intentional with your CTA placement. Look at high-trafficked pages on your site and ask yourself: “Where’s the most logical place for people to go next?” Create a CTA that then leads people to that next logical place. CTAs aren’t just for your website, either. Think about emails. Think about digital ads. Think about social media posts. 

How do you determine if your CTAs are working hard enough in your senior living marketing? (And how can you make them work harder?)

The worst thing you can do with a CTA is set it and forget it. Like any other marketing tactic or campaign, you need to review results and adjust accordingly. Follow these tips.

  • Know what you’re measuring. 

Make sure you understand the difference between click-through rate (of the call-to-action button itself) and conversion rate on the page you send people to.

For example, let’s say you have a CTA button that says, “Get our guide on senior living financing,” and it has a high click-through rate (CTR). But once people land on the page with the form to download the guide, they bounce away quickly, resulting in a low landing page conversion rate. 

It’s easy to think the problem is the landing page—and that might very well be true. But you’ll want to take an objective look at the CTA as well. And vice versa: If a CTA button doesn’t have a high click-through-rate, but for those who DO click, they convert on the landing page . . . you need to take a hard look at both and figure out where the friction or disconnect is.

  • Conduct A/B testing. (Also known as split tests.)

The key with A/B testing is to test only one change at a time. So, for example, maybe one CTA button is red and the other is blue. If more people click the red button, then you can (likely) deem red the winner. From there, you can conduct another test. Perhaps you change the verbiage: “Download our guide” to “Yes! I want the guide.” Read HubSpot’s tutorial on how to do A/B testing.

  • Experiment with smart or dynamic CTAs. 

Smart or dynamic CTAs are personalized to the person visiting the site. The CTA might use a person’s first name. (HubSpot reports that personalized CTAs perform 202% better than basic CTAs.) Or the smart CTA workflow might deliver certain calls-to-action based on info a person provided elsewhere (like a form) or the path they’re taking through the site.

Still having issues with CTAs in your senior living marketing? Let us help.

If you’re not getting the results you want, seek advice from an agency that understands the ins and outs of CTAs. At Senior Living SMART, we know digital marketing and senior living. Get in touch and let’s chat about CTAs. (And that right there is an example of one!)