Posts

rocket ship shooting past hot air balloons representing custom websites standing out from and exceeding competition's templated websites

Senior Living Websites: Why You Should Avoid Templates

Opting for a templated senior living website (also called “websites in a box”) might be hard to resist. Promises of rock-bottom prices and so-called “ease of use” can lure people in. But like so many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s why you should avoid templates for your senior living website.

1. Little to no flexibility.

A templated site doesn’t allow much flexibility. For example, if a content block only allows 50 words, but you need 300 words to effectively communicate your message, you’ll probably be out of luck. That is, unless you pay someone to customize the page, which can get pricy fast (not to mention cumbersome).

Bottom line: You should have control over how much content you want on a page—and where you want to place it. Same with imagery and other design elements.

2. Problematic backends.

With cheap website templates, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. Templates are famous for having too much bloated code beneath the surface, which can make doing updates or scaling of any kind a big hassle.

Plus, poorly coded sites tend to break easily, resulting in frustrations for site owners and site visitors. Remember: Your visitors are your prospective buyers! You want them to have a good experience on your website. The only thing more frustrating than owning a website that constantly breaks is trying to navigate a shoddily built site with lots of broken or dysfunctional bits.

Bottom line: Custom senior living websites require a thoughtful approach. This thoughtful approach extends to the coding and backend development work.

3. Too similar to your competitors’ sites.

Companies that produce so-called budget-friendly website templates will often target specific industries. This makes perfect sense for their business model. They create templates that (attempt to) check off all the boxes for a particular industry. They do this so that they can sell their templates across the industry. The problem for you is that your site might end up looking like all the other senior living websites that use the same template.

Bottom line: The senior living industry already suffers from differentiation issues. After all, most communities essentially sell the same thing. A custom website offers an excellent opportunity to differentiate your community from the rest. Don’t forget most people begin their search online. If you want your site to truly stand out and tell your brand’s story, you need to invest in a custom senior living website that does exactly that.

4. Too generic.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. In addition to being too similar to other senior living websites, templates also have a tendency to feel too generic. After all, the template is designed to satisfy “everyone.” The problem with this approach is the template will feel incredibly safe, boring, and generic.

Bottom line: Prospects aren’t going to visit your templated website and say, “UGH. This is so generic.” But the FEELING will be there, like an undercurrent. Remember: Subliminal messages can be extremely powerful. A custom site will enable you to tell your brand’s unique story.

5. Not typically built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.

Many templates will claim to be optimized for search. And some might be—to a certain extent. But senior living SEO is a process, not a “thing” you set up once and forget about. Plus, so many different elements influence your SEO process—buyer personas, the prospect journey, and your competitors’ approach to keywords (just to name a few items). A templated website doesn’t take all those things into consideration—only real humans thinking through the process can truly optimize a site.

Bottom line: Why bother having a website unless it can effectively compete in Google by attracting targeted traffic? A custom SEO strategy is essential.

6. Little to no reliable customer service.

Who do you call when something inevitably goes wrong or you need help adding a page or making an update? Sure, there might be a 1-800 number. But will the person you reach know the ins and outs of your site, your goals, and the senior living industry? Probably not.

Bottom line: Work with a web developer or agency partner who takes the time to understand your business. They will provide a better finished product and better customer service.

7. More expensive in the end.

Website templates can work for certain businesses, but senior living communities are not one of them. We guarantee that the “awesome deal” you got will cost you more in the long run—particularly when it comes to lost revenue due to people being unable to discover your site through search. Or worse: They find your site, but it doesn’t engage them, so they navigate away.

Bottom line: Yes, you’ll pay more for a custom website up front, but the ROI it delivers over the long term will be worth it.

All of that said, you do need to find the RIGHT custom website builder for your senior living website.

Not all web designers are created equal. That’s often another reason why people might opt for a templated, out-of-the-box design. It feels “easier” to deal with, at least, on the surface. It’s true that finding a reputable web designer and managing the build-out can feel like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be, though. Entrepreneur has five suggestions for finding a good web developer. CIO also has an in-depth list of 10 tips for finding a good web developer.

Another option is to work with a marketing agency (like ours!) that has experience in managing the senior living website design and development process from soup to nuts. The benefits of working with an agency is that you can often get all the other items you need in order to elevate your site—website copywriting, SEO services, marketing automation, etc.

Remember, a great looking website isn’t enough. It needs to attract targeted traffic that it successfully converts into marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Even the best web development firms don’t always have their eyes on conversion strategies and metrics. But a good marketing agency will since it has the ability to see the big picture—and all the elements that influence it.

 

 

Why All Senior Living Websites Need To Have a Blog & Premium Content

The Benefits of a Senior Living Blog & Premium Content

Even as we sit here in 2020, it still amazes us the resistance we occasionally encounter when we tell people they should have a senior living blog and offer premium content (e.g., free guides, infographics, checklists, ebooks, etc.).

So let’s explain our rationale once and for all.

1. Senior living blog posts and premium content provide additional opportunities to attract people to your site and engage them with helpful info.

The more paths you can give people to enter and explore your website, the better. And that’s precisely what premium content and senior living blog posts do.

Remember, most people begin their shopping online these days. A basic 10-page or 20-page senior living website isn’t enough to cover all the information people are searching for. But every blog post you write is considered a website page. Every landing page you have for a free download, like a guide or infographic, is considered a page. And ALL of these pages are excellent ways to help attract site visitors and convert them into leads.

Google also likes a deeper website with lots of helpful info: “If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site.”

2. Blog posts and premium content provide a great opportunity for long-tail keyword optimization.

A long-tail keyword is one that’s hyper specific, but doesn’t have a ton of monthly searches. That’s OK, because the specificity of the search term often indicates someone’s eagerness to buy sooner rather than later. For example, someone searching on “yellow sneakers women wide width size 8” indicates a certain level of interest beyond someone who simply googles “women’s sneakers.”

Armed with a solid list of long-tail keywords relevant to senior living, you can optimize your blog and premium content so that it helps capture the people conducting these long-tail searches.

3. Blog posts and premium content can speak to a specific point in the buyer’s journey—and to different buyers.

Some of your core pages—like your home page—need to speak to everyone. It’s the home page, after all. It needs to be welcoming to everyone who lands on it, regardless of who they are or where they are in their journey.

But a guide that that discusses the differences between independent living and assisted living is speaking to someone earlier in their journey. The one-sheet on your community’s pricing is speaking to buyer who is in the decision making stage.

Having different types of content that speak to different types of buyers at different points in their journey is not only helpful to your prospects, but also your marketing and sales teams. How? Well, marketing and sales will be able to score the leads appropriately based on the types of blog posts and premium content the prospects read and download.

In the example we used earlier, the person learning about independent living and memory care would be a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) since they’re still in the educational stages, while the person who requested pricing would be a sales-qualified lead (SQL).

4. Blogs and premium content allow you the space to dive deep into complex questions.

Think of the most common questions people ask about senior living. Do a quick answer on your FAQs page. But go into a deeper explanation in a blog post or guide.

5. Blogs and premium content give you a great place to show your community’s personality and unique point of view.

In a previous article, we mentioned that one of the challenges facing senior living communities is that most (if not all) are essentially selling the same thing—and your core web pages won’t differ too much from competitors’ web pages.

But with a blog and other premium content, you can begin to differentiate yourself simply by how you talk and the approach you take to common questions (or objections/challenges).

In fact, we’d argue that more and more senior living communities need to get into this “personality-driven” content. Write a blog post on a day in the life of your…activities director, nurse practitioner, head of dining, you get the idea. Include candid photos and real quotes. Or create a guide on “How 3 Real Families Helped Ease Their Parents’ Angst About Moving into Our Community.”

THAT’S the type of content people won’t see anywhere else because it’s unique to your community. It’s honest, and it tackles the stuff that’s in the back of so many people’s heads.

The communities that start producing truly original, heartfelt, honest content are the communities that will succeed the most this decade—and a blog and premium content are a great way to disseminate this sort of material.

Need fresh ideas for your blog or premium content?

Let’s brainstorm together for 30 minutes!

Evaluating Your Senior Living Website: Expert Tips

Evaluating Your Senior Living Website: Expert Tips

Why should you audit your senior living website? First, it’s easy to get too close to something and gloss over problems. Second, your senior living website isn’t static. In order for it to work hard for you, it needs to constantly evolve.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to auditing your site, broken down into relevant sections: the buyer’s journey, the senior living website design, technical stuff, content, and analytics/results.

THE BUYER’S JOURNEY

All of your marketing and sales efforts should begin and end with the buyer’s journey. If you truly understand your buyers—who they are, what they want, where they are in their process—then you’re already way ahead of the game.

So how can you tell if your website effectively serves your buyers during the various points of their journeys?

Many strategies exist from heat mapping (a tool that allows you to see where site visitors focus and click) to user studies to  website’s analytics.

But sometimes the best thing you can do is ask yourself to view the site from different perspectives.

For example, if I’m an adult child who is researching living arrangements for an aging parent with dementia, does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next? Or if I’m a senior who is searching for a next step for my spouse and myself—and I need to make a move this year—does the site make it clear what I need to do/where I should go next?

Your site needs to clearly communicate the right message to different buyers. This includes the various stages the buyer might be in—awareness, consideration, decision. And your site needs to help people self-identify so they know where to click next.

LOOK AND FEEL

Does senior living website design say 2020 or 1999?

Your senior living website design needs to be modern and fresh. It’s surprising how quickly designs can look dated. Even a five-year-old design can feel old.

Does the site render well/correctly on various devices?

You absolutely need a website that’s “responsive.” In other words, it must automatically adjust itself to render properly on devices of various sizes—desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.

Does the site design work for your audience?

Your site talks to an older demographic. But not all modern fonts were developed with aging eyes in mind. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice a modern feel for excellent functionality in today’s design landscape. But you do need to be aware—and, more importantly, make sure your designer is aware—of this specific need.

Does the site design SPEAK to your audience?

More than just colors and font size, you need images that convey and capture your community. Avoid stock photography and invest in pictures depicting real places and real people. Got an awesome bar with a cozy fireplace that residents love using? Make sure you have a photo of that.

Is the website navigation simple and clear?

Organize the navigation in a way that makes sense to site visitors and to the all-mighty Google. Your navigation also needs to adjust for small devices (think hamburger menus on phones). In fact, the navigation in the desktop version of your site will and should look different from the way it displays on phones.

You also need to think beyond top navigation. Website footers are important, too. Why? Because people are used to doing the long scroll on their phones. They expect the information to be relevant from top to bottom. Your footer serves as a good place to call out important items in addition to other basic footer elements, such as privacy and terms of use.

TECHNICAL STUFF

Is your site optimized for search?

Essentially, you need to build your site in a way that’s easy for search engines like Google to find, crawl, and index the various pages on your site. Sounds simple on the surface, but there’s a lot that goes into effective search engine optimization (SEO).

Is the site fast?

Your site must load quickly. You’re already working in a crowded space. Don’t make it any easier for people to write off your community’s website.

Is the site secure?

A secure site is important for two reasons. First, it’s important to your prospective buyer. More and more people know to only click on secure websites (those that begin with https) even if they can’t articulate why. Second, Google now uses https as a ranking signal.

Do the techie add-ons/tools serve the site visitor?

Cool tools abound. But whatever plug-in you add to your site, it needs to help prospects on their journey. Live chat that’s operated by real humans (at least some of the time) is better than a bot you install and forget about.

Do you need to change hosting companies?

This is often an overlooked technical item, which is why we talk about seven signs it’s time to change hosting companies.

CONTENT

Is the messaging clear, concise, and consistent across the entire site?

Again, thinking of your buyers first, you need messaging that speaks directly to them in clear, concise, and consistent language. We wrote a post a few years ago about four important questions your site visitors want answered on senior living websites. These questions are still true today: can I afford it, where will I live, what will I do, and will I be cared for?

Demonstrate through words, images, and downloadable content how you answer these questions and perceived problems.

Does the site have compelling offers for people at various points in their journey?

By “offers,” we mean premium content that people get for free in exchange for giving up some information about themselves—particularly name, email, and where they are in their journey. You need to develop content for every stage of the infamous sales “funnel.”

Does the site have enticing calls-to-action (CTAs)?

CTAs essentially tell people what you want them to do next. That next step, in most cases, won’t be something like “Call now.” Think about the page you’re adding the CTA to. The next step might be reading a blog post with further information or it might be downloading a free guide. And yes, in some cases, it might be “Call now.”

Do you offer plenty of ungated content that demonstrates expertise?

Not everyone is ready to give their name, email, and phone number. Make sure your site has plenty of “ungated” content (meaning no form required) like a blog. And make sure the material isn’t fluffy and superficial.

ANALYTICS & RESULTS

A truly effective senior living website is one the delivers results. For most of us, the all-important benchmark is the lead-to-move-in conversion rate. Of course, other metrics along the way are important, such as page views and bounce rates.

Make sure you have someone on the marketing side and sales side tasked with regularly reviewing analytics and understanding 1) how to interpret them correctly and 2) how to respond to them appropriately.

For example, maybe site traffic has gone up and everyone is cheering. But unless your conversions have gone up as well, what does it matter, right? More traffic is simply that: more. You need targeted traffic that results in increased move-ins. Hint: Here are five marketing metrics everyone on the team should understand.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone.

Your marketing and sales teams are busy as it is. At Senior Living SMART, we provide just the right amount of support your team needs.

Experience the difference. Let’s chat for 30 minutes → No obligation!