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Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: All Things Paid Search with Jay Buerck


Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • How the pandemic has impacted organic and paid search in the senior living space
  • Differences between Google and Bing for paid search
  • How to maximize organic search and, later, complement it with paid search
  • The steps to mapping out an effective SEO strategy
  • First-touch versus retargeting campaigns
  • Paid ads on Facebook versus Google and Bing
  • How to set proper expectations when running ad campaigns

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Jay Buerck, Director of Strategy at Digital Strike, a “search-focused marketing company” catering to businesses of all sizes. Specializing in organic and paid search, the company’s focus is to harness intent-based marketing from search engines.

In this conversation, Debbie and Jay do a deep dive into all things Google Adwords, PPC campaigns, and other strategies to increase a business’s web presence.

With over half of Digital Strike’s business being in the senior living space, Jay references a DialogTech study which found that search volume has been decreasing, up to 40% for certain providers. At the same time, 75% of searches related to finding a community have taken place online, with about 83% of those searches coming from individuals who do not have a specific community in mind.

“It’s vitally important to be online,” says Jay, “and increase your visibility, whether that’s through organic search or through paid search.”

Asked about maximizing organic search, Jay refers to the three pillars of SEO that Digital Strike subscribes to: technical, content, and authority. Anyone can start seeing a boost in their search rankings by optimizing all three of these foundational factors.

Jay also speaks on setting expectations when running ad campaigns, saying that it’s important to look not only at your company’s metrics, but those of others who have run comparable campaigns so that you are not looking at your data in a vacuum. It also helps to engage in conversation with stakeholders and refer to reports that reveal current market trends.

Resources Mentioned:

Digital Strike

Jay Buerck on LinkedIn

senior living marketing strategy, hands with gears

7 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistake #4. Making your strategy too vague.

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

Mistake #5. Making your strategy too long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

senior living advertising paid search 101

Senior Living Advertising: Paid Search 101

When it comes to senior living advertising, we know that it can get overwhelming fast, particularly in the area of paid search. This article aims to provide a high-level overview of what you need to know.

What is paid search anyway?

When someone searches in Google on a phrase like “senior living communities Miami,” ads pop up along with organic results. If the person clicks on an ad, the advertiser is charged for the click. This is called pay-per-click advertising or PPC. 

Sometimes advertisers pay simply for the honor of having the ad appear. These ads are known as CPM, or cost-per 1000 impressions. They’re great for building brand awareness.

Other types of paid search include ads that show up on other websites. Think of the news websites you visit and the ads that appear. Those are typically part of what’s known as Google’s Display Network. 

Remarketing ads also fall under the paid search umbrella. These ads follow you around after you’ve visited a company’s website. So, for example, if someone visits your senior living website and then bounces over to Facebook, you could have a remarketing campaign that serves up ads about your community to that person who just visited your site. (Remarketing is its own specialty.)

All come under the realm of paid search. Paid search is how companies like Google and Facebook make their billions and billions of dollars.

What’s the goal of paid search in senior living advertising?

For pay-per-click, the goal is to drive highly targeted traffic to your senior living website. Let’s go back to our example above. If a Miami-based senior living community focuses its ad buy on a term like “senior living communities Miami,” meaning its ad gets served up when someone searches on that phrase, you can be fairly confident that people clicking on the ad will be highly targeted traffic. 

And by “highly targeted,” we mean website visitors who are keenly interested in what you’re selling—in this case, your senior living community in Miami. 

Other types of paid search, like CPM and ads that run in the Google Display Network, might have different goals, such as building brand awareness. (The idea being if you see an ad enough times, eventually you’re going to recognize the brand’s name, even if it’s happening in a subliminal manner and even if you never click on the ad.)

How much does paid search cost advertisers?

The range varies widely. Bigger brands might spend thousands and thousands of dollars per day on paid search. Smaller brands might spend a few hundred dollars per day. According to WordStream, “The average small business using Google advertising spends between $9,000 and $10,000 per month on their online advertising campaigns. That’s $100,000 to $120,000 per year.”

WordStream also notes: “The average CPC [cost per click] in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 on the search network and $0.58 on the Google Display Network.” And for Facebook, the average CPC is $1.72.

Keep in mind that the above only describes the cost for the actual ad-clicks. It doesn’t include fees you’d pay to someone to write your ads, set up your accounts, test ads, monitor results, and make changes based on those results. That work would be an additional cost.

Can you control how much you spend?

You can control the ad spend itself. That’s part of the appeal with PPC ads. Advertisers can set daily spend limits. Once you hit that limit, your ads are no longer served up.

But those additional costs we outlined above can vary. You should always make sure you’re clear on how much paid search campaigns will cost in total.

How do you get your ads to show up for the right searches?

Paid search is part science, part art. It’s akin to SEO (search engine optimization). You need to know what your target audience is searching on in places like Google (what keyword phrases they’re plugging into the search bar).

From there, you need to know how competitive the keyword phrase is. The more competitive, the more you’ll need to bid at an “ad auction” for that keyword phrase. (WordStream has a good guide to the ad auction here.) 

The goal is to focus on competitive keyword phrases that bring in targeted traffic—but that are also cost-effective in the grand scheme of things.

Knowing the lifetime value of a customer can be critical in determining if the money that you’re spending on paid search is delivering the return on investment (ROI) you’re looking for. 

Using simple math: Let’s say the lifetime value of a customer is $5,000. If you need to spend $1000 on digital ads (on average) to score one lead that turns into a customer, you’ll probably see that as a good ROI. On the flip side, if you find you need to spend $6000 on advertising to score a customer, then it’s not the wisest of investments (at least, in regard to the way your digital ads are currently set up . . . adjusting your ad strategy could improve the ROI).

In addition to choosing the right keywords, what else goes into effective paid search campaigns?

The creative is incredibly important for senior living advertising —the headline, the ad copy, the design elements. Other things can affect how well the ad campaigns perform, like when the ads are served up (time of day). 

This sounds complicated. Can I manage it on my own?

You probably won’t be able to successfully manage paid search on your own unless you have expertise in this field. There are so many moving parts, which is why PPC agencies exist and why PPC specialists have roles inside digital marketing agencies. What we outlined above only begins to scratch the surface. Paid search is an incredibly dense and complex topic—and it’s fluid, too!

What should I look for in a paid search specialist or agency?

Anyone can claim to be a PPC specialist. And plenty of digital marketing agencies might claim they can manage your paid search. But as we’ve mentioned above, paid search is a specialty area. A good rule of thumb: Only collaborate with people or agencies who boast their Google Ads certifications.

As Google notes, “There are six Google Ads certifications available today: Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, Google Ads Video, Shopping ads, Google Ads Apps, and Google Ads Measurement.” 

 

senior living marketing graphic of filling lead funnel

Senior Living Marketing Channels: Which Ones Matter in 2021?

Which senior living marketing channels do the majority of your prospects hang out on today? Let’s keep it high level and discuss the big three umbrellas: Search, Social, and Email.

Senior Living Marketing Channel #1: The Search Is Over.

Who would have thunk when Google was founded in 1998 that it would take over in the way it has? Today, “google” is a verb, and it’s the first thing we all do when we’re searching for anything online, whether it’s a new place to eat, a new car to buy, or a new place to live, like a senior living community.

Sure, how your prospects get to you via search might not always be a straight line. Some searchers might come from review sites. Others from directories. Still others from your Google My Business listing or social media. And, of course, some will land on your website first and explore the above after. But it all starts with search.

We’ve shared stats like these before, but they’re worth sharing again:

Over 6000 searches related to senior living communities are made each hour. [Source: Senior Housing News]

Baby Boomers spend more time online than Millennials, and a staggering 92% of Boomers shop online. [Source: The Shelf]

Boomers have great attention spans and will read your content! 60% of Boomers regularly read blogs, and 70% percent watch video content online. [Source: The Shelf]

Boomers are almost as likely as Millennials to own a tablet. [Source: Marketing Charts]

68% of Boomers own a smartphone. [Source: Pew Research Center]

Plenty of senior living marketing tasks come under the search umbrella, including the following:

Bottom line: Whenever you think about senior living marketing, you should always be thinking about it in relation to search. Optimizing your digital marketing for search should drive everything you do.

Senior Living Marketing Channel #2: Let’s get social.

Social media is an important channel to focus on now—for a few reasons.

First, your prospects are already hanging out on various social platforms. Consider the following breakdown for social media usage among Baby Boomers in the U.S. according to Statista.

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

Second, consider the generations following Boomers—specifically Gen X and older Millennials. They’re even bigger social media users. So investing in social media marketing now makes sense. You’ll capture the Boomers who are active, and you’ll be poised to welcome the next generations as they start thinking about senior living for themselves.

Third, you can be a lot more casual on social media than you can in other places, like your website or Google My Business listing. You can be whimsical. You can even make a typo without anyone walking away thinking you’re unprofessional. Best of all, you can give a real sense of what your community is like.

As we often remind our clients, all senior living communities are selling the same thing. Differentiating yourself from the community down the street or the next town over involves pulling back the curtain and letting people see your community’s true “essence”—those little things that make it different, special, and that might inspire someone to call your community home. Social media is a great way to share your community’s essence.

Senior living marketing activities that fall under the social media umbrella include:

Check out this series we recently completed on senior living social media marketing.

Senior Living Marketing Channel #3: The death of email has been greatly exaggerated.

The adoption of smartphones and tablets is one of the main reasons why email is alive and well—and will remain so for the near future.

This article reports that email is a top three distribution channel for both b2b and b2c marketers, that over 4 billion people around the world used email in 2020, and that email has over a 90% penetration rate among US internet users. The same article notes that email remains the most reliable channel for nurturing and converting marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads to actual customers.

Of course, the key to effective email marketing is making sure you have a smart strategy—and that you have good marketing automation that’ll help you execute that strategy. This involves understanding your prospects’ journeys so you can develop the right content for the right prospect and deliver it to them via email at the right time.

Remember, silo mentalities need not apply.

Don’t approach each senior living marketing channel as if it exists separately from the others. Instead, create one strategy that includes all three channels. Need help? You’ve come to the right place. Our strategic marketing roadmap is an excellent place to start.

Boost your website speed and SEO performance with a website audit from Senior Living SMART

Senior Living Website Audits: 6 Signs You Need One

Most marketing and sales teams understand the benefits of a senior living website audit. The question, however, is this: When should you conduct one? Here are six signs that it’s time.

1. You haven’t done one since . . . ?

Ideally, you should audit your online presence at least once a year. (In addition to assessing your website, you should review your social media, Google My Business listings, and the overall competitive landscape.) If you can’t remember the last time your team has done any of this, schedule an audit ASAP.

2. You suspect something’s broken, but you’re not sure what.

Have you ever driven a car and it’s made a weird sound? You know something is off—or possibly even broken—but you don’t know what it is. The same thing can happen with senior living websites.

Maybe you’ve encountered a broken link on your site, and now you’re suddenly wondering how many other broken links exist. Or maybe a prospect mentions they had trouble submitting a form. Or perhaps you’re seeing a drop in traffic and you’re wondering about SEO.

Schedule an audit! After all, you get your car oil changes, tune-ups, and multi-point inspections, right? You should do the same with your website.

3. People complain about your site.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Maybe you’ve been hearing more complaints, like the site is slow. The opt-in forms don’t work. The navigation is confusing. Or the content is full of typos and just plain unhelpful.

If you’re hearing more complaints in general—either directly from prospects or from review sites—pay attention. Even more so if the complaints consistently gripe about the same issues. All are signs that it’s time to schedule a website audit so you can see what’s what.

4. Your senior living website isn’t delivering the ROI you’re looking for.

Remember, your senior living website should attract targeted traffic and convert that traffic into bona fide leads—leads that ultimately book tours and become move-ins. If your site isn’t consistently doing this, it’s failing you.

How to perform a quick gut check? Ask yourself if any of the following sounds familiar:

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, it’s time for a senior living website audit.

5. You want to refresh or redesign your senior living website, but you don’t know where to begin.

Even if you know where to begin, take a step back and perform an objective audit of where your site is today. An audit is a smart and cost-effective way to get a sense of what’s working, what isn’t, what you should “take with you” (to a new platform, for example), and what you need to do differently.

An audit might even convince you that you don’t need to make as big of a change as you were originally anticipating. Plus, having a baseline will also make it easier to measure how well the refreshed website performs in comparison to the current one.

6. Your team is too close to it.

We’ve all been there where we’re too close to something to see what’s really going on. This is especially true with websites. You stop “seeing” the look and feel or what’s broken (or what’s working).

Or the opposite can happen as well. Because you spend so much time on the site, day in and day out, it’s tempting to think you need to change things up simply because you’re getting bored. The reality might be that the site is fine “as is.” An objective third-party website audit can provide an honest and fair assessment.

 


Concept of business men and women evaluating senior living marketing services

How to Evaluate Senior Living Marketing Services

If you’re thinking of changing marketing agencies or maybe using one for the first time, this article is for you. As you evaluate different agencies and the senior living marketing services they offer, keep the following questions in mind.

1. Does that agency have experience in the senior living industry?

The senior living industry is special. We don’t have to tell you that, right? After all, it’s real estate, healthcare, and lifestyle all rolled into one. An agency with senior living industry experience will have a much shorter learning curve. This saves time—and money.

2. Does the agency offer comprehensive senior living marketing services?

Are you OK juggling multiple agencies? Perhaps one that can handle your website, another for advertising, and still another for print materials? Or would you prefer to have a streamlined experience with one agency that handles everything soup to nuts? If you’d prefer the latter, then make sure you investigate all the services the agency offers. (A good place to start is the agency’s website.)

3. Does the agency only offer marketing services a la carte? Or does it provide strategy as well?

You don’t want to approach senior living marketing services like you do ordering from a fast-food menu. “I’ll take two website pages, a round of lead nurturing emails, and a PPC ad campaign to go.” Before you can think about marketing services, you need a marketing strategy. A good marketing agency will devise a strategy based on your community’s challenges and goals.

Marketing agency business men and women working together in a streamlined fashion to meet project goals

4. Does the agency demonstrate a deep understanding of each marketing service it offers—particularly how it relates to the senior living industry?

Anyone can provide a laundry list of marketing services on their website. You want to work with an agency that has expertise in the services it offers. How to tell? Look for examples of thought leadership.

Does the agency regularly blog about marketing topics? Are the blog posts well written and informative? Does the agency participate in industry webinars and podcasts? Does it offer guides about various marketing topics? Does the agency get quoted by relevant publications, like Senior Housing News?

5. Does the agency outsource any of its senior living marketing services? Or does it handle most stuff in-house?

This is a trick question. It’s not unusual for marketing agencies to outsource some work to contractors or to trusted partners. (For example, some marketing agencies might have a trusted PPC vendor they work with.) But if the agency outsources most work to third parties, this raises red flags.

First, it might cost you more in the long run since the agency is essentially serving as the middleman. Second, this approach can dilute the strategy since one of the positives a good marketing agency brings to the table is overseeing the BIG marketing picture. It’s easier to manage and oversee the various senior living marketing services when everything happens under the same roof.

6. Does the agency deliver real, quantifiable results?

Unless the agency can provide you with real, tangible results—think increased conversions and more tours and move-ins—what’s the point? To evaluate, ask the agency to share the results of three recent campaigns. Read case studies on their website. Ask to speak to several of their current clients. (And ask the clients the same questions about real, measurable results). Finally, read the agency’s reviews for more insight into not only deliverables, but also how the agency works with clients.

Marketing ideas leading to results you can see

7. Is the agency named Senior Living SMART? :)

All kidding aside, we pride ourselves on devising strong marketing roadmaps and delivering real, measurable results to our clients. Plus, we only focus on the senior living industry. It’s our passion! Interested in learning more about our senior living marketing services? Let’s chat!

Creating a marketing plan for 2021

Your Senior Living Marketing Plan for 2021

Too often, marketing and sales teams stress out when creating their yearly senior living marketing plan. At the end of December or beginning of January, they will create complex, color-coded spreadsheets with endless tasks and dates and “ownership.” (Often, no one ever looks at the plan again!)

Don’t get us wrong: Planning is important. But it’s impossible to plan a whole years’ worth of marketing tasks in one fell swoop. Instead, it makes more sense to develop an overarching plan for the year—that famous 30,000-foot view. From there, you can create tasks per quarter. (And you don’t need to create the quarterly tasks all at once, either.)

Talk about a much easier approach, right?

The purpose of this post is to help you with that 30,000-foot view.

We recommend getting your team together and talking through the following four main buckets. An important note: You will need to think about them in conjunction with each other. But to start, devote four separate afternoons. Spend each one on a different bucket. On the fifth day, bring it all together and develop your broad-stroke senior living marketing plan to guide you for the year.

What comes out of your discussions will vary depending on your community. It will also depend on the type of year you had, your goals for next year, and your budget. Below, we’re including some questions to get the ball rolling.

CAVEAT: If you’re reading this in 2020, you can’t go into 2021 without thinking about the pandemic. So your 30,000-foot view needs to include the reality of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will be a different story when we enter 2022. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to get instant access to our COVID-19 marketing assets.

1. Senior living marketing plan: Think search.

Let’s face it: Almost everyone begins their searches online. This is certainly true for older adults, which is why the foundation of every senior living marketing plan needs to be search and SEO.

Some questions to ponder or to kick-start your discussion:

  • How often did you conduct keyword research last year? Be honest! If you’re reading this in 2020, we wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is “not much” since everyone was dealing with COVID. If that’s the case, make it a priority going into 2021.
  • When’s the last time you did a site optimization audit? Your website is a machine. Like any machine, it requires maintenance.
  • If you’ve been running paid search campaigns, how have they been working? Review metrics, including the most important one: move-ins. Have your PPC campaigns performed well? Do you want to increase the budget? If they haven’t performed, is it because they’re not the right campaigns? Or is PPC not right for your particular community at this time? Meaning you might want to put the budget towards something else for part of next year and revisit?

No doubt, you’ll come up with plenty of other discussion points around search. Keep track of the big items and themes. For example, maybe you come out of this meeting with something like the following:

  • Perform fresh keyword research in Q2.
  • Re-optimize site, as needed, in early Q3.
  • Increase budget on Facebook ads, decrease budget in Google AdWords.

2. Senior living marketing plan: Think content.

As we like to say around here, content isn’t king—it’s emperor. People crave content at every stage of their journey. Your job is to make sure what they need is available to them when they need it.

At the very least, your content strategy will involve discussions around:

  • Blogging. You should enter January with a three-month editorial calendar in place. The calendar should include keyword-rich topics, blog writing assignments, and due dates. In fact, when you enter January, you should already have the completed January content in hand. Your team should be working on February content.
  • Premium content. Aim for a good mix of gated pieces that will entice people to provide their email address so you can continue nurturing them.
  • Social media. We don’t have to tell you how personal senior living is. Your community should have an active and engaging presence on places like Facebook and Instagram. From a business standpoint, maintain a good LinkedIn page so you can continue to attract great employees. (Make sure you’ve claimed listings on places like Glassdoor and LinkedIn as well.)
  • Email marketing associated with automaton. We’ll dig into this more in the automation section below. Bottom line, though: Don’t simply set it and forget it.

Again, the above will get you started, but it isn’t an exhaustive list of items to think about. Always look at content holistically. For example, is there a “theme” you’d like to focus on for the first half of 2021? Maybe it’s around “choosing senior living during uncertain times.” How can different channels—blog, email, social, premium content, and so forth—support that theme?

Try to walk away from this brainstorming session with a couple of larger themes for next year that will drive your month-to-month content creation.

3. Senior living marketing plan: Think automation.

We’ve written A LOT about marketing automation. If there’s one thing ALL senior living communities can do better, it’s in this area.

If you have marketing automation…

  • When’s the last time you looked at analytics? Review the last two quarters. What surprised you? What made you excited? What worried you? Bottom line: you’ll want to do more of what’s working. And you’ll want to reassess what isn’t.
  • When’s the last time you reviewed the content of your lead nurturing campaigns? Too often, we see communities set up their lead nurturing email campaigns and never look at them again. Some messages will be evergreen. But others will need tweaking. For example, what you said in May of 2020 will (thankfully) sound different from emails sent during May of 2021.
  • Consider your leads. Not just the number of overall leads, but conversions to move-ins. What’s the quality of SQLs? What’s the breakdown of MQLs to SQLs in the database? Etc.

If you don’t have marketing automation . . .

While your marketing team will be involved in all of these discussions, you should absolutely include sales in any discussion pertaining to lead gen. They know the leads. They can speak to their quality—or their perceived quality.

4. Senior living marketing plan: Think outsourced marketing agency.

Are you currently working with a marketing agency? If yes, are you happy with the engagement? If not, why not? Can you communicate your concerns with the agency and discuss strategies for moving forward together? Or is it time to make a change? If it’s time to make a change, what will be the process for making a switch? (Who will own it?)

  • Hint: What’s the sign of a truly good agency? They’re actively involved in planning next year’s marketing. In fact, they’re likely driving the discussion.

If you’re not working with an outsourced marketing agency, discuss whether it would make sense to do so. What sort of budget do you have? What are your expectations?

And on the fifth day of planning your senior living marketing . . .

Now, you’ll bring it all together: Your themes. Your goals. Your plans around search (organic and paid). Your content strategy. Your marketing automation tasks. Your budget. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding these things. Then, create your Q1 marketing calendar. Use your tool of choice—Asana, Trello, Google docs, Basecamp.

Think of your senior living marketing plan as the roadmap. Think of the month-to-month calendar as the actual driving directions and milestones (tasks) along the way.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't have time to plan?

Hey, we get it! Its been a tough year. Here’s the good news, though: We can do ALL the leg work for you (with your input, of course). We can distill everything you tell us—your goals, your budget, what’s working, what isn’t—and put together a strategic marketing roadmap for your community. Your team can execute it, or we can. (Or a combination!)

Let’s talk about your marketing plan!

man and woman searching for blog posts related to their location

Senior Living Blog Topics: How to Approach Location Keywords

Most of your senior living blog topics should be “top of the funnel” content. In other words, articles optimized for keyword phrases that will attract prospects in your area who are in the awareness stage.

The challenge with this approach: When prospects are searching for senior living options, they’re often searching on “dry” phrases like “senior living communities near me” or “senior living communities in South Florida.” (Or whatever city people are considering. You get the idea.)

You need to get creative in how you write blog content around these phrases.

It’s not enough to simply get someone to your site based on the location keyword phrase. You need to provide quality senior living blog content that inspires them to stick around. How can you do this?

Let’s use our example of “senior living communities in South Florida.”

According to SEMrush, the keyword tool that we use, people search on this phrase approximately 50 times per month. It’s a good long-tail keyword phrase to focus on. But how many engaging senior living blog topics can you get from that one keyword phrase? More than you might think!

Here’s our quick brainstorm:

  1. X Tips for Evaluating Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  2. Fun Day Trips for Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  3. Tips for Researching Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  4. Touring Senior Living Communities in South Florida? What to Ask
  5. Financing Options for Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  6. Why Consider Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  7. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: What to Watch For
  8. X Facts About Senior Living Communities in South Florida
  9. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: Right For You?
  10. Senior Living Communities in South Florida: X Considerations

You should also research related keyword phrases and brainstorm even more senior living blog topics.

We love the “related” search function in SEMrush. After we did a search on “senior living communities in Florida,” we hit the “related” button. Here’s a snap shot of the results.

Screen shot of SEMrush report highlighting related search results

Here’s a quick brainstorm of potential senior living blog topics:

  1. How We Deliver the Best Independent Living in Florida
  2. Rethinking Retirement Facilities in Florida
    • We know, we know! You’re bristling at the word “facilities.” But people DO search on the term. Reclaim it and reinvent it! Take it back.
  3. 10 Reasons Why Nothing Beats Senior Living in Florida
  4. Best Independent Living in Florida: How to Tell
  5. Senior Living in Florida: X Things to Keep in Mind

Note: You could use ALL of the above as blog titles and title tags since they’re all within 65 characters.

While all of the proposed titles have a consistent theme, each angle is different. And a good writer can create compelling blog content that will fulfill the title’s “promise” while also finding a way to weave in aspects of your community.

Remember, the content should be helpful, not promotional.

For the article titled “Best Independent Living in Florida: How to Tell,” you could provide a solid checklist that people can use to audit the communities they’re researching and that they will eventually visit. You’d only mention your community tangentially.

For example, one of the items on the checklist might be “Read reviews about each senior living community.” And you could link that phrase to your community’s Google reviews. At the end of the article, you might include a call-to-action that says something like “Discover how our community offers the best independent living in Florida. Schedule a visit!”

Again, a skilled blog writer can help breathe life into these topics.

A good writer will understand how to write for search engines and humans. The more interesting and helpful the senior living blog content is, the better chance the person reading it will click around your site and learn more.

Remember, the goal is to get visitors to convert on something, like a Live Chat or downloadable piece of premium content. A prospect’s email address is worth its weight in gold. Because once you have it, you can continue to engage and nurture them. (Provided you have good marketing automation.)

Need help developing senior living blog topics that convert visitors into leads?

We’re a marketing agency that knows the senior living industry inside and out. We have excellent writers who can help you get the most out of your blog. Let’s chat about your needs.

Four Strategies to Optimize Websites for Improved Conversions

A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.

Traffic Conversion spelled out underneath laptop computer, mouse, pencil, clipboard, like icon and assorted internet related web icons

How to Turn Senior Living Website Traffic into Leads

Someone visited your senior living website. Great, right? It is, except for one problem: the person who visited your site is anonymous. You don’t know who they are or whether they’re truly a good prospect for your senior living community.

What to do?

Simple: optimize your senior living website so that it encourages anonymous traffic to convert into leads.

Here’s how . . .

1. Gate your content.

Gated content is exactly how it sounds—premium content (like white papers, checklists, and infographics) that you keep hidden behind a gate.

In order for website visitors to access said content, they must offer up some info about themselves, like first name, last name, email, location, and where they are in their journey. (More on these form “fields” in a moment.)

It’s a fair exchange—they get great content, for free, and you get some valuable intelligence on your website’s visitors.

2. Make sure you have engaging calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout the site.

These CTAs will naturally lead people to places where they can easily convert from anonymous visitor to a name and face: landing page for gated content, contact us page, schedule a tour page. You get the idea.

3. Provide interactive elements, like Live Chat and other self-qualifying tools.

Live chat is a great way to turn anonymous visitors into real leads. One of the first questions your chat can ask for is a name, in a friendly, natural way. Like, “Hi, there. My name is Rebecca. Got any questions?” If someone types a question, Rebecca can respond by saying, “Hey, great question. Before I answer, can you quickly tell me your name and give me an email address, just in case we get disconnected. Then, I can follow up.” (Hint: SiteStaff is one of our favorite Live Chats for the senior living industry.)

With self-qualifying tools, like interactive surveys and other prospect decision tools, the anonymous website visitor can answer a series of questions to help them better understand the options for their specific situation. Many of these tools only require the person to submit an email to get the results (no phone number for a sales person to hound). But an email is all you need to continue to nurture and grow the relationship. (Hint: Roobrik is one of our favorite prospect decision tools.)

4. Provide easy ways for people to subscribe to blogs and newsletters.

If someone’s reading a blog post, you can have a slide-in subscription box that says: “Get more helpful articles like this. Subscribe to our blog.” Same with a newsletter.

Experiment with what works for your audience. A lightbox pop-up form (that box that suddenly “takes over” a website page) can be annoying to some visitors but a great way to convert others. You need to see what works for your specific audience (website analytics will be your guide regarding this).

5. Use progressive fields in forms to capture better info.

For that first point of contact you make with an anonymous senior living website visitor, you want to ask for the least amount of info, but at the same time, you need SOMETHING to help inform how to score the lead appropriately (more on scoring leads below).

At the very least, for that first contact, you should get first name, last name, email, state, and a dropdown that might ask: Which bests describes you?

And then the dropdown would offer three options:

  • Actively looking for a senior living solution for myself
  • Actively looking for a senior living solution for someone else
  • Not actively looking, just researching for now

If the person downloads only one piece of gated content from your site, you’ll have enough info to know at least something about this lead—and what to do with them next.

But here’s the beauty of smart forms these days: you can use what’s known as progressive fields on forms. This means every time a person fills out another form on your site, the form automatically adjusts for that particular prospect and requests NEW information in NEW fields.

So you won’t make them repeat what they’ve already entered (except for what would make sense to the prospect—like their name and email). But on the second form they fill out, you could ask for their full address and phone number and depending on HOW they answer the initial drop-down question we mention above, you could ask an appropriate follow up.

For example, if on the first form the person indicates they are actively looking for a senior living solution for someone else, perhaps you ask this question on the next form they fill out: Which best describes your situation? “I’m actively looking for a senior living community for my…”

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Spouse
  • Other family member (aunt/uncle, sibling)
  • Friend

And then this: Which best describes your timetable? I’m looking to make a decision in…

  • 60 days.
  • 3-6 months.
  • Within a year.
  • 18-24 months.

Now you have even further intelligence, which will help marketing and sales teams follow up appropriately.

Note: you’ll need good marketing automation, like HubSpot, to set up progressive fields on forms. And we won’t lie—this does take some time to think through, but once you get it set up and working, this will result in excellent information to inform your next steps.

Which brings us to the following . . .

Once you have senior living leads, what happens next?

Now that you’ve turned anonymous website visitors into leads, here’s what should happen next:

Score leads appropriately.

Remember what we said about the form fields above? How they provide important insights? You’ll use the information people share in these form fields to help score each lead appropriately.

For example, someone who is looking to make a move for a parent within 60 days is in a very different situation than someone who sees the move happening in the next 12-18 months. The former would be considered a sales-qualified lead (SQL). These folks are ready to talk to sales since they’ve indicated they’re making a decision soon.

The latter would be a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). They’ve engaged with your content, so you’ve gotten their interest, but they’re in an earlier stage in the buying journey. You want to stay in front of them and continue engaging them, but it would be a waste of everyone’s time if sales followed up at this point.

How you score the leads will depend on your senior living community’s approach to sales, including how you’ve set up your CRM. (Hint: Are you new to the concept of lead scoring? We can help set up yours based on our decades of experience working in senior living sales.)

Nurture marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).

Like everything else in marketing and sales, the concept of lead nurturing has evolved. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, you’ll likely want to set up a series of follow-up emails that automatically go out to MQLs, but it’s incredibly easy for this process to become overwhelming from a backend perspective when you consider the “logic” behind the workflows.

For example, if someone downloads Guide A and B, but not Guide C, then they’d go into campaign #1, but if someone downloads Guides A, B, and C, they go into campaign #2, but if they only download Guides B and C, they go into campaign #2.

See?

If you have dozens of guides and “rules” based on downloads or personal attributes (e.g., adult daughter vs. adult son vs. husband looking on behalf of wife), it can get incredibly unwieldy. And you’d absolutely need quality marketing automation, like HubSpot, to make it all work.

For communities with a full-time marketing department and dozens of locations nationwide, this complex approach is feasible. For smaller operators, it’s OK to take a more streamlined approach. The goal is to simply stay in front of people who’ve expressed interest and engaged with you. A combination of high-level emails and even a direct mail piece could be a good program. Or maybe you just do emails. Or perhaps you use some sort of text campaign.

Bottom line: do something.

(Psst: Got some older MQLs that were never nurtured? We’ve developed an effective turnkey program you can use to re-engage some of these leads. Contact us and ask about it.)

Have a follow-up plan for sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

How your sales team follows up with SQLs will very much depend on the sales culture and structure of your department (including your CRM). With SQLs, a more direct approach can work, like phone calls (hint: Marchex is an excellent automated phone solution).

Texting is something you’ll likely need to consider as we go through this next decade. For one thing, people are much more likely to respond to a text than a phone call or email. So you might reach out initially via text to say “Let’s schedule a tour.” Second, as more and more of the younger generations (like millennials and Gen Z) get involved with decisions for their aging loved ones, you’ll need to communicate using methods they prefer—like texting.

Overwhelmed by scoring senior living leads?

Don’t worry—that’s why we’re here! We can help you set up programs that work for your senior living community.