Marketing Matters is brought to you by Solutions Advisors and Retiring by Design. Working together, Solutions Advisors and Retiring by Design give you the analytic and creative synergy to develop unique solutions and achieve optimum results for your senior living community, providing management, operations, marketing, and sales consulting services.
While a growing number of senior living providers boost their online presence by creating social media profiles, most of those sites are not being used to their full potential, industry experts say.
Yet, a survey of 400 age- and income-qualified seniors shows that company websites and online reviews are the preferred method seniors use in researching a product or service, according to senior living advertising and marketing firm GlynnDevins.
“These two resources ranked highest among eight possible methods, with eight in 10 seniors indicating a company’s website was the most often used method for finding information,” GlynnDevins says.
And while the industry is making strides toward being more tech-savvy, some providers are taking their marketing to the next level — transforming an online visitor’s clicks to a quality lead through new tools designed for the senior living space.
Strategic Marketing: ‘Closing the Loop’
Using marketing sales and followup tool Occupancy Advantage, Hollander Senior Living rebranded its website to generate more meaningful leads, and implemented a marketing campaign that includes immediate followup with prospective clients, says Sheila McArdle, vice president of operations at the Atlanta-based real estate investment services company.
Hollander Senior Living, a division of Hollander Properties LLC, has two Georgia-based communities with a third Georgia community under construction to open in 2016.
“I know we needed to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest — but I wasn’t sure what to do [with those sites],” McArdle says. “What I find is that the families of residents really enjoy the social media presence — it’s a great communication tool for them. But, from a business perspective, it wasn’t doing much for us to generate new leads.”
While Hollander Senior Living doesn’t have results from its marketing overhaul yet, McArdle expects the new tool will provide more than a 30% uptick in lead generation based on her conversations with other providers who have taken similar measures to upgrade their marketing approach.
“The whole social media market is so new to senior living that the industry hasn’t wrapped its head around how to best utilize [these sites],” says Mona Hilton, president and CEO of Occupancy Advantage. “They’re putting a lot of time into Facebook pages, but they’re not closing the loop. There’s an untapped market for referral services.”
Genesis Global Technologies, which launched Occupancy Advantage specifically for the senior housing industry a few years ago, is a full service IT and software development company.
Tailored Followup Activities
Occupancy Advantage works by “creating sticky notes,” or places where the online visitor enters his or her contact information; and offers the “taskomatic,” which allows users to pre-set the different followup activities they want to provide — such as sending out a personalized email, then following up with a phone call and concluding with a letter that offers more tailored information to that prospective resident or family member. The followup sequence is tailored to the provider.
“In the assisted living industry the standard conversion ratio from a web-based inquiry to a move-in is close to 6% to 8%,” Hilton says. “We’re seeing more than 19% to 26%.”
Contacting a prospective resident or family member within five minutes of that person showing interest online makes that person 100 times more likely to be engaged than following up 30 minutes later, Hilton says, noting the need for a fast response approach.
“So, if someone clicks on an article on your website and expresses interest, you can instantaneously follow up,” Hilton says. “For example, you can send an email, ‘Hi Mr. Smith. We noticed you downloaded this article. Would you also be interested in this topic, or scheduling a tour?’”
Making Sense of Mounds of Data
Senior living providers are also turning to data analysis companies, such as Lead InSite for help.
Lead InSite ties together data sources that bridge marketing and sales, including website data, CRM and digital marketing initiatives including advertising, social media and more.
“We sift through lead data to find qualified visitors,” says Lead InSite co-founder April LaMon, explaining that the company uses a tracking code to build a dedicated database of interaction. The company offers a monthly report to show the overall flow of traffic, what percentage of those visitors were qualified, or truly interested in the product and more.
While Lead InSite is not a marketing agency, its methodology has yielded positive results for senior living providers.
Willow Valley Communities attributes at least one sale a month to the targeted marketing approach that the data tool provides, says Kim Daly Nobbs, chief marketing director.
“Using their algorithym we’re able to determine whether people visiting the site are high quality visitors, and we’re also able to track the behavior of people that have converted into sales,” Daly Nobbs says.
Most providers redesign their site after they really understand how it is being used, LaMon adds.
“Maybe someone receives a followup call and says, ‘I’m not interested.’ But what they’re really saying is they’re not ready to talk yet, because that person was on the site three times for a total of more than one hour in a month. If she was not interested, she would not spend so much time on the site. So, maybe instead of a call [the provider] should send a targeted email based on the content she has seen today.”
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Written by Cassandra Dowell