Google’s Message to Senior Living: Mobile-Friendly Marketing Not Enough

For years, senior living marketers have been turning their attention to mobile platforms like smartphones, but these two numbers show how much focus these channels require:

6,000 — the number of online searches related to senior living communities made every hour in the U.S.

82% — the percentage of smartphone users who consult their mobile phones when deciding what to purchase.

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Put these two numbers together, and it sure seems like search engines and smartphones—if used strategically—could make a difference when it comes to boosting senior living occupancy.

For these reasons, and others, senior housing providers should consider putting even more emphasis on mobile, Isha Vij, a development manager at Google, suggested during a Tuesday session at the SMASH 2017 Senior Care Sales & Marketing Summit near Chicago.

“We used to talk about ‘mobile friendliness’—that shouldn’t be a term we talk about anymore,” she said. “[Now] it’s mobile-first.”

Mobile is key

In the U.S., people spend almost five hours per day on their mobile phones, according to Google data presented at SMASH. So it may come as no surprise that to search for and compare different products, Americans primarily use their smartphones.

“Across all industries, the majority of searches are happening on… mobile devices,” Vij said.

Additionally, the use of search engines in general is becoming much more common.

Today, 65% of online customers look up more information online now than they did a few years ago, according to Google. There has also been a 200% increase in “near me” search interest in the past year—indicating that potential customers value convenience, in addition to quality.

The senior living industry has been impacted by the uptick in search engine use, Vij explained. For instance, online searches for services associated with assisted living and senior living are increasing 20% year-over-year, according to Google data.

Search engine mastery

For senior living marketers, it’s critical to know how to take advantage of search engines, according to Chrissy Mealy, director of paid media at Kansas City, Missouri-based senior living marketing and advertising agency GlynnDevins.

After all, paid and organic search drive 70% of web traffic to a website in senior living, Mealy explained. Still, 75% of users never scroll to the second page of results.

If senior housing communities have yet to take advantage of mobile or search engine opportunities, it’s not too late, Vij assured. Still, it is definitely time to have a robust online presence, she stressed—especially given how much time Americans spend surfing the web.

“‘Going online’ is not a thing anymore,” she said. “We are living online.”

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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