The holidays are a time filled with warmth, laughter and good cheer—and they’re also an important time for senior living providers.
That’s because the holiday season usually marks an influx of online senior living inquiries as families and adult children begin researching care options for their parents or loved ones. Experts from digital marketing firm G5 and Seattle-based owner and operator Merrill Gardens discussed how senior living providers can take advantage of the seasonal spike during a Nov. 17 webinar hosted by Senior Housing News.
‘Be helpful, but not too helpful’
The increase in post-holiday traffic means that a provider’s sales and marketing teams will have their work cut out for them, said Amanda Warren, director of marketing at Merrill Gardens. Providers would do well to make sure marketers and salespeople are working in tandem, even at the front-desk level.
That might mean arming those staffers with clear directions on how to efficiently convert email and phone inquiries into sales leads.
“We do a lot of training with our front desk and reception teams in really trying to educate them to the value of… the phone call, the value of the first impression,” Warren said. “We want them to be helpful, yet not too helpful.”
Though the idea of a coy front desk employee might seem counterintuitive, it’s often smarter to let a salesperson do the talking, Warren added.
“Once in a while, we find that our our front desk team is answering all of [their questions],” she explained. “From the consumer standpoint, they feel they don’t have a lot of reason to come in.”
A community should keep at least three people who can turn inquiries into sales leads on hand at all times, Warren recommended.
And response time matters: 94% of move-ins come from leads contacted the same day, 72% of tours come from leads contacted the same day, and 86% of move-ins occur if a prospective resident is contacted within 90 minutes, according to data Warren shared during the webinar.
“The sooner we can meet their demand and be in front of them when they were in front of us, the better,” Warren added.
Seek the searchers
The weeks following Thanksgiving and Christmas generally mean a large spike of people looking for senior living services online, according to Seth Brent, manager of digital strategy in senior living for G5. That could be an opportunity for web-savvy providers.
“Whether it be mobility issues or memory loss, [adult children] are turning to search engines to help understand the challenges their parents are experiencing, as well as understanding what senior living communities are able to do for them and their families,” Brent said during the webinar. “It’s very important that your communities are on the search engines during these moments.”
Some easy ways to do that include spending more on pay-per-click and local web advertising, or promoting events and seasonal specials on Facebook. Remarketing, a method by which advertisers can target users who previously visited their site, is another tool providers can use.
“Remarketing is powerful because this type of campaign shows ads to users who have already been to your website and have already shown interest in your brand,” Brent said. “Advertisers are able to remind them of the community that was nearby their parents and ensure that the community continues to stay top of mind during the research and decision process.”
Personalize community websites
It’s imperative that senior living providers’ websites are engaging and up-to-date during the holiday rush, according to Ashley Nicol, director of client success in senior living for G5.
“Ensuring you have up-to-date, relevant content will go a really long way in building trust with a prospective resident,” Nicol said.
Adding family-oriented images or holiday-related content to the front page while the topics are fresh on people’s minds is one way to build trust—as long as they’re not canned pictures.
“We find that authentic photos are more powerful than stock imagery, specifically with regard to conversion,” Nicol explained.
Blogging about resident recipes, holiday traditions or gifts for seniors is another way to capture seasonal web traffic. That’s because adjusting the relevancy of a website’s content can increase its placement in web searches, Nicol said.
Written by Tim Regan