Budgets Stagnate but Demands Grow in Senior Living Marketing

Senior living sales and marketing leaders say they’re taking the blame for the industry’s sagging occupancy rates, even as they’re making due with similar, or even smaller, budgets than in past years.

That’s according to a new survey from digital marketing agency Linkmedia 360. For the “2018 Senior Living Sales and Marketing Leadership Guide,” the agency surveyed roughly 200 people who work in senior living sales and marketing between November 2017 and January 2018.

More than 70% of respondents said they are held directly accountable for a community’s occupancy rate, despite the fact that most senior living marketing budgets aren’t growing year-over-year. In fact, slightly more than 60% of those surveyed reported that their marketing budgets stayed the same or went down in 2017. The other roughly 40% of respondents reported their marketing budgets grew by up to 20% that year.

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For more than half of the survey’s respondents, websites are “becoming the foundation of the entire community’s marketing program,” the survey noted. And because a good portion of a senior living community’s leads come from online sources, the web is an invaluable part of any marketing or sales strategy.

At the same time, however, sales and marketing leaders are facing significant challenges finding high-quality, move-in ready leads.

This may be due to a lack of focus on online searches. Many of the survey’s respondents said they don’t have a well-defined search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) keyword strategy focused on capturing leads on web searches that don’t mention a community’s name.

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“Before learning about your brand, potential residents often search for answers to their questions around conditions or geographic, local offerings, and they don’t often contain a branded community name in the search query,” the survey’s authors explained. “By targeting more non-branded keywords in your digital marketing efforts, you can ensure these individuals come across your brand and your website before a competitor’s.”

Lead origin can be another big challenge for senior living providers. Specifically, some are relying on disconnected technology—such as an Excel file packed with leads of unknown origin—which limits their ability to track the impact their marketing strategy has on occupancy rates.

“It’s been observed that many communities do not understand what they are actually buying and may end up chasing bright and shiny objects,” the authors wrote. “It’s so important to not overreach and understand if the tool will actually integrate into the existing environment.”

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There are other, more general challenges created by an increasingly web-focused business landscape, the survey responses indicated, such as the competitiveness of the senior living industry and the simple fact that marketers have much to do and too little time to do it.

Written by Tim Regan

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