This article is sponsored by G5+LeaseLabs, a RealPage Company. In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Doug Johnson, President of G5+LL, to learn about how the senior living research journey has lengthened and deepened in the last two years, and how senior living marketers and operators can use that knowledge and adapt their approach accordingly. Johnson also introduces what G5+LL has coined ‘the invisible period’ in the senior living prospect journey, and how G5+LL provides visibility into that journey, helping operators make data-driven marketing decisions that ultimately lead to more move-ins.
Senior Housing News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Doug Johnson: I have been a serial tech CEO solving problems for various industries. My last two CEO roles were senior living focused. That’s relevant from my point of view because if you start with the customer, and in this case, the senior living provider, in mind, and you start with where their challenges are and the pains they have in their business, you are able to reverse engineer back to a solution. One thing that is abundantly clear is that the process of understanding how people shop, how people research, and how people find a place for mom and dad, is a paramount concern and a challenge for senior living providers.
We try to address that pain point with technology. That’s what I’ve done in the past, and that’s what we’ve done here.
The senior living research journey has changed over the past two years, both in terms of how long people are researching, and also their strategy. What has fueled that change, and what is the result of that change?
We all recognize that the world has moved to shopping for things online, and without question the recent COVID pandemic has forced people, whether they like to or not, into that environment. How does that impact the senior living world? We have studied that and put technology against that.
What researching really means is that they’re looking for information online. They’re researching for their mother or father and what’s best for them. What we understand now by looking at capturing these “research journeys” — we now have roughly 58 million journeys that we’ve captured in our data lake — is the ability to look at the local level to understand how people are researching communities for their parents. Understanding what that behavior is at that local level has been something that has been a game changer for marketers because it’s something in the past they just simply haven’t seen.
Our data science team who analyzes these journeys has been able to stitch them together for insights, and then once we stitch those journeys together and we can find what is actually happening in that journey, it becomes very interesting.
Portfolios were previously unable to see that journey prior to someone picking up a phone and calling them. We call this the “invisible period,” when marketing is taking care of those prospects and their families completely online digitally. We’re making that invisible period visible to them.
In the broader senior living researching experience, we’ve seen an 18.2% increase in that invisible researching period over just the last couple of years. As a senior living operator that means you’ve really got to understand what’s happening in that invisible period because it’s been getting longer. Without that information, you’re really leaving it up to chance.
What are senior living operators missing if they can’t see the invisible period? What can be done to make it more visible?
They can’t take advantage of that invisible period unless they understand what’s happening inside of it and then very practically, they need to figure out a strategy to leverage it. The key is to ensure your brand is showing up consistently across all the channels where prospects and their families spend time researching. That consistency will create trust and will help to create the memory of your brand in their mind.
Families spend 35 days on average researching, which is a significant amount of time, before they ever pick up the phone. In those 35 days on average, there are 16 steps that they’re taking in that researching process. They’re clicking on advertising; they’re searching for different communities’ websites near them. They’re looking at their Google Business Profiles (GBPs). They’re reading reviews and going through multiple pages of websites to understand before they ever pick up their phone.
If an operator isn’t able to or doesn’t understand the importance of creating a consistent brand experience during that invisible period, they could have abandonment rates that they will never know about — they don’t know how many people are not picking up their phone and calling them.
They don’t know what they don’t know because it’s invisible. Imagine if 100 shoppers come through and you only get to talk to 3 of them. Ninety-seven were lost and you would never know that. It’s just incredibly important for us to stitch together those prospect journeys for that operator and give them the ability to leverage that information and make more targeted marketing efforts. This isn’t just about profit, this is about delivering great service and meeting a need and having an empathetic brand in the marketplace.
The best approach is to make more targeted marketing efforts. And by this, I mean: deliver digital ads that reach seniors and their families at the right times; optimize our customers’ GBPs so they’re answering the right questions and providing the information that prospects are searching for; manage our customers’ reputation by consulting on a review strategy and ensure all reviews are answered fast; and design our customers’ websites so they show up in Search and so they maximize conversions. All these strategies help our senior living operators maximize their marketing dollars, saving their staff time and resources, while also generating more qualified, ready-to-move-in leads.
How does G5 and LeaseLabs help senior living markets connect to and get the most out of their data?
An important part of this is the integration of our technology with that next technical step in the journey where that prospect is then being managed through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Having a performance-driven website tied into the CRM is important because it’s a data bridge.
We’re proud to say that we’re an open platform that is integrated with Enquire, Sherpa, A Place for Mom, Yardi Voyager, and WelcomeHome. By integrating customers’ performance-driven website(s) with their backend sales nurturing system, senior living marketers are able to receive website leads directly into their CRM, which saves them time and helps them follow up with their leads faster.
Our data scientists have built a methodology that allows us to look at what’s working and then influence the traffic to yield the greatest outcome in terms of prospects who are picking up the phone and calling. It’s a terrific tool of basically turning the lights on in what was previously an invisible period and letting marketers control that and have an impact on it by ramping their advertising spend up and down while the tool uses AI to spend intelligently.
How does the open platform create operational efficiencies? What is the result of that time gained?
There are a few very obvious areas where we are moving effort from humans to technology. Instead of guessing where to spend your advertising, we let our data science decide this and automatically move the dollars every day to the highest converting advertisements. That is efficiency of time and of spend. We also push website leads directly into CRMs where sales is already working so they don’t have to work in separate systems. This saves time for your sales team but more importantly, it helps get that prospect’s a call back faster which is a better experience. And by using our AI, we are finding better quality leads (29% more qualified leads) so not only are we helping sales, but sales then trusts the leads from marketing.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for marketing in senior living. We know this. And so as a trusted partner, we provide them with visibility through data, then deliver tailored solutions based on their goals and budget. And with our flexible, open platform, we can help connect their website with their backend technology.
What can operators do with loaded data that they’re not already doing, and how does the artificial intelligence or machine learning component help them meet those goals?
One way G5+LL provides visibility into data is by leveraging the move-in data we pull into our Customer Data Platform (CDP) from our many integrations. We feed that data into our Smart Digital Advertising product so it can advertise where the highest converting prospects are, delivering 29% more qualified calls.
The AdTech, through machine learning, is constantly evaluating the data coming in from ad campaigns, analyzing which campaigns are generating the most qualified leads for our senior living customers (across networks like Google and Bing and across ad types like Search and Remarketing). The AI shifts dollars to the ad campaigns that convert people who have an intent to move-in. Not just more calls. More qualified calls.
And this is especially valuable for our senior living marketers. Why? Because we know that senior living prospects engage with digital advertising. In fact, more than 27% of senior living prospects engage with digital ads at some point along their researching journey, meaning we can leverage the information we’re learning from the move-in data to serve even more effective ads to that 27%.
Finish this sentence: “The top strategy that senior housing operators should employ in 2022 to best prepare for 2023 is…?”
Show up, show off and show empathy.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Together, G5 and LeaseLabs is the leading digital marketing solutions platform for senior living communities, delivering seamless experiences to unlock hidden revenue for clients. Learn more at getg5.com and leaselabs.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].