America’s population is aging. According to U.S. census data, all members of the baby boomer generation will be 65 and over by the year 2030, with about 10,000 boomers crossing the threshold into retirement age every single day. With many boomers opting for assisted living over traditional nursing homes, this represents a significant opportunity for those who work in the senior living space. But to make the most of this opportunity, a sound senior living marketing strategy is in order.
What makes marketing so essential? While there are plenty of boomers out there, there are also plenty of senior living communities. With stiff competition, it’s necessary for your senior living community to establish the things that make it distinctive, and ultimately to convey why it deserves the trust and goodwill of boomers seeking a place to spend their twilight years.
Whether you’re building a marketing campaign from scratch or simply looking to overhaul your existing efforts, there are a few essential steps to keep in mind.
Senior Living Marketing is Always Changing
Before considering specific steps and strategies, it’s important to understand that this industry is constantly evolving. A strategy that worked well a year or two ago may offer diminishing returns in the present day, especially if you’re not taking into account the effects of the pandemic.
One factor that explains the fluidity of the senior living marketing industry is the advent of smartphones. Around 40 percent of seniors now have cell phones, and a majority of seniors are Internet-savvy. These figures represent tremendous gains over just a few years.
Furthermore, you’re not just marketing to seniors—you’re trying to reach the adult son or daughter who is making decisions for their parent. You can be confident the adult son or daughter has a smartphone and is looking online for senior living solutions.
In other words, times are changing, and senior behavior is changing, too. As such, a sound marketing strategy can’t rely on old-fashioned methods, nor pretend like the internet doesn’t exist. A strong digital presence is essential for success in virtually all industries, and senior living is no exception.
8 Steps for an Effective Senior Living Marketing Campaign
Senior living communities can build a strong digital presence by following the recommendations below.
1) Make sure your website is up to date
When the adult child begins to research potential communities, the first thing they’ll do is use Google. If you have a website ready to welcome them, you’ll be ready to provide information about your services and amenities. It’s also important to make a positive first impression with your website, so pay attention to your web design and user experience.
If it’s been a while since you updated your website (or if your site looks like it hasn’t been touched since the late 1990s), it may be time to build a new one..
What makes a good senior living website? Here are a few considerations:
- Make sure it performs well. Site speed is critical, not only for ensuring Google rankings but also for creating a pleasant experience for your visitors. If your site takes more than a couple of seconds to load, it may be time for an overhaul.
- Mobile-first is the standard. At least 50% of your audience will be searching on their phones. As such, mobile website design should be the prime concern, not just an afterthought. Make sure the site looks good and is easy to use on any kind of device. Test your own website by visiting it from different devices.
- Provide plenty of opportunities to convert. Your senior living website should inform your visitors, but it also needs to drive conversions. Make sure you have clear CTAs, telling visitors how they can reach out for more information, schedule a tour, or ask a question. In fact, you can also develop content that is directly related to where your prospects are in their journey to find a solution.
2) Leverage good referrals and reviews
Marketing isn’t something that happens by accident,—it’s something you plan for. There are a few specific marketing initiatives that you can put in place to help raise awareness for your senior living community.
- Ask for reviews. Encourage your residents and families to submit feedback to leading online review sites like Google, Yelp, and even Yellow Pages. Their testimonials can be really helpful in winning over potential families, especially those who may be trepidatious.
- Start a referral network. Referrals are an important way of attracting new families. Ask your residents to invite their friends to consider moving into the community, and brainstorm some rewards or incentives you can offer for those who do refer newcomers.
- Recruit brand ambassadors. Are there residents in your community who tend to be very positive and full of pep? Or family members who love to come visit? If so, seek them out and ask if you can film them talking about why they love the community. These videos can serve as powerful testimonials, allowing potential families to hear from someone going through a similar stage of life.
- Don’t forget about traditional marketing. While we’re emphasizing digital, it’s crucial not to overlook the ongoing significance of more traditional marketing means, particularly for seniors who aren’t as comfortable with the Web. Leave room in your marketing budget for pamphlets and direct mailers.
3) Establish channels of communication and thought leadership
In addition to your website, you’ll also want to have some other channel of outreach and community-building. By establishing channels of communication, you’re also engaging in content marketing. Here are some examples:
- Be active on social media. Facebook can be an especially good place to build a community and show off what makes your senior living community special. Share regular updates on your page about in-community events. Encourage residents and your own team members to submit photos to share on the social feed.
- Launch an email newsletter. Email newsletters can be useful for staying in contact with family and community members, keeping them up to speed on any news or developments within the community. This regular line of communication can boost confidence and satisfaction, making your recipients more likely to recommend your senior living community.
- Start a blog. It’s always a great idea to start a blog, providing insight into your senior living expertise and credibility. For example, a blog would be a great place to share detailed information about how you keep residents safe, how you build community, etc. It’s also great content to share via email or social media.
4) Manage your online reputation
Many people do ample online research before making a purchase. This is particularly true of purchases that are quite expensive, that pertain to personal health and wellbeing, or that they will have to live with for a long time. Senior living communities fall into all three categories.
In other words, you should anticipate that potential residents will spend a lot of time googling your senior living community, doing their due diligence before making their final decision. If they read any complaints or negative headlines about your senior living community, they might turn elsewhere.
So, what can you do to manage your senior living community’s online reputation? We’ve already highlighted a few of the most important steps, like a good website and creating other online assets, like active social media profiles.
The other big factor is online reviews. Google and Facebook are just two examples of prominent online review forums, which can have a major impact on consumer behavior. A few tips for keeping your reviews positive:
- Actively seek out satisfied/happy residents or family members and ask them to share feedback.
- Respond to positive reviews, offering your thanks.
- Respond to the negative reviews asking what you can do to make things right.
5) Invest in paid ads
It is possible for businesses, including senior living communities, to reach their audience strictly with “organic” efforts, like posting to Facebook or sharing blog posts. However, as you look for ways to increase your competitive edge, you may wish to invest in paid ads, too. You can boost posts on social media, pay for sponsored content, or pay for search ads in Google Ads.
What can you do with Google Ads? For starters, you can select the keyword phrases you wish to target; this may be something like “best senior community in Charlotte, NC” or “top-rated senior living community in Salt Lake City.”
You can then allocate a budget of your choosing to target these keywords, drafting ad text that will display to users who input your chosen queries. In essence, you’re spending money to show your ads only to users who are actively searching for those terms, meaning they are more likely to be seriously considering a senior living space.
Google AdWords can be an effective way to augment your organic efforts. It’s very scalable, and because you can laser-target your audience, it also tends to be fairly cost-effective.
6) Track leads by using CRM software
Let’s say someone reaches out to you via your website, or calls to get more information over the phone. You might tell yourself that you’ll follow up with them promptly, and in some cases you may actually follow through. But, as daily responsibilities get in the way, it’s not uncommon for these leads to slip through the cracks.
A customer relationship management system, or CRM, makes it much easier for you to integrate your marketing and sales efforts, to keep track of prospective move-ins, and to make sure these leads don’t slip away ever again.
If you don’t currently have a CRM system in place, it may be wise to solicit recommendations from both your marketing team and your IT team. HubSpot’s CRM, for instance, is free to use, so take advantage of options that don’t cost you money.
7) Train your team
Senior living community marketing isn’t just about your assets, and it certainly isn’t just about technology. It’s also about your team members and the way they interact with residents, as well as the general public.
It’s never a bad idea to train your entire team on some basic sales strategies. Here are a few recommendations:
- Include everyone. Make sure everyone who works for your senior living community receives formal training on the basics of customer service.
- Listen to your residents, as well as prospective customers. Be attentive to the feedback, suggestions, and common questions you receive. Make sure you implement changes as needed, making it clear to residents that you hear them and care about what they have to say.
- Train sales reps on the sales funnel. Your sales team members should have a clear understanding of the resident journey as it relates to senior living. In particular, remember that family members will initially be seeking basic information and assurances that their loved one will be well-cared for in your community. Education and trust-building are crucial before going into “closing” mode.
8) Be active in the broader community.
A final recommendation for senior living communities: don’t be too isolated. Remember that your community exists in a broader context, and that one of the best ways you can build awareness and generate goodwill is to get out there and meet people.
Some examples of how you can do this:
- Have a booth at local events, fairs, etc.
- Invite the community to come to you with special events, e.g., Trunk-or-Treating
- Look for ways to partner with community clinics and healthcare practices
Remember, there is plenty of opportunity for you to grow your senior living community, and to provide a meaningful service to the aging population. To accomplish these goals, a judicious marketing strategy is essential. For guidance from a skilled marketing team with ample experience in the senior living space, contact Solinity Marketing.