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Why Your Senior Living Community Isn't 100% Occupied

a young lady looking out the window with her arms resting on the window seal

About 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day. Filling senior living communities to 100 percent capacity should be easier than ever! Yet your senior housing operation is still struggling to fill to 100 percent occupancy. Panic sets in, and you consider putting up a billboard, sending out a mass mailer, or running a newspaper ad.  

At the end of the quarter, you’re still dealing with the same problem. Why? Traditional marketing efforts don’t work like they used to. It’s time to change up your strategy.

Seniors Are Crossing the Digital Divide

You might assume seniors don’t spend much time on the internet; however, they are more digitally connected than ever. The share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen from 18 to 42 percent since 2013, and 67 percent of adults ages 65 and older say they go online, according to Pew Research. This is key for those marketing directly to this audience, such as continuing care retirement communities, 55+ communities, or low-acuity independent living, where the prospect is often the decision maker.

Without a strong online presence, it can be hard to compete with the countless other senior living organizations in your area. And don’t even think about growing your business: Offline marketing when used alone just isn’t as effective as it used to be — and a strong online presence requires more than just a website.

Unfortunately, because many senior living organizations only use digital strategies when they’re in crisis mode, it causes a variety of challenges:

  • Sales counselors end up working with a high volume of low-quality leads and prioritize all other traffic over inquiries made via the web. Usually, not enough groundwork was put into a targeted approach that ensures high lead quality.
  • Companies become dependent on advertising efforts to fill the sales pipeline, rather than having a steady growth of lead generation.
  • The right tools aren’t put into place to ensure full-funnel analytics are measured, making it impossible to identify if your approach will be useful again in the future. Whether missing call tracking lines or designated landing pages for your digital campaigns, everything should be measured so return on investment can be calculated.

If you want to have quality lead generation that occurs on an on-going basis, digital marketing strategies can’t solely be a reactive approach to lead gen. Here are three strategies you should be using.

1. Focus on Website Conversion Optimization

Once a website visitor finds your website, what opportunities exist for them to engage you’re your organization and learn more about what you stand for? Long gone are the days when a website was simply a place for prospects to find a phone number and then call you. Today’s website visitors are browsing your site five to seven times before they convert to a lead for sales.

Creating useful, relevant information is a great way to guide potential customers through your website. Positioning yourself as a subject matter expert begins building trust with prospects well before they even speak with someone at your community.  

So how do you optimize your website for conversion? Consistently publish blog articles, promote those blog articles on social media, and offer eBooks, quizzes, checklists or other downloadable content that allow you to capture contact information. Include a call-to-action in your content that moves them forward a step in the buyer’s journey.

You may be wondering, do we actually need a blog? According to HubSpot’s recent Benchmarks report, companies that blog six to eight times per month double their lead volume. In addition to that, each blog article can index thousands of additional keywords for your website, increasing the number of search queries you show up for when prospects and families are researching potential solutions online.

Why promote content on your social channels? Google crawls through everything that is connected to your site. The more keywords you have that consistently show up in various places online, the more “authority” you have with those keywords over time.

Why invest in eBooks or other content that can be downloaded? Capturing email addresses allows you to begin nurturing the relationship digitally. That means that when digital leads convert to sales leads, the quality of the lead is much higher than before.

2. Get Strategic with Email Marketing

Let’s start with what not to do here: Many senior living organizations have begun using email marketing, but the challenge is that the emails sent don’t match where the recipient is in the buyer’s journey. If someone recently downloaded a guide you created that talks about how to introduce the idea of senior living to a loved one for the first time but they haven’t visited a location-specific website page, they probably aren’t ready to receive an email from you asking them to schedule a tour.

Sending the wrong email message at the wrong time is sure to increase your opt-out rates. You rarely get a second chance, so make every interaction intentional and relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey. If they downloaded an eBook on having the talk, perhaps the next most logical email communication is a guide featuring your team members giving advice on this very subject. It’s a soft introduction to your team and relevant to the type of information the lead is looking for.

Keep this in mind, companies that nurture their leads see 50 percent more sales-ready leads than their non-nurturing counterparts at a 33 percent lower cost.

3. Put an On-going Emphasis on Organic Search

Advertising is expensive — whether traditional or digital. When in a crisis, there absolutely are benefits to spending more dollars on advertising efforts. That being said, improving your search engine optimization ensures you aren’t reliant on advertising to generate leads.

Local SEO is often an overlooked tool. Optimize directories and ensure the information from channel to channel is consistent. Inconsistencies in an address, phone number, or even a description of the community will negatively impact search engine results. Optimizing your website for local SEO involves ensuring your listings on Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business are consistent and asking happy residents and their families to leave reviews. Reviews on third-party platforms increase your chances of being found by qualified prospects without having to pay a dime.

Invest energy in keyword research to ensure you are optimized for on-page SEO. Use tools such as Google Search Console along with customer interviews to identify the keywords that will attract your ideal prospect.

These are only a few digital marketing strategies to generate more leads.

Not sure where to start? Schedule a complimentary deep-dive call with Michelle.

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