Seniors Housing Business

JUL 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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22 www.seniorshousingbusiness.com Seniors Housing Business n July 2018 By Jeff Shaw The ubiquity of the Internet has paved the way for a slew of new sales and marketing techniques to spring up over the last 20 years. However, while other industries embrace and experiment with digital marketing, seniors housing operators often stay stuck in their ana- log ways. "Seniors don't use the Internet" is the argu- ment that is often voiced, but it's simply not true. For example, the percentage of seniors who use smartphones more than doubled from 29 percent to 59 percent between 2013 and 2016, according a Pew Research Center study. That same report showed that 67 percent of seniors have some form of home Internet, and more than half had high-speed broadband Internet in their homes. For those that embrace digital efforts, approximately 50 percent of new leads come via the web, according to seniors hous- ing marketing firms Love & Company and GlynnDevins. This applies to both the seniors, who are using the web in ever-growing num- bers, and the adult children who might help the parent search for a community that fits their needs. "It's amazing to me the number of clients that haven't yet dipped their toe in the digital water," says Jessica Kraft, executive vice presi- dent at Minneapolis-based Bluespire Senior Marketing, another seniors housing market- ing firm. "There are tremendous opportunities for low costs and high returns on investment there." Develop a strategy Of course, simply starting a pay-per-click ad campaign isn't enough, adds Kraft. For digital marketing to really show results, the strategy must be comprehensive and well thought out. "There must be an overall integrated plan, making sure you're targeting users everywhere with a clear story and tracking data on the back end," says Kraft. "A lot of people are still throwing darts at the wall and hoping some- thing sticks." Examples of other industries that do a fine job of marketing to their customers include dentistry and automotive repair, where often- times an appointment is followed by an email thanking the customers for their visit and encouraging them to complete an online review. A poorly planned digital marketing cam- paign can easily turn a customer off rather than make them more interested, notes Tom Mann, executive vice president of integrated media services for Maryland-based Love & Company. For example, pay-per-click (PPC) ads should promote a specific topic, such as a custom white paper written by, or for, the operator. Users should then be sent to a landing page that collects their personal information for future lead follow-ups before giving out the white paper to read. However, many operators simply link to their homepage. The user is con- fused as to what to do next and often leaves. "If you click and then you're on a general website with no clear next step, as a customer you're thinking, 'What just happened?'" says Mann. Putting the customer first Part of the struggle with bringing operators up to speed on the value of digital market- ing is getting them to adjust their view on the sales cycle. Rather than contacting the custom- ers and trying to sell them on the value of the Are Operators Doing Enough Digital Marketing? n Marketing Companies that stay with the times have a better shot at filling rooms. Bluespire uses the above chart to show the full cycle of making a potential resident aware of a community. The process involves a wide variety of digital marketing tactics.

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