What’s Your Community’s Digital Marketing Plan?

by | Feb 4, 2015

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By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President

Websites, inbound marketing, micro-targeting, social media, blogs and PR — the evolution of marketing for retirement communities has begun. This blog will discuss how using these tools in harmony can lead to increased sales.

Websites and Inbound Marketing

The first question Love & Company asks our clients is, “Do you have a website you are proud of?” Forget about the bells and whistles, is your website a creative tour de force that demonstrates the uniqueness of your retirement community? Next, does your website build relationships by continually asking prospects what they are interested in through inbound marketing? This tactical approach also allows for micro-targeting (marketing to a highly targeted audience, i.e., widows, widowers, pet owners, children of prospects). Here are some examples of inbound marketing opportunities.

  • Information kit request form – Obviously, your community’s website should include an information kit (or brochure) request form – which should be so much more than a mere request form – more specifically, it should include an experience customization form, i.e., “Let us customize your downloadable information kit to better suit your interests!” This form would then have a checkable list of apartment home sizes, features, services, and activities. In addition, because we understand that many seniors back out when reaching the contact page, you should also ideally show a video of a community resident explaining how valuable and helpful the information kit was to their research (utilizing the power of social proof).
  • Events – Retirement community events can serve as a mass marketing inducement to continue the relationship. In addition, they can serve as a tool that allows micro-targeting, for example, you might invite a single man (divorced, widowed, single) to a brew club event. Their choice of events tells us a lot about them.
  • White papers – as with events, white papers such as Understanding Lifecare or Retiring Single can target on a mass or a micro level.
  • Live chat – Live chat provides instantaneous service and discovery when the prospect is most engaged. While this can be intimidating to some seniors, it is becoming more commonplace. These services can be outsourced.
  • Popups – While utilized as a last resort, popups can be useful. They can be triggered by different actions in different areas. For example, if the prospect is pondering for too long on a particular webpage your popup can prod them with a gentle question that asks them if they need help or would like a white paper.
  • E-newsletter or branded newspaper subscriptions – Subscriptions allow your retirement community to have an ongoing, non-threatening conversation with your prospect.

EVERY piece of information creates another inbound opportunity, “How else can we serve you?” – which in turn provides you with more information on your prospect and allows your team to delight the senior with additional, meaningful information.

Blogs, PR and integrated media

Your retirement community’s integrated marketing approach should include community blogs that serve as the centerpiece of email marketing efforts focused on engaging prospects and keeping them excited about your retirement community. The blog link is regularly emailed to the community’s prospect list and features such topics as:

  • Public relations
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) benefits
  • Testimonials from depositors
  • Important messages from leadership
  • Amenities information
  • Staff profiles
  • Invitations to marketing and community events

Each blog entry also includes a relevant call-to-action. In addition to helping with your retirement community’s search engine optimization (SEO), blog posts are posted to the community’s various social media platforms such as:

Micro Targeting

As discussed earlier, micro-targeting is a key component of Love & Company’s strategic approach. Moving to a targeted approach leads to more qualified prospects with less waste. This is particularly important as many older retirement communities have specific inventory that has proven more difficult to sell (i.e., small one-bedrooms). Also, because online behavior is so easily measured, this approach allows your retirement community’s marketing team to learn and make adjustments in real time. These tactics include Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and targeted landing pages.

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — Online ads can be targeted to very specific audiences. To name a few possibilities:
    • Widows/Widowers
    • Prospects within a geographic region
    • Individuals with health concerns – Ads are served when a user types in subjects such as:
      • Ortho rehab
      • Cardio rehab
    • College affiliations
    • Adult children
  • Dedicated Landing Pages – SEM allows us to drive highly targeted prospects to highly targeted landing pages. These dedicated landing pages allow us to shape the message and experience to that particular person. For example, a dedicated landing page for widowers could invite targeted prospects to take a look at the “Gentleman’s Suite,” a smaller studio equipped with an automatic Murphy bed and big screen TV.

For years, senior housing marketers have had low expectations for the effectiveness of their digital marketing, in particular, social media. Retirement communities that believe the myth that older Americans aren’t online will quickly be left behind. Which leads me to my initial question, “What’s your retirement community’s digital marketing plan?”

 

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