It is a common myth that leads from digital sources—those that often enter your CRM with just an email address—are of little value because senior living sales teams can’t connect with these individuals or couples by phone.
But here’s the truth: digital leads simply march to the beat of their own drum. They are the well-researched, the busy, the shy, the tech-savvy and, most importantly, they are the ones ready and waiting for you to inspire them to act.
They just need a little nurturing.
In the most basic sense, a lead nurturing program could be defined as your “long game.”
It’s a program designed to slow-drip general education, including information about your community and engagement opportunities that (slowly but surely) break down the barriers between your prospect and your sales team. These programs arm your prospects with the knowledge they need to feel comfortable taking another step toward a decision.
Although you can strategically run a lead nurturing program that offers different touchpoints via different vehicles on multiple platforms, for the purposes of this post, we’re going to stay within the frame of an email nurture series. An email nurture series typically consists of three to six (and even up to 12 or more) emails.
We will discuss email nurture strategies in much more detail, as well as other ways that you can tailor your digital marketing program to the “new senior living sales cycle,” in our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, October 28. Sign up here!
So, what should every good nurture program contain? Here are some five foundational elements to incorporate.
To give your nurture program a strong start in providing helpful information to prospects, it’s wise to first gather a list of actual questions that your team receives most often. In full collaboration with the sales team, spend an hour together collecting the most frequently asked questions you all hear from leads. Then, list all of the FAQs in a spreadsheet or document you can update over time.
For the overall campaign, remember to use the basic FAQs as a springboard. These questions are typically what are needed to break down the barriers between your new lead and your sales team. Once you have a robust list of questions, create content that answers them, which can take the form of a blog series or a dedicated webpage on your community’s site.
- Social proof
Social proof leverages the concept of normative social influence, meaning that by their very nature, humans seek validation and social influence to excuse their desire to conform or, in our case, move forward with a decision.
In a marketing sense, social proof can include anything from a testimonial graphic to a screenshot of a Google review. These items can go far when strategically used on everything from landing pages to nurture emails. In fact, 63% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a site that offers ratings, reviews and other forms of social proof.
With this in mind for your email nurture efforts, be sure to build in an opportunity to read more reviews of your community on Google and Facebook (as long as your platforms and reviews are in good shape!). You could do something as simple as pairing a testimonial from a current resident with a link to read more reviews of your community or organization.
- Opportunity to connect on social media
We view email campaigns as both vehicles to deliver information and as “launchpads” to other links and sites that you want prospects to visit. In this phase of your relationship, you want to connect as many ways as possible, especially in ways that allow you to offer additional touchpoints for persuasion. Driving email traffic to social media platforms is a great way to connect.
Of course, driving prospects to your social media pages highlights the importance of keeping your profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and/or Twitter, for example) up to date and fun. You should always have a nice mix of content, ranging from daily previews of life at your community to links, blogs and other prospect-focused material.
For the nurture series itself, don’t stop at the opportunity to connect on social media — go further and include an example of a fun post you’ve shared or has received an exceptional response from your followers. This addition can go far in breaking down a barrier to connection, and it really humanizes your marketing efforts.
For a more general link to social pages that isn’t tied to a particular post (this method could be seen as more “evergreen”), try including an engaging CTA such as “Come see what we’re up to,” “Follow all the fun on Facebook” or even “Visit Us on Facebook!”
- Sales team names and contact number(s)
Even as a prospect moves through the mid-funnel phases, you want the sales team to be present and approachable, giving prospects a way to easily connect once they’ve been inspired.
Simply including a team member’s photo and phone number at the end of nurture series emails adds an important level of personalization.
Especially as prospects get closer to their decisions, it’s prudent to include names and information of other people who will be guiding them on their journey as new residents, should they choose your community. For example, you can share your move-in coordinator’s name and his or her contact info, especially if it’s someone who is already on your sales and marketing team. This lets the prospects prepare for what they can expect when the big day arrives (and adds a personal touch that doubles as an inducement to call).
- Clever ways to gain insights
Many organizations make the mistake of keeping valuable, prospect-focused information behind a locked gate in hopes the lead will call. In the world of digital lead nurturing, this is a huge mistake! You’ll get more engagement by providing information clearly and directly — while weaving in inducements — than you will by simply asking a prospect to “call for all the details.”
Each email, text and phone call is an opportunity for discovery for your sales team, but the emails are where you can weave in the greatest opportunities for learning.
Design your nurture series emails so that they offer several opportunities to click through to pages on your website that offer high-level answers to FAQs. From there, you can evaluate high-interest topics for a particular prospect or group of prospects and use the email click information as conversation springboards in follow-up emails.
If you have questions on the creation of an email nurture series and how it plays with the rest of the elements within a digital marketing campaign, join us for our webinar next week! “The New Senior Living Sales Cycle – Explained” will be 90 minutes of valuable information to help your organization adapt to today’s prospect behaviors and convert more digital leads to sales.
For more of Love & Company’s resources on senior living digital marketing, click here; or call Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 to find out how a confluent digital marketing program can help your existing Life Plan Community advance its mission.