By Clara Daly, Interactive Communications Director
The adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” is more relevant than it’s ever been for senior living organizations whose sales and marketing teams have been pushed to the brink during COVID-19. Fortunately, at a time when every marketing-qualified lead (MQL) matters more, organizations can use digital tools to ensure that their campaigns are getting the most out of every dollar spent—while generating more sales. That’s working smarter, not harder.
Based on the shifts our field has experienced this year, the same tactics that worked at the beginning of the year will not be as effective now. So, organizations must adapt to how senior living prospects are receiving and responding to marketing messages as they enter the “new senior living sales cycle.”
This is the theme of our webinar, “The New Senior Living Sales Cycle – Explained,” which features a packed panel of esteemed colleagues from Love & Company and Enquire. In case you missed it, you can click here to watch.
For now, we will take a closer look at ways that your organization’s sales and marketing team can work smarter—letting technology do the work—as your marketing program captures and moves senior living MQLs toward their decision-making stage.
1) Give prospects a voice by adding a comment section on forms
One easily adoptable optimization for your digital marketing campaign involves giving prospects a chance to speak for themselves. By this, I mean including a comment section on every landing page form that a community uses to capture digital leads. This gives the prospect the opportunity to write any thoughts, questions or background information without your sales team having to lift a finger (or cell phone).
We’ve seen that senior living prospects will basically share their life stories on comment sections of our landing page forms, which not only lets them feel in control of their journey, but also provides the sales team with invaluable discovery straight from the lead. So, when the sales team member follows up a new landing page entry (e.g., a request for a tour) with a phone call, he or she can use the information the prospect provided in the comment section to help craft an authentic relationship with that lead.
Of course, most Life Plan Communities have had to shift their marketing events to the virtual space, whether through webinars or streaming video events. Just like the events themselves, communities should take the logistics of their marketing events online as well. If there is one key thing that I would recommend that all communities do today, it is this: Post (and promote) your community’s marketing events online!
2) Take events and RSVPs online
To accomplish this, work with your website manager to create a dedicated events page on the community’s website. You can also opt to post event listings on a website section such as the blog; just make sure to tag or organize your content sufficiently so prospects can distinguish events from other articles and announcements. Once the events are set up, promote them in the digital space. Send email campaigns, and be sure to post them online (such as on your community’s social media accounts, too) because that’s where today’s senior living prospects are.
It’s also important to enable online RSVPs for multiple reasons. First, it allows prospects to RSVP without picking up the phone, which (as mentioned earlier) keeps them feeling in control. Second, digital RSVPs are more easily tracked this way so it saves sales counselors the time required to manually log each one. Third, a prospect’s event RSVP can then automatically enter him or her into a nurture campaign where they can learn more about your community over time, even if they end up missing or skipping the actual event.
It’s also possible to build event systems that take an RSVP and automatically make a calendar entry on the prospect’s personal online calendar such as Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal, etc. With elements like this in place, we have seen our clients’ online events receive great response while saving sales teams lots of time and energy.
3) Remember there’s no ‘add to cart’ button for senior living
My final nugget to share is less about technology working for your team and more a reminder that your team should work with technology because it is the foundation for the new senior living sales cycle.
Digital marketing tools, especially newer ones, are about adapting to where prospects are in their search for their next home. Just as prospects have recently become exponentially more adept at using internet-based tools to order groceries and communicate via video, they are now inherently more primed to respond to similar inducements to work with your community and your team using technology.
That said, the “add to cart” button doesn’t exist for senior living as it does for Instacart or Amazon. Your digital marketing program could use every brand-new tool and tactic, but those will never replace the one-on-one relationships that your sales team needs to craft once the senior living MQLs roll into the CRM.
When they do, the leads will be warmer and more informed, and your team will be able to meet them where they are.
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.