senior marketing collective

9 Steps to Better Senior Living Marketing

senior living marketing

By Mark Montonara

Baby boomers are opting for assisted living rather than traditional nursing homes today. This offers great opportunities for marketing assisted living communities and related senior care services. From now until 2030, 10,000 baby boomers will hit retirement age daily.

What makes senior living marketing so critical for your business?

Moving yourself or a loved one to an assisted living community is a big emotional and financial decision. This decision is often made with many (if not all) of the adults in the family. Adult children want to feel that the decision is one that family members and their seniors are educated about. They will do a lot of online research before they make a commitment of this nature.

Online research like this makes up over 80% of a buying journey these days. Long before you have a chance to speak to your prospects about your community or senior care services, your prospect is already making decisions. And you need to be visible online with information that can help them to include you in their decision making.

What does senior living marketing look like in today’s market?

Promoting your senior living community and/or senior services used to work like most business marketing – through networking. Senior communities used to focus on building network relationships with local hospitals, doctors, churches and other houses of worship. These networking contacts were generally connected to seniors and their family members and would have a sense for who might be a good candidate for the community availability.

With the launch of the internet and search engines, many of these seniors and their families are researching options independent of this traditional referral network.

Today, 86% of Americans aged 50-59 use a smartphone. 81% of 60-69 year olds use one. And even 62% of those over 70 years of age use smartphones. (Source: AARP)

With that large an audience doing research online, here are 9 steps that you can take in your marketing strategies to create higher visibility for your community and/or senior care services.

Step #1 – Clearly define your target audience

Depending upon your services and location, your future clients will look a lot like your past clients. Make sure that you have a clear image of who they are… their ‘buyer persona’. This would include having a clear sense of where they typically live, eat, send their kids to school, vacation, etc.

You should take the time to understand what type of issues that they have and how you can help them resolve those issues. This will help you to develop content to assist them in their ‘buying journey’.

All of these details will help to develop a clear picture of who you are looking to connect with and most importantly, where you will likely engage them – online and offline. It should be the information that informs your future decision on where to concentrate your resources.

Step #2 – Develop a realistic marketing budget

Once you know who you are trying to reach for your business, a well-defined marketing budget can help keep your business plan on track in that journey. To come up with a marketing budget, you need to know your goals and how much revenue you really need. A senior living community will need to calculate how many residents per year they need in order to meet their revenue goal. And a senior care services company will need to know how many new clients that they need, based on the average revenue per client.

Marketing campaigns can be very expensive, but they’re worth it if your marketing budget is a good indicator of the effectiveness of your campaigns. Consider the stage of your business, for example, whether you are just starting out or have been established for a while. You should also think about how competitive your market area and geographic region is. Would you like to target a competitive area like New York or focus instead on establishing your senior living community or business in a more suburban area?

Ensure that any costs related to marketing are factored into the budget. For example, if you want to use senior living marketing software, budget for that upfront or you might be surprised by needing it after the budget is set up.

Once you’ve created your marketing budget, make sure to respect what you’ve set aside.

Step #3 – Create an engaging website

When people get to your website, make sure that it looks fresh and up-to-date. An old-looking website does not evoke confidence from your audience. You need to refresh your website’s look every 5 years or so. And the content should be refreshed and updated regularly.

Once your website is ‘refreshed’, you want to prominently highlight the ‘next step’ that you want your website visitor to take. Normally, that next step is not to call you. They are probably still in research mode when they first come to your website.

Generally, you want them to learn more about your features. Or maybe you want to see some great testimonials. Don’t present them with too many options initially. And, consider landing pages for your different prospect ‘personas’.

In addition to the visuals content on your website, it is very important that your website structure is clean and fast. Page load speeds and ‘mobile-friendliness’ can help OR hurt your website’s ranking also. 

Step #4: Develop an SEO strategy to help your updated website get found in search engines

There are large players in the ‘senior living’ space… we’re thinking of you, A Place for Mom. They are not the only listing platform/lead generation resource for senior living communities, but they are by far the biggest. And what that means is that almost all of the internet searches will include their website at the top of page 1, because they have worked hard to earn that position.

If you work with A Place for Mom for your residential leads, that is a good thing. But, if you want to have your own identity in the marketplace, you will need to build an SEO strategy that helps to set you apart from the ‘big boys’, like A Place for Mom. That is when you develop a ‘long-tail keyword’ strategy for your website and content.

Long-tail keywords help to tighten your market reach, and have less search competition. These long-tail keywords don’t get as much traffic as a ‘head’ keywords, but you generally have a better chance of achieving a page 1 position.

As an example, ‘senior living’ is a head keyword which gets over 33,000 average searches each month. But, it is a very difficult keyword to rank on (90% Keyword Difficulty). You will spend a tremendous amount of time and budget trying to rank for this term, with little result.

But, if your community is in Chicago, and you focused your efforts on long-tail keyword phrases like “senior living in Chicago”, you would have a better chance. The monthly search volume for this term is much lower – 880 per month – but the Keyword difficulty is just 50%.

And, if you extend the long-tail keyword to something like “senior independent living in chicago” the keyword difficulty drops further still – 36% for about 50 searches a month.

The bottom line – if you are not finding some way to get onto Page 1 of internet search results (ideally in one of the top 3 organic positions) for some variation of your keywords, your online visibility will be zero.

Another key to being found on search engines like Google is to have citations/listings of your business on directories across the internet. There are tools like that will help you submit your listing to the 60-100 top online directories, such as, Yelp, CitySearch, etc.

Step #5 – Create relevant and helpful content to attract your prospects to your website

Once you create an SEO strategy, you will need to optimize your existing website content to incorporate the target keywords. This will include a review of your Page title, meta description, page URL, image alt tags, etc. This may sound complicated, but there are affordable SEO resources that can help you accomplish this.

Once you have reviewed your existing website content, it is time to start building a Content Calendar to support this SEO strategy. Every piece of content that you create should be planned and written with one target keyword in mind. Over time, this content will link to related content on your website and on other ‘authoritative’ websites.

An SEO strategy should incorporate various tactics – targeted keywords, linking and backlinking, and a mobile-friendly, fast website.

Step #6 – Don’t forget to get social

To attract new clients through digital advertising, you should go to the places where they spend their time. In this day and age, your prospects are on social media. There are many social media channels to consider. But, not all of them are equal. You will need to explore the options to determine which social media channel connects best with your target audience.

Be prepared to respond to messages through social media. If someone has a question that you can answer, the quicker that you can respond the higher the chance that you can continue that conversation.

Step #7 – Monitor your brand’s reputation

Once you’ve got a few online profiles for your community or business online, you might be getting reviews from clients. To manage this, it is necessary to have a strategy in place. According to Inc Magazine, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends. And 68% form an opinion after reading one and six online reviews.

While a few negative reviews won’t cause any significant damage, an excessive amount of them will affect your establishment’s personality on Yelp/Google/etc.

Make sure to always ask for a review from a satisfied customer. You can also do this at the end of projects that were especially good.

If you do get a bad review, see it as an opportunity to learn from your customer and to demonstrate to the online community how responsive and caring you and your organization are. We could write a whole blog post about this, but suffice to say that ignoring negative reviews is never a good idea.

68% of people form an opinion after reading one review

Step #8 – Don’t ignore traditional marketing channels

Do traditional marketing strategies such as offline marketing work for your business? Yes, they often do. Since billboards and local advertising are still effective for some people, it might make sense to consider using them in your marketing strategy.

But, you have to remember that no matter how they hear about your company, clients are likely going to do research online before making any decisions. Nowadays, consumers are better at evaluating their options than before. So, keep your site up-to-date & maintain a strong online presence even if you feel that the ‘offline’ marketing is working.

Step #9 – Market, measure, then market some more

You can not be blind to the success or failure of your senior living marketing activity.

For every marketing tactic that you employ to win new business, it is critical to plan a measurement step into the process. Use unique website URLs for any campaign. Or set up a specific phone line to receive calls from an ad campaign. Do whatever it takes to determine how effective your marketing efforts are.

At a bare minimum, make sure that whoever answers your office phone line is prepared to ask new inbound client calls ‘How did you learn about us?” Even though the caller may not have only seen one marketing effort, you can get a sense for some of the influencing tactics.

Without this feedback loop, you will not be able to determine how best to move forward on future marketing.

Originally published at