By Susan Saldibar

It may take some time for senior living operators to shake off the image of an industry clinging to old school operational and marketing models, reluctant to embrace technology and new ideas. And, yet, there are seeds of change, as pointed out to me recently by Valerie Whitman, VP of Senior Living for LeadingResponse (a Senior Living Foresight partner). Valerie conducted a roundtable discussion at this year’s SMASH conference. And there were positive signs of a breaking away from traditional models and moving beyond basic demographic targeting in their marketing efforts.

Here are a few examples:

    • Using offsite events as a way to attract those prospects not yet ready to come onsite.
    • Targeting “lookalike” audiences with Facebook campaigns.
    • Incorporating ailment data and familial connections into campaigns.
    • Running Google ads and using geo targeting.
    • Creating events centered around:
      • education – targeting new prospects
      • entertainment – targeting lead base to nurture
    • Incorporating email and digital vehicles to share video clips of recent events to encourage interest and future involvement.

Marketers Are Starting to Dig More Deeply Into Consumer Behavior Data

Here’s how:

    • Implementing downloadable content such as financial, care, and caregiver assessment tools:
      • Retargeting those that visited your site yet didn’t act
      • Providing content for lead base nurturing
      • Providing content to cultivate new leads
    • Retargeting website traffic that matches back to the property address and identifies demographics.
    • Incorporating hyper-targeted demographic data for more qualified efforts and CTAs (calls to action).
    • Conducting call tracking and time of day audits.
    • Identifying when the highest lead volume is.
    • Identifying when leads are most likely to go idle, thereby missing the opportunity for speed to lead.
    • Incentivizing the concierge for scheduling tours.
    • Conducting analyses of resident & lead demographics to then have more substantial data for lookalike campaigns as well as tailoring events and messaging.

This sure doesn’t look like old school. It’s pretty impressive. And yet, Valerie noted that there are still plenty of obstacles to get senior living providers to use hyper-targeting to its fullest potential. Roadblocks remain, including:

    • Data silos, especially with legacy systems, making extraction of data challenging.
    • Analysis paralysis, with the hesitancy to commit and take action.
    • Poor metrics that prevent the ability to make critical strategic decisions.
    • Lack of budget & C-level buy-in for true omnichannel approach.

Is There a Viable Way Forward? It Would Appear There Is

Here are some suggestions from the roundtable participants:

    • Consider outsourcing versus FTE for certain functions.
    • Further engage your community teams to support SEO. An example might be creating a program that awards a social media trophy to the community that provides the most content that month.
    • Incorporate interns into your marketing department. They not only provide additional resources, but bring in a fresh set of eyes, particularly as it relates to digital marketing.
    • Utilize strategic budget dollars where available to allocate the cost of certain efforts, such as interns and/or FTEs for functions where outsourcing would be cost-prohibitive.

Valerie was heartened by the input from the participants. It gives us hope. Things are changing, she tells me. Consumer behavior is being examined more carefully and being used to create a more accurate, multi-dimensional view of the target resident. Marketers are starting to wake up to the power of a deeper data set and the benefits of hyper-targeting.

LeadingResponse continues its ongoing mission of helping operators meet resident prospects where they are in the process and where they are most open to engaging and learning about senior living options. Roundtables, such as the one at SMASH, are important to that effort and to keeping the conversation going. Something we can all use.

For more information about LeadingResponse, please visit their website.