This is a story I am rather hesitant to tell. It is a story about an experiment that is far outside what would be considered best practice for a senior housing company and it was imprudent high risk experiment for, but turned out much better than expected.


When embarking on a directory campaign needs it needs to be viewed as a strategic activity rather than tactical.  You need to approach the campaign as a multiyear effort because directory companies have been able to repeatedly demonstrate taking a long view will generate more qualified leads and more actual move-ins.  Almost always, no matter how successful the first few months or first year of a campaign is, it will typically be more successful the second year and even more so the third. For all of that, this story is worth telling.  

The Client and Process

Because is currently in discussion with this particular client to expand their program I have been asked to not reveal the specific company.  But here is the situation:

  • The company is a large senior housing company with a significant North American presence, whose name you would likely recognize.
  • They wanted to do trial project with where they would use premium paid directory listings to improve search ranking and generate new qualified leads for their senior communities. 
  • They identified 16 under performing communities for the test.
  • worked with corporate and local marketing teams to create compelling directory listings for each of the senior communities.
  • They also implemented a system to identify the leads coming from the campaign and to track the outcome of those leads.
  • The test campaign ran for three months at a cost of just over $500 per community (Just over $8,000 for the three month trial.)


The Results

The bottom line for any marketing campaign is to figure out how many qualified leads were generated and how many of those leads converted to move-ins. 

  • The exact campaign cost was $8,220 for the 16 communities for the three months.  This was a premium price because it was such a short trial.
  • The senior company was able to identify 72 total leads that could be directly attributed to the three month directory campaign.
  • Of those 72 leads 69 were bona fide qualified families looking for senior housing.
  • From the start of the campaign through six months following the campaign there were 7 move-ins that could be directly attributed to the campaign.  Because these kinds of activities tend to have extremely long tails, the final results will almost certainly be higher.
  • Total cost per qualified lead:   $119.00
  • Total cost per move-in $1,174.00
  • If this had been a yearlong effort it is likely the cost per lead would have dropped below $100 and the cost per move-in below $1,000.  It sure beats several thousand dollars a move-in to A Place for Mom or other referral services.

There are several directory companies and each one operates a little differently.  You can get a feel for the kinds of services This webpage will provide you an overview of what they offer.  

What is your feedback?

  • What is your experience with paid directory services?
  • What marketing/sales experiments have you tried?  How have they worked out?

  Steve Moran