Old school lead generation and management processes are getting kicked to the curb by integrated digital marketing platforms

By Susan Saldibar

According to recent reports, more investors are now funneling their dollars into senior housing and care markets in anticipation of filling the needs of a population of 77+ million aging Baby Boomers.

By all accounts independent and assisted living and memory care communities are on the rise. For those of you already in the marketplace that means more competition. And that’s a good thing. Right?

Well that depends on how prepared you are to compete. Today, a big part of getting and staying competitive lies in harnessing technology to automate and optimize critical sales and marketing processes and touchpoints.

In other words, old school lead generation and management processes are getting kicked to the curb by integrated digital marketing platforms calibrated to put contextual messaging in front of a targeted buying audience, snag the leads in real time, triage and nurture them, and get the coveted “move-in” faster than you can say “How may I help you?”

It doesn’t matter what greatness lies within your doors — if nobody’s knocking!

We recently spoke with someone who understands both sides of the digital marketing challenge, Jason McCloud, VP of Digital and Integrated Strategy with Sage Age Strategies, a Senior Housing Forum partner. Jason brings a unique perspective, having worked with some of the nation’s leading senior care organizations as well as with some leading technology providers.

“Many owners of senior care communities tell us, ‘We’ll beat the competition on our level of care and personalized services’,” says Jason. “And, that’s great,” he adds. “But what they don’t realize is that without a strong marketing engine driving lead generation on the front end, no one may know you even exist!”

‘Wait and See’ is not a strategy.

Many owners of senior care communities are reluctant to make a move until they see what everyone else is doing. But that “wait and see” mentality could be costly in the long run.

“As more communities spring up, the likelihood is that they will deploy the latest digital marketing platforms to build their client base,” says Jason. “Every month you continue to ‘wait and see’, potentially puts you further and further behind the curve,” he added.

Large or small, you need to put your “A” game in action.

Without question, digital marketing, when implemented strategically, packs a powerful punch. According to Jason, the following components need to be tightly integrated together to create a smooth and effective digital marketing and lead management ecosystem:

  • Optimized website for search engines and lead conversions
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign (including paid re-marketing) for targeted lead generation
  • Email marketing: marketing automation platform with personalized messaging
  • Lead management, ‘speed-to-lead’ response strategy (ideal response time <5 minutes)
  • CRM integration with website, call center, third party referrals
  • Active social media presence to nurture leads and build brand awareness

Move over, third party referral agencies.

Third party referral agencies, such as A Place for Mom, Care.com and others, make it easy for senior care providers to get leads, using few resources. Let’s face it, they are convenient and virtually hands free. But, according to Jason, they should not be your only lead source.  

“Third party lead sources are great. They can and should be used to augment your efforts,” says Jason. “But more senior care community operators are realizing that they can use SEO and SEM together strategically to create highly targeted digital campaigns, which get the lead to their door just as quickly, if not even faster, than third party referrals,” he adds.

And, who wouldn’t love to avoid those double payments for not identifying third party duplicates quickly enough? By Jason’s estimates, senior care providers are paying thousands and, in some cases, tens of thousands to third parties in duplicate referrals!

“This is why CRM integration is so critical,” says Jason. “By importing third party leads directly into your CRM and validating them to identify duplicates immediately, you can avoid missing deadlines and paying twice,” he adds.

Where to start?

Starting to build an effective digital marketing ecosystem can be daunting. We asked Jason what the basic essentials are for senior communities wanting to get moving with a digital marketing function.

“Having an end-to-end inbound marketing platform with SEO and SEM tightly aligned and optimized for your target audience is a good start,” says Jason. “Integrating your inbound lead sources with your CRM is also key,” he added. “Having all pieces working together will generate more leads, move them efficiently through your pipeline, and economically convert them into move-ins.”

Get in front of the curve.

Without question, the competitive landscape for senior living communities is changing, and changing fast. And there are more lead generation vehicles to use and manage than ever before.

“Relying on a website and social media alone is going to keep you behind the curve,” says Jason. But he is quick to note that even smaller communities can still adopt best practices and compete effectively with the big guys.

“Start by putting the key pieces in place and integrating them so that they work together,” says Jason. “But don’t play ‘wait and see’,” he adds. “You need to start now.”