In the continually changing world of marketing and advertising, what should you be doing or at least considering? We are “lucky” that we don’t have to be on the cutting edge in the senior living & care industry. Due to our clientele, we can sit back & see which trends take hold and become main stream, and which disappear. But we still need to be vigilant & not fall too far behind and let our competitors leave us in the dust.
Your Customers are Your Marketers – That’s not to say that we can phase out marketers, but we need to equip clients to be advocates. This means you need to put a heavy emphasis on customer service. Consumers seek legitimate trust & genuine relationships, so give them real information they can use and share. Nor more are the days of the marketing funnel. The funnel has been replaced by the wheel. The good news is, with all the new technology available, you can more easily target those interested in your product & service which should save you money over a large broadcast.
Content Marketing – Content is still king. 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Content includes blog posts, videos, social media updates & other authentic content. Test these mediums and figure out which resonates most with your buyer. With so much out there now, you have to do it better to stand out. Encourage sharing & engagement to build trust & then show your appreciation (very important).
Video is imperative. Its effectiveness & popularity is skyrocketing. 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a new product or service. YouTube is now the largest search engine after Google. You don’t have to hire a production company. You can use your smartphone & decent lighting. Videos aren’t just a brand message to attract customers anymore. You should create video assets for your sales & service reps. to help them answer the most common questions. And if you are posting on Instagram, keep it vertical.
Although video is a part of social media, there is so much more! According to the Data & Marketing Assoc. (DMA), social media spending will account for almost 20% of marketing budgets in the next 5 years. Stay up to date! Where are your customers? Recent research shows that seniors’ favorite social site is currently Facebook, but how fast will that change? What about their adult children? Find your users & what they react to – different lengths, hashtags, videos, live events, etc.. With the addition of “stories” on Instagram and others, you also now can consider permanent & temporary content. Stories are temporary, a good filler between scheduled posts. They should be playful, quick and timely, as they expire in 24 hours. Remember that most users viewing stories are looking for a break, but even your story posts should match your brand’s message.
Micro-Influencers are a growing part of social media. These are real people with 100,000 (maybe less) to 1 million followers, and they are the future of influencer marketing. Since they are real people, they are trusted, so their posts “pack more punch”. Do you follow a micro-influencer? Even if it’s not senior based, consider asking them about some cross promotion. I recently interviewed a micro-influencer who focuses on fishing, but has found that including cars (he’s a valet at a nice steakhouse in Plano, TX), and some workout posts (he also teaches CrossFit), has opened up even more doors, increasing his followers and likes. More good news – your money goes a long way with these people.
Native Advertising – When your brand pays for content on a 3rd party site to naturally & organically advertise your brand/product. It’s designed to blend in, not stand out. A good example is when you notice an ad for cookware on a recipe, or an ad for luggage on a travel article you are reading. Native advertising should be part of your mix, but not replace content.
AI or Artificial Intelligence – Defined as machines doing things that require intelligence, like learning, seeing, talking, socializing, reasoning & problem solving. Examples: Customer profiling & advanced performance tracking (data analysis) – like when Netflix, Spotify, Pinterest & others make recommendations for you, when Facebook tags someone in a picture, and even when you use Siri to dictate your text message. You should be using AI to help target advertising & change the message to fit the viewer, to improve & expand your ability to connect with an audience, & help them solve problems more quickly.
Chatbots are a great example of AI that is here to stay. We have all seen the floating boxes on a website with a picture of “Susie” asking how she can help you. You should consider adding a chatbot to save money & better your customer service. More than 50% of consumers expect a response within 10 min. to any type of inquiry. This is not possible for busy marketers, so bots provide the perception of a dedicated 1:1 service experience. And an added bonus, you can use the questions asked to build your content strategy.
VR & AR – Virtual & Augmented Reality – Virtual reality is computer-generated lifelike scenario, like today’s video games. With VR Glasses becoming affordable (I just saw some at Walmart on sale), how can you best use this technology? Currently in this industry, I am seeing them most used for Alzheimer’s research and entertainment, and virtual tours. Augmented reality is viewing the real world with visual, olfactory & other additions, like IKEA’s IKEA Place, where you can virtually place furniture in a room. How great is that for your new residents? Don’t just give them a floor plan, allow them to see a room furnished with their things. How else can you use these technologies to help our clients and residents and to help us succeed?
Search Marketing – It’s always changing, so continue to update your plan & look at what is next, like Voice Search. Searches thru Siri, Alexa, Cortana & Google Assistant (digital assistants) are accounting for a greater number of search queries than ever. Voice-based commerce sales projected to reach $40 billion by 2022. This means you must optimize your site for this type of search as well:
- Make your content more local & customized
- Write content in everyday spoken language
- Find & Anticipate specific questions & use questions as headers on web pages
- Add Features Snippets – the information previews Google displays when you search for a definition or question. Voice Assistants like these!
Don’t forget Mobile-First Indexing. Mobile usage continues to increase, especially for search queries, and Google prioritizes better performing sites in their search engine results (SERPs). So make sure your site is optimized for mobile (responsive).
Visual Search is new and gaining popularity for products. With visual search, you load an app on your phone and then use your camera to find similar items, prices and purchase options. Point, Snap, Click, Buy.
Connected TV & Over-the-top ads – This is how cord cutters (like my teenager) watch TV now. 33 million Americans have dropped pay TV, and the number continues to grow. The great news is that these services know exactly who these users are, so you have the ability to zero in on specific audiences and target them for advertising.
Geofencing & Ad Tracking with Pixels – With geo-fencing, you can now serve your online ad to a very specific area using latitude & longitude. If you place a pixel on your ad and that ad is viewed on a mobile device, you will be notified if that person/device walks in your door. How’s that for tracking? There are even ways to serve ads to those that have come in close personal contact (with a mobile device) to one of your signs, a booth or display. Another new way to track ROI of conventions and expos.
Generation Z – Ok, so they are far from being our clients, but they could be helping in online searches for their grandparents, or chatting about what’s going on in their world. They seek authenticity, prefer social responsibility, and video is the preferred choice for content. So get out there and video your group being socially responsible, then share it!
So much to consider! Exciting and scary all at once. More to do, but better ways to do it. More data that can save us money in the long run. Use it to your advantage and continue to look forward. Good luck in the second half of 2019.