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7 Digital Marketing Challenges Leaders Will Face in 2017

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Providers of aging services face challenges posed by continual shifts in technology, consumer behavior and search engine algorithms as they evaluate their approach to digital marketing.

As a CEO, VP of Marketing or Sales, or Director of Marketing, anticipate that marketing will continue to become more complex. Your organization’s expectations for higher ROI (return on investment) will only increase as overall profit margins continue to shrink.

What digital marketing challenges affect the outcome of your 2017 occupancy and census goals?

Looking through the Lens of a Senior Living Marketing Leader

I believe it’s critical to understand the digital marketing challenges of today and the future by viewing them through the eyes of the individual most impacted by digital marketing—the Marketing Director or VP of Marketing, the individual responsible for strategic oversight of occupancy and census.
Who is this person? The senior living marketing leader may work solo and be responsible for both marketing and sales. If the corporation is enterprise level, they may have one to one-and-a-half support team members, dependent upon the number of communities and services. Each support team member will also have focused roles of either marketing or sales. Because of this, the Marketing Director or VP may only be able to utilize part of their time. In addition, the expertise of support staff may be limited to their focus.
Typically, senior living marketing leaders outsource traditional (outbound) marketing and digital marketing services—predominantly for tactical assistance—to varying degrees from outside vendors. This approach makes it difficult to measure exactly what they contribute to marketing efforts. Are their efforts driving prospecting, engagement or conversions? It may be impossible to gather sufficient data to know.
With backgrounds rooted in traditional marketing where data was not readily available, senior living marketers may not be able to analyze and interpret digital marketing data to guide meaningful decisions.
Marketing leaders routinely need to justify the outcome of their marketing and sales endeavors to other leaders or a board of directors. In many cases, though, they do not have the technological systems to support collection of this data.
Overall, they are stretched thin, because they spend much of their time on tactical work instead of strategic planning and research. They may also be assigned to building development or renovation projects, anniversary celebrations, and other projects, all of which take them away from their core responsibilities of generating occupancy or census.
They probably did not grow up with technology and may feel overwhelmed by digital marketing terminology, tactics, channels, and system integrations, as well as how to start and manage a digital program.
Marketing leaders may also work with other executive leaders who do not understand digital marketing principles and methodologies. As a result, gaining support and resources for digital marketing may be a struggle.

Key Digital Marketing Challenges that Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

Now that you have perspective on the marketing leader’s position, there shouldn’t be any surprise when the following challenges are discussed within your leadership circle.

Keep in mind that the approach to attracting and connecting with your leads has shifted, because the Internet and technology have changed the way consumers seek information. The longer it takes for your senior living organization to recognize and understand these challenges, the stronger the foothold your competition gains online.

Challenges to acknowledge include:

  • Tools & System Utilization – Fully leveraging  systems such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), automated marketing, and website performance tools facilitates data collection, analysis and sound decision-making. Ensure that systems are fully integrated to create a seamless user experience, reduce duplication and improve efficiency, training and support resources. Integrating systems maximizes limited staff resources and provides ROI on marketing efforts.

Are your systems integrated? Are your systems fully and consistently utilized?

  • Using Data to Drive Decisions – Justify your marketing investment by collecting and analyzing data. Then, determine how the data aligns with your organization’s goals. Obtain total leadership agreement on which goals and key performance indicators to measure to facilitate productive marketing discussions and decisions,. Understanding how to analyze user behavior data is key to developing and executing a successful inbound digital marketing program.
What are your top three goals and how will digital marketing contribute to achieving those goals? How will you measure that contribution?
  • Strategy First, Tactics Second – The days of spontaneous marketing decisions and tactics are gone. Data-based strategy is the core ingredient of any successful digital marketing program. Consumer behavior and competitor data should drive the development of strategy, which, in turn, dictates the appropriate tactics (social media, blogs, campaigns, emails, video, content, etc.) to use in each level of the sales funnel. Posting on Facebook because someone thought it was a good idea is not a strategy. Conducting a direct mail campaign without integrating it into your digital program is not a strategy.
Do you have a strategic digital marketing plan? Can you easily and confidently explain it to your peers and support team?
  • Targeting and Promoting Content – Strategically plan digital content, such as white papers, infographics, blogs, social media, email, and videos, for the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey, based upon the intent and interest of your prospective senior or adult child. Content must provide relevant and unique answers to their questions. Repurpose highly converting content, leverage video, and create interactive content to cut through the clutter of thousands of pieces of content your target audience gets every day.
Creating content is not sufficient. You must promote content to attract and capture the attention of prospective leads. Utilize social advertising to eliminate the shotgun approach by targeting the ideal prospective senior or adult child you are trying to attract.
 
What resources have you allocated for content development and optimization in your budget? Do you have a sufficient social advertising budget?
  • Depth of Knowledge – Marketing leaders must be equipped with a varied and vast level of knowledge to meet today’s expectations. You need to possess behavioral-based analytical skills and technology fluency, understand segmented marketing, apply brand storytelling, incorporate agile methodology, know how to break down silos among stakeholders and approach digital marketing strategically. More importantly, you must constantly add to your knowledge as technology, laws, customer demographics, and the marketplace change.
Your team also must be trained. And that training must be constantly updated as your organization’s needs and the marketing environment change.
 
Do you have adequate educational resources to meet the needs of your organization? Is your team held accountable for their professional development?
  • Adapting Traditional Websites – The website is your new front door, often the first “moment-of-truth” touch a prospect experiences with your brand. On average, a prospect makes 5 to 7 visits to your site over time and consumes 7 to 11 pieces of content before taking action. Fresh, unique, up-to-date content must fuel return visits. The basic design-it-and-forget-it mentality for websites results in lost lead opportunities, because your prospects will abandon a stale website.
To prevent lost leads, implement a performance-based website with sales funnel-oriented goals, data collection tools and analysis of user experience and usability. Employ real-time changes to remove any barriers or “friction” that prevents visitors from converting to leads. In addition, A/B test proposed changes for the website and your entire digital marketing program to determine the best way to close the cap on lost lead opportunity.
Have you established a performance-based program for your website?
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource – Working with a vendor for tactical support is not a new concept. However, selecting and working with a strategic, data-driven digital partner is.
With the right partner, order-focused conversations are supplanted by documented deep data-driven performance-based outcomes and consistent strategic conversations. Managing and understanding the realistic expectations for a digital marketing program replace inconsistent and mood-of-the-day measurements. You will receive information you need to accomplish your goals, as opposed to information you may expect to hear from vendors.
What criteria are you using to ensure you have the best strategical digital marketing partner to help you reach your goals?
 
What Expectations Do You Have For Your 2017 Digital Marketing Program?
Discuss this question with your leadership team to gain perspective on how your organization views digital marketing. Digital marketing will only become more critical to your organization’s success as your prospective senior and their adult children grow in their understanding and use of the Internet and other technologies. They are already easily able to access senior living and care options on the Internet, closing the gap on how much education your sales and marketing team will have to provide during first contact, but also offering opportunities for competitors to attract them.
 

Will your senior living and care organization be able to meet the needs and expectations of prospects through your digital marketing strategy? Or will they be easily swayed by your competition’s innovative, data-driven and progressive approach to digital marketing?

About the Author:

As founder of Marketing Essentials, Patty’s continual quest to and drive for helping businesses grow are her passions. With over 30 years of strategic business management and leadership experience, she is known as a catalyst in the industry. Speaking engagements and seminars throughout the year give her unique insights into the marketplace and the people in it. She understands the challenges CEOs and marketing leaders face in executing inbound digital marketing and sales strategies that yield results. No surprise you will find her feeding her hunger for lifelong learning with a good book and latté!

What Should I Consider for My 2017 Marketing Budget?

The time of year every marketing executive anticipates with enthusiasm is here—budget planning season. Aging service providers continue to be challenged with dynamic economic and customer attributes, changing avenues of marketing to reach their leads, along with tougher competition, shrinking budgets and limited staff resources. With so many things to consider, what or how should you attack your marketing budget planning process for 2017?
I’m a firm believer in using data to drive the budgeting process and make my case to substantiate what I need to yield the results I’m expected to reach. Interestingly enough, I’m still surprised as I interact with senior living marketers across the country at industry conferences, that many are still either not engaged at or have limited engagement with some form of data driven inbound digital marketing. Yet those that are, speak of positive results.
However, I see a trend of marketers evaluating the need to use or implement CRMs (customer relationship management). They use CRMs for data driven sales management that integrates with sophisticated automated marketing platforms for lead generation and nurturing. Technology will continue to drive and change how marketers implement and manage strategies in 2017 and the years ahead. Let’s explore other data driven budget factors to help guide you in your planning process.
What’s the Budget Target?
The days of simply using the same budget target as you did the year before are gone. It’s important to collect historical data and evaluate it for trending patterns, paired with future trends so you can make sound decisions. If you’re new to your marketing role, you may not be confident on what you should target for an average budget. The Small Business Administration recommends the following:
● Start-ups should allocate between 3-5 percent of actual or projected gross revenue to marketing.
● Established organizations may want to set aside 2-3 percent.
● However, if your business has revenue of less than $5 million, the SBA recommends allocating 7-8 percent of your revenue to marketing (assuming you have margins of 10-12 percent). You also should divide this up between brand development costs (sales collateral, blogs, website) and promotion costs (advertising, events).
Note that the percentages mentioned above are to cover your complete marketing investment—including staff, agency partnerships, ad costs, media spend, outside suppliers, etc.
How Should I Allocate My Budget?
It would be ideal if you could make the sole decision on how to allocate your budget among the many marketing tactics available to you, however you may still be dealing with peers who are not quite on board with inbound digital marketing and want to drive your allocation to more traditional outbound forms of marketing. I love this quote by Guy Kawaski:
“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.”
When it comes to using data driven marketing methodologies, the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer Council) supports Kawaski’s thoughts:
● More than a third of CMOs say that digital marketing will account for 75% or more of their spending within the next five years.
● 69% of senior marketers are currently allocating their digital marketing funds to website content, development and performance optimization. 53% are spending part of their budget on social media community growth and engagement.
● 28% of marketers have reduced their advertising budget to fund more digital marketing.
● More than 40% of US marketing professionals said they increased spending on data-driven marketing in the first quarter of this year, compared with 38.4% who said the same in Q4 2013.
● On average, 60% of a marketer’s time is devoted to digital marketing activities, fueling demand for digital marketing skills.
● Surveyed Marketers allocate 23% of their overall marketing budgets to outbound marketing and 34% to Inbound Marketing tactics. (Gannett Local)
Listen to Your Audience
The days of focusing on what you want to push out to your customers is over—they can turn you off with a push of a button on any device today. The key is to understand your customer’s buyer journey and ensure you are developing a strategy that is laser focused on attracting and connecting with your buyer via their preferred channels with the type of content they are interested in. It’s important to understand how your buyers interact online such as the following:
● Online buyers go through about 57% of the buying cycle on their own without talking to sales. (Executive Board)
● 77% of online customers prefer permission-based promotions via email. (ExactTarget)
● Customers spend 50% of their time online engaging with custom content. (HubSpot)
● By 2017, video marketing will dominate nearly 70% of consumer website traffic. (Cisco)
Show Me the Trends to Plan for!
As you look to 2017, understanding what tactics are trending to reach, engage, and convert your visitors to leads can play a big part in additional monies you may need to include in your budget.

According to a research study by Econsultancy, marketers believe optimizing for the customer experience is one of the most “exciting” opportunities in 2016. The connectivity of users (increased mobile usage) combined with new marketing technologies (marketing automation and CRM) allows marketers to reach users in ways never before possible. The potential of data-driven marketing is expected to grow in the next five years, and could become another powerful strategy for reaching the right individuals at the right time in new, innovative ways.

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Just over a fifth (22%) of client-side respondents ranked optimizing the customer experience as the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, slightly ahead of other areas such as creating compelling content for digital experiences and data-driven marketing (both 16%).
The priorities that sit atop marketers’ lists are tied together by their focus on the individual: personalization (31%), content optimization (29%) and social media engagement (25%) are overlapping capabilities with the customer at the center.
When asked to identify their strategic priorities for 2016, more organizations chose data-driven marketing with their top vote (53%) than any other.
The vast majority (94%) say that optimizing creative workflows will be important in delivering a great customer experience, while a similar proportion (91%) say the same about the importance of improving collaboration between creative and marketing teams.
Nearly half (46%) of respondents rank the process of creating a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives as 4 or 5 on the difficulty scale.
Just over half of company respondents (51%, compared to 61% of agencies) rank mobile as a top-three area of priority for their organization (or their clients) in 2016.
I’m confident that using the basic principle of delivering the right content in the right channel at the right time the way your persona (ideal customer) wants to receive it is the heart of identifying which trends to follow. Remember, not all trends pertain to all customers or industries. That’s why it’s so important to create and follow personas specific to your senior living organization.
Show Me The Savings!
I typically (but not always), do not see organizations receive larger budgets (that is, unless they can prove the ROI of the additional investment), therefore more organizations are seeking avenues to work more efficiently and use data to make better investment decisions. Implementing technology (CRM’s and automated marketing platforms) aligned with an inbound marketing strategy results in substantial savings as demonstrated in the following research:
● Businesses that mainly rely on Inbound Marketing save more than $14 for every newly acquired customer. (State of Inbound Marketing)
● Mid-sized businesses save 31% on Inbound Marketing costs compared to paid search. (Eloqua)
● Inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound leads. (HubSpot)
● Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (CMO)
● The average cost per lead drops 80% after 5 months of consistent Inbound Marketing. (Eloqua)
● Brands relying on inbound marketing save over $14 dollars for every new customer acquired. (Hubspot)
Whether you’re implementing technology or an inbound marketing program, realize you will need to plan for initial one time setup fees in your budget for the first year. In addition, inbound marketing is a slow growth strategy. It takes time to build equity with the search engines and attract your quality visitors, thus you may not realize full savings or results until year two.
Show Me the Leads & ROI!
Of course most CEOs and CFOs not only want to see the cost savings, but also the actual ROI (return on investment) for their investment in technology or an inbound marketing program. It’s important to establish realistic expectations around the ROI for the first year, especially if you have no baseline data to begin with. However there is data in abundance to support the consistent positive outcomes associated with an inbound marketing program when it is properly established and managed.
● Inbound Marketing yields 3 times more leads per dollar than traditional methods. (Kapost)
● Properly executed Inbound Marketing tactics are 10 times more effective for lead conversion compared to outbound methods. (Gartner)
● Inbound Marketing can result in doubling the average website conversion rate from 6% to 12%. (HubSpot)
● Companies that automate their lead nurturing cycle see a 10+% increase in revenue within 6 to 9 months. (Gartner)
● On average, brands that publish 15 blog posts per month convert 1,200 new leads per month. (HubSpot)
● 44% of brands that use marketing automation software see ROI within 6 months, while 75% see ROI after one year. (Groove Digital Marketing)
● Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Aberdeen)
Final Tips
Even senior living providers with limited budgets are generating results with custom designed inbound marketing programs. I’m confident of that because our clients consistently see positive results as proven by data. Using a combination of your own data and industry trends can help you formulate a 2017 marketing budget that will generate higher visitor to lead to sale conversions. Technology is only going to continue to significantly influence how consumers search and make decisions. Search engines will continue to make changes based upon how consumers use the search engines. As you plan your budget, contemplate that both of these factors will drive a dynamically changing inbound marketing strategy and your budget! For more helpful budget planning tools and resources, access your 2017 Budget Planning Tool Kit!
About the Author
As founder of Marketing Essentials, Patty’s continual quest and drive for helping organizations grow and meet their goals is her passion. With over 30 years of strategic healthcare and aging service marketing, sales, management and leadership experience, she is known as a catalyst and understands the challenges CEOs and marketing leaders face in executing inbound digital marketing & sales strategies that yield results. No surprise you will find her feeding her hunger for lifelong learning with a good book and latte!

The Marketer’s Role Has Changed. Have You?

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Do you remember brainstorming with your team new ideas that would be the catalyst to reaching your census or occupancy goals? Or maybe you enjoyed coordinating the tactical strategies such as print advertising, direct mailing or event planning. I don’t know about you, but when it came time to discuss the outcome or ROI with my C-Suite, it was nearly impossible to try and convey the ROI for this type of strategy. It’s definitely a frustrating feeling, wouldn’t you agree?

Different Leadership Skills

Your role today as a marketer at every level is not easy. You are expected to know and understand everything from brand awareness to inbound digital marketing, sales enablement and inbound sales, new business development, website management, and graphic design – and these are just the tip of the iceberg for today’s marketers.

The function of marketing has been transformed by the evolution of the internet, and so has the role of the Marketing Director, VP of Marketing and CMO.

Marketing Leaders are expected to bring innovative solutions that result in positive bottom line growth, and improved efficiencies and productivity. They are expected to manage their teams through rapid changes, and adjust to constantly evolving buyer behavior. It’s critical today that marketing leaders demonstrate their relevance to the organization.

The marketing role today shifts from creative and tactical to executive level skills of data analysis and strategy development. If you’ve been actively executing an inbound digital marketing program, you understand how valuable data is in directing the program and demonstrating the ROI. Both of which make for more robust and respected C-Suite level conversations regarding occupancy goals.

5 Essential CMO Skill Sets

As a marketer, what skills are essential for you to demonstrate relevance, earn respect, and achieve the goals you are responsible for ? Assess yourself using the following 5 skill sets and determine where you may need to invest in professional development.

1. Understand Data Analysis & Application

The digital age requires marketing executives to be data-driven. Let’s face it, data analysis was not part of the 4 P’s of our marketing curriculum in college. However now there is a critical need to learn how to analyze data and be able to apply it to the development of a strategy that drives measurable change and demonstrates the value of the ROI. This is how you demonstrate bottom line impact to the rest of your C-suite.

By using data and buyer behavior insights obtained through digital marketing, marketing leaders can maximize the impact of their overall marketing strategy and enhance the personalization of their marketing strategy to their potential resident or family. This also means that outcomes of data analysis should also affect people (management of your team), processes (efficiencies and effectiveness), technology (systems and tools), and strategic partnerships. This approach provides the holistic view of evaluating all elements associated with your marketing program.

2. Embrace & Leverage Technology

Understanding how to utilize and integrate technologies such as automated marketing platforms and CRMs is imperative to working with lean principles such as efficiency, time savings and increased productivity.

In addition, adapting to mobile technology to create positive seamless user experiences that result in high quality lead interaction is necessary to stay at the forefront of competitive positioning and minimize lost opportunity cost.

3. Customer Focused

I know this one sounds silly, however, simply take a look at your collateral, website, or other mediums where your brand message appears. Does it focus on you or does it focus on your prospect? To capture the attention and loyalty of leads and customers today, you need to ensure that your marketing approach is based upon helping to solve your resident’s, patient’s, or family’s challenges and are making their lives better.

It’s imperative that you stop the old “push marketing” methodology and replace it with strategies that establish relationships with your leads and customers to become their trusted advisor. By using data, you understand each stage of your buyer’s journey and how to create value that results in a positive, consistent experience across all channels that are used by your leads to interact with your brand.

4. Personalization

The days of one size fits all mass media approach to reaching new leads is expensive and isn’t measurable. More importantly, it doesn’t build rapport and relationships with those leads you are trying to capture.

Having a thorough understanding of your persona(s) and their buyer’s journey provides the foothold for creating higher levels of personalized connections with them at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Digital marketing enables personalization strategies through various channels.

5. Catalyst for Change

The swift pace of change in marketing and technology continues to accelerate, and ensuring that marketers are flexible and agile is imperative. This means that planning and strategy development aren’t one time events, but an ongoing process that is directed by data, technology, trends and competitive awareness. It also means that continual ongoing learning is essential to keep up with the continual changes in the digital realm.

Marketers need to be the change agents that keep up with the changing needs and wants of digital savvy customers, stay one step ahead of their competitors and lead the way with innovative strategies for continued business development growth and strong brand recognition.

Final Thoughts

Marketers of today and the future are and will be held to a higher level of expectations, authority, and opportunity. Leaders who lead using data-driven marketing methodologies, will not only achieve greater results, but will also be able to prove the ROI of their strategies. Earning and managing this executive-level Influence that is based upon customer-centricity leads to gaining more power and voice at the executive table. Thus ramping up a collaborative cross-functional style as well as technical, financial and strategic skills will support the CMO’s, VP of Marketing and Marketing Director’s goal of showing (and proving) how inbound digital marketing can help reach the organization’s occupancy goals.

About the Author

As founder of Marketing Essentials, Patty’s continual quest and drive for helping businesses grow is her passion. With over 30 years of strategic business management and leadership experience, she is known as a catalyst and understands the challenges CEOs and marketing leaders face in executing inbound digital marketing & sales strategies that yield results. No surprise you will find her feeding her hunger for life long learning with a good book and latte!

Automate Your Lead Nurturing and Close More Sales

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Nurturing leads is a time-consuming and complicated task, often without immediate success. In fact, it’s not unusual for a senior living sales representative to only touch a lead once and if the lead “isn’t ready” for the next step, the sales rep simply moves on to other leads that are. The result—a lost opportunity worth thousands of dollars as you consider the actual lifetime value of that potential lead. That’s the value of automated marketing. You can turn a labor-intensive process into an effective, time-saving system, in turn allowing you to focus on what you truly care about—closing sales and reaching occupancy goals.

Your Leads Are Valuable

As a sales rep, your most valuable asset is your lead database. Yet your database is only as powerful as you make it. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into attracting leads. However, thanks to the internet, today’s buyer is savvy and may not be ready to talk with you yet. In fact, according to research from Gleanster, even when it comes to qualified leads, more than 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy on the day they first convert on your site. If you call up these leads and push them into making a decision right away, you will likely lose them.

These leads are valuable, though, and just because they’re not ready to talk with you now doesn’t mean they will never be ready. If you’re not managing these leads properly, you’re wasting your time, marketing resources, and money. Just think, 45% of all visitors to your website will buy from you or a competitor within the next 12 months (Gartner Group). The volume of leads needed in your sales pipeline today to account for your growing attrition rate, competitive market space, and slow decision making process by your lead means you can’t afford to ignore “not ready” leads.

Automation is the Answer

Ok, so we agree leads need to be nurtured—but how? You certainly aren’t going to get more staff to help manage this complex process. That’s where automated marketing comes in. An automated marketing system allows you to send an automated series of emails (workflows) to an early-stage lead in order to pre-qualify them before they’re ready to talk to the sales rep. In fact, according to Forrester Research, companies actively using lead nurturing and lead scoring generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead.

In other words, it’s a way for you to nurture your leads by staying connected and engaged with them on their terms (not yours) by using educational and informative content that will help them answer those top and middle of sales funnel questions they have. You know, the basic questions they ask you when they first engage in conversations—the questions that keep them up at night as they begin the process of lifestyle-change decision making. As they learn more and become more engaged with your brand, they begin to trust you and become ready to consider your service.

Workflows Convert Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads

A workflow is a series of automated actions that you can trigger to occur based on a person’s behaviors or contact information. Workflows go way beyond simple one-time emails. With workflows, you can send emails, update contact information, add or remove contacts from lists, and trigger email notifications.

Gone are the days of sending one big email to all of your leads and hoping it’s relevant enough for some of them to click through or engage with. According to a report by Lenskold Group and The Pedowitz Group, 60% of survey respondents who use marketing automation say it has increased the quality of leads that get passed to sales. And Market2Lead also found that leads that go through automated workflows have a 23% shorter sales cycle.

Workflows give you the opportunity to do extremely powerful segmentation. Being able to group your leads based on different properties and behaviors means that you can very closely target your emails and your nurturing process to the leads’ specific interests and needs.  A sophisticated automation system also provides the benefit of customizing the timing of your workflows so you can decide when each email or action should be triggered—down to the minute—after the lead is entered into the campaign.

The possibilities of workflow uses to nurture not only leads but existing customers within each level of the sales funnel is unlimited. A few possibilities include

Top of Funnel

  • Blog or E-Newsletter Subscriber
  • Content Offers such as a Decision Making Series (How-to)

Middle of Funnel

  • Re-engagement (Reactivate Inactive Leads)
  • Event Registration

Bottom of Funnel

  • New Move-In Welcome
  • Customer Advocate (Testimonial)
  • Priority or Waiting List

Retention

  • Customer Loyalty (Short Term Rehab & Community Based Services)
  • Customer Happiness (Satisfaction)

Is the Time Right for Marketing Automation?

How do you know when the time is right for your organization to consider automated marketing? There’s no explicit answer for this, however a few indications that we have found with similar senior living organizations like yours include:

  • You’re generating leads but ignoring the ones that are not yet ready to buy.
  • Your sales team is unhappy with the quality of the leads you’re sending them.
  • You’re sending the same emails to your entire list.
  • You’re collecting valuable lead information, but not using it for segmentation.
  • You’re not targeting your offers and messaging based on your leads’ needs.
  • You’re sending or following up to all of your emails manually.
  • You’re experiencing more leads coming via the website, yet you have no system to nurture those leads                                                                                                                                      

Final Thoughts

Automated marketing not only ensures leads are nurtured at just the right time with the right message and information, it also increases the efficiency and productivity of the sales rep so they can focus on closing sales qualified leads. By now you’ve guessed that you need an automated marketing system connected to your website, along with the right strategy to develop and execute workflows that will result in conversions. An automated marketing system is an essential tool for ensuring your sales pipeline is full of sales qualified leads. Marketing Essentials, a digital inbound marketing agency, can help you discover if automated marketing is right for you. Connect with Patty Cisco at pattycisco@mktgessentials.com to learn more or visit mktgessentials.com

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4 Secrets to Post-Move-In Marketing

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“ I know I should incorporate some type of post-marketing activity in my marketing plan for patients, residents or families that purchase our senior living service. Is it possible to do that with inbound marketing?”

 

Yahoo! I was excited when a marketing director recently ask me this question. Why? Because they really hit on an untapped marketing strategy that very few senior living marketers integrate into their marketing plan.

Is there opportunity to generate more revenue with an inbound post-purchase strategy?Absolutely.

Often once we’ve closed the sale, we simply move on to the next lead or inquiry and rarely give thought to the newly-acquired customer. Let’s consider short term rehab patients as an example. Based simply upon their age as well as the possibility that they have two or more commodities, the likelihood that they will need your services again is pretty significant. Yet once they discharge, little effort is put forth in remaining engaged with them…a potential lost future opportunity.

Or think about that independent living cottage you just sold with that six figure price tag. It may seem funny to think that people would have buyer’s remorse after making that life changing decision, but they do. Plus they still have a lot of questions and concerns that are left unaddressed and create a poor experience which results in bad WOM.

You put a great deal of time and money in new patient or resident acquisition. The reality is it costs you 10-12% more to acquire a new customer as opposed to focusing on one you already have. In addition, according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling a service to an existing client is in the neighborhood of 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new client is only 5-20 percent.

The Secrets to Post-Move-In Engagement

Focusing on the post-purchase experience helps to reinforce the positive decision they made and create fans or advocates for your service. What organization can’t benefit from positive WOM, right!?Incorporating post-purchase content in your inbound marketing strategy (also known as digital marketing) is an optimal tactic to help make your customer feel good about the decision they made to use or purchase your senior living service. Take a look at the following examples of how to incorporate post-purchase content in your strategy:

1.   Questions. Whether your customer (senior or adult child) is being admitted, moving in or being discharged home,they always have questions and you have the answers. Why not create a FAQ Tip Sheet and email it to the adult child or senior spouse, or create a video and place it on a special page of your website?

2.   Coach. A great deal of stress and emotion are associated with senior living services, especially when it comes to unrealistic expectations. When you coach and guide your customers on what they can expect, you have a higher probability of managing a favorable relationship.Consider your admission/move in booklet–why not turn it into a pdf and email it to the customer before they arrive? Or create a video that lives on your website that they can easily access and incorporate links to other educational resources you have available online.

3.   Reinforce your value. It’s important to make your customers feel happy about their purchase decision, even long after the decision has been made.Think of replicating your lead nurturing process with a customer retention nurturing process. Create new forms of content and have a plan in place to share that content through your various digital channels with your customers.Incorporate a combination of community specific content, educational aging-related content and content of personal interest to each individual.Incorporate thought leadership content in the form of interviews from your professional staff, residents or families themselves that you post to your blog.

4.   Ask. Influence plays a significant role on buying decisions people make online. People will make a buying decision as a result of a third parties reference about your services. Translate those customer surveys into snippet of shareable content on your social channels and in your-newsletter. Also put a plan in place to ask for testimonials and use them on your website and in your social channels. Better yet, ask for online reviews.And the one tactic I see rarely incorporated is having a plan in place to ask those happy customers for referrals!

Quick Closing Tip

Remember your work is only beginning once you’ve made the sale. Don’t let future revenue opportunities pass through your fingers. Your focus should be on turning the buyer into a loyal customer that will return for your service and refer others as well. A post-purchase content strategy is easy when you use an inbound marketing and sales approach. It’s all about putting the right content in the right channel and delivering it the way your customer wants to receive it.

Marketing Essentials is an Inbound Marketing& Sales agency that partners with organizations to grow traffic, leads and sales conversions that affects their bottom line in an attributable and predictable way. Need help with your post purchase content strategy? Connect with an Inbound Business Strategist today at mktessentials.com or call 419-629-0080 to schedule a free strategy session.

4 Ways to Grow Revenue from a Patient or Resident Post-Purchase

revenue

“ I know I should incorporate some type of post-marketing activity in my marketing plan for patients, residents or families that purchase our senior living service. Is it possible to do that with inbound marketing?”

Yahoo! I was excited when a marketing director recently ask me this question. Why? Because they really hit on an untapped marketing strategy that very few senior living marketers integrate into their marketing plan.

Is there opportunity to generate more revenue with an inbound post-purchase strategy?Absolutely.

Often once we’ve closed the sale, we simply move on to the next lead or inquiry and rarely give thought to the newly-acquired customer. Let’s consider short term rehab patients as an example. Based simply upon their age as well as the possibility that they have two or more commodities, the likelihood that they will need your services again is pretty significant. Yet once they discharge, little effort is put forth in remaining engaged with them…a potential lost future opportunity.

Or think about that independent living cottage you just sold with that six figure price tag. It may seem funny to think that people would have buyer’s remorse after making that life changing decision, but they do. Plus they still have a lot of questions and concerns that are left unaddressed and create a poor experience which results in bad WOM.

You put a great deal of time and money in new patient or resident acquisition. The reality is it costs you 10-12% more to acquire a new customer as opposed to focusing on one you already have. In addition, according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling a service to an existing client is in the neighborhood of 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new client is only 5-20 percent.

TheSecrets to Post-Sale Engagement

Focusing on the post-purchase experience helps to reinforce the positive decision they made and create fans or advocates for your service. What organization can’t benefit from positive WOM, right!?Incorporating post-purchase content in your inbound marketing strategy (also known as digital marketing) is an optimal tactic to help make your customer feel good about the decision they made to use or purchase your senior living service. Take a look at the following examples of how to incorporate post-purchase content in your strategy:

1. Questions. Whether your customer(senior or adult child) is being admitted, moving in or being discharged home,they always have questions and you have the answers. Why not create a FAQ Tip Sheet and email it to the adult child or senior spouse, or create a video and place it on a special page of your website?

2. Coach. A great deal of stress and emotion are associated with senior living services, especially when it comes to unrealistic expectations. When you coach and guide your customers on what they can expect, you have a higher probability of managing a favorable relationship.Consider your admission/move in booklet–why not turn it into a pdf and email it to the customer before they arrive? Or create a video that lives on your website that they can easily access and incorporate links to other educational resources you have available online.

3. Reinforce your value. It’s important to make your customers feel happy about their purchase decision, even long after the decision has been made.Think of replicating your lead nurturing process with a customer retention nurturing process. Create new forms of content and have a plan in place to share that content through your various digital channels with your customers.Incorporate a combination of community specific content, educational aging-related content and content of personal interest to each individual. Incorporate thought leadership content in the form of interviews from your professional staff, residents or families themselves that you post to your blog.

4 Ask. Influence plays a significant role on buying decisions people make online. People will make a buying decision as a result of a third parties reference about your services. Translate those customer surveys into snippet of shareable content on your social channels and in you’re -newsletter. Also put a plan in place to ask for testimonials and use them on your website and in your social channels. Better yet, ask for online reviews.And the one tactic I see rarely incorporated is having a plan in place to ask those happy customers for referrals!

Quick Closing Tip

Remember your work is only beginning once you’ve made the sale. Don’t let future revenue opportunities pass through your fingers. Your focus should be on turning the buyer into a loyal customer that will return for your service and refer others as well. A post-purchase content strategy is easy when you use an inbound marketing and sales approach. It’s all about putting the right content in the right channel and delivering it the way your customer wants to receive it.

Marketing Essentials is an Inbound Marketing& Sales agency that partners with organizations to grow traffic, leads and sales conversions that affects their bottom line in an attributable and predictable way. Need help with your post purchase content strategy? Connect with an Inbound Business Strategist today at mktessentials.com or call 419-629-0080 to schedule a free strategy session.

Why Senior Living Providers Can No Longer Afford to do Business as Usual

marketingandsales

For many years, the senior living industry has struggled with bridging the gap between sales and marketing, mainly because aging is viewed negatively in our culture instead of embraced as the next exciting chapter of our life.Therefore, selling something that means facing our age and, honestly, impending immortality is not viewed as favorable.

But what the senior living communities, and our culture in general, must face is that we do grow old. We don’t live forever and that’s ok. So why not make the last few chapters of our lives as rewarding and enriching as they can possibly be? That’s where your marketing needs to shine in an increasingly competitive environment.

3 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Sales & Marketing to Drive Census Growth

1. Stop Selling Fear: Let’s be honest, we’ve been trained that people buy for one of two reasons: love or fear. Fear works. It’s why retailers set quantity or time limits on hot sales in order to create anxiety and push people to “act now”. But when it comes to senior living, while fear might still be effective, but it’s not what people want. Instead, you need to draw them in,create a sense of well-being and positiveness, show them you know how to make those last 5-20 years as fulfilled and enriched as possible. How do you do this? You create an inbound marketing strategy that appeals to the needs and want of your target market: the seniors. Nearly 60% of all buying decisions are made before a sales representative is even contacted. Therefore,the goal of any senior living industry is to be a valuable resource to prospects and give them all of the information they need in order to make a decision.

But let’s be clear – this is not pushing your product online. No one likes to feel like they are being sold to. Instead, you offer them information, tips and solutions to pain points they are feeling. The pain point today may not be which senior living should I choose, it may be, how do I get my senior parents engaged in different activities or how do I manage my diabetic diet over the holidays.

2. Creating An Engaging Web Experience: Why is your website so important?It’s a representation of you. And like it or not, how user-friendly, intuitive,eye-appealing and engaging your website appears is a direct correlation of how the prospect sees your company. First impressions are crucial, and your website is a direct reflection of your brand, culture and level of commitment to quality senior care.

Above I mentioned nearly 60% of the buying decision is made before a sales representative is contact. This reiterates the point that a website must off irrelevant information, including content marketing, in order to guide prospects through the decision-making process. Write a lot of content – we mean A LOT.This will not only engage your visits, but it will help your SEO ranking a swell. So be realistic and understand that a great content marketing plan needs6-9 months to fully begin cultivating qualified leads. This also depends on how strong the online brand was before the content strategy was created. Don’t expect results overnight!

Finally, make sure you refer to and interpret the data often. Analytics offer great insights to how much traffic you are getting, what pages they are coming to most often and how long they are staying on your sight. In addition,take a look at which blogs are getting the most hits. The results on your content create insight into building future campaigns and furthermore result in more attention-getting content.

3. People Over Profits: Every business needs to make a profit to survive, we all know this. But what we have to challenge ourselves to do is stop make profits more important than the people we serve. Your prospects and current customers can feel when they are not valued. Moving into a senior living environment is a major life decision for the entire family. It’s not to be made systematic, cold or routine, because for your customer it’s life-changing.

It’s time to stop selling and start engaging. Hire people with empathy -it’s truly the greatest marketing skill in the world.

Competition in the senior living industry is fierce. You can no longer afford to rest your profits on outdated sales and marketing tactics that don’t appeal to your ideal customer. This change from outbound sales to inbound marketing is a fundamental mind shift – and it works. For more information on this topic, contact Marketing Essentials at 419-394-0096 or connect@mktgessentials.com.