Senior living sales and marketing professionals reveal biggest challenges

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Rick Whittington
Rick Whittington

The world of senior care marketing and sales is changing at a rapid pace.

Today's senior care consumers have greater access to information across a wider variety of channels. Online platforms and social channels once primarily used by younger audiences have since been adopted by both seniors and their adult-child caregivers.

With a shifting buyer landscape and a plethora of new tactics and tools available, where should senior care sales and marketing professionals spend their time and energy? And how do your marketing and sales activities stack up to other communities?

To give some context to these pressing questions, we surveyed senior care sales and marketing professionals from around the country, as well as executives in strategic sales and marketing functions from across the senior care continuum.

We asked for anonymous answers to a variety of questions around their communities and their marketing and sales activities. In this study, we share the results of the survey as well as insights on how to develop a strategic plan that can help you and your organization surpass the competition and close more sales.

Senior care marketing trends

The majority of senior care marketers today note lead generation as their top challenge overall. Almost 50% of our survey respondents identified lead generation as a top challenge, followed by leveraging social media, competition and outside sales/community outreach.

The majority of senior care marketers — about 80% of those surveyed — prioritize using the website as a way to generate leads; however, only 50% view their website as an effective way to generate leads. And although marketers note their website as their top lead-generating tool, we still see companies mistake their website for a glorified brochure. Senior care marketers would be wise to focus on the website as a lead-generation tool by building it with an eye to better answer and serve customer needs no matter where they are in their search for communities and services.

Community events and public relations was reported as a popular lead source. Paid referral sources also are a prevalent lead source for marketers, but only 22% identify them as effective lead sources. Customer referrals, professional referrals (hospitals, doctors, etc.) and websites were identified as the most effective acquisition tools.

Competition remains a top challenge for both senior housing and post-acute. With the level of new communities being built, it's no surprise that competition is a major concern for senior care marketing and sales professionals.

Senior care sales trends

The average cost per lead/lease for senior care marketers was $431, we found. For comparison, leads for the healthcare and medical industry came in at $285.82, on average.

In terms of follow-up time, about half of senior care marketers said they wait about one to three hours to follow up with leads, whereas 39% take more than 12 hours to respond to leads. When it comes to following up on internet leads from your website, speed matters. The odds of getting in touch with a lead decreases by more than 10 times after the first hour.

The majority of the senior care marketers we surveyed, about 38%, had a lead-to-tour conversion rate of about 30%. Only 15% of respondents had a conversion rate of more than 50%.

Closing more leads (and more quickly) was the top sales challenge identified by senior care sales professionals. Effective outreach, competition and effective use of customer relationship management tools also were top challenges reported by senior are sales professionals.

Looking toward the future, we see the connection between sales and marketing (namely, the connection between capturing leads from your website, putting them in a CRM system and automating outreach) as an opportunity for the senior care industry.

When respondents were asked whether their business was planning to invest more heavily in marketing automation or CRM technology in 2018, 64% of respondents said yes.

Surprisingly, most senior housing and post-acute/home care marketers have not adopted a live call center or inbound call-in capability. Although most everyone has a phone number listed on the website, those phones are not always manned by someone at the community, and callers may be left to leave a voicemail. With the complexities involved with such a considered decision, prospects need a lot of information. And in today's world, they expect access to that information right away.

These are only a few findings contained in the full report, which you can download from SeniorCareGrowth.com.

A special thank you to the SMASH Industry Survey Committee. Their thoughts and insight were invaluable in the development of this study.

Rick Whittington is principal at Whittington Consulting, a marketing firm in Virginia specializing in lead generation and digital strategy.

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