Sean Leonard headshot
Sean Leonard
Sean Leonard headshot
Sean Leonard

Simply put, automating marketing can be a daunting task at the onset, yet it is liberating in the long run.

My team and I have studied how to shorten the time to market, ultimately to achieve speed to lead by automating senior living marketing one step at a time with insights and support along the way.

Here is what we know to be true about automation implementation — what works, what doesn’t work and where you can save time, effort and money. The findings herein are predicated on multiple studies with your peers, senior living operators and executives.

First, in a recent ActiveDEMAND brand study, respondents named these features beginning with the most desired in the senior living industry:

  1. Marketing sequence automation
  2. Call tracking
  3. Dynamic website content 
  4. AI sales assistant / Chat solution    
  5. Web form building capabilities
  6. Campaign funnel visualizations
  7. Landing page building capabilities
  8. Third-party integrations
  9. Custom dashboards and automated reports
  10. Social media scheduling
  11. Appointment scheduling
  12. Email marketing

Would I agree with that prioritization? Partially.

I would argue that rather than the most desired, the more important question is which are the most essential features of automation? In other words, which are going to make your life easier the fastest?

One of the most important buying signals is the phone call. If you look at your current population of residents, there are two paths: the full journey of investigation, exploration and decision; and an emergency event that forces the decision. The latter scenario makes up a larger percentage of cases. When people are forced to decide based on an event, they look back and wish they had started the journey earlier.

As marketers, we can be better prepared to help and make better marketing decisions to drive more move-ins. Call-tracking allows us to do just that.

Here is an easy process for implementing call-tracking:

  • Simply contact your marketing automation provider and ask to add call-tracking. Or, even easier, if you know your software well, log into your system and take five minutes to activate call-tracking. Use any marketing automation provider that offers call-tracking as part of the journey.
  • The big choice is to make the right phone ring to a specific salesperson or department.
    • Will you forward it to one number at a certain time (such as weekdays) and another at other times (weekends)?Set up conditional routing to prevent a caller from ending in voicemail. If phone A isn’t answered, then roll over to phone B and so on. Enable text messages to be automatically sent to the prospect if the phone cannot be answered.
    • Give prospects options for getting in touch with a live person. Enable text to the internal team to ensure that all calls receive a follow-up call. In short, ensure the prospect is connected to a live person as soon as possible.
  • Measure attribution on phone calls to minimize the number of missed calls and time to connect. To do this, conduct a missed call analysis and see how long it takes someone to answer or return a phone call. Speed to lead at its best!
  • Advanced step: Understand how far along the buying journey a person has completed before he or she made the call. Perhaps the individual visited the website three months ago, or perhaps he or she read your content, easily seen with automation software. Evaluate the effect of content on prospect decisions. Automate the engagement internally and externally, readily connecting the right people with ready prospects.

If one of the most important buying signals is the phone call, then one of the most essential warm lead signals is engagement with live chat. In a blog titled “Importance of incorporating live chat,” we reported on a study by TELUS International that showed 77% of people agree that live chat positively influenced their attitudes about the organization from which they were considering buying, and 63% of respondents reported that they were more likely to return to a website after experiencing live chat.

If you are a senior living marketer implementing automation for the first time, then select a system with robust tracking so you can start collecting data on your prospective residents and families. Identify the most-requested level of care and service. Do most folks enter at independent living? Assisted living? Focus on shortening the buyer journey in that area first. This is early segmentation.

From there, identify repetitive tasks to begin reducing labor costs and time needed for strong marketing results. Work with your marketing automation solution provider to understand how best to leverage the data. Begin cloning campaigns across communities.

For additional reading, our blog “The distinction in senior living: Marketing automation or CRM?” establishes the major differences between customer relationship management software and marketing automation software. For a full exploration of the data behind the most essential features of automation in the senior living industry, check out our latest e-book.

Sean Leonard is CEO of ActiveDEMAND, a marketing automation software company supporting multi-location senior living organizations in building trust at scale. The firm’s software is used in more than 3,800 senior living communities across the United States, with more than 7,500 users nationwide. Leonard has more than 25 years of experience launching, operating and growing businesses.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living marketplace column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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