Imagine this all-too-real scenario: your aging parents, now in their mid-80s, can suddenly no longer take care of themselves, and they have asked you to help them find an assisted living community. Of course, being the loyal son or daughter you are, you go to the Internet to search on their behalf. You know you want to speak with a caring, supportive, representative at a local community who knows their product and can craft a customized senior living solution for your parents. So, you pick up the phone and call…Bankrate.com?
That’s right, the same place you go to evaluate credit cards, mortgage rates, and compare checking accounts is now the same place you can now go to evaluate your assisted living options. With Bankrate.com’s recent acquisition of Caring.com, suddenly the assisted-living landscape—particularly, digital marketing for senior living communities—has radically shifted with the entrance of this $1.5 billion marketing machine. Not only will Bankrate.com enter the field with enormous amounts of pay-per-click media spend, but this acquisition represents the commoditization of senior living. In this new world, I can compare senior living options by cost and location the same way I would search for a new credit card or mortgage refinance.
Now, I’m not here to bash Caring.com or its model of generating leads for assisted-living companies. However, I’ve heard quite a bit from my clients about the low quality of these leads, and we are rapidly proving that Fathom can generate leads better and cheaper. It’s hard to believe that Caring.com representatives can have the personal, intimate conversations necessary to really qualify a lead when they don’t know the communities and brands at all. With 14 million website visitors per month, 4,800 partner institutions, 300 financial products, and 75 websites, make no mistake: Bankrate.com is entering the $60 billion senior healthcare space because they see profit, not because they care about the well-being of seniors.
If you are a digital marketer in the assisted living industry, you should be concerned by this new development. But not to worry—your friends at Fathom have a gameplan for how you should respond to Bankrate’s entry into this new territory.
- Own your reviews – More and more, we’ve seen online reviews play an important role in the senior living industry. Caring.com has 55,000 reviews on its site, but that’s a pretty paltry number when you consider there are 31,000 communities nationwide. There’s no need to be worried about a negative review – just overwhelm them with positive reviews. Allow users to post their thoughts on your community pages and aggressively go recruit those reviews, and you should see both your SEO and lead volumes increase.
- Create your own PPC campaigns, and manage them effectively – Caring.com is already spending millions of dollars on pay-per-click marketing, aggressively bidding on your community names and key terms in the senior living space. But that doesn’t mean they own the market; in fact, with Google’s emphasis on Quality Score, you can ensure that your ads get more visibility, even with a smaller budget. My colleague Joe Castro wrote an awesome post about how healthcare companies can increase their Quality Scores and click-through rates through advanced PPC tactics.
- Create valuable, hyper-local content – We all know that SEO these days is about content marketing, and we’ve seen our clients rankings and traffic raise in direct proportion to the engaging content we’ve been creating. While Caring.com boasts 2 million visitors per month, how many of these are actually engaging and converting? Digital marketers need to engage with the long-tailed searches, like “senior housing for a couple in Beachwood, Ohio,” and offering tailored content for that long tail. For example, check out one of our lead-generating senior living guides that we created for Brookdale here.
- Nurture your leads – I can’t tell you how many lead forms I’ve filled out for senior living competitors. The one thing they all have in common: they all send an initial email and call me, and then nothing at all. With the marketing automation technology that exists currently, the value of a move-in, and the need to steward and nurture leads over the long-term, it surprises me that none of the major companies has adopted this technology yet.
- Stay ahead of the curve – There are numerous alternative, non-traditional tactics that Fathom uses to stay ahead of the curve. Read more about them here.
In conclusion, senior-living marketers with budgets large and small should be preparing for an influx of new spending by Caring.com. Don’t let your leads dry up! Taking these steps, combined with Fathom’s Assisted Living Marketing Guide, will help you do a better job marketing your facility online.