2014 has just begun, and now is a great time to re-evaluate your senior housing company’s digital marketing program. In particular, have you become reliant on lead-gen sites like Caring.com and APlaceforMom.com for your inbound leads? As these lead aggregators absorb more of your marketing budget, do you really have the flexibility to try new, innovative pay-per-click methods? I predict that 2014 is the year when the assisted living industry eschews these restrictive agreements and run their own paid campaigns. If you’ve been thinking about independently seeking assisted living leads via online marketing, then this article is for you.
Two of Fathom’s assisted living clients faced this exact challenge in 2013, paying $150 or more for semi-qualified leads from online sites like SeniorHousingNet. After discussing their goals and setting a cost-per-lead target of $100, I’m excited to tell you that we were able to launch exciting pay-per-click strategies that brought in leads directly to our clients. In each case, our clients challenged us to deliver quality leads for under $100 apiece, measuring a lead as coming in either online or via phone. How did we do it? Here’s a quick summary below, and if you’d like to hear more, please contact me!
- Implement call tracking: Do you know how many phone calls your paid online advertising is attracting? Call tracking is an incredibly powerful tool, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that one senior living client has over 150 different call tracking phone numbers! These call tracking numbers dynamically change based on the type of advertising that attracted the visitor. For one client, we’ve agreed that any call over two minutes in length is considered a quality call and a legitimate lead. Their customer service reps are specifically instructed that if the call is not a genuine lead – for example, it’s a job inquiry or general information call – they are to either hang up within two minutes or take the person’s phone number and call back later. A second client listens to each call, and has discovered that quality leads run about 10% of overall incoming calls, so we use that number for our general reporting.
- Go big into non-branded: Too often, the assisted living lead-gen sites are dominating the non-branded search engine results pages, particularly when it comes to non-branded search. If someone searches “senior living” or “assisted living communities” in your local community, why shouldn’t they see your company’s ads as well? When one of our clients decided to take the plunge and quit their agreement with Caring.com, Fathom was there to launch their non-branded campaign in a concerted and methodical manner. The result? We delivered 536 online leads and 2,485 quality phone calls, for a cost per lead of $84.36. If you’ve been hesitant about serious online marketing for your senior living community because you weren’t sure that these general, non-branded searches would convert, I’m here to tell you that yes, they do convert and yes, you will look like a hero when you quit your restrictive agreement and start bringing in your own leads for far less than APlaceforMom or SeniorLiving.net are charging you.
- Implement a branded campaign: Are you protecting your brand name by ensuring that you have a paid ad show up every time someone searches for your senior living community? If not, I can almost guarantee your competitors are! For both clients, we have both branded campaigns protecting their branded searches, and robust competitor campaigns that go after both national brands and local competitors (even non-senior housing competitors, like home health companies or nursing homes). How are these campaigns doing? Well, take a look at these AdWords screen shots. In short, over the course of 2013, we delivered 5,633 Branded leads and 756 quality phone calls for a total cost per lead of $39.55. Would these leads have clicked on the client’s organic link anyway? It’s hard to know, but I can tell you that advertising takes up 70% of some senior living search pages – even finding that first organic link is pretty difficult! So rather than take the chance, smart assisted living marketers use branded campaigns to protect their leads.
- Implement a competitor campaign: As I mentioned above, because online marketing for independent living is so competitive and hyper-local, you can be very specific in where you choose to place your ads. Caring.com and APlaceforMom are actively bidding on your branded keywords, so why not bid on theirs as well? Our competitor campaign in 2013 for a client produced 56 leads at a cost per lead of $187.40. Just as importantly, check out the 2.7 million impressions and 11,000+ clicks; even though this campaign didn’t meet the $100 CPL threshold, it put our client in front of numerous searchers that wouldn’t have considered them otherwise, and potentially led to more move-ins than the online forms can tell us.
- Start remarketing to your leads: As we all know, the assisted living decision is taking longer and longer, with more and more touch-points, and leads require more and more follow-up. So why not keep your brand top-of-mind by placing your display ads throughout the Internet on websites like sports, news, and weather? This type of subliminal advertising is actually tracked by Google through “view through conversions,” which tell us who from our remarketing list convert – even if they don’t click on our actual ad! As you see below, display remarketing brought in 998 leads at a cost per lead of $31.72.
- Innovate! Google is not the only player in the online marketing game; numerous vendors and channels exist to get in front of your potential residents. In 2013, Fathom found great success advertising our senior living clients on CityGrid and via Facebook remarketing. CityGrid puts your ads and locations on its proprietary network of websites in a manner optimized for conversion, tracking all the clicks and phone calls that result. Through CityGrid, we attracted 197 leads at a cost per lead of $58.87. Facebook remarketing allows your senior living community to remarket to your website’s visitors as they play around on Facebook. Surprisingly, this works – we drove 19 leads at a cost per lead of $44.62. What’s on tap for 2014? I don’t think it’s giving away the farm to tell you that we’re going to test out QuantCast, Yahoo Stream, Outbrain, Bing, and more. Stay tuned for more updates on how these channels perform…or jump on board with your own “experimental” budget to learn and grow your own senior living marketing efforts.
As you can see, Fathom takes an aggressive approach to senior housing marketing, proactively testing and optimizing every available channel.
Learn how to get more new move-ins to senior living facilities from the digital world. Turn more prospective residents into actual residents with our 17-pg. guide: