The Right Way To Spend Millions on Senior-Living Advertising

little-old-ladyThe Fathom Healthcare team has had the privilege of running paid advertising for several different major senior-living and assisted-living community organizations. I know what you’re thinking: Why would anyone be excited to target senior citizens in need of long-term care? Well, this is actually a very fast-growing industry. According to Google, the senior population (of 65+) will grow nearly 100% from 46.2 million in 2013 to 92 million in 2060. This population explosion means more and more seniors will need care, especially as advances in medical technology and lifestyle changes allow them to live longer.

With all opportunities come challenges. One basic challenge in the digital advertising world is trying to determine WHO you are targeting. Like with some other healthcare organizations, advertising in this world involves targeting both caregivers and those in need of care. From experience with our clients, we know the majority of users (70%+) looking online for senior-living answers are actually the caregivers themselves. This means ad copy and landing page messaging needs to speak to caregivers, yet not completely neglect elders that might be searching on their own behalf.

Another critical element of advertising in the senior-living space is WHERE you target. About 30% of the time, the caregivers/influencers conducting the searches live outside the geographic area of the loved ones in need. Therefore, geo-targeting ads to specific locations based on the user’s IP address and sending that user to a landing page specific to the location could harm the chances of lead conversion (if that user was looking for care that would take place outside of the actual searching location).

That said, we’ve compiled 10 more of the best things we’ve learned from spending millions on behalf of senior-living clients:

1. Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Although this is a common observation across all industries and lead-generation campaigns, it’s super-important. You definitely need to track your ads and keywords in a way to understand which are generating high-quality and low-quality leads

2. Marketing Automation/Email Marketing Is Necessary To Nurture Leads

As a nice transition from the first point, generating leads is just the beginning. You must nurture these leads along the track of scheduling tours and eventually moving in.

3. Bing Performs Better than Google in Many Cases

From what we saw across our clients, we actually were able to generate leads at a much lower cost than compared to Google. This makes sense as the demographics of Bing and Yahoo are historically older when compared to Google.

4. Assisted-Living and Memory Care Keywords Are Most Expensive

If you’re wanting to run Google search campaigns on these type of keywords, be willing to pay anywhere from $10-$20 per click! That being said, making sure you have the proper negative keywords and a user-friendly landing page experience is crucial.

5. Keep Landing Pages Simple, Stupid!

If your organization has multiple communities within a specific location, do NOT list them all out on one landing page. Consider having a basic lead-capture form (even a multi-step process), a list of differentiators, and a short video to keep the user engaged … and more likely to become a lead.

6. Calls Matter

Make sure you’re tracking calls as closely as possible. This is probably no surprise, but calls are extremely important, especially in the senior-living industry. Your target demographic tends to be even more inclined than the general public to pick up the phone and call, as they might be afraid of what actually happens with their information when submitted via form. (Or they find it easier to simply pick up the phone and call.) Therefore, make sure you are tracking calls as carefully as possible to determine their quality.

7. Look to Other Channels To Generate Incremental Leads, Combat High CPC

Some media to consider include: Google Display Tactics, Yahoo Stream Ads, Yellow Pages, Gmail Sponsored Promotions, Similar Audiences. As stated in point #4, these keywords can be expensive. Consequently, testing out other channels (such as the ones listed above) to identify ways to bring in leads at a lower cost is prudent. Just remember to keep an eye on lead quality.

8. Use ALL Your Ad Extensions to Stand Out from Competitors

Yes, ad extensions work, especially if you’re trying to get more clicks than your competition.

Case #1: Google call-out extensions increased click-thru rate (CTR) as high as 79% after implementation:


Case #2: Google review extensions increased CTR as high as 160% after implementation:


Case #3: Google seller ratings (extremely popular in this space) contributed to an increased CTR as high as 30% after implementation:

seller ratings

9. Mobile Search is Outpacing Most Other Industries

Yes, we all know mobile search is growing and has been for several years; however, according to Google, 46% of all senior-living related searches is from a mobile device (phone or tablet). This means advertisers need to a.) advertise on mobile devices, b.) have a specific bid strategy, and c.) have responsive landing pages (which many companies currently lack).

10. Use Exclusion Lists

These lists—including negative keywords and placements—are an oldie, but goodie. Placing negative keywords across multiple campaigns through lists will save you time and money as well as improve lead quality. The same goes with negative placements across Google Display campaigns. You’d be amazed to see which sites your contextual display campaigns are being matched on—be sure to check placement reports regularly and add to negative placement lists rather than doing it at the campaign level. This will save time and allow you to exclude low-quality sites across multiple campaigns instead of one by one.

If you are advertising on behalf of a senior-living community, these tips should ensure your success in 2015 and help increase both leads and move-ins.

Interested in learning more? Read our guide to generating senior-living move-ins.

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