Online Marketing for Retirement and Senior Living Communities

By | October 17, 2019

Hey guys. Today I am sitting down with
Frank. Frank has been a client of ours for a long time we’ve been working
together on his inbound marketing strategy. Frank do you want to just give a little bit of context into what you guys do
just that can kind of help us as we go in. We run two full-service retirement
communities Sarasota Bay Club in downtown Sarasota and Jacaranda Trace
down in Venice and have been working with Nextiny for about eight years on
our whole digital platform. And over that eight years a lot has changed. A lot
has changed on the inbound side with the evolution of technology and software
over time, but you guys have kind of your marketing mix so something that you rely
on to drive your marketing efforts both from a print perspective and a digital
perspective. Do you want to talk a little bit more about that? I’ve been as you know
in marketing senior housing for about thirty years you know historically we
focus a lot of our marketing in traditional media channels. We use the
newspaper, we use newspaper inserts, we use some magazines and sponsorships as
well as Direct Mail. Started about eight years ago you know we’ve had websites
prior to that well we really started working with Nextiny on an SEO
basis really trying to make our website show up on Google. That was the
whole game back when we first started and I would say our website at that
point was probably viewed more as a video brochure versus a really an
interactive environment. So if I look at over the last eight years you know we
went from from the digital platform being probably 10% of our budget and now it’s you know right in the 40 to 45% of our budget is dedicated to the
digital platform. How are you able to make that decision because it was an
evolution that happened overtime. It wasn’t something that
you just suddenly one day decided for no reason “hey let’s make this switch.” I think as I look at the whole digital: one of
the cool things about the digital platform is that it is measurable and
one of the things that we’ve consistently dealt with Nextiny is
improving our ability to measure how effective the whole digital platform is.
I think we first started and everyone came to me and talked to me about clicks
how many number of clicks I was gonna get on something and I think that you
know very quickly it meant nothing to me to have a 10,000 clicks you know what I
really wanted to know is okay of the customers that ultimately bought one of
our units at Sarasota Bay Club or Jacaranda Trace, how many of them use the Internet as a part of their sales process as a part of making that
decision and what did that look like and so we added tools over time so that we
could measure all that and it became clear as that as we dedicated more
energy and more dollars toward improving how our website interacts, Facebook
advertising Google click advertising, some of these other digital platforms
that we were getting a higher percentage of our people involved in using the
Internet and all the associated pieces to make their buying decisions and
therefore it it demanded more of the dollars to do that. We’re not looking at
beginning attribution of specifically where did their journey start but we’re
looking at ok the endpoint is their journey ending with them as a customer
and was that digital aspect part of their journey yes or no. And so that kind
of cuts out a lot of people focus on initial attribution so was this the lead
that originated from an event that we had or a flyer they got in the mail
everyone focus on that beginning attribution which is important to
measure as well but kind of understanding the entire journey that
you’re creating. The experience you’re creating as part of the sales process
and then as well as you know your brand out there that people can experience for
themselves what does that journey look like and how successful is that journey for you? Well I mean we still use newspaper advertising, we still use magazines and
we’re involved in the arts in Sarasota so we we support those kind of
things and direct-mail is still a very powerful vehicle for us but what we
found is that if we’re driving people to our website there’s an opportunity for
them to get much more involved in what we’re doing you know we know for
example that on average the people that ultimately buy have looked at most
cases upwards of 50 pages on our website. A high percentage of them have looked at
some kind of video. Almost all of them have downloaded our floor plans and
they’re doing that all through our website now. So we’re driving instead of
just driving traffic to get someone to visit I’m trying to drive them to my
website because I know if there’s certain website behaviors that happens
with that customer then ultimately they become worthy of my sales people
spending time with them. In HubSpot talk we came up with the sales qualified lead
and we qualify people you know based on how they behave, how they respond to us
once we present to them any of our media. It ultimately all flows back so we know
they responded to us and what behaviors are they doing and a lot of those
behaviors are on the website before we ever meet them. For me one of the big
revelations was probably five years ago recognizing that for most of our
customers, their first impression of us was no longer their visit to one of our
communities. Their first impression of us where they start judging us as being
worthy of them is our website and so that website had to be very inviting and
it had to give them the answers they needed to trust us enough to come and
visit through what we’ve learned from the data of understanding the trends and
averages of customers that have closed over time we’ve been able to then
incorporate those things into internal campaigns where we make sure that
through the definition of a sales qualified lead your sales team is only
notified when those leads come up and then we can also nurture leads to become
sales qualified leads by queuing them up those different efforts download the
floor plans attend a luncheon etc to kind of continue to increase the flow of
sales qualified leads over time. I think one of the things that that I think
everyone struggles with when you’re doing digital marketing is how do you
get on the right side of the spam wall? Yeah. And so a lot of our website is
designed to collect the information get permission from that customer to
communicate with them and part of our goal is to allow that customer to
communicate with us and whatever channel they’re most comfortable with so they
want to call us that’s fine. You know some websites you can never find a
phone number. You can always find our phone number because I’d rather have
them call if they’d rather talk to us through chat we’ve got a chat mechanism. If they want to just email us back and forth we can. But certainly getting
them on the right side of the spam wall allows us to have regular communication
with them and as you said nurture them to the point where they maybe want to
come in and talk with us and that’s been a really successful part of our whole
program and as we found better ways to engage the customer in the digital
format than we’ve seen we’re just seeing more and more higher results and within
regards to not only just general traffic to our website but most importantly in
terms of the number of people that are that use the website and the Internet as
a function of buying their apartment at any of our communities. I like what you said about the different
ways that people can interact with the site particularly with the phone number
because a lot of traditional marketers are gonna say well no we as marketers
don’t want the phone number on the site because we have all our conversion forms
and that’s how we can track where people are coming from so you can’t have the
phone number because otherwise we can’t track but as you know that’s where
software comes in we have Call Rail that we use to track the calls that come from
the website and then we’ve also been able to empower you to be more data
driven through the print side by giving you those tracking numbers on those
campaigns as well so you can really understand call volume online and
offline and how that’s working for you and I don’t remember exactly when we did
it but it was it was probably four or five years ago we we moved all of our
websites to the HubSpot format and the reason we did that was it really
did allow us to take all of our responses whether it was from
one of our more traditional media channels or from the digital channel and
know where the customers are coming from collect that information and really look
at our overall response now. Prior to that we kind of had to guess pretty much
you know. So if I looked at it from a percentage basis prior to us
putting HubSpot in place we knew about half our customers really use the
internet as an integral part. Now it’s over 80% because we’ve been able to
collect all the rest of the data that says that they originally looked at a
newspaper ad and then they went to our website and spent X amount of time there
and downloaded our floor plans and then ultimately they called us. So we can
follow a customer in terms of their journey with us all the way through and
more importantly we can look at that on a congregate basis and really understand
you know where will we put dollars in energy in a marketing plan and how
that’s generated increased sales. Yeah and that’s all due to the software side
so you mentioned HubSpot you know there’s other software like Call Rail
and some other things that we use as well. And Wistia! Which does the video side of things. So how do you feel about software was that something that you could have envisioned
eight years ago, ten years ago as being such an integral part of your marketing? Well you know since I’ve been involved in it for a while now and when we first
started building websites there really weren’t even templates at that point. S
pretty much everything was custom and so then when you made a change to it,
it was a real pain quite frankly and you end up having spent a lot of money. And then templates came along and it became easier to change things but
limited some of the flexibility well we started introducing the software
behind that. It freed up the whole architecture of the website but it also
then gave us a way to really look and manage the database that we have of
customers and keep that database at a manageable level so if I look at the
total number of people we’ve attracted into our database that we manage with
HubSpot you know it’s probably 3 or 4 thousand people for each project we
really only have about 1,500 to 2,000 that we manage because some of these
people have just they’re no longer interested and that’s a good thing to
know as a marketer because it costs money to communicate with everybody and so if we can we try to keep that to a much more
manageable level and then you know the the ultimate corollary of that is that you
you know the database that people that my salespeople work with is usually
between 100 to 150. You know? Which means that when they’re working with customers
that we think have a high level of interest they’re not spending their time
cold calling and calling a bunch of people who just filled out a form and
they call them go “I don’t even remember filling out the form” you know we’re able
to handle that on the marketing side so it’s made my salespeople a lot more
effective in terms of how they spend their time and they’re spending their
time trying to build a relationship with customers that actually have an interest. You don’t have near the ability to analyze your effectiveness and adjust
quickly without the software so I know it like it’s come into play being able
to use HubSpot to measure like google click and facebook advertising and
we’ve tried both and at times Facebook’s been the king and at times Google clicks
you know switch over and we’re able to reallocate dollars based on what is more
effective at this particular time you know. But so instead of guessing though
which is still what I have to do a lot of times when I try a new media outlet
in traditional print we have data that says okay well we ran this program we
put this video with it you know as on Facebook but we got this amount of
traffic you know and of that traffic here’s the number that actually
turned into a sale. That’s pretty amazing to me.
Yeah and we’re here to empower you with that data you know it’s not like the
data is just there and you’re overwhelmed and looking for your HubSpot
account like oh what is all of this? You know we meet and we comb through the
data and we give you those insights to show you “hey Frank this is working
really well we’d like to make some changes and shifts here to really keep
things optimizing over time.” I really feel that we are much more nimble in
terms of our messaging and in terms of our ability to respond to the market our
ability to push a little harder when we have an extra need that we and we have a
level of vacancies through a particular time and we need to push that I think we
it’s very simple for us to to work with you guys look at the data and decide
where we’re going to apply some dollars strategically they can kind of push that
along. So one of the things about it is you get more data than you
want to know. Literally, I mean it’s scary how much you can see you you can
actually see which pages every customer went to. Well nobody has time to do that
or really any interest in it. It’s really how do we take this massive amount of
data we have congregated into something realistic and then look at where how
many people do we have at each stage of their sales process or you know sales
and marketing process and that’s been super effective. As
effective is allowing people to opt out so that we’re not marketing to
people that no longer have an interest in what we’re doing. You can get really
particular about whos stuff goes to so we think the concept of email blasts is
not something we’re excited about we’re more excited about being able to find
200 people that we think this element may apply to and then send them very
specific messages and then out of that see who responds. So what are you
excited about Frank? We’re coming into 2020 believe it or not it’s gonna be
nine years of marketing and software what’s next for you? Well I mean I think
that you know this last year really the last two years we’ve spent a lot
of energy on video, I mean using video to engage our customers in
a more powerful and a more emotional way. Part of our deal with you guys is we’re
consistently doing upgraded videos I think part of what we’re exploring now
with Nextiny is how do we keep videos fresh? How do we keep
them real? How do we make sure that they demonstrate the values of our
organization? We have some cool ideas that we’re gonna be exploring this year
in terms of episodic videos that we might use but we’re just in the idea
stage trying to pull that together. Well thanks for joining us
today, Frank. It’s always new with Nextiny! Thanks!

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