As of last year, there are 54.1 million Americans over the age of 65.1 While that may feel like a never ending stream of new resident opportunities, you still have to connect with those seniors before they join your senior living community. But your job doesn’t stop there!
For independent living, the time between the initial inquiry2 from a senior or adult child decision maker to when you meet them in person can be up to 55 days. And the actual decision-making time ranges from 120 to 155 days—and sometimes up to two years!
How do you handle such a lengthy sales cycle? By targeting the seniors who will be most comfortable in your community and taking them through the new resident journey as quickly as possible. The best way to make that happen is by qualifying and nurturing your leads.
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing3 is the long-term process of persuasion you use to encourage seniors to choose your senior living community. The word “nurture” here is used in the literal sense: to help something thrive and grow.
Think about lead nurturing in terms of planting a garden. When you market your senior living community, you’re planting seeds. These seeds are all the touchpoints you have with your market. You know that not every seed will sprout—but the ones that do are the leads you need to focus on through their decision-making journey.
How Do You Nurture Leads?
Keeping that analogy to a garden in mind, the goal is to grow your prospective residents’ interest in your community until it blossoms into a new-resident move-in. So what makes for great soil, lots of water, and sunshine in terms of nurturing senior living leads? How do you turn those sprouts into full-grown, blossoming plants? Lots of nurturing!
Lead nurturing is a methodical, long-term strategy that guides your prospective residents through the decision-making process with the goal of keeping them actively engaged from initial inquiry to move-in. Here’s how you develop a successful lead nurturing strategy that optimizes your conversion rates while minimizing the length of the new resident journey.
1. Analyze Your Data
Before you do anything, you need to understand who and what you’re dealing with. This starts by gaining a deeper understanding of your community’s current and prospective residents. How long is the average decision making process for new residents? What percentage of prospects drop off after each typical touchpoint in your current outreach? Is there any segment of your market who tends to take a longer or shorter time to convert than others?
Also consider where your new resident opportunities came from. Do leads converting from Facebook have a shorter resident journey, or maybe greater satisfaction with your community than those from other channels? This type of seemingly innocuous data is actually incredibly valuable to your digital marketing strategy—especially when you use what you learn to improve your understanding of your ideal senior resident and the process they go through to join your community.
Ultimately, this knowledge should inform your lead nurturing strategy. And as a result, your sales process will be more effective and efficient.
2. Segment Your Audience
Use the demographic and behavioral data you collect to divide your audience into well-defined groups based on common characteristics. Each segment can be assigned their own series of marketing touchpoints and communications that speaks to their specific pain points and challenges.
Precise segmentation also allows you to more quickly identify and update lead nurture sequences that aren’t working than with broader campaigns that require long-term trial and error testing.
3. Create Targeted Content
A benefit of segmenting your audience is creating highly targeted content that appeals directly to that segment. Personalized marketing is a must these days, especially for the baby boomer generation. A generic approach to your marketing won’t help you nurture leads or shorten the sales cycle.
For example, let’s say that you have a segment that is women aged 65-70 who’ve retired from a creative job. Because of your research, you know this segment responds better to Facebook ads than those on Instagram. Using that knowledge, create your strategy accordingly. Or you’re recently partnered with an amazing new chef who has taken your culinary offerings to the next level. Highlight this benefit in content created specifically for potential new residents who’ve expressed concern about access to fine dining.
Targeted content lets your prospective residents know that you see them and understand what they care about.
4. Use Automation
A big part of lead nurturing is staying in touch with every qualified prospective resident. The goal of effective lead nurturing is to optimize the number of touches to persuade these prospects to convert, but all too often the necessary follow-ups fall through the cracks due to human error. Marketing automation helps minimize the time required to nurture these leads and minimizes the chances for human error to disrupt the process.
There are many ways you can automate your marketing, and the approach you choose should be based on the needs of your community. The goal is to create triggered marketing (think email responses) to automatically deploy when specific lead behaviors occur. This eliminates any human oversight preventing you from following up the way you should.
5. Get Personal
Automation of email, social media, and mailers are great, but effective lead nurturing requires a personal touch. Seniors are still fans of phone calls and most of them are comfortable with video meetings. Connect with your leads and engage one-on-one to keep them moving toward conversion.
A Good Website Makes a Great First Impression
Lead nurturing campaigns are the key to shortening your sales cycle and growing your census. Schedule a strategy session with Dreamscape Marketing at 888.307.7304 to learn more.
For a list of references, please contact us.