Online senior living directories have steadily established themselves as a viable lead source within the field. With older adults and their families increasingly turning to online resources to seek out and evaluate senior living options, online directories could become more prominent. As senior online habits have changed, so too have directories. They continue to evolve their product and business models in an effort to capture more visitors and generate more, higher-quality leads for their senior living community clients.
In fact, there have been several substantial changes just within the past 12 months. These range from significant decreases in some sites’ overall performance to improved functionality in how other sites prequalify leads for improved move-in conversions.
SeniorHomes.com, for instance, now offers a service in which they contact an individual who has submitted a community’s request form to confirm age, income, geographic location and care level interest prior to passing the lead along to the community itself. Any leads who don’t meet the community’s established criteria won’t be submitted, or charged.
Given the position these directories hold in lead generation, GlynnDevins has conducted a tracking study of lead activity over the last 18 months. The study has tracked activity from 8 major directories for 85 of the communities we work with. These tracking results have provided data to ensure we select the best-performing directories for each client, as well as establish the appropriate budget allocation by directory. The goal is always to maximize our effort with the highest-converting directories first.
From this study, we’ve formulated a few general best practices for working with online senior living directories. When first considering including a specific directory in your marketing plans, consider the following:
- Exactly whom does this directory target? A few directories perform well overall, but they’re best for assisted living, memory support or skilled care programs
(A Place for Mom, Caring.com), as they’ve positioned themselves to attract the Adult Child Influencer (ACI). Because the targets are misaligned, they’re not as likely to render highly in search results pages for “independent living.”
- How are leads derived? Some directories use an affiliate network to generate site traffic, but not all affiliate sites fit within the 65+ demographic. Leads from these affiliate sites tend to be low in quality with poor conversion rates. They can also be a significant drain on your sales team’s time.
- How does the site generate traffic? Do they practice current, sound SEO tactics and use their own paid search campaigns? If not, they can quickly lose ground. This year, we have seen one of the oldest online senior living directories start to wane with regard to lead volume. This happens to be a site that allows users to also link to client websites, and we’ve seen a decrease in referral traffic from them, as well.
It’s also important to consider all types of cost models. Of our top two recommended online directories for CCRCs, one utilizes a Pay Per Inquiry (PPI) cost structure, while the other offers varying levels of annual subscriptions. Both models are successful. One item to consider when budgeting for a PPI directory is projected monthly lead volume. If budgets are a concern, put monthly caps in place to make sure that a large influx of leads within a short time frame won’t result in having to shut down your listing for the remainder of the year.
These directories are worth the money you’ll spend for your listings, assuming you proactively manage not only the listings, but also the leads themselves. Prepare your sales team. Take time to understand the nuances of an Internet lead versus a lead that calls you directly, and work to hone your skills on how you approach each type.
Finally, we recommend that you continually review results, provide regular feedback on the quality of leads to those evaluating the directories, be aware of outside factors that may affect performance, and work to optimize budgets for maximum efficiency and the highest return on investment.