Think about this. Where’s the first place you go to research a new doctor? Search for a new home? Or plan your next vacation? Likely, you go online to become familiar with a product or service before purchasing. You’re what many marketers call a self-educating buyer.
We know the buying process has evolved. 67% of the customer’s journey is done digitally, and 57% of the purchase decision is complete before a consumer even reaches out to a live person. Therefore, your online reputation can be your best (or in some cases) your worst sales tool.
How can you reach, engage and influence self-educating senior living prospects?
Here are 7 tips to help set you up for success:
1) Know what information your target audience is looking for. Then give it to them.
Step back and put on your senior living consumer hat. Take an audit of your online story from their perspective.
Is there a list of amenities and services? Pricing? Floor plans with interior shots or a virtual tour? Videos of real-life residents? Messages from the executive director? Stories of what’s happening inside the community? A way to interact with sales counselors by email or phone? A Facebook page where they can connect with residents and staff members to see if they’ll fit in? Confirmation that the community is a reputable provider of health care? An interactive tool that guides them to living options that are best suited to their wants and needs?
You’d probably want to find all this and more. Make sure you’re giving prospects the information they need to make an informed decision, as it will lead to better conversations when they choose to schedule a meeting with you. At that time, they’ll feel more empowered to make a decision about your community.
2) Use data to learn more about your audience.
Who are they? No, really…who are they? Understand each audience you’re targeting as you determine your digital marketing and communications strategy. What content are they interacting with most? What messages are resonating with them? How are they connecting with you? When, where and how do they want you to communicate with them? What are their trigger points? At what point do they typically convert to a lead?
3) Develop a smart content strategy.
The content you create and share online helps self-educating prospects formulate a first impression of your community. Each content piece should serve a purpose. Will it inform, educate, persuade or entertain? Which audience will it be customized to? Have you incorporated interactive content to increase engagement?
Learn more about developing a content strategy here.
4) Know your competitors’ online story, and differentiate your community.
You can find exactly what your prospects can find online about the “other community.” Use that information to your benefit, and reinforce what prospects already think they “know” about it from their initial research.
5) Convince prospects that you’re the best choice before they ever talk to a sales counselor.
These individuals are checking you out on social media, reading online reviews about your community, asking their friends for their opinions and their physicians and financial planners for recommendations, watching video testimonials from residents, and reading articles about your community in the media. Use all these tools to help you do the convincing before they ever make an appointment to talk to you. Results? Qualified prospects will show up more ready to buy.
6) Give them an experience worth remembering.
Does your website stand out from your competition? Has the user experience been well-thought-out? Do you have content to immediately engage leads? Do you have an email strategy to nurture them through the sales funnel once you’ve captured their attention?
Ask yourself this when evaluating the digital experience: Why will the self-educating prospect remember your community? If you don’t know, it might be time to re-evaluate your strategy.
7) Be available 24/7 to connect with these prospects when they’re ready to connect.
Many organizations simply don’t have the tools in place to engage with prospects when those prospects are ready to do so. Do you have a notification sent to sales counselors immediately when an inquiry is made, whether it’s at 4:30 a.m., 7 p.m. or a Sunday afternoon? Are you using automated marketing techniques? If you have a Facebook page, is someone quickly responding to comments and questions added to your feed?
A self-educating buyer expects immediate gratification when they’re ready to schedule a tour, request more information and inquire about pricing. It’s up to you to continue nurturing these prospects. Connect with them when and where they want to connect, engage in conversation, address their objections, and get them to commit for an appointment.
Today online influence is increasingly important. The more influence you have, the better your odds of landing in the list of top 2 to 3 communities that self-educators will visit. As you plan for 2016, focus on a digital communications strategy to reach self-educating senior living prospects and adult children who are ready and eager to be sold on your lifestyle and community.