In today’s quickly evolving web environment, more seniors and their adult children search online for everything from retirement communities to long-term care. No longer a static or stand-alone entity, a well-designed, optimized website sets the tone and serves as the hub of a company’s entire presence, beginning online and ending in personal contact.
A simple assessment of your website in a few major areas can drastically improve your online engagement and effectiveness with prospective customers.
Alex Boyce, Director of Technology and Online Marketing for Sage Age Strategies, says the most effective site designs are simple and goal-oriented. Start behind the scenes and identify clearly what your prospects should know and be able to do after spending just a short time on your site. Make sure your site is responsively designed for mobile phone and tablet users, and integrate performance-enhancing systems to work seamlessly within the site.
Valuable, shareable content
On the front-facing side, use short paragraphs in clean, breathable spaces. Make sure your site tells the story of your community. Address the needs, problems, questions, and emotions of your customers using clear text and powerful images. Make your content truly relevant and helpful, and your contact information highly visible.
A well-designed site also organizes information for systematic sharing on social media. If you posts regular blog updates, make sure those posts are pushed to Twitter and Facebook. Not only will you grow your social engagement, you’ll also attract new traffic.
Current search terms
As attitudes toward senior living change, so does the language used to search for the best options in community and care. Nick White from A Place for Mom looked to Google trends to analyze the evolving lexicon of senior living. They turned up several interesting developments, most noticeably a shift away from “nursing home” and toward “senior living.” Trends also reveal that prospective customers are growing better informed, with searches for terms like “skilled nursing,” “senior housing” and “memory care” all doubling in the last 10 years.
The best websites use strong search terms to optimize their page titles and content pieces, as well as to broadcast their content to social media. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has radically changed how search engines rank sites, so Alex Boyce warns that old keyword practices might now be penalized as spam. However, linking to authoritative sites like Mayo Clinic or the Alzheimer’s foundation are rewarded in the newer matrices.
Traditional sales practice says to withhold financial information before making personal contact with prospective customers. This practice starts to backfire, though, as searchers grow more educated and interact more personally with a company’s online offerings.
Emily Study makes the case for price transparency in senior living by citing a few key benefits for providers. According to April LaMond, co-founder of LeadInSite, “more pre-qualifying activity is happening online and without the benefit of a sales counselor’s consultation.” A company’s online presence, then, must act more and more as a proxy for their in-person sales team, with attention to needs and circumstances at every stage of a customer’s journey.
Kim Daly Nobbs, chief marketing officer at Willow Valley Communities, believes that sharing financial details online will remove barriers to a decision and generate a bond of trust with the company. Whether customers are searching out of urgent need or proactive desire, they don’t want to wait to know the costs.
In some cases, keeping details of cost under wraps can even have a negative effect, causing prospective customers to self-disqualify, simply because they assume they can’t afford it. Educating customers up front can generate better-qualified leads and shorter decision times. Not only that, with fewer Americans prepared for retirement, knowing the cost is an early necessity for customers just coming through the door.
The more embedded the internet becomes in our daily lives, and the more internet-savvy customers of retirement age become, the more personal interaction they will expect to have online. Sites that stand out will respect customer needs and intelligence, stay current with industry language, and serve as the well-designed central hub of more far-reaching engagement, both online and in person.