The Secret to Stronger, Faster Online Referrals

By Sho Balkian

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Digital Marketing Academy: Get Insights and Best Practices for Optimal Business Results

digital_marketing_academy_logoSEO, ROI, SEM, WOM — are you drowning in the sea of digital marketing acronyms? Know the difference between “unscreened leads,” “Internet referrals,” and “screened leads”? How much do you know about the pros and cons of “pay per lead” versus “cost per acquisition”?

Within the rapidly evolving and fast-growing realm of digital marketing and Internet referral, it’s easy for senior care industry professionals to feel confused and overwhelmed, and, as a result, stick with their comfortable status quo, especially if they have 90% occupancy rates and think that’s just fine. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the wisest strategy in meeting the demands of today’s consumers of senior living and eldercare services.

The “new adult daughter” is online in greater numbers than ever before (and so increasingly are her parents). She’s using the Internet to research, select, and stay connected to the senior living communities, in-home care agencies, and other senior care providers assisting in the care of her mom and dad (and, in some cases, her spouse, aunts, uncles, or grandparents). And she’s using social media to spread the word about her own and her loved ones’ experiences with those service providers — feedback or word of mouth that reaches her friends and family members locally and across the country, as well as strangers reading her online review(s) too.

To help our industry’s sales and marketing executives understand these societal shifts and then grasp and harness digital marketing for optimal business results, formally launched and expanded our Digital Marketing Academy in 2014. Now a go-to source for valuable information and educational resources, the award-winning Digital Marketing Academy includes:

  • Public webcasts covering pressing industry topics and featuring leading experts, compelling data, and actionable takeaways — free of charge.
  • Monthly “Caring Insights” e-newsletter and blog with the latest and greatest sales and marketing opportunities, tips, metrics, and more.
  • Original research culling insights from millions of family caregivers and older adults nationwide, whether through’s long-standing methodologies or in partnership with other research specialists, like Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
  • Custom webinars and workshops that tailor personalized sessions to specific companies’ unique needs.

Any professional in the senior living and eldercare industry can access and benefit from the Digital Marketing Academy resources — this learning is not limited to those who partner with us. To get started: sign up for our e-newsletter or register for the latest webcast.

Some of the feedback we’ve received about the Digital Marketing Academy:

  • Thank you for the wonderful webinar presentation. I believe that was the best-presented and most informative webinar I have been a part of. It was short, concise, and to the point. Kept my attention and I found the content to be useful!”
  • Thank you for your presentation. It was spot-on.”
  • “This is extremely helpful. Thanks so much!!!”
  • “The training is very valuable but it also is something that many of us can use toward our training hours. I appreciate it and everything you do.”
  • “Thanks so much for the great session yesterday — very informative. Nice work.”
  • “I thought it was great. The fact that you had other providers sharing their insights was productive for me for sure. I’ll attend others as well when you have them.”

It’s not too late for your team to start benefiting from the Digital Marketing Academy as well. Peruse this blog for recaps of past webcasts and featured digital marketing articles. Come to the next event — whether an online webcast or one of our in-person sessions. Or suggest a topic we should cover. Contact your Membership Advisor at (866-824-9209) or post a comment below. Thanks! Research Reveals Senior Living Tours Exceed Expectations, Speed Up Move-in Times

ThinkstockPhotos-78321153When you tour a family through your community, do you ever wonder what they’re really thinking? surveyed 1,181 family caregivers and older adults who searched for a senior community in the last year, and we asked for their candid comments on their tour experience. What we gleaned:

  • People who tour are seriously searching: 1/3 of respondents toured four or more communities, and only 17% visited just one.
  • Despite seeing flattering pictures and descriptions posted online, 68% of people who toured a senior community reported being “surprised at how nice it was.”
  • People matter! Almost all tour takers (91%) commented on their favorable impression of the staff, and 10% specifically mentioned observing staff interaction as an important reason to visit in person.
  • Almost half the people who had taken at least one tour had either already moved in (40%) or were scheduled to do so (8%). sees this same result in broader visitor data. Families who schedule a tour through our senior housing help line move in at 3.5 times the rate of others we speak with, and also 25% faster than those who decline to tour right away.

While most visitors had a good experience during their tours, noticeable minorities said they had not been contacted prior to a scheduled tour to confirm it (12%), and almost one in five people (18%) reported no contact at all from the community after they went home from the tour. A further 26% had been contacted only once post-tour.

In addition, 20% of people said their tour was too much of a sales pitch.

Over half of survey respondents took the time to provide open-ended comments, and the single most common category of negative comments was dissatisfaction with the way the community handled pricing discussions (13%). Most people resented the fact that they could not get pricing information before taking a tour.

“That approach may have been fine for previous generations, but this next generation is mainly email and text messaging, and we need our information on line” was one verbatim comment.

The single most common positive comment was that the tour allowed them to get a “feel” for the community. Comments like, “I found the feeling of hominess was not evident until I visited,” or “Meeting the people, talking with them, eating with them was very nice and gave me a ‘home’ feeling” underscore the importance of real-world visits in addition to online research.

About 1/3 of people who were invited to tour declined to do so. The most common reason was that they were “too early in their search” (46%) or “not sure loved one is ready” (21%). But 9% of those who declined did so because they had no transportation to get there. If your community is willing to pick someone up, be sure to let people know. And three-quarters of the people who declined to tour initially would be open to scheduling a visit now. Are you still in touch with them to invite them in?

Caring can help you get people to your door! If you’d like our Family Advisors to schedule more tours for you, here are some easy things you can do:

  1. Tell us something good. Give us an exciting, compelling tidbit about your community that we can use to sell families on coming in for a visit. Here are some great ones:
  1. Update your rates. Make sure we have accurate pricing information — not just your starting rates but what your average resident can expect to pay:
  1. Reviews, reviews, reviews! Encourage your happy residents and their families to review your community on
  1. Call right away. When we do schedule a tour for you, call or email to introduce yourself and welcome them to your community. Then call again the day before, just to remind them (we will, too!). Then, once they take the tour, call them to see what they thought.

Mark your calendar for an exclusive webinar on the insights from this survey:

What Families Really Think About Senior Housing Tours
Thursday, June 11, 2015, 11:00 a.m. PT (2:00 p.m. ET)
Sign up now!

Questions? Please contact your Membership Advisor or Client Services representative: (866) 824-9209

Who Will Be Left Behind? Mobilegeddon

mobilegeddon_topBy Hendrik de Vries, Guest Contributor

Dear Senior Living Industry, please don’t shoot the messenger, but if your website is not mobile-friendly by April 21st, 2015, prepare for a significant decrease in visits to your website. Why should you be concerned? Because a significant decrease in visits to your website = A significant decrease in leads. “Mobilegeddon” is coming. Will you be ready? Read on to make sure that when the time comes, you’ll be leading the pack, not the one left behind.

Why Does April 21st Matter?

On that day Google is making a major update to its algorithm to expand their focus on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This means that if your website is not mobile-friendly by that date, a Google user on their iPhone, iPad, Samsung, etc. will only be able to find your site down in the weeds of their search results. Unfortunately for you, they will immediately find your competitors that have website that are mobile-friendly.

You might still be asking why that affects you. There are two primary reasons:

  1. Local mobile searches are now exceeding local desktop searches. Put simply, more and more people are using their mobile devices to search.
  2. Google is without a doubt the most powerful and important of the search engine. We would all be making a business-changing mistake if we ignored their changes.

How To Test Your Mobile-Friendliness

Your website is either mobile-friendly or it’s not. The quickest way to test your site is to go to Google’s own testing tool called “Mobile-Friendly Test”.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 11.16.36 AM


If you get the thumbs up from Google, go ahead and do a little dance or fist pump, you’ve earned it. If they say your site is not mobile-friendly, don’t worry. They will give you an explanation as to why. Then you can do what needs to be done to solve the problem.

What Next?

If you’re site is mobile friendly, thank whoever built your website and move on. If not, you have two options:

  1. Fix the problems that are preventing your site from being mobile-friendly.
  2. Or you might have to start from scratch and build a whole new website.

Both paths have their challenges, but if you ignore the problem, then don’t expect any more leads from Google.

Next Steps

Although my comparisons to the world’s end are admittedly over the top, (my wife does say that I have a knack for dramatic contrivance) this is still an important matter for the sake of your community’s future. But don’t panic, we’re here to make sure you don’t get lost in the noise.

If all of this sounds like a foreign language to you and you just want someone to tell you what to do, then click here for a free Online Business Review done by our experienced team. We’ll walk you through the simple steps needed to get you back on track.

To your continued success,


Mingle Media Marketing