For more than a year, has been listening to your comments and questions about Internet leads.119835038

  • Are these leads screened before you send them to a community or in-home care company?
  • If these leads are screened, what’s the best way to work them?
  • Why does it seem they are all so early in the buying cycle?
  • Why do you send us leads without a last name or a phone number?

We recognize that the confusion for many senior housing and care industry marketers is in identifying the differences between directories and lead-referral companies. Alas, it’s time to bring to light the myths and misconceptions about online referrals to help equip senior care operators with the tools to help improve close ratios for Internet referrals.

All Internet leads are the same, right?

The Internet is a big place,  and it makes sense that all digital leads would be perceived as being the same. But wait! There’s a part of Internet leads that makes them uniquely different from one another: screened leads versus unscreened referrals.

The difference between an unscreened Internet lead and an Internet referral is that Internet leads are accumulated via directory sites and sent out without any screening. An Internet referral has been screened according to your community’s specifications. Internet referrals are therefore expensive to produce. For example, bids on 500,000 keywords every month and invests more than $500,000 per month on lead acquisition. We also spend heavily on fresh content for our website. Internet referrals come from companies such as, A Place for Mom, and, all of which have trained advisors answering phones 24/7 as part of their unique screening processes.

Another powerful myth is that all your company really needs is a great website to generate referrals. Not true. Of course you still need a great website, but getting people to it requires a digital marketing strategy that includes SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing), plus some great Internet referral partners.

Are Internet referrals without a last name or phone number any good?

YES! In a recent study, found that nearly 15 percent of all Internet referrals that converted to move-ins were missing either a phone number or an e-mail address. In some cases, those leads are missing last names because many online consumers want to protect their privacy. Phone numbers are not given because the consumer may be searching the Web at work during breaks. You can still convert this kind of referral without a last name or email address or phone number to a move-in!

True or false: You never share your pricing with an Internet referral up front.

Let’s talk about it. Is sharing your pricing with an Internet referral partner (or sending it via e-mail) going to hurt your chances of winning a prospect? Another big myth that affects your close ratios is that you should never share your pricing.

Think again. . . . Internet shoppers generally want respect for their time. They see an unwillingness to share a price or a rate as reason to distrust you. “You might lose an opportunity for a conversation with them,” says Katie Roper, VP of sales at “You don’t have to use absolutes when sharing pricing. You can say, ‘Our rates start at $X, but most people pay between $Y and $Z per month,’ or per hour if you are an in-home care company.”

Don’t underestimate your communication strategy when connecting with Internet referrals. Though Internet referrals are different from professional referrals from doctors, social workers, or gerontologists, they are still real people looking for care. Some quick tips:

  •  Get in touch — quickly. Call the Internet referral within the first five minutes and to mention the person and organization that referred you, even in your first voicemail message. For example, “Hello, Mrs. Smith, this is Kathy Jones calling from Avalon Senior Living. I’m calling regarding Judy Johnson, your Advisor from”
  •  Meet in person. Whether it’s a tour or a face-to-face consult (for home care operators), your strategic goal should always be a face-to-face meeting. According to Jeanine Aspen, president of DEI-Central, “The first provider to get a face-to-face meeting with the prospect has a five-times-greater chance of getting them to become a customer,” she says.


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