With the explosion of Internet use and social media, having a powerful online presence is no longer “optional”. For today’s senior living providers, it is essential to have a strong web presence that effectively attracts and relates to your primary customer groups: prospective residents, their adult children, sources of institutional referral and other key constituents.
Your Website Is More Important Than Ever
Today, online marketing is one of the most visible and effective tools for “telling your story,” connecting with your target audience and presenting your organization’s attributes, benefits and competitive advantages to those “shopping” for senior living services. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, “Older Adults and Internet Use,” for the first time ever, more than half of senior adults are using the Internet. Additionally, their adult children view it as the “go-to” medium for the majority of their research into senior living options.
To be successful, your website must effectively capture the unique and valuable aspects of your senior living community and “bring them to life” for your online visitors. This is accomplished through understanding what your customers are looking for, relevant content and messaging, best-practice design, effective use of imagery and search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, creating a high-performance website can often be a challenge for senior living organizations that lack the marketing resources and expertise required.
Many Websites Lack the Basic Ingredients for Success
In his article, Six Reasons Your Website Will Fail, author Ollie Bigler points out the fact that many small- and medium-sized businesses still have “a limited, ineffective online presence.” According to Bigler, “That wouldn’t be much of an issue if the Internet hadn’t long ago replaced hardcopy Yellow Pages as the go-to source for business information.”
Using vSplash’s SMB DigitalScape data, which analyzed one million small and medium business websites worldwide last year, Bigler highlights how poorly equipped many of these small- and medium-sized company websites are for the digital age.
- Most sites are not built to accommodate mobile devices — 93.3% of SMB websites are not mobile-compatible and will not render successfully on mobile devices, including smartphones. It is critical that your website is optimized for the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones.
- Social media is lacking — 80.5% of SMB websites have no social media links – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. Ideally, when managing a part of your website (e.g. writing a blog post or adding a team member), your website content management software should be intelligent enough to automatically push that out through the social media sphere.
- There is no visible contact link — About 75% of SMB websites lack a link on their homepage to make it convenient for consumers to contact their business.
- Lack of options for requesting information — Approximately two-thirds of SMB websites lack information inquiry forms to enable consumers to request information.
- No phone number to promote easy contact — 60% of SMB websites have no toll-free or local business phone number listed on the homepage. Lack of a phone number creates legitimacy concerns.
- SEO problems — 56.3% of SMB websites have no keyword information for search engine discovery to enable consumers to locate your website and create traffic.
Addressing the six areas Bigler highlights in his article would allow small- and medium-sized businesses to cover the basics required to drive traffic to their websites, engage with their audience and acquire information for sales development.
Implications for Senior Living Providers
Many senior living providers today lack the in-house staff and expertise to create a website that will actually drive sales, achieve their census goals and build their brand. With online activity continuing to grow as the “go-to medium” for gathering information on senior living services and options, a competitive online presence has never been more crucial for your business success. Fortunately, help is available in the form of award-winning senior living marketing organizations that operate exclusively in the senior living industry and have the insight, expertise and experience to make your website a winner.