Today, virtually every credible, growth oriented senior living community has its own website. Very simply, it is part of the price of admission if you seek to compete successfully in the marketplace, attract new residents and achieve an adequate bottom line.
What Your Website Must Do for You Today
As Andy Crestodina, best-selling author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing says, “To be successful, websites must do two things: 1. Attract visitors, and 2. Convert those visitors into leads and customers. In order to do this, web marketers must do two things: 1. Create content, and 2. Promote it. I’ve learned that content makes the difference between success and failure on the web.”
Nowadays, online searches reign supreme for individuals seeking information on senior living options and assessing the various features and benefits of each community. This is especially true among adult children who are doing their best to make sure mom and/or dad are making the right decisions for the future.
Sales and Marketing Alert: Not All Websites are Created Equal!
However, in a competitive, web-dominated world, it is important to understand that not all websites are created equal. Not in form; not in function; and most importantly, not in performance! The devil is in the details and those details can make the difference between succeeding and failing today.
Websites 2015: Precision-Guided Web Technologies
Engineered with precision to achieve your community’s priorities (e.g. increasing occupancy and achieving sustained growth) today’s top performing websites function as your sales team’s best lead generator and promoter. These sites attract prospects, create meaningful engagement, build your sales funnel and provide your sales team with hot leads to convert into residents.
Says award-winning Senior Living Sales and Marketing expert, Adrienne Mansfield Straub, “With the rapid changes in user technology and online marketing platforms, many websites today are either stale and in need of essential updates or are simply outdated and require a complete overhaul. The latest technologies have become so sophisticated in their function that fully optimized websites have the ability to clearly outperform the competition in creating viable, convertible leads.
“These systems act like ‘heat seeking’ lead creators that maximize the impact of your content, nurture customer engagement and generate new business. Not staying up-to-date means you are continually missing out on business growth opportunities.”
The Seven Essentials of a Fully Optimized Website
Alex Boyce, SageAge Strategies’ Director of Technology and Online Marketing and a multiple Web Health Award winner, says, “The most effective, growth-focused websites today tend to have certain key characteristics that set them apart for the ‘also rans’ in the senior living market. While each trait is worthy of an article of its own, the following list of seven provides you with a good summary of the latest web imperatives.”
1. A current design – Website design experts agree that an up-to-date, responsive design is critical for success today. If you don’t comply, it will negatively affect your ranking. Responsive design means that static site designs are a thing of the past. Today, a totally desktop-focused design is neither consumer friendly nor functionally optimal.
Now, site design has to support mobile viewers using smartphones and tablets. Mobile users are growing by leaps and bounds and comprise of the busy adult children who are often doing things on the run. Web design professionals can create the best formats for smartphones, tablets and desktop screens and build in the components that make for the most seamless and enjoyable viewing.
2. Goal-driven site organization and presentation – Always start with your key strategic marketing and sales goals in mind and build your website to help you achieve them. As noted in the Forbes.com article, “Top Web Design Trends in 2014,” set a goal such as “I want my new visitors to be able to move down from the top of the page to the bottom in 30 seconds and have a crystal clear idea of who we are and what we do. Also, I want them to easily identify where to go to request information, schedule a tour, attend an event or visit our blog, without having to search.”
Also, your value-oriented, consumer-focused content should be complete and robust, but presented in a simplistic or “minimalistic” way. This means your key information should be organized in a clean, “breathable” and uncluttered manner that is easy on the eye and easy to navigate. This should include your contact forms, special incentives, “calls-to-action” and phone numbers.
It also involves the integration of best practices to assure your site’s visitors find what they need, seamlessly and without complication. Meaningful content, powerful images, effective use of whitespace and sleek, purposeful navigation are now the new standard.
3. Smooth integration with other performance enhancing systems – It is also extremely important that your website operates smoothly with other external systems that complement your site’s functionality and improve the usefulness of your site to both your sales and marketing staff and your prospects. Performance enhancing systems add value to your site by, for example, keeping customer information in your sales funnel and enabling them to share your content via social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
4. Designed in “UX”, (i.e. optimal user experience) – The basic purpose of User Experience (UX) Design is to enhance customer satisfaction and brand loyalty by improving the functionality, ease of use and satisfaction provided in the interaction with your community’s website. User Experience Design begins with traditional best practice design strategies and expands on that foundation by capturing all key aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.
The process begins with your customers and translates their needs, problems, questions and emotions into a value-based, multi-dimensional experience with your website. “UX” Design utilizes interface design, information architecture and usability that encompass the presentation, interaction and organization of your information online. It creates a visually appealing, user-friendly and value-laden mosaic of sights, sounds, words and actions that create an optimized online experience for your customers – and is a key component of your top of the sales funnel strategy.
5. Highly visible contact information to promote engagement – As any good marketing professional will tell you, “Always make it easy for your customers to do business with you!” This includes making sure your contact information and forms are ubiquitous on your website. Your customers should never have to search for a way to request information, sign up for your blog, or schedule an appointment or a tour.
There are also other design and format techniques that can make a difference in how your site supports your sales and marketing staff. For example, use Google Maps to help prospects locate you, but do not include e-mail addresses in your contact information because e-mail responses will skip your sales lead funnel and be lost.
6. Best practice SEO strategies that keep you visible and relevant – As noted many times in our blogs, the introduction of Google ‘Hummingbird’ changed the ground rules in the search engine rankings world a few years ago. Today, the evolution and refinement of SEO continues.
Online search experts, citing independent web research findings, remind us, “If you’re not on ‘Page One,’ you don’t exist!” Why? Because online shoppers rarely, if ever, look beyond the first page of their topic search.
Unlike a few years ago, the keys to a Page One ranking now include:
Relevant and helpful consumer-focused content
“Broadcasting” your content on social media
Longer word counts for your blogs and other forms of content dissemination
Visual images and videos that help tell your story
Internal links that add to the value of your information
External links to authoritative sources such as The Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association
Shorter, reader-friendly paragraphs
Keywords (while still important, keywords should not be overdone – keyword spamming can be penalized).
7. Social media links to broadcast your solutions and advantages – Today, using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram to share your key content provides a much greater impact on your search rankings than it did a few years ago. One of the most effective ways you can communicate valuable content to your prospects is through a regularly scheduled and professionally crafted blog, which you can then amplify via social media for maximum impact.
In addition, if you’re not making it easy for people to share your content with friends, relatives and co-workers via social media, you are severely limiting yourself. Your web visitors also play an important role in spreading the word about your community.
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions on website optimization, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in this area, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your stories in the comments section.
Web Development and Online Marketing Expertise to Fuel Your Growth Strategy
If you are a senior living community considering the need for assistance in website development or enhancement and online strategies to grow your occupancy, we encourage you to contact us for more information today. SageAge Strategies is an award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 / email@example.com.
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