Utilizing Digital Marketing to Promote Virtual Events

Jul 15, 2020 | Marketing & Branding

Virtual happy hours. Virtual movie date nights. Virtual home tours. “Virtual” is definitely the cultural buzzword these days as COVID-19 has, and continues to, virtually change everything from how we live, love and do business. At the beginning of the pandemic, embracing technologies that enabled us to connect virtually felt like a good stopgap. Now, it’s becoming the new normal.

“While the senior living space has been undergoing an incredible transformation over the past decade, it hasn’t always been thought of as an adopter of groundbreaking technologies,” says Sean Ochester, Executive Vice President of Digital and Integrated Strategy at SageAge Strategies. “With the rise of COVID-19 and our shifting societal landscape, we’re seeing that senior living communities are actually becoming quite nimble and innovative when it comes to caring for their current residents as well as reaching out to prospective residents.”

Which is a good thing, because the need for senior living communities isn’t going away anytime soon – and, in fact, the need has been increasing exponentially. In a news bulletin from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), “the pace of move-ins appears to be improving across senior living. From May 11 to May 24, 9% of surveyed assisted living providers reported an acceleration in the pace of move-ins over the past 30 days. That compares to 3% of assisted livingproviders who reported accelerated move-ins when surveyed between May 4 and May 10. The trends were also positive in other care segments.”

Of course, getting those move-ins requires opening your community to visits, tours and events. Hence the rise – and success – of virtual events.

“Moving your face-to-face interactions from the physical to the digital has been an amazingly effective way to keep prospective residents moving along the lead generation pipeline,” says Sean. “In order to market and ensure these events are as successful as possible, your marketing and sales teams need to be nimble and adopt different ways of reaching out … and, fortunately, social media marketing is simpler and easier than you may think.”

Creating a Digital Buzz

So let’s say you’re hosting an event – a virtual open house – to draw in prospective residents, show off your community and position yourself as a technological innovator in the senior living space. You’ve invested in a quality camera, a strong Internet connection and have become a whiz at Zoom. You have your presenters and talking points all ready to go. Now, all you need is an audience. Here are Sean’s tips for making that happen.

1. Put it front and center (on your website).

This is no time to be subtle. Create a vibrant and eye-catching event page on your website that makes it easy for interested parties to register. You might want to consider an entry pop-up that loads when someone visits your website – meaning they will have to see it before they interact with anything on your site. Or, if you prefer a less intrusive form of marketing, you can have a temporary banner or slide that draws the eye when visitors arrive. The important thing is to create something that will grab attention and get people to click.

2. Give them what they want (information, that is).

You’ll want to have a strong event page that includes all the relevant information that someone would be interested in. Not only does that minimize calls to you for more information, but it also ensures that people can make a decision right then and there to register. Be sure to include:

  • The date and time of your event
  • Agenda
  • Speaker bios (if necessary)
  • A clear and easy way to register

3. Shout it out loud (through email marketing).

Now it’s time to actually market your event to your prospects. The most direct (and perhaps easiest) way to do this is through email marketing. You already have a strong pipeline of prospects – warm, cold and neutral – with whom you’ve interacted, which means that your messages have a strong chance of being read and heard. Create an automated email marketing campaign so that you can inform, remind, nudge and ultimately spur them to register. Don’t do just one message and forget about it – you’ll want a steady stream of reminder messages to ensure the most participation.

4. Shout it out loud (through social media).

Social media enables you to spread your message far and wide. On a very basic level, you should post about your event several times and link back to the event page – that’s a start. You should also leverage “stories” (which are short, digestible posts or videos), create “events” (via Facebook), use Instagram countdowns … not all of these tools will be perfect for your audience, but by using as many as appropriate, you’ll reach the widest audience and ensure the most attendees.

5. Shout it out loud (one more time for the folks in the back).
As you very well know, there are many people who’ll view your site (or, in this case, your event page) and not take action. For those people, you want to prompt them in a different way. That’s right: we’re talking about retargeting. A retargeting display campaign will allow you to stay in front of attendees who’ve taken a look at your event page but haven’t pressed the button yet (literally).

SageAge Strategies: Virtually Changing the Way Senior Living Connects

“Promoting a virtual event takes as much effort, if not more, than promoting an in-person event,” says Sean. “With everything else going on in your community these days, it makes sense to link with an established expert who not only has the time to handle the marketing for you, but also knows the ins and outs and the ever-changing best practices in order to get your event in front of as many eyes as possible.

“At SageAge Strategies, we market exclusively in the senior living space and have been diligently shifting and adapting our strategies to better help our client-partners interact with, nurture and grow their lead pipelines. We know that your main priority is caring for your residents, staff and family members. Our goal is to help you do that by handling your marketing efforts in a cost-effective, efficient way that drives results … virtually.”

SageAge Strategies is a multiple-award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at (816) 349-0464 or info@sageage.com. You can also visit us on our website at sageage.com.

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