Further + Craft & Communicate offer tips to grow your business
We recently teamed up with Craft & Communicate, a comprehensive marketing and public relations agency that specializes in senior living, to offer some shared insights on topics we find interesting. With so much changing in our worlds over the past few years we wanted to look at data, talk trends, and see how we can help translate what we find into valuable insights you can bring to your communities. We hope you enjoy this series!
Over the past year, the teams at Further and Craft & Communicate have both noticed major changes to historical benchmarks in senior living. Digital customer acquisition has accelerated, and many of the traditional metrics that senior living operators are used to, have changed. In the conversation below, Further and Craft & Communicate take a look at how shifting consumer behavior and digital progression have affected inquiry to move-in timelines. For this exercise, we defined a lead as someone who has reached out to the community for more information.
C&C: “When examining the average length of the sales cycle, we found that the main inquiry sources came from events, traditional advertising/media, and digital channels. Sales cycles for some communities were shorter via digital inquiries than with events, traditional advertising/media, or other types of inquiries. Yet still, others showed the same amount of time in the sales cycle, regardless of the type of inquiry. This let us know that every type of lead is unique and timelines vary based on the needs of the potential resident. This is important to take into account as you examine the lead to move-in progression to ensure you're not weighing all the same."
Talk Further: “Exactly. What we've found is that speed to move-in is relative to the type of care that people are searching for, e.g. memory care resident placement happens much faster than independent living. But, as prospective residents have returned to evaluating senior living options in 2021, following the unprecedented change and turmoil of 2020, they are noticing many communities have added new services to help them in their search.
Options like virtual tours were not commonplace until mid-2020 but quickly became a necessity. This also placed an even bigger spotlight on the community’s website and digital presence which included making the website the community’s leading “salesperson". Companies that invested in and committed to a strong digital presence and digital engagement saw faster growth and stronger results.
"Making the website the community’s leading salesperson"
We wanted to see what all this has meant for the average time to move in and the results were interesting. Our data shows that 58% of move-ins occur within 30 days, 78% occur within 60 days, and nearly 86% move in within 90 days. Companies with more sophisticated and automated sales techniques, drove shorter sales cycles for their communities."
KEY TAKEAWAY: Digital tools are helping to shorten sales cycle time frames, with companies who deploy these solutions seeing impacts immediately.
2021 Data Trends: % of leads to move-ins
Talk Further: “Anecdotally, communities who’ve deployed solutions to engage, capture, and qualify leads have seen an ability to acquire and manage higher lead volumes. By automating the manual tasks of lead capture they’ve seen significant increases in leads coming from their own website. The ability to automate engagement and qualification of the lead helps the team convert quality leads to tours, then move-ins.
What's often misunderstood is how digital solutions impact conversion metrics when compared to traditional channels. Digital channels offer far greater exposure and ability to attract and engage leads compared to a traditional channel like walk-ins. This means your new digital efforts will work to attract a far greater pool of leads, giving you more chances to reach your occupancy goals. But by comparison, the conversion percentage of digital will be much smaller than that of a source like walk-ins.
What’s key is that communities are able to capture more leads and nurture them until they are qualified, or, disqualify them based on items like cost or available amenities.”
C&C: “We found this interesting too. When we were looking at lead to move-in ratios, the type of inquiry did seem to have an impact on the move-in outcome. Over the past year our data showed that internet inquiries had the highest move-in ratio, followed by call-ins. Of course, it does bear mentioning that COVID-19 has impacted our findings. Events and in-person meetings or tours all but ground to a halt in 2020. As vaccine rates rise, in-person visits and events are starting to become more viable again. However, based on our data, people are more comfortable with virtual tours or are sticking with digital options for parts of the sales cycle due to COVID-19.
Though ways of doing business shifted over the past year, the need for senior living remained. Families and seniors continued to search for senior housing. That’s why, as senior living operators, it’s so important to stay top of mind by having a solid marketing strategy in place.”
"...it’s so important to stay top of mind by having a solid marketing strategy in place."
Talk Further: “Absolutely! In response to COVID-19’s challenges, everyone has improved their digital presence out of necessity. In the same manner, prospective residents have also further shifted their search for a community more towards the digital spectrum, particularly the community’s website. This emphasizes the need to consider your capabilities around speed to lead. How soon can you engage with digital traffic, and how well can you create conversations that qualify and convert them to tours?
In 2021, our data revealed the highest percentage of move-ins within 30 days in the months of June - September. But, the effort doesn’t end there, because it’s not just about getting to the lead first. There is also a growing need to be able to manage the influx of digital leads. Digital leads will be more bountiful than traditional sources like walk-ins, but as mentioned above, it will convert at a much lower percentage.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Digital tools are great at attracting, engaging, and capturing more leads from the larger digital pool. This means a larger potential volume of leads. As a result, you'll have to rethink how you measure success through in metrics like "conversion rates". As a result, lead management will become an increasing priority. Treating every digital lead the same is not an optimal long-term solution.
So... what does this all mean for you?
It’s important to recognize trends in how people are searching for senior living and to adapt your strategies to reach as many prospects as possible. As we continue to work through the challenges of COVID-19, having virtual options for prospects to engage with you is key.
It’s also wise to budget adequately for marketing expenses and digital engagement; ensuring prospects can find you so that they can make your community their future home. The way leads engage with you will continue to shift towards your digital touch points. Your website needs to be a place where prospects can engage and communicate with you. Your ability to reach leads with speed and superior digital experiences will help you manage the trends we’re seeing evolve in 2021.
Stay tuned for Part 2 - our friends at C&C will be sharing more insights next week!
About Craft & Communicate | Craft & Communicate is a senior living marketing and public relations agency.
We are committed to making operators' lives easier, which provides increased productivity and revenue, and most importantly, gives them the space to focus on the quality of life of their residents and associates.