From Stone Age to Digital: The Evolution of Senior Care Leads

Ten years ago, before smart phones, tablets and social media changed the world, senior housing and home care companies found 80% of their leads and move-ins coming from B2B professional referral sources – physicians, hospital case managers and discharge planners, physical therapists, financial managers, realtors, 55+ communities and senior centers. The other 20% came from B2C marketing and communications – street signage, advertising in the newspaper, directories and the Yellow Pages, special events, newsletters – plus word-of-mouth from friends and families of residents, and walk-ins.

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Digital Selection and the Rise of the Internet Lead

The growth of the Internet and digital technology has dramatically changed the industry’s marketing mix, especially how companies get new leads. In much the same way we began using Priceline, HotWire, and Kayak to search travel deals and how we learned to research features and pricing online for the new cars we want to buy, we are now vetting our loved ones’ senior care possibilities via the Internet. Some leads still come from professional referral sources; but many, if not most, are now coming from the Internet.

How Do Internet Leads Differ from Traditional Referral Sources?

1. The lead, generally a Boomer woman who, as an adult child decision-maker, has done extensive research online and narrowed down a field of possibilities that may or may not include you.

2. She may be at one of four stages in the consumer buying cycle:

  • Considering future options for an aging loved one.
  • Experiencing behavior changes in a loved one who needs more care.
  • Dealing with a serious health diagnosis.
  • Needing care within a few weeks, days or hours because of an event involving a loved one — perhaps a fall, a fractured hip, a stroke or memory loss that causes wandering away from home.

3. She has researched her options without speaking to a doctor or hospital case manager, let alone anyone at your company.

4. She is hard to reach via phone and prefers communicating by email or text.

5. Because she is researching more than one Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care community or Home Care company, and she is likely interacting with online directories and referral sources, your sales cycle may seem longer now. And then again, maybe it’s not.

Will Internet Leads Progress?

According to a 2013 study by Ipsos and Google about reaching Boomers and seniors online, 83% of Boomers and seniors go to the Internet to learn about a topic of interest and 57% are now shopping online. Boomers and seniors were late adopters of mobile technology however today 60% have used a tablet to seek information and 58% have sought information via a smartphone.

Boomers are also making purchases via mobile apps — 40% have bought something with a smartphone and 49% made a purchase via tablet.

News flash: Your consumer is using the Internet to learn about and eventually purchase the things she needs. Senior care is one of the things she may need. Digital is now a primary ingredient in a successful marketing mix.

Survival of the Quickest: Use Phone, Text, and Email to Lock in Leads

Digital referrals do behave differently than referrals from the hospital or rehab because they are generally not faced with an immediate need to move.  Not every senior housing community can rely solely on hospital case managers and discharge planners to fill their census. Internet leads are viable but you simply can’t handle them the same way you handle walk-ins and professional referrals.

A quick response to the lead, aka “speed to lead” via phone, text or email is extremely critical. It may take three or four contacts to reach them, so sticking with communication outreach is also important. And finally, your sales team will take good advantage of their Internet leads, moving them through the system to move-ins, if and when they are fairly measured and compensated for their efforts.

Finding Senior Care: More are Searching and Vetting Services Online

181394626As a senior care operator, a major part of your business is finding new leads each month — most likely through multiple sources to meet your goals: e.g., your website, residents’ family members, professionals, third-party websites.

But how are consumers finding YOU?
In our most recent survey, we found that only 15% are typing in the actual name of a senior living community and 73% start their search with a general term.

How you can help consumers find and vet your community?

1. Don’t ignore third party websites and directories.
Finding senior care is increasingly shifting to online sources. That means consumers are searching for care using general search terms and being funneled into third party websites and directories in their quest to find care. Addressing your customers’ questions and managing your reputation online will help your business adapt to the growing need in your region.

2. Continually add new content and information on your community’s website.
Once people find you through general search terms, they want to see how you present yourself on the Web. Keep content on your website fresh and up to date to keep visitors coming back.

3. Encourage prospects to talk and ask questions.
56% said over-the-phone recommendations from a Caring.com Family Advisor were important in their decision for choosing senior care. Be sure third party websites, like Caring.com, have recent information and reviews so that your reputation on the Web is good and ready for new clients.

Look closely at the data from our 2014 survey results on reviews and senior care and learn how you can help consumers find and vet your community when they’re searching for senior care.

What do our survey results reveal?
* Survey open: April 22 – May 7, 2014. Processed by Pretell Market Research.

2,274 = Total number of survey respondents
60%  Searched for senior care on the Web

Of the people who searched for Senior Care on the Web, this is how they conducted their Web search:

  • 15% searched on the community name and went straight to the website
  • 21% searched on a general term and started with a directory/comparison site
  • 23% searched on a general term and worked down
  • 29% searched on general term and started with a known name
  • 12% don’t remember the specifics of their search

81% went to the website of a specific operator once they found them via general search.

  • 39% wanted details on the community
  • 28% wanted general information on senior care
  • 7% wanted testimonials from residents
  • 7% wanted contact information for a community

**Caring.com Tip: Make sure your website is easy to understand and kept up-to-date with correct information about your community.

Most important factors in choosing Senior Care providers

  • Location
  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Services and amenities
  • Staff

Why does this matter to you, (the senior care operator)?
Consumers are using multiple sources to find and vet senior care.

Who has the most dependable information about Senior Care?

  • 78% The company’s customers
  • 73% My trusted circle of family and friends
  • 68% Professionals (GCMs, doctors, social works, etc.)
  • 54% Neutral review websites
  • 26% The company itself

61% of respondents have read Senior Care reviews online.

Breakdown of trustworthy sources for Senior Care reviews:

  • 43% Senior Care review websites (Caring.com, RetirementHomes.com)
  • 23% Individual community/home care agency website
  • 19% Other
  • 10% General review website (Yelp, Angie’s List)
  • 6% Social websites (Facebook, Google+)

**Past research has shown that listings with reviews get 14 times more leads than those without.

71% used a directory or recommendation service (like Caring.com) because they mainly wanted:

  • General information
  • Communities appropriate for their situation

Want the full survey results? Contact Shannon Ingram, VP of Industry Marketing at Caring.com: singram@caring.com or (415) 320-8535

5 Ways to Help Make Your Directory Listing Attract Great Prospects

1. Reviews! Reviews! Reviews!woman_typing

Reviews matter. For example, today’s savvy consumer is likely to use Trip Advisor or Kayak when shopping for travel. Likewise, according to Caring.com research, consumers are influenced by reviews of senior housing communities and home care companies. A listing with one or more reviews is 14 times more likely to convert to a lead than one without a review. Seek reviews from your residents, customers and family members and have a plan to include them with your listings.

2. Pay attention to your star rating.

Consumers will pay attention to your star ratings! Consumers search by reviews and by the number of stars attached to your listing. If there are no stars, a consumer wonders why you are not rated and may drop you from their contact list.

3. Show off unique features of your community.

Think about the features that set you apart from your competitors — a mountain or water view, koi ponds, pets, a miniature train, a soda fountain. Descriptive words about unique features can drive readers to contact you.

4. Add quality photos.

For directory listings, a well-staged photographic tour of your community drives better listing results than photos of smiling residents and their family members.  An adult child decision-influencer seeking options for a loved one’s housing is more likely to respond positively to an empty room than a room with one or more people in it.  A 2008 study by direct marketing agency, Millennium, found that 55% of people over 50 believe that advertising treats them in a patronizing manner. A Boomer woman making a decision to move her mom into a community is likely to be more attracted to a beautiful space without people in it because she is able to picture her mom in it. A photo of a space with smiling older people in it may seem “unreal” and evoke negative emotions.

5. Include starting rates.

Conventional wisdom in the senior housing and care professions has been to keep rates out of a listing. However, your lead will be more likely to convert if you simply publish your “starting rates” (as opposed to all of your rates) in your directory listing.

 

PDF Version: 5 Ways to Help Make Your Directory Listing Attract Great Prospects

Shannon Ingram is VP/Industry Marketing at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them. You can reach Shannon at singram@caring.com or (415) 320-8535.

Caring.com and Cura Care: Partnering for Quality In-Home Care Services

Cura Care LogoWhen Frank Klan, founder of Cura Care, decided to upgrade his marketing strategies, he turned toward the Internet to search for referral sources. Stumbling onto Caring. com’s website, Klan saw a new way to help market his business. Klan is “a cautious person” and, being someone who thoroughly researches before making any big business decisions, he took the time to figure out what Caring.com was all about. After talking several times to Membership Advisors and learning what beneficial marketing strategies Caring.com offers, he decided to partner with Caring.com. Since making that decision, Klan is completely happy with it and says he is a “customer for life.”

Providing Optimal Customer Service for Directory Members

Customer service is a big part of why Frank Klan is so happy with Caring.com. With other Internet referral companies, it would sometimes take weeks to hear back from a representative. Klan says he always receives prompt replies to his questions from Caring.com, however, and he never feels like his business is not important to the representatives there. He loves the phone call interactions and the personal attention he receives. He had help designing his directory listing and says the client reviews on his listing are a huge bonus. For him, it is very important to have what clients are saying about Cura Care on his listing, but he doesn’t always have the time to reach out and get reviews. He “really likes how Caring.com calls individual clients and phone interviews them for reviews” on his listing. That’s just one more reason why Klan says he is “very happy with his experience with Caring.com.”

Tech-Savvy Tools Bring Faster Leads

In Klan’s opinion, what sets Caring.com apart from other companies — besides customer service — is technology. Before partnering with Caring.com, Klan had marketed Cura Care with other Internet referral companies. Most often, leads would take days to make their way to his desk, and, a lot of the time, those leads were not very reliable. What Klan loves about Caring.com is the way in which leads are almost instantly brought to his attention. Fast-paced technology enables him to receive alerts on his smartphone when someone wants more information on Cura Care. Klan can then reach out to that possible new client within hours instead of days. He also says they are reliable referrals of clients who are truly interested in finding out more about Cura Care.

A Yearly Membership Will Pay for Itself in the First Quarter

On the more practical business side of his partnership with Caring.com, Klan believes the ease with which membership with Caring.com is paid makes it a more convenient business decision. Paying one yearly membership fee is easier than paying monthly dues. He also feels that after having his business with Caring.com for only three months, the number of referral leads he has received has already more than paid for his membership fee. He has received eight referrals for new clients so far, and that is strictly from his Caring.com directory listing. “It is well worth the money,” he says.

A Partnership That Provides All-Around Marketing

Frank Klan is a genuine endorser of Caring.com and the Senior Care Directory because of the personal experience he has had with these services over the last few months. He has stopped all outside marketing, because everything is taken care of already with Caring.com and his listing. He sees a continued future with Caring.com and is ready to tell everyone about it – he even wants prospective members of Caring. com to call him! While just beginning to reap the benefits of partnering with Caring. com, Klan sees continued success and could not be more pleased with his decision to list with Caring.com.

About Cura Care Home Health

Cura Care Home Health is a leader in medical and nonmedical care. Staff is bonded, insured, drug tested, background checked, CPR certified, and TB tested. They assist clients with activities of daily living. Cura Care GPS- verifies that staff is on time, and the site’s online family portal. They have been a featured provider in the Caring.com customer since December 2013 and are located in Mason, Ohio.  

Caring.com and New Hope Valley: Partnering for Quality Assisted Living Services

newhopevalleyALRumi Shahzad, part owner at New Hope Valley Assisted Living Saginaw, Michigan, truly believes in the philosophy that each person’s life is a unique journey. He and the team of dedicated professionals who own New Hope Valley believe that life does not have to stop once a person has moved to an assisted living community. They want their residents to continue to live fulfilled lives. In an attempt to learn more about providing top-quality care to residents, Rumi researched and went to national trade show events. A meeting with Caring.com at a trade show and a follow-up phone call by a member of the Caring.com team later started Rumi, New Hope Valley Assisted Living, and Caring.com on a lasting partnership.

Caring.com’s Online Reviews Are the “Key Difference” Among Other Referral Agencies

There are many things about the Caring.com website and membership with Caring.com that Rumi feels are invaluable. For one, online reviews make Caring.com stand out among other referral agencies, in Rumi’s opinion. “It is the key difference,” he says. One of the main reasons Rumi has been very happy working with Caring.com is because he believes testimonials from residents and family members about their experiences with his facility help potential clients see New Hope Valley’s true character and attributes. Anyone can write a positive write-up of their own business, but to have personal evaluations from clients makes the reviews authentic.

Great, Trustworthy Marketing at a Reasonable Cost

New Hope Valley Assisted Living hasn’t had to do a lot of marketing outside of their listing with Caring.com. Rumi believes that Caring.com provides great, trustworthy marketing at a reasonable cost. With Caring.com’s one-time yearly membership fee, more money can be spent on making a better quality of life for residents than on many different marketing avenues. Other facilities spend more money on marketing with the same result as one membership with Caring.com. Rumi and his team have been able to use their money in more direct ways, such as paying for enrichment programs and a highly popular community dinner event with the families and friends of residents.

Reviews Help Inform Prospective Clients About Their Options

Caring.com’s Senior Care Directory can also be a great tool to use in discussions with potential residents and their families. Rumi likes to reference Caring.com and encourage prospective clients to go online and check out reviews of his facility as well as others. He wants people to be well informed on every decision they make for themselves and their loved ones. New Hope Valley Assisted Living’s website even has a link directing online research about assisted living to Caring.com’s website.

Caring.com Brings New Business and Creates a Reliable Feedback Loop With Customers

“I highly recommend it, with no reservation,” says Rumi. He believes his facility’s partnership with Caring.com has brought in more business and also improved the quality of life at New Hope Valley Assisted Living. He encourages anyone who is trying to decide whether to partner with Caring.com to see it not only as a place for families to leave reviews for other prospective residents but also as a tool to improve facility management and workings. He advises signing up with Caring.com, “if for no other reason than to create independent feedback so you can improve your business.” He would love to talk to anyone about his positive experience with Caring.com.

About New Hope Assisted Living
New Hope offers a wholesome assisted living alternative in a brand-new, 27,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art community spread over ten acres. Its mission is to create an energetic yet safe and comfortable environment. We honor the security, independence, and dignity of our residents. We believe that each person has his or her own panorama of rich life experiences, and a nurturing environment will celebrate the continuation of this panorama.

 

The Best Senior Living Communities in America: The Caring Stars of 2014

Best Senior Living Caring Stars MemeMore than 400 assisted living and memory care communities in 38 states — the top 1% nationwide — have been honored for service excellence in the annual Caring Stars award program. This special distinction was the first of its kind in the senior living industry, using ratings and reviews from residents, families, and senior care experts on Caring.com to identify the best communities. The program is now in its third year and was recently recognized in the 2013 National Mature Media Awards for serving the informational needs of older adults.

More than four years ago, Caring.com was among the first websites to offer senior care reviews. We saw the opportunity to use real reviews from real people to help families find the best senior living communities for their loved ones. We now know that assisted living and memory care listings with reviews get more leads: 14 TIMES more leads than listings without reviews. We also know that listings with the Caring Stars badge get more move-ins: 13.7% more move-ins than listings without the award!  

See who won this year: Caring Stars of 2014

To qualify, communities had to have met the following criteria:

  • Three or more reviews from December 1, 2012 – December 1, 2013; at least one of those reviews having with the highest rating of five stars
  • An average overall rating (across all reviews on their listing) equaling greater than 4 stars
  • No unresolved negative reviews

Caring.com reread and reexamined the validity of every review on each finalist’s listing, reconfirmed other data on each listing, and did our best to determine that the communities truly deserved this prestigious and rewarding distinction.

Some of the Ways Caring Stars Are Celebrated
Each year, Caring Stars communities are:

  • Profiled in local and business press
  • Promoted on the Caring.com website and social media
  • Discussed in senior housing referral calls with our Family Advisors
  • Given certificates for their lobbies and award badges for their websites and marketing materials
  • And more!

Among the winners featured in their local newspapers so far this year:

Some trade press also highlighted winners, including Senior Housing News and the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).

Winners have been showcasing the Caring Stars honor on their social media profiles and websites, too:

With so many listings and so many reviews on Caring.com, we launched the Caring Stars program as a great way to help families narrow their choices to the best of the best and quickly find the right assisted living or memory care community for their senior loved ones. Each year since we started, the winner list has organically grown, and the excitement and positive outcomes from the award have grown as well.

Why Online Reviews Are So Valuable

Over the last few years, there have been many studies across different industries that have highlighted the importance of online reviews and the impact they’re having on consumers’ search and purchase process. Online reviews are considered “earned media” or organic publicity, and for 92% of consumers globally, this word-of-mouth information is significantly more valuable and more trusted than the marketing and advertising information presented about products and services. Online reviews are also directly impacting purchases: 80% of consumers report that they’re more likely to buy a product when they can find and read reviews about it.

In recent research Caring.com conducted, 60% of family caregivers indicated that they used the Internet in researching senior care service providers, and two-thirds took to the Web after noticing signs of memory loss in a loved one. A combined 94% of family caregivers reported that they found online reviews to be trustworthy and helpful to their search for senior care providers, and only a small minority of 6% tended not to believe this online word-of-mouth.

Online reviews provide firsthand experiential insights that are not only helpful to the family caregivers and seniors visiting Caring.com but are also being used by Caring’s family advisors during calls with adult children and seniors seeking assisted living. Family advisors read reviews from Senior Care Directory listings during calls and also mention the Caring Stars award and what it means about the quality of the winning community’s services, when they are making senior living referrals and scheduling tours matched to the caller’s needs and preferences.

Congratulations to all of the Caring Stars winners for earning high praise in reviews on Caring.com!

More information about the program, and winners from years past, can be found in the Caring Stars info center on Caring.com.

Winners: If you have questions about the marketing materials and special promotions for your award, please do get in touch with the Caring.com team. We also invite you and your staff to take a photo with your framed lobby certificate and send it to us for sharing on our social profiles.

Online Reputation Management: Tips for Senior Living Providers

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Residents and their families expect senior living providers to deliver high-quality services at communities that provide excellent care for individuals going through some of the most difficult transitions life has to offer. Even if you do everything right, the families you serve aren’t always happy, and they’re increasingly sharing their viewpoints on social networks and online review sites.

Whether positive, negative, or in between, this online word-of-mouth is changing the way families search for senior living communities. Savvy senior living providers are taking an active role in monitoring and managing their online reputations. Why? Providers with reviews are getting more leads than those without reviews, as consumers actively seek out the firsthand opinions of other families before making a decision about moving their own loved one into the community.

With this in mind, last month Caring.com presented an exclusive Online Reputation Management webcast for senior living providers in collaboration with Reputation.com. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Because this topic is so important to the success of your business, we worked with Reputation.com to create a special kit you can distribute to your executive leadership and marketing teams. It includes best practices that were shared in the webcast, including a one-pager focused entirely on reviews:

We’d love to hear your feedback about the Online Reputation Management webcast and/or the kit. Please add a comment or contact Caring.com’s team.

 

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are Your Assisted Living Services the Best in Your Area? Be a Caring Star — Get Recognized for Assisted Living Excellence!

Do your clients consistently praise the high-quality work you’re doing to care for seniors? Take steps now to be recognized among the Caring Stars of 2013!

There are thousands of assisted living reviews posted on Caring.com by family caregivers, seniors, and others concerned about assisted living care. To honor the communities who’ve received the highest ratings and help families select the right community for loved ones, Caring.com launched the “Caring Stars” program — the first of its kind in the industry — at the beginning of this year. The Caring Stars of 2012 — 120 assisted living communities across the country — were:

  • Profiled in local and business press
  • Promoted on the Caring.com website and in social media
  • Awarded badges for their websites and marketing materials

Many Caring Stars also used the distinction as a way to celebrate staff achievement and communicate with prospects and industry peers about the superiority of their offerings. As one Caring Star noted, “This honor shows us that we are doing exactly what we set out to do with each of our communities: positively impact the lives of our residents, families, and employees, every day.”

Get Reviews Now

The deadline to be considered for Caring Stars of 2013 is approaching fast — so don’t delay in asking your happy customers to post their positive feedback on your Caring.com listing ASAP.

To be considered for this distinction, your assisted living community will need:

  • 3 reviews on your Caring.com listing posted on or after Dec. 15, 2011, and before Dec. 1, 2012 — one of which must be a 5-star rating
  • An overall average rating greater than 4 stars
  • No negative reviews

These are the minimum qualifying requirements for consideration. Finalists are also analyzed and approved by Caring.com before being honored with the Caring Stars award.

As we’ve previously reported: Online reviews matter — to assisted living communities and to the families they serve. In fact, firsthand testimonials are consistently cited as one of the most important factors for families choosing an assisted living community.

“In reading reviews, your site has been very helpful. I want to know what other folks think before I sign up for a place,” said one Caring.com visitor, Joan Bullen, who sought an assisted living community for her mother. We frequently hear from family caregivers like Joan, who share about how valuable online reviews have been to their senior care search.

Need ideas for reaching out to clients, managing your online reputation, and building positive buzz about your business? Use these tips we’ve compiled for senior care providers.

To publicize the Caring Stars program to your clients – use these quick links…

Our team is also available to assist you in collecting consumer reviews and to share more information about the Caring Stars program. Please contact your Membership Advisor today to learn more about our online marketing services for providers: (866) 824-9209.

11 Tips to Improve Your Search Results Ranking

When 89% of consumers are using search engines to make purchase decisions, being found in Google search results matters. A lot.

If families look for your business by name,
does your website show up on the first page of search results?

For many providers we talk to, the answer is no. So we asked our Search Marketing team for the latest tips on how to improve your visibility in search results.

1. Forget about shortcuts.

Google’s engineers are hard at work making their algorithm ever smarter, delivering ever-more-helpful search results. (For a geeky detour, check out more about the history of Google’s algorithm rollouts, including “Panda.”)

What this means for you: making a site that works for Google doesn’t have to be a specialized art. Make sure your site is helpful for consumers by offering unique content relevant to your business, and you’ll be on the right track.

Also: our experts recommend healthy skepticism if anyone “guarantees” high search rankings or promises they know any “secrets.” Keyword stuffing, doctored tags, and other practices that worked in 2010 don’t work anymore. In fact, trying shortcuts like these will likely drive your site lower in search results.

2. Launch your website.

Most of the providers in the Caring.com Senior Directory already have a website, but some do not. For those of you who’ve been putting it off, move your website launch to the top of your to-do list. According to our team, this is the single best thing you can do to increase your visibility in search results.

Launching a website doesn’t have to be expensive. Nor does it have to be difficult: You only need a small handful of pages to start. If you can work a keyboard and mouse, you can master the tools you’ll need. Find a reputable hosting service and you’ll see how easy it can be, with their friendly website-building tools, tutorials, and customer service to help you along the way.

A note about domain names: Your domain name is an important part of your brand. Just as you build equity in a brand name, the minute you launch your site your domain name will begin building online equity, especially with search engines. Be thoughtful about choosing your domain name, and whenever possible secure one that closely matches your DBA — and avoid changing it at all costs.

3. Put contact information on every page.

Every page of your website should include your business name, address, and phone number. This sends a signal to Google — you’re showing that your website is connected to your business address. That’ll push you higher in search results.

Our experts also recommend including a call to action on every page, because you never know what page a visitor will see first. Common calls to action include, “Call us today!” or “We’ll answer any question for free” or “Come for a free tour and lunch.”

4. Create pages to meet families’ needs.

Most companies create a “Home” page, a “Contact” page, and an “About Us” page. That’s a good start — but with a few tweaks, your website can deliver even more value.

Our team suggests branching out to create three or four more landing pages about your core services.

For example, if you know families find you because of your memory care services, be sure to have a landing page that describes those services in detail. Give the page a search-friendly title, and include your location: “Memory Care in Spokane, WA.” And don’t forget to put your contact information on the page.

Not sure what landing pages to create? Ask your current customers what first led them to you. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Meal Preparation in Quakertown, PA
  • Senior Companions in Mableton, GA
  • Hygiene Assistance for Seniors in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Respite Care in Plano, TX
  • Broken Hip Rehab in Medford, OR
  • Light Housekeeping in Chesterfield, MO
  • Transportation Services in Louisville, KY
  • Errands and Shopping Assistance in Mesa, AZ

5. Beware of jargon.

We talk about this a lot at Caring.com: There are many amazing services for seniors out there, but a lot of your potential customers don’t know what the services are called. Help them (and help your business) by paying attention to the words families use when they’re looking for you.

For example, you might offer a service you call “hygiene assistance,” but do all your customers know that term? Maybe some are searching for “bathing” or “bathroom help” or “toileting” or “getting dressed.”

We’re not suggesting that you rename all of your services. But do pay attention to all the words people use when they’re looking for you, and include some of those words in the content of your site.

Note: This isn’t the same as keyword stuffing. There’s no advantage to repeating words over and over to the frustration of your users. Only include words if they naturally fit into your text.

6. Make it local.

On your landing pages, talk about the areas where you provide services. Name the counties or towns. Mention local landmarks, if appropriate (“two blocks from the Veteran’s Memorial” or “around the corner from Hillsdale Mall”). Consider including a map. This helps families know where you are and whether you’re convenient to them, and it also sends more signals to Google about the service.

7. Create original content.

Another way to signal Google that your site is valuable is to provide helpful, original content. If you’re producing paper newsletters, be sure to publish that content online, too. (For more ideas about writing content, see our blog post How to Make the Most of Internet Leads.)

8. Don’t skip the details.

Title Tags:

Make sure every page of your site has a unique title tag. This is your page’s headline, and it’s the bold title consumers will see in their search results. You have only 60 to 70 characters to catch someone’s eye. For your homepage’s title tag, we recommend including your business name, city name, and state. For all other pages, make sure your title tag is relevant to the content on that page. (If you’re not sure how to edit your title tags, check with your hosting company.)

Meta Description Tags:

Every page on your site also needs a unique meta tag of 100 to 150 characters. Your goal is to entice someone to click. What benefit will they receive when they visit the page? What problem will you help them solve? (Again, for help editing your meta tags, check with your hosting company.)

Example:

Memory Care in Spokane, WA | ABC Assisted Living | (800) 555-1212
Get help caring for your loved one with memory loss. We offer in-home care services, adult day programs, and residential options. Certified memory care practitioners. Free consultation.

(For more about SEO optimization, we recommend the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from SEOmoz.org.)

9. Claim your listing in the Caring.com Senior Directory.

So far, we’ve been talking about how to get your own website to show up on that first page of search results. Google’s algorithm also gives priority to well-established sites with lots of backlinks and social mentions. This means that Caring.com has a good chance of showing up for searches relevant to your business. Claiming your listing on Caring.com offers a way to double your exposure and get your business to show up twice on that first page of search results.

Your basic listing in the Caring.com Senior Directory is complimentary. (A one-time set-up fee may apply.) Odds are good we’ve already got you listed — we have more than 25,000 businesses so far and we’re growing every day.

To help your Caring.com directory listing move higher in Google search results, give us a call. We’ll recommend two key updates to your listing:

  • Photos. As a provider, you can post a photo on your free basic listing. (Enhanced Listings can include up to eight photos.)
  • Custom descriptions. Write a custom description of your services for your Caring.com listing. (Don’t reuse the same content you’re using on your own website — that hurts both your website and your Caring.com listing.)

You can make these changes at any time. Just call your Caring Advisor at (866) 824-9209.

It’s also a good idea to claim your business listing in other online directories, especially Google Places. To learn more about claiming listings everywhere, visit GetListed.org.

10. Get reviews.

Google’s algorithm rewards reviews. It’s one more signal that your website and your directory listing are connected to your business and that real people find you helpful. We make it easy to collect reviews from your customers at Caring.com: Find out more about getting reviews now.

11. Monitor your progress.

At least once a month, search for your business name and city. Once you’ve done everything described here, you’re likely to see your own website (and your Caring.com listing) rise to the first page of results. Ask families how they’re finding you, and see if you’re starting to get more Internet leads. Make these metrics part of your monthly management meeting.

Want to dig deeper? Learn more about how to improve your search ranking.

Ready to make updates to your basic listing?

Contact your Membership Advisor today at (866) 824-9209.

 

Kate Antheil Boyd is VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.

Best Practices for Nurturing Internet Leads

Send nurture e-mails that are helpful and deliver real valueMore and more families are finding Assisted Living, In-Home care, and other senior services through the Internet. To help you make the most of your Internet leads, we’ve compiled some best practices:

Let families know you received their request.

Set up an auto-response e-mail confirmation to go out the instant you get a lead. Your message can be short — just “Thank you” and “We’ll be in touch” — but it needs to be immediate so the caregiver knows her request has been received.

Be sensitive to communication mode.

A lot of factors might affect a customer’s choice to submit an online lead form instead of picking up the phone to call you. For some, it’s just a matter of convenience — they’re not near a phone or are too busy to talk in depth.

For others, though, the online form offers a discreet way to reach out. Perhaps they’re researching while they’re at work. Or perhaps they don’t want their loved one to overhear the phone call.

To be safe, be sensitive when you reach out to the customer. Ask if it’s a convenient time to talk, and if it’s not, schedule a better time. And if the customer writes a note in her care request that specifically asks you to respond by e-mail only, respect that request.

Answer their questions — fast.

Make sure to send a thoughtful response to each lead or care request as quickly as you can — within the same day if at all possible. We’re not kidding about this. We’ve talked to several major partners who’ve done formal studies of their online leads, and they all say that there’s a major drop-off if you even wait one extra day to call. (One partner reports a 7X lift in connect rate for calls returned on Day One versus Day Two.)

In addition to that phone call, we recommend that you write a detailed follow-up e-mail to each care request. Personalize this e-mail and refer back to the information you’ve learned about them so far from their care request notes or from your phone conversation.

Did the customer tell you she has an 89-year-old father? Let her know how many of your clients are that age. Did your customer’s mother break her hip? Write a sentence or two about your amazing physical therapy program. To save time, draft a set of standard answers to the most common questions. Topics frequently mentioned in care requests on Caring.com include:

  • Rates
  • Availability
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • Pets
  • Couples Living Together
  • Dressing, Bathing, Toileting, Personal Care
  • Walkers, Canes
  • Options, Amenities
  • Security
  • Independence
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • COPD
  • Broken Hip

This first e-mail should also tell the customer what the next steps are. Help set expectations and move him or her forward in the decision-making process. You might say, “Call me to schedule a tour” or “Please come to our community picnic this weekend” or “I’ll be calling you tomorrow to schedule a time to talk more about your mother’s needs and our availability.”

Prioritize.

In these initial communications with families, try to determine which ones are closest to making a decision. These are the families you’ll want to keep at the top of your priority list. Some will tell you their timing; other factors for you to watch for are:

  • Loved one is dealing with memory problems (if you provide memory care)
  • Loved one is taking large number of prescribed medications and/or requires help managing medications
  • Family is caring for loved one 10+ hours per week
  • Loved one has experienced a recent accident or incident

Check in.

Our partners at one major assisted living chain tell us they send a follow-up e-mail after one week. They send another one after three weeks. When you check in with your customers, revisit the topics you covered in your first e-mail and ask again, directly: Can you schedule a time to talk further? Would they like to take a tour? What other questions do they have?

Nurture.

If the lead hasn’t blossomed into a relationship from the first phone call and the first few e-mail messages, it’s time for your e-mail nurture campaign.

When to send: Send e-mails to prospective clients every 2 to 4 weeks.

How to send: If your business is small, you might manage your nurture campaign from your regular e-mail client — Outlook, Gmail, etc. As your list grows, you’ll want a tool to make sending e-mails easier. Tools such as Constant Contact, VerticalResponse, iContact, and others can help you manage your contacts, create e-mails, send and deliver e-mails, and monitor responses. Do some research to find out what option is best for you. (Many offer free trial periods.)

What to send: The best way to build a relationship is to deliver value. Make sure your message is useful and provides an immediate benefit to the family reading it. Good messages also convey the warmth and personality of your organization.

Here are a few of our favorite blog posts about effective writing for e-mail messages:
HubSpot | copyblogger | MarketingProfs

If you’re still not sure what to write, here are some links that might spark ideas:

  • Check out Caring.com to see resources families love. You can’t reprint our content without permission, but you can link to us. (Let us know if you’d like more guidance about linking to us.)
  • Set up a Google alert for keywords like “Alzheimer’s” or “elder care” — you’ll be notified whenever something new gets published. If you see something you think will interest your families, write a few sentences about it and provide a link.
  • The “New Old Age” blog in the New York Times has great articles. Again, if you see something you like, you can write a couple of sentences about it and share the link.
  • Keep an eye on your local news — is there anything happening near you that you can talk about? Are there special events for seniors in your town? If there’s a snowstorm, can you give tips for navigating snow in a wheelchair? Always be on the lookout for opportunities to share your expertise.

Not getting enough Internet leads?

Next to your own website, the best way to help families find you online is to set up your Enhanced Listing on Caring.com. To get your Enhanced Listing and begin receiving care requests, call your Caring Advisor at (866) 824-9209.

If you opt to buy leads from other vendors, make sure to do your homework. Know how they’re generating their leads: Search Engine Marketing? Online banners? Know what they’re doing with those leads — are they giving them to only a few providers, or to dozens? All this information can help you modulate your marketing efforts (and judge the quality of the leads you get).

Your to-do list:

  • Set up your auto-response confirmation for all Internet leads you receive
  • Schedule time each day (or several times a day) for follow-up phone calls and e-mails in response to incoming Internet leads
  • Schedule time each day for follow-up e-mails to families at the top of your priority list
  • Draft template responses for the most common topics in the inquiries you receive
  • Determine whether you need an e-mail campaign management tool, and select a vendor
  • Develop content for your nurture campaign
  • Make sure you’re getting enough Internet leads: Sign up to get automated care requests from Caring.com

Reach your Caring Advisor today at (866) 824-9209.

 

Kate Antheil Boyd is Former VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.