To maintain its competitive edge, Merrill Gardens was looking for new ways to improve the company’s marketing efforts. For Vice President of Marketing Amanda Warren, the question was how.
Her solution: FURTHER, a leader in AI-powered sales assistants designed to help operators increase occupancy.
“We used to have live chat on our website several years back, but it was more expensive,” Warren says. “Now, we’re surpassing previous benchmarks, which let’s marketing do more, including taking a bigger role in nurturing leads. With FURTHER, the ROI was so easy to see, because we can easily measure their output (and) leads-to-move-ins in our CRM.”
Indeed, today’s senior living operators are increasingly adjusting their view of the sales funnel, finding advantages by leveraging opportunities in the middle of the funnel rather than just the top. The marketing comes first. Here is a look at how senior living operators can revamp their digital marketing strategy, while making three key groups happy: the marketing team, the sales team and the prospective resident.
With the right tools, quality and quantity can work together
Refocusing lower down the funnel is a play for improved quality. But that doesn’t mean operators should negate the benefits of quantity. Instead, says Thomas Bierlein, Chief Customer Officer of FURTHER, they should ask themselves: “How do I provide a great user experience to digital prospects while still producing results for my sales team?”
“There is a quality game and a quantity game,” Bierlein says. “Our most successful partners position themselves to excel at both.”
The key to managing high lead quantity is the ability to segment and organize this quantity of leads, he says. With an ability to glean the quality from the quantity, sales teams will appreciate their ability to provide a better experience to a more targeted audience.
“We knew we could get leads, but this (FURTHER) helps us get more of the right ones,” Warren says. “We can help our sales teams be more efficient by focusing on what converts at a higher rate.”
Embracing digital marketing in today’s socially distanced world is essential. Operators who go digital can better track lead attribution as well as their spend, to get the most out of every dollar, Bierlein says. He sees two additional reasons why becoming more flexible and dynamic in digital marketing will improve occupancy in the long run:
- Connect with future buyers. Just because someone’s not ready to move in today, doesn’t mean that the outreach won’t have a positive impact on their future decision. Connect early and make it meaningful.
- Expand your network. The person the sales team talks to might not be right for the community, but the ripple effect tells us that if they have a positive experience then they are more likely to refer someone they know who may be appropriate for the community.
“Those who are ready to move in now, those who are researching, those who are looking for themselves or a loved one — all of those are specific data points that can help guide next steps regardless of the traditional quality metrics,” he says.
Engage leads with a great experience
Marketing teams are doing everything they can to drive awareness, bring in traffic and capture leads, but to do it well takes a balance of the right experience with the ability to focus on qualifying the right leads for sales. Digital marketing tools create that ability.
“From a marketing perspective, the addition of FURTHER’s Virtual Sales Assistant on our website was a big move for us,” Warren says. “It is such a convenient way for consumers to connect. It eliminates the friction for prospects and we saw the inquiry volume instantly shift.”
“For the prospective resident, FURTHER creates a unique user experience that endears them to the senior living operator,” Bierlein says. “Part of their experience is getting answers to their questions without having to wait for someone to take their call or answer an email. This is that quantity-quality overlap. While the FURTHER Virtual Sales Assistant intakes a prospect that the sales team might not be able to immediately make time for, adding to the quantity, that prospective buyer is having a quality experience with the website.”
Operators, meanwhile, are using FURTHER to gain important prospect information which helps generate more meaningful interactions through increased awareness on the effectiveness of their efforts.
“It’s important that we connect with potential residents in a way that is both helpful and quick, giving them the resources they need so that they can move forward with the steps that are necessary in their search,” Bierlein says.
Still get results for your sales team
In the end, all of this work is about getting the sales team what they need to best do their jobs. The marketing team uses FURTHER to convert website traffic and generate quality leads, while the great experience for the leads increases the chances that the sales team will close them, whether immediately or down the line.
“Now your sales team can focus because they know who they’re talking to and can prioritize the quality,” Bierlein says. The top results when that happens:
- Increased inquiries
- Increased tours scheduled
- More move-ins
- Optimized spend
“Ultimately, prospective residents want to communicate with communities in a variety of ways,” Bierlein says. “Amanda and her team wanted tools to help them do that while delivering a great experience. We help them achieve that and optimize their sales efforts to achieve optimal results.”
This article is sponsored by Further. To learn more about how you can improve your website and drive more move-ins, visit talkfurther.com.
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