Marketing and Websites for Skilled Nursing Homes
Nursing Home Marketing
Nursing home marketing has changed with the advent of social media and search engines. Of course, it has always been a challenge to attract patients and residents to a given nursing home. Now, though, with over 15,000 nursing homes (as of 2016) in the United States, competition is fiercer than ever, making it a great challenge to stand out and obtain residents. COVID-19 has not helped the situation, as Bell said that his facility has been “scraping and battling and fighting for every admin and every customer.”
Thus, nursing homes need to provide low-cost but high-quality care that meets the residents’ needs and complies with regulations. As Bell put it, “You’ve got to expand your horizons. You’ve got to expand your marketing outlook.”
17 Marketing Ideas for Skilled Nursing Facilities
The marketing ideas for skilled nursing facilities (SNF) discussed below have been tested and proven to work by marketers. They can help SNFs reach new audiences and take advantage of today’s latest technologies.
1. Revamp Your Nursing Home Website
Today, a good first impression begins with having an appealing website for your nursing home and a strong web presence. As stated by Designblendz, SNFs need to optimize their websites, as Google’s algorithms have changed, and what worked ten years ago doesn’t work for websites anymore. Therefore, SNF marketers should revamp their websites to be:
- Responsive in design: This means that the website should adjust to the user’s screen. Pay special attention to mobile responsiveness.
- Focus on providing valuable information: Always be helpful. Websites that provide helpful information to their users and not just selling them a product or service tend to perform better online.
- Write a Nursing Home blog: this is the best way to provide valuable and helpful information to the website visitor. Also, it will help the website rank better.
- Make navigation easy: SNFs should make it easy for users to search and navigate their websites. Websites that are hard to navigate have higher bounce rates, negatively affecting the business in the long term.
- Provide visual content: the days of text-only web pages are over. Instead, provide photos, videos, and graphics to engage your website visitors. Lately, infographics have become popular, and websites are increasingly using them.
2. Provide Formal Training For The Sales Team
One wrong move from a sales team can easily result in a lost sale, especially for something as sensitive as a person’s health. Hence, SNFs should take their time to develop their best practices, tips, and etiquette practices. These should then be compiled into a program that all members of the sales team must study.
3. Target Adult Children of Seniors
The resident isn’t always the person SNFs need to reach. Sometimes, adult children are the ones who are deciding where to take their parent(s). This can be a source of worry for the children. Hence SNFs need to remember to alleviate the adult children’s fears. This could involve addressing the most commonly asked questions through a FAQs page on the website.
Alternatively, SNFs can provide brochures to adult children, which can be used in discussions with the parent(s). By fostering trust and open, honest communication with the adult children, SNFs can increase the likelihood of their facility gaining a new resident.
4. Track Phone Calls from Marketing Source to Sale
Deciding to place a loved one in senior care is a very personal and sensitive topic. Hence, most inquiries are made via inbound phone calls. Fitsmallbusiness.com, advises that marketing strategies for long-term care facilities should include call tracking from marketing sources, and marketers in SNFs need to understand and trace what marketing campaigns generated the most inbound calls.
Long term care marketers will also need to follow up and track what phone calls resulted in actual sales as part of their nursing home marketing activities.“Everybody’s calling and wanting to place loved ones in the Idaho region because of cost,” says Bell, who has experience dealing with calls from interested adult children looking for a nursing home for their parents.
The data the marketers should investigate includes:
- The referring marketing channel
- The ad that was run (if any)
- The keyword
- How the user interacted with the website
- Whether or not the caller was a qualified sales lead.
5. Gain a Presence in Local Search Results
According to longtailpro.com, dominating local search results can give a nursing home an advantage over its competitors. The Google algorithm has gotten better at showing people their local businesses or businesses near them. So when one searches for “nursing homes near me,” the first results will be nursing homes nearest to the user (based on their past location data).
SNFs can take advantage of this feature by visiting the Google my business listing page. Once there:
Ø Sign in or create a Google account and click next: Sign up with your business email domain since this account will be for your business. Be sure to enter your business name.
Ø Enter your SNF address: You can enter the location of your business on the map displayed or manually type it in.
Ø Choose how your SNF will be displayed on Google maps: You will be provided with various options to choose from.
Ø Select the business category: Your SNF will fall into a different category of businesses, unlike restaurants and supermarkets. Find and add the appropriate category.
Ø Select a verification option and verify: You will need to verify your SNF on Google before being listed in the search results.
Having done this, it can take two to three days for your SNF to begin appearing in the local search results.
6. Do a Competitor Analysis
An SNF will have competitors. They could be local, state, or national-level competitors. This makes it difficult for an SNF to come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). However, marketers can do it. According to practicebuilders.com, by analyzing their competitors – what’s working for them and what’s not – an SNF can create an effective marketing strategy.
7. Make Use of PPC (pay per click) Ads
When someone clicks on your ads, your account is charged for that click. So, to create PPC ads, an LTC facility will need to set up a Google AdWords account. Google is by far the largest search engine with a reported 5.6 billion searches per day, and PPC ads will get to the first-page search results in a matter of hours.
SNFs can employ PPC ads to get in front of their target audience quickly. Still, it is worth noting that the cost per click (CPC) varies depending on the keyword chosen for the ad. Therefore, to effectively maximize PPC use, be sure to get a low cost per click keyword and have a high volume for the keyword.
Also, ensure that the landing page of your website is optimized – loads quickly, loads correctly on mobile, and delivers the expected content for the visitors who click on the ad.
8. Facebook Ads
With over two billion users worldwide, Facebook ads should not be overlooked by SNFs. Facebook ads have the advantage of budget controls, so you can set daily limits on how much you want to spend on your Facebook ads. In addition, you can also target specific demographics based on age, occupation, hobbies, and sex. Bell has extensive experience with Facebook ads and thinks that they are a worthwhile investment. “If we run $400 with Facebook ads and get one admin, it’s worth it,” he said.
Facebook ads are one of the more powerful marketing ideas for nursing homes. Nursing homes can specifically tailor their ads to be shown to senior citizens or those approaching their senior years.
9. Organic Search Results
Organic search results are what one sees when they Google something, and pages are displayed “organically.” These are not paid for, unlike PPC ads. Getting to rank first in organic search results is always the target, and here is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.
SEO means asking yourself:
- Is your page keyword-optimized? This means that you want the keyword you are trying to get your page to rank for (long term care, nursing home) to appear multiple times in your webpage/blog post. If you add the keywords to your web page, be sure that it seems organic and not forced. For example, suppose the keywords are forced into the content of your web page. In that case, the content may seem unnatural and unappealing to your readers. Also, over-using the keywords will result in a penalty from Google to your website.
- How quickly does your page load? The faster your page loads, the better you will rank on Google. Also, users will be less likely to leave, as they don’t have to wait for a webpage to load.
- Is your page mobile-friendly? How well a web page adapts to the different screen sizes (responsiveness) will determine how well it ranks compared to its competitors.
- Is your page URL SEO-friendly? A URL should contain the keyword it wants to rank for and be easy to read.
- How many backlinks does your page have? A backlink, as explained by catalpha.com, is any link from another website to a page on your website. The websites linking to yours should be websites that authority checkers such as Ahref’s website authority checker considers high-rank (score of 80-100). Therefore, the more high-quality websites link to yours (backlinks), the higher Google will rank your website.
The above questions engage with just some of the factors that the Google algorithm considers when ranking web pages. Thus, SNFs may need to consider hiring an SEO expert or an SEO agency for the above.
10. Avoid Fear-Based Marketing
In the past, fear-based marketing was a popular tactic and, admittedly, a highly effective one. However, today with the baby boomer generation aging into retirement, fear-based marketing is largely ineffective and is met with resistance.
Baby boomers are more resistant to losing their independence. Hence they would prefer not to leave their homes. As stated by fitsmallbusiness.com, focusing more on benefits (high-quality care, friendly staff, good food) entices them, and it dramatically increases the odds of them making a move.
11. Create Branded Content
Branded content includes videos, photos, podcasts, and even blogs. These perform far better than non-branded content, with over 84 percent of people saying that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. SNFs can create a favorable opinion and appeal to newer prospective clients by creating quality branded content that takes its target audience into consideration.
12. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a time-tested method of increasing a brand’s reach. SNFs should look for relevant websites then create high-quality content to submit to those websites. Creating relationships while building authority and audience is the primary goal of guest blogging. While guest blogging, remember to include relevant links back to the SNF’s website, as this will help the website rank better on the Google search results page.
13. Build Positive Online Reviews
Online reviews are an essential part of a customer’s decision process. According to searchengineland.com, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. SNFs can ask residents to leave an online review or even ask their family members to leave their reviews online. Marketers can also email family members of residents a review form for them to fill. Staff should then analyze the reviews and promote the positive five-star reviews while addressing any negative ones.
14. Organize and Participate in Community Events
Do not overlook the importance of creating connections with the community. It may not immediately seem apparent, but organizing community events and participating in organized community events will pay dividends in the long term. This could be in the form of future residents from the community, positive online reviews, free social media mentions, or simple word-of-mouth promotion.
Additionally, being open about the SNF’s community can make it easier for new residents or those considering moving from their current nursing home. In such cases, SNFs should be as transparent as possible without holding anything back.
15. Provide Virtual Tours
COVID-19 has resulted in fewer prospective residents wanting to take an in-person tour of a nursing home. Across all levels of care, year-to-date initial tours were down an average of 27 percent (total tours decreased 29 percent) due to most communities suspending onsite tours, according to enquiresolutions.com. The previously enacted federal restrictions on nursing home visits has also been a factor. One of the more highly effective marketing ideas for senior living is video tours, which allow prospective residents to see what an SNF offers. The website fitsmallbusiness.com notes that video content performs better on social media in terms of views, shares, and overall engagement.
16. Participate in Relevant Expert Forums
Forums are a great way to market a nursing facility without spending money on advertising. When joining forums, marketers of a nursing facility should carefully read the forum rules and only engage with relevant forums on Facebook, Reddit, or other platforms. Also, marketers should contribute to the discussion and avoid seeming spammy.
17. Establish an Email Drip Program
The number of email users in 2019 was at 3.9 billion, and according to oberlo.com, it is expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023. Additionally, in 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received each day. This is why SNFs should employ email drip programs for their leads.
An email drip program is a series of automated emails that are sent to potential leads. The content that a nursing home could include in its emails includes news about events, general news about the industry, the latest blog posts published to its website or a general newsletter.