As any marketing professor will tell you, resonant messaging, reach, frequency and targeted media are essential for any successful marketing strategy. Today, the media options for reaching the senior living market have become much more plentiful, due largely to the influence of technology and social media. And as a result, media decisions have become more complicated. Gone are the days when running a display ad in the local newspaper was the easy answer.
So, which media have the greatest influence on senior living prospects today? And what about their adult children and other family members who often play a prominent role in the provider search and decision-making process? Are both of their media preferences the same, or are a more diverse set of options required?
Cross-Channel Messaging Improves Your Reach and Results
John Vitale, Sage Age Strategies Media Specialist, says, “One thing is clear; a fully integrated marketing plan that incorporates multiple media channels that deliver a consistent message to your target audience(s) has been shown to produce the best results. Today, senior adults are using both traditional and online channels that include digital and social media. And if you want to appeal to your entire senior market, you should be communicating with them both online and offline to build awareness, create engagement, and re-message them at the various stages of their decision-making journey to generate leads.”
As opposed to avoiding digital and social media options, research shows that seniors are now embracing it in a variety of ways. For example:
A recent Pew Research Center study found that more affluent seniors are very likely to be online, and about half of online seniors spend time on social networks almost every day.
An older The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study found that seniors list health and medical research as important online activities, and that includes researching senior living options.
Today, the most effective marketing strategies are integrated cross-channel plans that incorporate the best features of both digital and traditional media.
Multiple Channels, But One Consistent Message
The familiar words “E Pluribus Unum” or From Many, One, could also apply to a cohesive cross-channel messaging strategy. Using multiple channels to reach your audience across the many types of media they use can be a highly effective strategy, but ONLY when your messaging is consistent from channel to channel.
To support this point, an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study found that consumers who view a consistent message across multiple channels demonstrate significantly higher purchase intent and have a more positive perception of the brand. An additional benefit for cross-channel marketers is that sending messages across both traditional and online channels has resulted in a greater return on their marketing investment.
What Does an Effective Cross-Channel Messaging Strategy Look Like?
At Sage Age Strategies, we believe the ideal integrated marketing strategy and media mix will vary from provider to provider depending on their specific service offerings, goals and unique marketplace characteristics. There is no “boilerplate product” or “one size fits all.” That said, the following mix of traditional and digital media provides a frame of reference for how new and traditional media can be incorporated into a cohesive plan that touches the various media that today’s seniors have been shown to utilize.
Digital Media – Digital media can consist of several components. Pay-per-click advertising via Google® AdWords is used to capture the prospect/influencer who is beginning their senior living research online. Attention-grabbing text ads reinforce the community’s central message while encouraging a call to action that clicks the user through to a landing page where their information can be captured via a form or recorded incoming calls.
Remarketing – Used to follow the prospect online and present contextually relevant digital ads that encourage conversion and continue the conversation without usurping the sales team’s time. Remarketing is an incredibly cost-effective way to continually touch prospects, reinforce your brand positioning online and improve website conversions.
Marketing Automation – Campaigns can also be implemented to offer a personalized series of messages based on the prospect’s stage within the buying journey.
Social Media – An engaging social media campaign can be a powerful tool for positioning and branding your community online. In addition to the SEO value of a robust blog on the website, the positioning power of the content then being shared via a variety of social media platforms reinforces the value and purpose of your community to the consumer.
The social media strategy often consists of three parts:
A blog presence that is designed to drive users on external platforms back to your community website.
An engagement campaign utilizing a variety of rich media including informational links, emotionally evocative “memes” and infographics. The average user on social media is not doing active research, but rather following pages and brands that have an interactive value to them on a regular basis.
An audience-building advertising program that laser-targets our demographic of prospects and builds on social media audience to increase the distribution of both the blog and engagement facets of the campaign.
Traditional Media – The senior living target audience is still committed to their traditional news sources – newspaper, radio, TV, church, senior newsletters and more. These are still tried and true information sources and should continue to play an important role in your media strategy.
Direct Mail – With the understanding that seniors process information differently than younger consumers, direct mail offers an ideal platform that brings together a physical piece with the ability to read, re-read and consider at leisure.
According to a Millward Brown Global Research Study, neuroscience studies show that tangible media such as print and direct mail leave a deeper footprint in the human brain than virtual media. Additionally, physical materials produce more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of marketing messages.
Event Marketing – This form of personal messaging enables prospects to view your brand in a physical way and directly experience the brand promises received through your messages in other media. Whether it is to connect personally with a family member caring for a loved one with memory loss, or an assisted living prospect interested in seeing your life-enriching activities first hand, there is exponential value in showcasing your environment, services, lifestyle and team members in person.
Cross-Channel Messaging in Action
Sage Age has effectively structured and implemented cross-channel messaging plans for various types of senior living providers to advance their lead generation and occupancy goals. As an example, one of our client-partners was recently experiencing a challenge in filling their townhomes and apartment suites.
Upon completion of a thorough media and messaging analysis, we determined that they were not effectively highlighting their key differentiators and also not integrating their messaging across both traditional and online media platforms. As a result of joint planning with their senior leadership team, we implemented a cross-channel messaging strategy that used a mix of traditional, digital and social media.
Within 10 months, this integrated strategy generated 318 high-quality leads for the community. In addition, their Facebook® engagement grew from 1,760 to 1,947 in a four-month period with average impressions of 24,969 per month. During the same period, their Twitter® followers grew from 9 to 154 with average impressions of 3,255 per month.
And as a result of their success with the integrated media strategy and enhanced social media, the community is now embarking on a comprehensive PPC digital marketing campaign.
John adds, “Senior audiences no longer cling to one media channel when looking for information. Nowadays, they commonly use 2–5 different platforms.
“Cross-channel marketing, including digital marketing and social media, enables you to be highly visible and relevant with your prospects. It also allows you to better understand and engage your potential customers by digitally tracking prospects from device to device and site to site, measuring their click-through rates, determining the amount of time spent on specific areas of your website, understanding their search patterns and re-messaging them based on their demonstrated interests and preferences.
“Integrated cross-channel messaging is an ideal way to reach today’s senior living consumer and hyper target more qualified leads in real time.”
Sage Age Strategies: Leaders in Growth-Focused Integrated Marketing Strategy
At Sage Age Strategies, our integrated marketing professionals excel in best-practice digital marketing, social media, direct mail, traditional media, marketing automation and e-communications to create cohesive strategies that increase quality lead generation and grow your occupancy.
If you need assistance in any areas of integrated marketing and cross-channel messaging for improved results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more.
Sage Age Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or email Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
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