Competition among senior homes can be fierce, especially in and around the big cities like Chicago. If you want to increase occupancy and profits, you have to be everywhere a potential resident may look for a senior home, including online directories, which can be extremely effective.
Why Online Directories Work
- Visibility. When potential residents search for senior homes using Google, they first see the paid ads, then three or four map listings, and then a list of organic results. If they skip the ads and the map listings, and most people skip that, among the ten organic results they will see and probably click on at least one or two directory listings.Directories form about one third of organic results and very often get the top rankings. If you were to search for a senior home in Atlanta, Georgia, for example, the first organic result would be either Senior Housing Net, Senior Directory, or Yelp.Of course, there will be many listings on that directory page. If you want to make sure your potential residents find you, it’s best to invest in a premium profile, which will guarantee you one of the top 4 results.
- SEO. To get top positions in Google, your website must have high credibility. One of the ways to gain more credibility is to have more credible websites link back to your website. Thus, inserting links to your website in online directories — which are very credible — helps you rank higher.Some online directories don’t charge for links, which means you can insert a link to your website in their basic free listing. We advise you to take advantage of as many of those as possible. Most of the big directories, however, offer linking to your website as part of their premium listing service, so you’ll have to pay for it.
- Reviews. This is a double-edged sword. Online directories usually let your residents post reviews. Positive reviews are very likely to enhance your image and increase sales. Negative reviews – especially when they are 10% or more of all reviews – could really hurt you. There are ways to boost positive feedback online and to handle negative feedback, which is called reputation management . If you want to use online directories to promote your business, we strongly advise you to invest in reputation management as well.
- Prospects like directories. People find it easier to have relevant information properly sorted in front of them rather than having to go through Google search results one by one.
How to get the best results
Start with the directories that attract the most demand for your services. There are about a dozen online directories for senior homes. Unless you have a budget for sponsored listings in every directory, which you probably don’t, you should start with the directories that generate most demand for your services.
To identify platforms that will attract most residents to your senior home, contact directories and interview them to understand what you can expect from your investment. Here’s what you should find out:
- How many people will see your sponsored listing monthly? Directories have this information and should be happy to share it.
- How many people can you expect to click on your listing? This is what they call an average ad click-through rate.
- How many of the people who click on your listing will contact you or go to your website? Directories usually gather this info directly from their customers but may be reluctant to divulge that information. It is your job (or better yet, your digital marketing agency) to get it, and you should insist on getting it.
In addition, you should know your own numbers to better understand the expected ROI on this marketing investment:
- Your call-to-resident conversion rate. This is a measure of how many calls from different prospects does it take for you to land a paying resident.
- Revenue per resident. We know this may vary, but, using the law of averages, you can come up with an average number to work with.
Now that you have that information, you should be able to write up a clear funnel and estimate your potential return of investment. Here’s an example:
You pay $500 per month for a listing on the best online directory. If 1000 people see your listing, and you have a 3% click-through rate, that’s 30 people who will click on your listing. Let’s say out of those 30 people, 20% contact you, that’s 6 people. If you have about 30% conversion rate — meaning converting people who call you into paying residents — that’s 2 residents per month. This means you’ve paid $250 per resident acquisition cost.
Don’t forget to test. Almost all of our senior home residents have listings on one or more online directories. We can tell you from experience that you can never be certain what will work best for you. Based on the type of amenities you offer and where you’re based, the results you see from different directories can vary greatly. That’s why you should always test at least a few directories to find out which one works best for you.
That being said, you should be prepared to give each platform at least 6 months to a year to get enough data. Never rely on data from just one or two-month-long test.
Allocate a portion of your marketing budget for testing out platforms, and stick to the ones that deliver the best results. Monitor performance and switch, when warranted. Directories are in constant competition and some of them overtake others. Be prepared to cancel one subscription and start another if you notice that a platform’s performance is on a decline.
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Comrade is a Chicago based digital marketing company that specializes in marketing and website design for senior homes. Read more about our marketing service for senior homes.
About the Author
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.