The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t merely undercut occupancy, which now sits at a historic low mark of 78.8% — it has upended most of the long-term industry trends that operators traditionally used to combat occupancy challenges.
Yet the pandemic created another problem for operators. In early 2020, many senior living marketers understandably reduced their digital advertising spend. As the year wore on and competition for leads increased, the cost of digital advertising steadily climbed.
Data from the partnership between G5, a senior living MarTech (marketing technology) company, and Google reveals that cost-per-click in the senior living industry grew by 19% year-over-year in Q1 2021. With the cost of digital advertising rising, operators need to focus on data-driven marketing solutions now more than ever before, because those strategies allow them to analyze all of their leads and determine which are the most valuable, based on the intent of the consumer.
Here are three steps operators can take to use real-time data to combat rising advertising costs, giving them an edge in the market.
Step 1: Access the data through automation
Every time a prospective buyer clicks on a digital advertisement, visits a community’s website or calls a senior living operator, that interaction creates a data point. By partnering with a best-in-class MarTech provider, senior living operators can gain greater insight into what the customer wants, and how to deliver it.
For example, a G5 client’s marketing is backed by the data insights available in the G5 Customer Data Platform (CDP), which collects first-party data to create a comprehensive reference of all prospects’ touchpoints and actions over time. This forms a roadmap of the senior living buyer’s journey.
The problem is that this is a massive amount of data. To put this into context, the G5 CDP grows by more than a million rows of data each day. This consists of approximately:
- 1.5 million new web session events
- 18,000 onsite interactions
- 75,000 calls, emails, and website form submissions
That means each day, G5 technology evaluates over 248 million individual journeys. One million of those journeys are qualified as having high intent, meaning the prospect filled out a website form or made a qualified phone call.
From those one million qualified journeys, G5 identifies the touchpoints within the operator’s digital campaigns that prove the most valuable in driving real-world actions, such as a phone call to schedule a virtual tour.
“And remember, this analysis is happening every day, 365 days a year,” says Marjean Pobuda, data scientist with G5.
The amount of data available is too much for a single person, or even a team of people, to sort through every day, let alone updating digital advertising campaigns accordingly.
This is where a best-in-class MarTech partner is needed. If their digital advertising is backed by intent-based data paired with automation, then operators are empowered to focus on building trust and relationships with researching seniors and their families instead of worrying about digital advertising campaign strategy.
“It’s this knowledge bank of data that we analyzed to guide our understanding of what happened in senior living in 2020,” Pobuda says.
Step 2: Study intent, not just raw figures
What the team at G5 found when reviewing data from 2020 is that while occupancy dropped, phone calls to senior living operators remained relatively high.
“This is unsurprising as concerned loved ones depended on phone calls to either talk with their beloved resident, or check on their well-being,” Pobuda says.
When a senior’s adult child takes an action, like calling a community to schedule a tour, they have more intent to move in than a current resident who Googled that same community to check out the activities calendar for the month.
Within minutes of those two touchpoints, G5’s Intent Trends technology can identify the caller’s intent, and by the next day reallocate an operator’s digital advertising spend to ensure the company’s marketing efforts are working to capture more calls like the first one, and fewer like the second.
And while overall demand for senior living softened in 2020, one notable bright spot for 2021 and beyond is that qualified calls for communities with digital advertising remained stronger than those without digital advertising. In fact, in Q1 2021, digital advertising drove over 7% more qualified calls to communities, than those without digital advertising.
Such insights eliminate the guesswork that operators would otherwise need to use.
“Perhaps this feels small, but it proves that in a quickly shifting market, our technology has your back and ensures that your advertising spend is optimized to connect with decision-ready seniors and their families,” Pobuda says.
Step 3: Automation optimizes digital advertising spend
There is no getting around the cost of senior living digital advertising right now. As the lead nurturing process has changed to include an even longer buying journey, there is more money being spent in the advertising space for the same level of demand, which is driving up the cost. Operators must be ready to spend.
“You can’t guess your way to better marketing results,” Pobuda says. “Data takes out the guesswork.”
With greater access to data, and the ability to analyze intent, operators can be more efficient with their marketing dollars. As they drive greater move-ins — and as occupancy returns industry-wide — operators will have even more money to spend, and can create a better marketing cycle to continue to drive results.
“G5 data is an invaluable in-house resource that can be leveraged to provide timely and nuanced marketing insights and quickly adjust your marketing tactics,” Pobuda says. “Data nuances aside, when comparing the industry-wide and G5-specific data, we see that while digital advertising is increasing in cost, there is pent-up demand in the market. Digital advertising, when paired with G5 Intent Trends, drives more qualified move-in ready seniors to your community, even in tumultuous times.”
This article is sponsored by G5. To learn more about how to use data to boost occupancy, download this new white paper from G5: “Stuck in Silos? Data Insights Provide Clarity.”
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