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Innovation That Drives Results: A New Era Of Experimentation in Senior Living

Experimentation matters in senior living. Belmont Village Senior Living learned as much with their pricing.

The Houston-based provider was trying to determine how transparent and forward to be about their pricing on their homepage, and whether to buck the industry trend by actually leading with their prices.

“We had a lot of debate whether or not we unveil pricing, because if you unveil pricing, then you don’t have an opportunity to really talk to someone about your value proposition. You may be turning away a lot of people that we could have had conversations with,” Carlene Motto, Belmont Village EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, said at the 2024 Senior Housing News Sales & Marketing Conference. “We started an experiment.”

The experiment was to do A-B testing on whether and where to post pricing. If you show your unit pricing and someone feels priced out, the sales team will have no opportunity to talk to them and change their mind. If you don’t show pricing, you risk a prospect having sticker shock once they do see the price, or you risk an annoyed prospect not getting the information they want and moving to another operator. Belmont Village started quietly with just a handful of communities, putting their pricing front and center.

“We did it and thought, my gosh … if all of a sudden we see leads drop and we see move-ins drop and we’re in real trouble, James (will lose) some sleep over it,” Motto said.

That would be James Johnson, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of FURTHER, the AI-driven consumer engagement technology platform that helps drive prospects to Belmont Village’s websites. As head of Belmont Village’s web partner, Johnson felt a personal stake in the operator’s experiment.

He had his concerns too, wondering if Belmont Village, which was spending money to drive traffic to their sites, would be turning off potential residents who would get to the website and see a big number with a dollar sign. And not just any big number: Belmont Village is a premium product with an associated premium price.

“When prospects are coming, they’re going to see an expensive price when they land there,” Johnson said. “It’s added pressure (with) a very different product.”

FURTHER had never run this experiment with an operator priced at the top of the market. Johnson thought the test was risky. That made Motto happy.

“You want to partner with a company that feels just as responsible as you do,” she said. “And he did.”

3 elements for successful senior living experimentation

For Belmont Village, the pricing experiment was a huge success.

“We’d actually never run this experiment in this setting before, but basically after the pilot, we saw that lead volume wasn’t affected, move-in volume actually went up and we rolled out to the full portfolio,” Johnson said. “There’s a 19.4% increase in lead-to-move-in conversion, and because we were able to track from click-through to move-in, we were able to actually have a lot of confidence that the experiment had worked. We had enough data, it was statistically significant, and it was something we could keep and roll out everywhere.”

To reach that point, Belmont Village needed the right technology infrastructure and the right technology partners. They also needed to follow several steps to ensure a safe and productive environment for experimentation. These included:

  1. Getting internal teams on the same page. “I feel very strongly that integration and partnership is really important,” said Motto, who oversees Belmont Village sales. “How many of you hear the sales team saying, ‘Well, the marketing department has given us all these leads, but they’re not qualified.’ Then the marketing department is saying, ‘We’re giving you all these great leads and no one’s doing anything with it.’ That integration is really important.”
  2. Getting your data on the same page — literally. You have to know the rules to break the rules, and in senior living experimentation, you have to know the data to take calculated risks. Motto found it essential to have one dashboard where she and the Belmont Village team can view all of the operator’s data.
  3. Understanding what prospects want, and how they communicate. For Motto and the Belmont Village team, this was a big one. “During COVID, we had customers that were buying senior living and not even coming into the building. Their journey was on the website,” Motto said. “As our communities opened back up, we still have found that customers want to be in charge of their own journey.”

They realized their website mattered more than it had previously, as did their communication technology.

“Our phones really aren’t ringing that much. People are emailing and they’re texting,” Motto said. Belmont Village had to make sure that their sales teams could text prospects, and have chat capabilities on their websites. Everything is about getting to the consumer as fast as possible.

“Because today, if someone does call into your building and you do not answer that phone, they’re probably not calling back,” she said. “They’re probably not leaving a message. When was the last time that you got a message on your cell phone?”

When technology and team are aligned, an operator has the safety net to experiment and connect with prospects in new ways. “The more experiments we run, the more information we’re going to learn, and the better the results can be for our communities,” Johnson said.

This article is sponsored by Further. To learn more about how you can improve your website and drive more move-ins, visit talkfurther.com.

The post Innovation That Drives Results: A New Era Of Experimentation in Senior Living appeared first on Senior Housing News.

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