Digital Marketing Strategies for Senior Living in Times of Coronavirus
First, we are all aware that the populations that are at higher risk are seniors citizens and people with previous chronic medical conditions like cancer survivors, heart conditions, etc.
Senior living facilities have restricted visits from family members to protect seniors. Still, families need to know about their loved ones. Here is where digital marketing plays a big role.
Now, when most people are working from home, they are spending more time on the internet . It is the right moment for us as marketers to refine our digital strategies.
Senior living facilities are facing a huge challenge with the coronavirus outbreak. Then, keeping open communication with family members is key. In these difficult times when families can not see their loved ones, senior living communities have the duty to keep families informed about their older adults.
The must-do implementations:
Every website must provide coronavirus updates. In the case of senior care facilities, this is a priority. I will recommend creating pages on your website for residents, staff, and families to gather information and updates about the coronavirus. It will be helpful if you add a hyperlink on top of your homepage that goes to your coronavirus’ updates page(s).
- The website pushes up notifications:
Push notifications is a digital marketing channel that should be used since this channel increases repeat visits, boosts retention and engagement. If your senior living website doesn’t have a push-up notification yet, it is the time to add it. Push up notifications are great to engage and update users. Use this communication channel to update people about what is going on in your facility.
- Text message marketing
Text message marketing is an easy and affordable way to be in touch and engaged with your customers and prospects. Furthermore, SMS marketing is a simple solution that you can add to your current marketing strategy. You need a CRM or software and there are many options from where you can choose. Text message marketing can help your business to increase sales, but in this case, we can use it to keep families informed with what is happening in the facility.
Remember you need people to opt-in before you send them texts. When the families have opted-in to your text program, I will suggest sending one message a day to let them know how everything is in your facility or community.
Families won’t be overwhelmed but thankful that your business cares and keeps them informed about the current situation in the place where their seniors are living.
When the situation resolves, you should adjust the frequency of your text messaging campaign. It is important to have ethics and don’t take advantage of this crisis to later spam people with too much and unnecessary text messages. Keep this channel as needed. You can also use SMS marketing to update staff. ( This will be a different campaign).
But, how can you get people to opt-in to your text program? You can use direct mail, email marketing, push up notifications, or social media posts.
You can also use website integration. It is a widget that displays a pop up with a small form with an opt-in option.
You can also use social media paid ads integration. Basically you run an add on Fb and when people click the ad, they will see the opt-in option, All the data collected will go to your text message marketing CRM. Last but not least, your staff can call the person in charge of the senior and let him/her know about the new ways of communication. Invite them to go to the website or social media page to opt-in.
Stats show that SMS messages have a 98% open rate, and 90% of the messages are read in the first 3 minutes. Then, this is a must communication channel for the senior care industry.
If your senior living facility doesn’t use email marketing, now is the perfect time to do it. You don’t need to be a Pro to use it. You can sign up for a CRM tool such as Mailchimp, constant contact, or any other. Keep in mind that you need to honor the CAM-SPAM act.
Then. you will be wondering .. How do I email people if they have not authorized me to do so?
Well, here you will have to create an opt-in option on your home page if you don’t have one yet. You can also use direct mail, social media, and video marketing to let people know about the opt-in option on your website in order to be updated. You can use the same strategy or channels that I recommend to get people to opt-in in text message programs.
I am sure that most people will opt-in. Sending an email a day with updates, will provide peace of mind to families. Later on, when the situation comes back to normal, you will adjust your frequency.
Email ideas can vary but here are a few examples:
An email about all the activities that were canceled to protect seniors and what your activities your facility is doing instead.
An email that informs that your facility has printed hand-outs for residents and staff with prevention information. ( Many families are worried their loved one doesn’t know much about how to prevent becoming infected). ( Many seniors don’t have computers or smartphones. They still need to be informed).
- Content marketing
For now limit your content to be informative about the situation. Publish content related to what your facility is doing to avoid seniors from getting infected. In addition, publish content about government updates, etc. This will reinforce that your company cares .. If you are in the senior care industry, you must care!
If you have content planned and created before that is not relevant to the situation, leave it for later. It is important that your company has empathy with the situation and how it is affecting seniors. Be relevant!
- Social Media
Being active on social media is a must now. Use your social media pages to post updates. Opt-in options to get more people in your email and text messaging list. If you have multiple locations, you should post local updates and to answer to families’ concerns. Remember that families are worried for their older loved ones. Post pictures and videos that show what your facility is doing to protect seniors such as cleaning routines, use of masks and gloves, etc.
If you have never considered video marketing, you should do it now.
Your priority is caring for seniors but also keeping families informed. Put yourself into their shoes for a minute! It is terrible that they can’t visit their loved ones, and it is even worse if they don’t know what is happening with them inside your facility.
Then, start simple. You can create videos with a cell phone and post videos that show how you keep your facility clean, and how your facility has all that is needed to avoid the virus to spread. For example:
create a video that shows that you keep seniors 6 feet away from each other. ( I know you may be worried about filming residents without their family consent) Don’t worry, you don’t have to break the rules. You can make a video and blur their faces or a video that is taken from behind or far away but that still shows your facility is being cautious.
Create a video that shows a class your facility is giving to the staff
The purpose of the videos is to show to families that they made the right decision when they chose your facility. It will also show that your business is able to adjust to the situation in a proactive way
Chat or chatbots:
Your website should have a chat because it is an easy way for people to communicate with your business. There are many free chats solutions that you can add to your website. If your business has the resources, you can invest in adding chatbots to your website. Nowadays, you can update your chatbots to provide relevant information to online visitors about the current situation in your facility.
Your business can start implementing all these things above with a minimum budget. There are many free options for email marketing, chat, apps to edit videos for iPhone, etc.
Most importantly, it is taking the initiative and providing solutions for seniors, families, and staff.
Follow HIPA compliance when mapping your new marketing strategy due to coronavirus.
Be Safe, Be patient, Be kind!
Karina has spent most of her career working in the senior care industry, mostly as a digital marketing manager for home care and nursing home facilities. With 8+ years of hands-on experience in digital marketing to her credit, Karina also worked as a consultant for senior care businesses. As someone who cares deeply for seniors and has expert skills in digital marketing, Karina founded SeniorCareClicks to fulfill her passion for her permanent career.
Karina and SeniorCareClicks have been featured in Home Health Care News, HomeCare Magazine, Forbes, The Nursing Home Podcast, and other media. Karina is “the premier expert in senior care marketing”!