The Rise of Digital in Senior Living Sales and Marketing Amidst COVID

When COVID-19 hit, senior living providers were forced to pivot to digital sales and marketing. Some were able to make this shift swiftly, having already invested in some form of digital sales and marketing strategy, while others felt pressure of decreasing occupancy coupled with low volume inquiries.

With 2021 well underway, and no sign of an end in sight, providers will need to continue to focus on a digital-first sales and marketing strategy, a long-overdue shift for the senior living industry.

5 Steps to Shift to Digital Sales and Marketing for Senior Living 

Here are five steps senior living providers can take to embrace a digital-first approach to sales and marketing.

1. Understand Your Cost-per-lead and Cost-per-customer

Planning of marketing budgets will need to be an agile process that is revisited at least quarterly (if not monthly) as new digital strategies are put in place in order to identify the channels most effective in driving interest and ultimately deposits. A major shift in marketing budget allocation begins with understanding cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer. The following categories are evaluated to generate these calculations:

  • Historical census vs. occupancy goals
  • Total marketing spend
  • Marketing mix
  • Digital budget allocation
  • Traditional budget allocation
  • Event marketing spend

If you are looking for a quick reference, industry average for cost-per-lead for the senior living industry pre-COVID was $431 on average.

Elite also offers a marketing spend planning consultation that assesses cost-per-lead using your own internal data, our marketing planning worksheet, and the creation of a community scorecard with marketing spend recommendations.


2. Develop a Digital Marketing and Sales Strategy That Plays to Your Strengths 

Shifting to a digital-first marketing and sales strategy doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of your sales and marketing program. With the pandemic making in-person visits impossible, sales and marketing teams shifted to implementing virtual tours and leveraging their websites, social media, and online advertising more heavily than ever to reach prospects.

The concept of live events isn’t a lost cause. If in-person events were a successful way to drive interest in your senior living community, leveraging technology to deliver valuable, resourceful information can shift your in-person strategy to a digital one. If your senior living community saw greatest results from referral development efforts pre-COVID, development of sales content, sales email campaigns, and other tools can shift your referral development efforts from in-person to digital. Elite research has shown this shift to provide greater results than traditional referral development efforts have.

3. Be Intentional About Spend If Increasing Sales or Marketing Budgets for 2021

Some senior living providers have reported increasing sales and marketing budgets by as much as 40% in 2021, with the majority of that increase being allocated to digital efforts.

If this includes your senior living organization, being intentional about spend will require strategic forethought.

Projects may include updating an existing website so that it offers more than simply virtual brochures, investing in marketing automation and content marketing to capture valuable data about website visitors, leveraging video more effectively, and implementing sales enablement strategies in customer relationship management systems to provide tools such as sales email templates and sales sequences to create a data-driven, omnichannel approach to demand generation, lead generation, and lead nurturing strategies.

4. Consider the Impact of Digital Advertising in Your Markets

Being able to reach families on a larger scale has grown in importance in many markets across the U.S. because of media coverage related to COVID-19 that worsened the confusion revolving around nursing homes and senior living.

In a primarily digital world, providers will have to put in added effort to dispel misinformation and win consumer trust amidst an environment where face-to-face interaction is still extremely limited. This may mean allocating marketing spend to digital advertising strategies for targeted messaging that generates interest in products and services offered by senior living providers.

5. Amplify Results with a Digital Strategy Consulting Partner

With tension growing amongst owners and operators, sales and marketing departments vying for budget allocation to successfully increase occupancy rates, and a shift to a primarily digital sales and marketing strategy, it’s imperative that providers gain results in the most efficient manner possible, paying particular attention to ROI generated from new strategies and impacts on cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer as strategies are shifted.

Elite offers a full suite of digital marketing and sales strategy consulting services, including an initial no-cost 60-minute consultation. For more information, click the button below to talk with our team!

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