Do you get leads from your website? Once those leads come in, how do you handle them? Do you do whatever it takes to qualify those leads and convert them into appointments and move-ins? Or do you ignore them and figure that, if they’re really interested, they’ll call?
If you answered the latter, you aren’t alone. Sales expert Ken Krogue estimates that companies waste about 71% of their Internet leads. For senior living communities, especially those that haven’t yet fully transitioned into the digital space, that number is probably higher.
But senior living providers can no longer afford to ignore Internet leads, as more and more of their customers -- both prospective residents and their adult children -- are now going online as Phase 1 of the senior housing search process. Industry experts estimate that half or more of leads now originate online and that these leads account for 30 to 40% of move-ins.
Here are seven ways you can capitalize on online leads.
1. Capture them
Say you have a website and a blog and you’re active on social media. That’s great! You are already ahead of a lot of your competition. But do you have any way to capture information about your website visitors? Are there any forms for them to fill out, for example, to download a pdf or sign up for a newsletter? If not, you are missing out on the opportunity to connect with people who are interested in your community.
At the very least, provide a form on your “Contact Us” page where people can leave their name and email address, so you can enter them into your CRM software.
2. Take them seriously
There is a persistent idea in the industry that online leads are inferior to leads from other sources. This may have been true in the past, but it is becoming less true all of the time.
Research from Mature Market Sales Source shows that the real determiner of lead quality is meaningful contact. Deena Neste wrote on their blog: “Our research is revealing that if a community can establish meaningful contact with a qualified Internet lead and get them to tour, all other sales benchmarks remain consistent with other top lead sources” [emphasis added].
So, take online leads seriously. You’ll likely find they result in just as many move-ins as the other sources you’ve been focusing on.
3. Follow up immediately
The single biggest mistake companies make with online leads is failing to follow up on them.
Think about it this way -- when you look for a product or service online, do you leave your contact info on just one site and then wait for a response? Or do you check out several different vendors?
A large amount of research shows that the faster you respond to online leads, the more likely you are to make contact with the person at the other end. In addition, most business goes to the vendor that responds first. So follow up with your leads and follow up quickly, ideally within two hours. This is easier to do if your marketing automation is integrated with your CRM.
4. Don’t give up too easily
The second biggest mistake companies make is giving up too easily. Only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, and a full 80% aren’t made until at least the fifth. So, if you don’t get someone on the phone right away, don’t give up -- they left their contact info with you because they want to be contacted.
5. Nurture your leads
People who are researching senior living aren’t just looking for a product to buy. They are looking for a home for themselves or their parents -- this is an emotional decision and it takes time. However, they are also usually looking for something they will need in the near future, not two or three years down the line.
Lead nurturing activities, for example, scheduled follow-ups via automated emails, will help keep your community top-of-mind.
6. Use a call center
A study in Senior Living SMART shows that the top action communities can take to capitalize on online leads is to use a call center. Mostly, this is because call center employees are trained to do the four previous items on this list -- take leads seriously, follow up quickly, not give up, and nurture them.
In fact, in the study, communities that used call centers realized more than four times the number of total move-ins than communities that handled their online leads in-house.
7. Learn from your data
Finally, ensure that all lead and customer data gets entered into your CRM so that you can analyze it and learn from it. This way, you will be able to discover what lead capture and nurturing methods are working best for your community, as well as any areas where you could do better.
Want to find out how your community's sales data compares to industry benchmarks?