Key Takeaways from Virtual SMASH Week 2020 for Senior Living Providers

As senior living providers continue to face headwinds, they’ve internalized key learnings and adapted new ways to operate through the pandemic. This ‘new normal’ for senior living marketing and sales teams has led to new ways of connecting with peers and prospects.

Consistent with the environment, the Senior Care Sales & Marketing Summit (SMASH) adjusted its in-person conference and programming, transforming it into a weeklong virtual event. During the SMASH virtual conference, Linkmedia 360 senior living and Cappella Living Solutions/Christian Living Communities presented ways to communicate effectively with all stakeholders: by leveraging email marketing automation.

Anticipating the evolving needs of prospective residents and ACIs requires a marketing automation strategy that goes beyond surface-level reporting metrics like clicks and opens. In the event your community missed the presentation, we’ve outlined the most important insights and takeaways.

Continue reading this recap to gain powerful insights to fuel your senior living marketing team’s lead generation and growth in 2021 with email marketing automation.

Have a Forward Outlook on how to Scale Email Operations Based on Your Audience + Service Line Focus

Automation provides several distinct benefits for senior living providers:

  • Layers in new, helpful data
  • Reduces marketing costs
  • Decreases response times
  • Captures more (and better) prospect data
  • Shortens sales cycles

…and much more. To receive these benefits and more importantly, key insights about your prospects and how to engage with them, your community should chart a forward outlook or roadmap based on your audience and the key service line(s) you wish to impact.

This combined effort keeps marketing and sales teams aligned and focused on scaling its automated efforts. To properly evolve and elevate your marketing automation program to meet marketing and sales goals, your team can refer to and check its progress against the stages outlined below:

Stage 1: Setup and Launch (Months 1-3)

During the first stage, your team will want to focus on the following items:

  • Select your platform and begin setup
  • Verify DNS, SPF and DKIM
  • Create email templates
  • Update the tracking code on your website
  • Review prior email sends
  • Establish your contact strategy
  • Create email content and imagery
  • Set up email workflows to handle CRM activities
  • Segment ‘Contact us’ lists
  • Create a re-engagement strategy
  • Test integrations
  • Send the first email newsletter
  • Create your first Drip or Nurture campaign
  • Evaluate engagement on your first email
  • Re-send newsletter with a new subject line
  • Monitor initial progress/results

Stage 2: Optimize (Months 3-6)

Once your marketing automation platform has the foundational and technical elements setup, it can optimize for the following items:

  • Establish robust reporting dashboards
  • Review email performance to determine areas of optimization
  • Configure metrics and KPIs based on your goal for email
  • Segment contacts

Stage 3: Elevate (Months 6+)

Over time, your senior living marketing team has created efficiencies and obtained specific insights into its audiences. Your emails guide users to helpful content and your sales and marketing teams are acting on this data and engagement. An elevated marketing automation strategy looks to check the following items off:

  • Review the prospect journey length of time and its impact (lead to inquiry, inquiry to tour, inquiry to deposit, etc.)
  • Review and optimize existing workflows
  • Create new automation workflows
  • Monitor results/progress
  • Revisit the design and feel of its emails

As your organization is working through each stage, refer to this checklist to see how your program stacks up against a best-in-class email marketing automation strategy that surpasses results.

Sales Team Adoption is Critical in a Marketing Automation Strategy

Competitive and experienced sales counselors and sales teams can attest it’s difficult to relinquish any control over a lead and its stage in the prospect journey. Receiving internal buy-in and adoption from the sales team is often the difference between a successful marketing automation program and one that underperforms.

Angela Green Urbaczewski, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Cappella elaborates on this point further stating, “Our salespeople hold tight to their prospects, so we have to make automation transparent every step of the way, and show them how it’s helping them get the tour or the sale.”

To obtain the constant collaboration with sales that is necessary to advance through the stages outlined above, Angela Green Urbaczewski offers the following best practices to get your sales team to adopt a technology like marketing automation.

  1. Emphasize the benefits of automation and how it contributes to a “speed to lead” approach – A key focus area for sales is closing leads in the shortest amount of time possible. When walking through a marketing automation strategy, show your sales team tangible examples of communication so they can see the messaging firsthand. Additionally, showing how this messaging nurtures colder leads and surfaces quality leads that are ready to act further solidifies the need for automation.
  2. Encourage the sales team to contribute content – Involving your sales team early in the process and having them share resources can greatly benefit the marketing automation strategy. Whether it’s having your team refine messaging, supply frequently asked questions (FAQs) or incorporate other assets, their participation in the early stages of the implementation process is crucial. That helps pave the way to the latter stages, where sales teams are working in-step with a marketing automation strategy.
  3. Celebrate wins! – Sharing how the marketing automation strategy is moving leads to inquiries, inquiries to tours, etc. and how it’s contributing to census goals during weekly sales pipeline meetings or marketing calls is paramount. When possible, sharing these examples and results shows sales teams the cumulative value that is driven from marketing automation and keeps teams informed on the progress of the overall strategy.

Contact our Team for a Complete Breakdown of the SMASH Senior Living Conference 2020

SMASH 2020 was filled with provocative thought leaders, engaging experts and peers to set senior living marketing and sales professionals up for an incredible 2021. For additional insights about SMASH senior living 2020 or key takeaways from our presentation, contact our team. We’ll be happy to help your senior living community receive buy-in and make the most of its technology investments leading into 2021.

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