Senior living marketers have readily embraced the tactic of creating downloadable content for their search and website visitors, but have they embraced a strategy to nurture these leads?
No matter what you call them (Resource Guides, E-books, premium content, etc.), downloadable gated content in the form of brochures or educational guides have proven to be popular and effective vehicles for informing your prospects about the community culture, history, lifestyle, residents, services and living options. But these aren’t just ordinary website leads … these are top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) prospects that are far from being ready to speak to a sales team member about scheduling a tour.
Too often we hear frustrated sales teams lament the fact that prospects who have recently downloaded a content piece, either through both paid and organic sources of traffic, are unqualified. Many go so far as to write off leads entirely that come through downloadable content channels. It’s easy to see why sales teams have this perception. Most prospects who download educational content aren’t ready to talk to a sales person. They’re in the information-gathering phase and are likely visiting several competitor websites to learn about their options. The last thing they want is yet another sales person to call and ask for a commitment to a scheduled tour.
And that’s where senior living marketers need to rethink how, what and how often they communicate to these TOFU prospects in order to move them from the thinking stage into consideration and eventually action. The best way to do this is through an email automation campaign.
Outlined below is a simple, yet effective lead nurturing strategy for deeply connecting with your target audience to drive engagement and action.
Step 1. – Develop your different buyer personas. What questions a prospect may have or what choices they might be considering can help you plan the type of content to serve to them. This can vary for different service lines or markets. For a luxury IL in a big city, the prospect may want to be assured that they’ll maintain connections to all the features a big city has to offer. While an IL prospect in a small town may want to know that they can stay close to the neighborhood they grew up in and still have the personal connections to friends and family.
Step 2. – Pick an email automation platform that best suits your needs and budget. Keep in mind that not all campaigns will need a full blown automation platform to be effective. Several email service providers (ESPs) will have all of the necessary tools and functionality to manage a simple lead nurturing campaign.
Step 3. – Identify your audience(s) and plan for their workflow. If you have multiple downloadable content pieces for multiple service lines (AL, IL, MC, SNF, etc.) then you’ll need to develop a separate campaign for each audience. Segment your email list by buyer persona and create separate workflows for each audience. For example, write emails for adult children seeking AL for their parents and then have another workflow aimed at the prospects themselves looking for AL.
Step 4. – Develop your workflow document. This will serve as your master blueprint for your lead nurturing campaign. For each email, identify the email name/purpose, content to be included, desired outcome and the timing of the email. Creating this outline will help you stay organized when you input your emails into your marketing automation platform or your email service provider. See below example:
|Internal Email Name||Desired Outcome||Email Content||When Will it Send?|
|Email 1: Thank You For Downloading the Guidebook||Primary: Click to open Guidebook
Secondary: View Blog
|Guidebook/Blog||Immediately after guidebook download|
|Email 2: Get to Know a Resident||Primary: Read Pat’s story
Secondary/Bonus: Contact Applewood
|Resident Story||2 days after first email send|
|Email 3: Virtual Tour||Primary: Visit the virtual tour page
Secondary/Bonus: Schedule a campus tour
|Virtual Tour||1 week after email 2 sent|
|Email 4: How Can We Help||Primary: Call or set up a visit
Secondary: Visit the website
|Contact Us page||1 week after email 3 sent|
Step 5. – Write copy for your emails all at one time, no matter how many emails are in the lead nurturing workflow. This ensures that tone, voice and flow are consistent throughout. Make your emails personal. Automated emails generally get better response rates when written from a person’s perspective vs. a company or brand. Open rates generally improve when you see an email coming from a person’s email like email@example.com vs. firstname.lastname@example.org. Add in prospects name using mail merge functions so that the emails are addressed directly to them. Those simple touches can make a mass email look less automated and more genuine.
Like any marketing campaign, there’s no guarantee that moving leads coming in from downloadable content into a lead nurturing automation program will be a home run. However, it’s nearly a certainty that labeling these TOFU leads as unqualified from the outset without making an effort to engage would be akin to leaving every stone unturned. Solutions Advisors, already experts in sales and marketing, are equally adept at developing highly effective lead nurturing campaigns that connect and create action. Contact us to learn more about our approach.