Right- first things first- how do I find your facility? You are probably aware that the days of someone opening the yellow pages and running through a list of homes are all but gone. Whether you like it or not, the days of the internet are well and truly here- personally, I do not look for a hairdressers, restaurant or even which year ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was released (1939 by the way) without having Googled it first.
What’s that I hear you cry? – ‘people inquiring at our homes are older, they’re not really ‘internet users’; some facts for you; more than 50% of inquiries generated for senior care facilities now come directly through the internet and ‘silver surfers’ spend more time (on average 42 hours per month) on the internet than any other age group. If they are not on there directly, they are more than likely to be on there by using a third party; not a week goes by when I don’t have my mother ringing me to ask me to look something up on the internet.
Obviously, given the nature of my business,having founded a senior care and nursing homes ratings and reviews website, I could talk about internet marketing until the cows come home, but I will try to simply cover off the salient points. Your website (if you have one) should effectively be your ‘online brochure’ and should cover all, if not more of the points covered in the brochure you would pop in the post. You should also be using a tool such as ‘google analytics’ in conjunction with that website. This is effectively a much more detailed version of the ‘where did you hear about us’ question you probably feature on your inquiry forms. It basically tells you exactly where those people coming to your website have come from, and what road they have used to get there.
So for example, with a care home in Bournemouth, has someone arrived at your home by inputting ‘care homes in Bournemouth’ or ‘carehomes by the sea’ into a search? It might seem trivial, but this knowledge could save you a fortune in online advertising. (Go and input ‘reviews of nursing homes’ into Google- how many individual care homes in various parts of the country come up as sponsored, paid-for links? A complete waste of money unless someone is looking for something specific such as ‘carehomes in Rochester’ and that is the term you have paid to appear under).
That is all I will say at this moment in time in relation to the internet, but hopefully, by now, you are giving a bit more thought to where you are spending your money- if 50% of your enquiries should potentially be coming from the internet, is the £750 spent on your yellow pages ad, your sponsorship of three different parish magazines and maybe the glossy half a page in a lifestyle magazine really the best use of your budget? OK, so now, I have the list of homes, whether from the yellow pages, social services or the internet, that I intend to visit, so my next article will focus on what happens when I actually make contact with your facility…
By Lisa O’Neill
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