Is your marketing program delivering the results you want? If not, it’s time for a little detective work.
By implementing measures to effectively benchmark and track your marketing efforts, you can determine which components are working — and which aren’t. Over the long term, the data you gather will help you allocate your marketing budget in ways that save your organization money and get results.
What Should You Benchmark?
If you want to move ahead, you first need to know where you are. How does your organization’s current state of marketing affairs compare to industry best practices for senior living?
You can choose among a number of areas to benchmark depending on your organization’s specific focus and needs. Some areas to consider for benchmarking include:
- Pricing of your entry fees, monthly fees and other outlays required of residents.
- Services and amenities you offer.
- Your marketing research process.
- Marketing planning.
- Marketing communications strategies and tactics.
Research has found that when businesses can exceed benchmarks for various metrics, they perform better in a variety of areas than competitors that fall below benchmarks.
Tracking Your Marketing Program
After you’ve established expectations for each area of your marketing program, you’ll need to set up a way to track results. Your marketing agency partner can help you do both.
You likely have more flexibility with your marketing communications than with your pricing, services and amenities on an ongoing basis — and tracking the effectiveness of marketing communications will require more effort and resources. If you’re not tracking and periodically reviewing your marketing efforts, you have no way of knowing which components are delivering the results you want and which could improve.
Different marketing approaches require different ways of tracking. What’s working, and what’s not, across your marketing program?
Print and Direct Mail
For many senior living communities, direct mail campaigns and print advertising still play important roles in keeping occupancy high. Consider tracking a variety of metrics to determine the effectiveness of your print and direct mail, including the number of prospects who call or visit your website.
One of the easiest methods for tracking site visits initiated by direct mail or print ads is designated domains. Your webmaster can easily provide you with reports from your website log files that tell you how many visits each of your unique domains receives.
Landing pages for your designated domains can include similar or different content, branding messages and calls to action depending on your marketing goals. You won’t need to maintain completely separate sites for each domain; only the landing pages need to be unique for tracking purposes, and the links can take visitors to your main website.
Tracking through designated domains likely won’t provide you with the perfect measure of the effectiveness of your direct mail and print efforts. For instance, a prospect who sees your ad might simply visit your main site and disregard the unique tracking URL. But designated domains are one of the simplest methods for gauging what’s working and what’s not.
You also can track phone calls and emails generated by your direct mail pieces and ads by using unique phone numbers and email addresses. Once you’ve established a prospect in your CRM software, you’ll then have a basis for tracking your cost per call or email along with cost per sale.
Your online efforts likely constitute a significant portion of your marketing budget, and you’ll find a virtually endless array of metrics to consider tracking.
If you’re investing resources into search-engine optimization, you’ll want to understand where the money is going and what you’re getting in return. Important metrics to track in this area include:
- How often your site is found for certain search terms.
- Visits based on referral traffic, including links from other sites or from marketing emails you send out.
- Which search engines generate the bulk of your website traffic.
- Your rankings in various search engines for your important keyword phrases.
- Most and least popular entry and exit pages on your site.
- Bounce rate and time spent on the various pages of your site.
- Conversion rates from different search engines and keywords.
In addition, you’ll want to implement methods for tracking the usefulness of your content marketing efforts. Your marketing agency can assist you in creating an inventory of all your online content across platforms — including your organization’s website and social media accounts — and determining the criteria for measurement. For instance, you may want to track “likes” and follows on Facebook and retweets on Twitter.
Even if mobile doesn’t yet play a significant role in your marketing program, it likely will in coming years. By creating benchmarks and measurement methods now, you can get a handle on how your website, social media presence and other online platforms translate to the mobile experience for your users — and convert to solid leads and sales.
Time to Begin Benchmarking?
If you’re wondering how your marketing dollars benefit your organization, it may be time to implement benchmarking and testing. With an objective way to measure your marketing results in place, you can focus on gleaning compelling insights that help you maintain healthy occupancy.