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Metrics Senior Living Executives Need To Know About Digital Marketing

If you’re hearing terms like contextual targeting, demand side platform, geofencing, interstitial ads or schema markup from your digital marketing provider in monthly reporting meetings, it may be time to pump the brakes.

At worst, word-dropping technical vernacular in monthly digital reporting may be a smokescreen to prevent an underperforming campaign from being exposed. Or it may be that the digital provider is overzealous to impress their client and prove their expertise in all things related to search engine optimization, content marketing, social media and pay-per-click advertising. But more often, it’s lack of understanding as to what you (the senior living CEO, Executive Director, or Director of Sales and Marketing) need to be sure that your digital marketing resources, strategy and budgets are helping you meet your business and strategic goals.

To that end, we’ve identified four key metrics a senior living executive should be paying attention to:

Metric #1 – Website Visitor Traffic

Expecting double digit jumps in website visitor traffic from month-to-month might not be realistic, but you certainly want to see positive movement in traffic from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year. Increases in web traffic will come through keyword optimization, content marketing (on-site, blogging, social media, etc.), link building and technical search engine optimization efforts. Results can be a valuable indicator of the level of attention your digital provider is giving your campaign. Monitoring web traffic can also help determine trends in how, when and at what frequency prospects are searching for a community like yours.

Key sources of traffic you’ll want to measure each month are:

  • Organic – visitors who come to your site by clicking through from search engines.
  • Paid – visitors who come to your site by clicking on a search or display ad.
  • Referral – visitors who come to your site from other websites that have a link back to your community. Outreach and link-building by your digital marketing team is key to making this channel successful.
  • Direct Key – visitors who key your URL directly into their browser. This may be the result of any number of branding efforts such as general media advertising, direct mail, outdoor, radio, or even your bus wrap.

Metric #2 – Lead Conversions

Leads are those visitors who took some kind of action after landing on your website. For senior living, that typically means they made a phone call or filled out a contact form. If you’re not seeing the number of phone calls in your monthly reporting from organic and pay-per-click sources, it’s imperative that a call-tracking program be implemented. We consider a conversion rate (number of website visits divided by number of actions taken) benchmark of 3% to be the minimum target. Most of our community clients are in the 5% – 6% range with some in the 10%+ range. Variables such as the site’s navigation and user-friendliness, relevant content, optimized calls-to-action and many other attributes all play a contributing factor in the conversion rate.

Related: People Are Talking About Your Community. Are You Listening?

 Metric #3 – Costs Per Lead

Many senior living executives can tell you exactly how much they pay per lead through traditional marketing channels such as direct mail, print advertising and resident referrals, yet struggle to understand the cost per lead from website sources. While cost per lead can change from month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter, you should establish a range you feel comfortable with. This is an important metric for your digital marketing team to track as it relays how much budget is appropriate to spend in order to find new leads. Spend too much on competitive keywords and you run the risk of burning through your monthly pay-per-click budget too quickly which leaves less budget to target additional prospects. While many variables contribute to a website cost per lead, we typically see a targeted benchmark of $50 per lead through digital marketing efforts.

Related: Multi-generational Marketing is Critical to Your Community’s Success

Metric #4 – Rankings in Search Engines       

One of the most important factors that determines whether prospects will find your community’s website is your search engine ranking. Being in the number one position for your own brand name should be an automatic given, but how your community ranks in Google, Yahoo and Bing for non-branded terms is critical to being found. These terms will likely include a combination of your location and key services (independent living, assisted living, memory care, respite care, etc.) offered but could also include terms unique to your community such as ‘only Life Care community in XYZ County’.

Your digital marketing provider should provide a report of terms searched and where those search results for your community are positioned in search engine pages. For instance, search terms should be numbered 1 through 50 with the goal of always moving listings for your community further and further up search engine results pages to the number one position through an array of search engine optimization tactics. If you are not seeing successive ‘wins’ in this metric, a discussion with your digital marking provider about performance is needed.

One of the best attributes of digital marketing is that its’ measurable and based on strong statistical evidence and cold hard facts. For senior living executives, that provides a baseline for holding accountable those you entrust with your digital marketing campaigns. If you have any questions about additional metrics to hold your digital marketing team accountable or to learn more about our digital strategies, please contact Jeff Felton, Director of Marketing Services for Solutions Advisors, at