Traditionally, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities relied upon referrals from hospitals. Yet, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times, they are a-changin.” With widespread and increasing use of the internet, on computers and cell phones, among all demographics, facilities have a new means of reaching prospective patients and their families. Yet many facilities continue to underutilize this referral source.
For some, particularly smaller chains, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Online marketing is a relatively new field and it’s continuously changing as marketers and businesses learn the most effective means of reaching their target market. The following are some basic principles that facility owners, operators, and, if applicable, their marketing staff can use as a jumping off point in developing an online marketing strategy.
There are endless options when it comes to online marketing, from online tools for patients embedded in a facility website to social media updates. It can seem overwhelming, but your facility doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to implement every available online marketing tool. If your facility currently has no online presence, just creating a simple informational website is an important first step and may be all your facility needs. It’s better to do one thing right than to try to utilize every online marketing platform and do a sub-par job on each.
The good news is there are a lot of professionals that focus their services on online marketing, and beyond that there are sub-specialists who focus on one individual piece. For example, some focus on social media, others focus on blog writing for websites, and others still specialize in website development. Enlisting a specialist will help you develop a more effective presence online and save you time. Depending on your facility’s needs, you could hire a full or part-time employee or outsource the work to another company or freelancer.
Learn the Basics
Spend a day learning the basics of online marketing – the terminology, the tools, the trends. You can do this by signing up for an online or in-person class, or even by using Google search effectively. Do this even if you plan to hire someone to develop implement your facility’s online marketing plan. It will help you evaluate the credentials, trustworthiness, and pricing of anyone that you hire or contract with to assist you with your online marketing.
Presence and Traffic
Two important terms to understand are online presence and traffic. An online presence is having an identity online; the simplest form is a website, but it could also encompass social media and listings on classified sites. Traffic refers to the number of people going to your website. There are two ways to generate traffic: organically and through paid advertising. Organic traffic consists of visits to your site that you don’t pay for; they come naturally. For example, a prospective patient’s family might Google your facility’s name to learn more about it and then click on the search result for your facility.
Paid advertising is what it sounds like: advertising that you pay for. It might be a Google ad that shows up at the top or right of the page when someone searches for the word “nursing home” or an advertisement on a related website that links to your site. Much of online advertising is pay-per-click, meaning you pay each time someone clicks on the ad and goes to your site.
Invested in Your Success
As always, the experienced staff at Cambridge Realty Capital are invested in your facility’s success and here to help provide finance for your venture.