Without a doubt, your senior living organization’s top marketing tool should be your website design. It is the central component of any marketing program, allowing prospects to learn more about your organization’s offering, any time of the day, conveniently, from any device. Your website is a living, breathing tool that offers the first impression for seniors and adult children researching their care and housing needs. It also serves as a source of information for trusted community members who may want to look more closely before making a recommendation or referral on your behalf.
In addition to saving you money on print literature that will quickly grow stale and dated, your website captures important lead information that can generate tours and move-ins. It must contain the content prospects are searching for, convert visitors to leads and offer easy-to-follow next steps. As such, it is a sales and marketing professional’s best friend.
Yet despite the importance of having a fully functioning and thought-out website, many senior living organizations have left their sites stagnant for years. If you have not updated your site in the last two years, it’s time to consider budgeting the time and money to make this happen, or you are going to get left behind. If your website has one of the following eight problems, it’s time for an overhaul:
8 signs your website design needs an overhaul
1. It looks old and dated.
Like everything, your website needs a fresh look and feel to let prospects know you are moving forward with the times. Site architecture and how people navigate sites has changed radically in recent years. If your site is built with old thinking, tons of “focus on me” content and images – versus your prospects – and lots of non-essential content that bogs down the user experience, it’s time to rethink your site.
2. The site is not secure!
Despite warnings from Google and web professionals in recent months, many senior living websites remain unsecure. To see if your site is secure, go to the domain field and look for HTTPS: versus just HTTP: Additionally, with the HTTPS protocol, you will see a lock icon and the word “secure.” If your site is not secure, you are a target for hackers who can access your internal data and wreak havoc on your company.
3. Your website design is not responsive.
Many older sites (even ones that just a couple of years old) are not responsive, meaning they don’t automatically adjust for viewers who may be on devices other than a standard desktop, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone. With more than 42% of seniors 65 and older saying they own smartphones, and 67% using the internet regularly (see Pew Report on seniors and technology usage), it is critical to have a responsive website.
4. Your website is hard to navigate.
If you were to peruse senior living websites, as we often do, you’d see a pattern. Older sites are organization-centric, with detailed descriptions of the company, its leaders, philosophy, history and so on. While this information is nice to know, today’s seniors and families are more interested in your rates, floor plans, lifestyle options and want to see photos and videos highlighting what you can offer them rather than if your executive went to Yale or has completed a special certification on senior finance.
5. You are not showing up in search results.
When seniors and, especially, their adult children, want to know about senior living in a certain city or town, they go online. Yes, they may have seen a print ad or news story that puts you in a favorable light or heard about you from a friend, but they are going to go search Google or use other browsers to research their options. If you don’t show up on the first page of Google search results, you have a problem. A new website, built with content and images that are search-engine optimized (Read: What is SEO and Why Does it Matter?), is the first step to fixing this big problem.
6. Your website lacks forms.
Many older websites do not include calls to action for gated content – such as a checklist or helpful handout that you provide in exchange for some contact information – and many do not include forms that allow you to ask seniors or adult children to sign up for a tour online. New sites and strategies make this a must. One smaller community we work with gets more than 30 submissions for tours via the home page form each month. This, coupled with other lead generation activities we conduct on their behalf, creates a healthy list of people to talk to about available apartments.
7. The site is hard to update.
New websites, built on platforms such as WordPress, include easy-to-understand content management systems that allow staff to directly make basic text or photo updates. We typically provide a helpful guide for staff to make basic updates, along with the support they need to make more complex updates, and any organization that sets up your website should do the same.
8. It does not have Google Analytics installed.
For some reason, many older sites and developers didn’t bother to install Analytics when developing the site. It is critical to do this so you can review web traffic patterns and trends, ranging from statistics about how visitors arrived at your site, the duration of the visit to your website, and what pages are most visited. While you can still go back and do this, a new site gives you an opportunity to get Analytics installed throughout the site to maximize your understanding of what is going on behind the scenes.
The quality of the online relationship with your prospects – seniors, their family members, and referral sources – and how well your organization’s website meets their needs has a direct influence on your bottom line. If your site has not been updated in the last couple of years, it should be.
If you’d like to get a sense of where your website stands, give us a call. Our web experts can provide a free mini-assessment that will let you know if your site is just fine or needs work.