If what scientists are saying about human adaptive evolution is true – that it’s accelerating – then perhaps the future of homosapien development means that people will be born with downward-bent necks due to our prolific use of mobile devices.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit out there, but fading fast are the days of folks accessing the Internet predominantly from their desktop computers. Since 2014, the number of mobile-only Internet users in the U.S. has grown from 24.6 to 37.3 percent. That rate is expected to grow to 42 percent, or 279 million, by 2020.
Websites can no longer survive with design that does not fit consumers wherever they are – literally. Coined “responsive design” by Ethan Marcotte back in 2010, the ability for one website to quickly and automatically adapt to whatever device one is using (whether desktop/laptop, phone, tablet, watch) is paramount to successful online customer experiences.
Before the development of responsive design moved into the mainstream, mobile users had to pinch, scroll, swipe, pan, zoom, and all but jump through hoops to get the information they wanted from websites that weren’t built to respond to their online environment. They became frustrated and quickly moved on.
Websites without responsive design leave visitors frustrated and likely to move on to other sites.
To mitigate the problem, web designers created mobile templates, whereby a second website or subdomain was built in addition to the primary site to respond to mobile use. But, given the new generations of devices cropping up all the time, the time and cost involved in creating separate templates for each would be astronomical, and the effort impractical.
Responsive design is coded such that one website adapts seamlessly and expediently to all screen sizes, resolutions and platforms. The benefits of responsive design are many, and websites without it are undeniably suffering:
- Positive user experience – If visitors to your site can easily and quickly find what they’re looking for, they’re going to stay longer and engage more. Bounce rates will dramatically decrease.
- Competitive Edge – The absence of responsive design is glaringly apparent to anyone visiting your site. Implementing responsive design gives you an immense and immediate advantage over the competition.
- Increased social involvement – Nearly 80 percent of social media engagement happens on a mobile device. If your site is not easily seen or navigable from all platforms, audiences will be much less able to share and engage in the viral ways that are vital to your brand.
- Better conversions – A responsive website smoothly facilitates the actions you wish your visitors to take, whether it is to read a blog, respond to a CTA, make a comment…all the things that foster engagement with your brand and, ultimately, satisfy your ROI.
- Better SEO – Search engines rank websites with responsive design higher than those without. Responsive design is perceived as more relevant and more able to give searchers precisely what they’re looking for, whatever their online environment.
- Better branding – Because responsive design draws from one main website, as opposed to several templates or subdomains, displays across all devices are unified in look, style and brand identity.
- Speedier loads – Google PageSpeed standards recommend that pages designed for mobile users load in under two seconds. A website without responsive design rarely loads in a mobile environment in this amount of time. Waiting too long for a page to load often causes consumers to leave a site.
- Lower costs – Creating multiple templates and subdomains for all the many devices on the market costs time and money. Responsive design professionals can program one website to adapt to several platforms, resulting in considerable savings.
- Sustainability – Technically speaking, responsive design is based on screen size, not device. This has significant ramifications for the future, including the Internet of Things, because whether one’s field of view occupies an inch of space or a whole square block, your website will still look properly proportioned and attractive.
If your website is dying in the Digital Age, revitalize it with truly responsive design. Let our team of experts show you all that responsive design can do for your website, and your business as a whole.
Does your website have responsive design? Let us know how we can help improve or implement this technology on your company’s site.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
We’ve explored the power of a cutting edge website and dynamic call tracking in building an effective, successful marketing campaign in the senior housing arena. A third tool in the toolbox is paid digital ads. Ugh, right? What could be more annoying than those pop-ups and flashing banners that interrupt our web searches and derail our concentration? In fact, 64% of internet users actively avoid online ads by enabling ad block extensions.
So why invest in digital ads? Because, when executed the right way, they can be immensely useful in increasing awareness of, traffic to, and desire for your community. Pushing ads onto people who have no known interest in or need for your senior living environment is not only irritating and intrusive to them, it’s ineffectual and a waste of your resources.
But through what’s known as inbound marketing—drawing prospects in instead of going out to get their attention—an experienced marketing team can help you leverage helpful, relevant content to engage potential leads in your campaign. Based on information gleaned from various feedback channels, you can also target your digital ads in ways that are truly valuable to would-be residents and their families.
Here’s what your marketing team can help you do:
- Offer your prospects something meaningful. “Native advertising” is inherently non-disruptive and designed to build trust among consumers. This kind of advertising is by nature ideal for senior housing marketing in that it provides more profound, helpful information than traditional, purchase-oriented display ads. The ground is significantly more fertile for those trying to convey the value of vitality, social connection and security in later life than for those promoting a particular brand of tissue paper, for example.
- Take advantage of the social media explosion. While seniors may not be flocking to join the various social media platforms that dominate the current online landscape, their children increasingly are, and their grandchildren can’t get enough. Sponsored native ads match the form and function of the platform on which they appear (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), feel and look less like traditional ads, are not disruptive, provide useful content, and can be highly targeted.
- Know thy prospects, target thy prospects. Through various feedback and tracking technologies (including the dynamic call tracking we discussed last month), your marketing team can help you add value to your potential leads by knowing who they are and what moves them. Instead of blindly blitzing everyone, you can tailor your messages to those who are most likely to find them interesting and intelligently anticipate their needs. In the case of social media, your digital ads can also be aimed at people who follow certain users or post about certain topics.
Research shows that in the senior housing arena, greater use of digital ads executed properly could be a valuable asset to your campaigns. An experienced marketing team can show you how effective, non-intrusive digital advertising can yield fruitful audience engagement.
Join us next month for more about the tools to build your best campaign.
IVY Marketing. Come Grow With Us.
Content Tips and Tricks
Debra Sheridan, president of IVY Marketing Group was invited to present a workshop at last month’s Life Services Network Conference in Chicago. The prestigious event drew hundreds of professionals in all areas of the senior housing industry. “Being invited to be a presenter was really an honor as this conference draws the very best in the field,” said Debra.
Debra spoke about the importance of keeping good ideas flowing in order to advance the sales process with more interesting content used within blog posts, social media updates, videos, eBooks, newsletters and webinars. “This content serves you in many ways as it improves search engine rankings, drives traffic to websites, helps to nurture leads and assists in establishing you as an expert in your field,” she said. “But it can’t be just any content. It has to be relevant and remarkable.”
Generating a constant stream of interesting topics is challenging. Debra offered some tricks for indentifying intriguing topics.
- Follow the news—if the media is already interested, if people are talking about a certain topic, join that conversation by writing a white paper, comment blogs, start discussions in social media, etc. Follow industry news as well.
- Subscribe to email newsletters from niche publications that cover senior housing and services.
- Set up Google Alerts for non-branded keywords relating to your industry, products and/or audience.
- Monitor social media conversations.
- Recruit content creators such as bloggers.
- Create “annual” and “best-of” features.
- Bring a video camera with you to tradeshows, events, programs, etc. Turn videos into blog posts and eBooks.
One of the best tips of all is to keep a backlog of stories and/or topics handy. This should include, but not be limited to, evergreen content. Not everything needs to be hot or trending or the latest buzz. Evergreen content includes topics that are always interesting to your audience regardless of seasonal trends, economic conditions or other external factors.
Debra concluded that, as is the case with beautiful women, “all content is more attractive if it is well accessorized. Use photos, videos, links to other sites, research, case studies, quotes ad anything else that will enhance the content of your publication.”
Dare to be Fascinating Presentation 2012
Six degrees of separation is used to describe the power of LinkedIn. In theory, any individual on earth is potentially connected to any other individual on earth, through a chain of six or less links. In practice, LinkedIn, which is the largest professional network in the world, has the power for you to use your existing connections and to make new connections, which in turn will be used to secure additional connections. The potential positive impact is enormous; and one that should be sought by all professionals looking to grow their business.
In February of this year, LinkedIn reported that it has more than 150 million members and is growing at an estimated rate of about two new members per second. LinkedIn members come from more than 200 different countries and territories. Executives from all of the 2011 Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn, and more than 2 million companies have LinkedIn company pages. These huge numbers of professionals and businesses are, through LinkedIn, literally at your finger tips.
What does LinkedIn allow you to do?
- Aside from its enormous reach, perhaps the most significant characteristic of LinkedIn is that it levels the playing field. LinkedIn effectively permits you to compete with larger and more well-established businesses. You have the ability to tell your company’s story, share interesting content in multi-media formats, highlight specific products or events, engage followers, and establish yourself as experts in your industry. Professionals, who otherwise may not know about your organization, have access to all of your pertinent information on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn members rank more predominantly on Google and other search engines meaning that your membership will greatly enhance your visibility to a global marketplace.
- LinkedIn capitalizes on what every marketing professional knows is the most valuable tool for generating new business: referrals/word of mouth. It does so by permitting you to prove your expertise in your industry (see next bullet point), and also through recommendations that your colleagues, customers, business associates, and others can document on your page.
- LinkedIn helps you to establish yourself and your employees as experts. By engaging in informative and interesting dialogue and by participating in LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, you have the ability to set yourself up as leaders in the industry.
- While exchanging ideas, information and knowledge with your peers on LinkedIn you are also keeping yourself updated on industry happenings and trends. Furthermore, you are positioned to keep track of your competition.
- LinkedIn has been used since it was first established as a resource for employment, both from the perspective of potential employers, and potential employees. LinkedIn can help you find the very best employees and the very best employers.
- LinkedIn helps you to maintain the connections you’ve worked so hard to create. As customers or colleagues change jobs or move, you stay connected.
- In addition to linking LinkedIn to your website, you can connect all of your social media sites including Twitter and Facebook ensuring maximum impact.
Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn Company Page:
- Put your best face forward. Make sure your information is current, interesting and engaging. Don’t make silly type or grammatical errors!
- Invite people to follow you. Email your contacts, post on your Facebook, and tweet about it on Twitter. Place a Follow button on your website.
- Update your status in a creative and engaging way to help to maximize your visibility. You can do this by asking questions, starting dialogue, posting a call to action and more.
- Join groups! Groups are considered to be the most powerful feature of LinkedIn, serving as a way to connect you with thousands of like-minded business professionals. Join all relevant groups and engage in dialogue with them. Better yet…start groups! This places your website as the featured site, and your name as the owner, helping to showcase you as an expert in your industry. Use these to direct traffic to your website.
- Participate in LinkedIn Answers! By establishing your expertise, you are also establishing yourself as the go-to-person that business professionals will seek out.
- Used LinkedIn Ads! Because LinkedIn is comprised of business professionals, your ads are likely to be seen by real decision-makers.
- Encourage people to make positive recommendations for your business. Even better– do the same for others, without being asked.
- Use LinkedIn Apps to better showcase your videos, documents, presentations and more.
Many professionals have used at least parts of LinkedIn for many years. If you’re not yet doing so, join these savvy business people in this enormous network. You won’t be sorry!
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to Recover
At the recent Life Services Network conference for senior housing and services, attendees came to be inspired and renewed with ideas and solutions. Certainly, the frustration of our economy and new healthcare reform confound marketers, managers and owners. However, it is also clear that the rules of engagement inherent to social media have permeated all their marketing efforts.
Reduce your marketing to goals.
Social media is based on the premises of transparency, generosity and caring. As a result, it has earned more than a pat on the head and a passing nod in the C-suite. Today, marketeers in nearly all industries integrate social media principles and practices into their goals for sales, clients, donors, etc. The goals are tangible and are established with hard numbers: how many sales do you want to make? website views? requests for information?
Reuse your messages.
Sharing is now a very big deal. Share what you know and excel at, if it could be of value to your prospects. However, do it with a purpose in mind and know what you want the reader to do with the information you have just given them. Do you want them to pass it along to others? Do you want them to write a comment to your article (then end with a question)? Do you want them to pick up the phone to learn more from you? Don’t make your reader guess, tell them what you want them to do with the information you have imparted.
Recycle your efforts.
Cross-promote your message with great care and attention to detail. It is likely that everything in your marketing tool box has the potential to work in more than a single capacity. For example, your print ads and direct mail pieces have often been related. Press releases can be posted on line, to your website, e-newsletters, social media venues. Then published articles can also be printed and mailed as direct mail, reprinted for your brochures, framed and posted in a photo gallery. Your posts can be shared on RSS feeds, among your accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, along with your myriad of other related blogs and outlets.
Recover by responding.
When you get a response, give a response. Say “thank you” often and quickly. If you receive a negative comment, address that personally if possible. If not, do it as soon as possible and with full transparency for the best possible outcome.
These are the essentials of marketing in today’s world. Thinking in terms of recycling and you will find ways to reduce your marketing costs, reuse your marketing efforts, and recover from the challenges of today’s marketplace.