July 2, 2015 |

The Big Gold Rush – Digital Marketing in Homecare

If you’re not getting at least 50% of your clients and 70% of your leads from digital marketing, you’re missing out on one of the largest gold rushes of the last years in homecare. Multi-million dollar homecare businesses are being built from scratch without a single call to referral sources, radio advertising, or any other offline sales and marketing techniques.

Digital marketing has completely changed the way all industries market their products and services (both B2B and B2C) and it hasn’t spared the homecare industry.  Here’s our view on what it might mean for you as a homecare agency.

Grow faster if you can

If you have access to capital and talent to rollout a structured digital marketing strategy, then you need to get staretd. There is nothing out there that is more time-effective and capital-effective to build and grow a homecare business.  If you’re a new Homecare business, don’t even waste your time with other marketing or sales tactics.  Go Digital.

If you had to pick 4 areas to work on, focus on : 

1. Building strong digital marketing capabilities, 
2. Setting up your caregiver acquisition and development processes, 
3. Creating a differentiating care coordination and care delivery approach (including Quality of Service), and 
4. Investing in tools and processes to know your client better.
Yes, you’ll have to worry about other stuff such as regulation, payments, scheduling, office space, and local relationships.  But don’t let these other topics take too much of your time.  Put them on a checklist and get them done when you’re done thinking about what really matters.  If you’re good at local sales, by all means go sell, but know that the opportunity cost for not focusing on the other 4 things above can be significant.

Marketing is not a cost

Let’s get something out of the way – marketing is not cost, it’s an investment.  If you’re serious about growing your homecare business, then you should invest in digital marketing.  Investing always requires time, money and people.

Start small with digital.  Learn by doing and DO NOT outsource it to an agency. Digital marketing is going to be a core aspect of your business and that core can’t be outsourced.  Agencies can advise you and teach you, but you need to do the heavy lifting.

We’re in the 21st century, go Mobile

No, you haven’t missed one of the greatest technology shifts of the last decades.  We all use smartphones phones to access the internet now. Sometimes we use tablets, when we own one, and every now and then, laptops or desktop computers.

Design your digital presence and interactions accordingly, please. If your website is not mobile-friendly or responsive, you’re missing leads as we speak.

Do the math yourself

You need to run the numbers yourself to know how much you should invest in digital marketing: your web, phone, and home conversion rates affect this number.  So does the lifetime value of your average client.  I would say that an average $1 million business should be spending at least 3% – 5% of its revenues on digital, which is approximately $3,000-5,000 dollars per month. That’s the price to pay for growth.

With good SEO, your lead generation cost could greatly decrease but, as long as your cost of acquisition is lower than your client lifetime value, you should be investing to grow your business if you can.  Good lead-generating SEO takes time to build so don’t count on it in the short term.

Why waste time with referral sources?

It used to be that digital marketing was a complement to referral source sales.  That has changed greatly over the last 2-3 years. Now, referral sources lead generation is a complement to digital marketing.

Today, you should kickstart your business using digital marketing, then leverage your digital marketing as your main lead flow “hose” and growth engine.  You can view digital as an entry point into your “word-of-mouth” lead generation engine (assuming your service is great, of course!).

If you have the capabilities and patience to build good relationships with local referral sources, go for it!  Relationships can pay back handsomely but they require effort, time, and commitment. In terms of opportunity cost, they are very risky.

It’s a Digital talent battle out there

Digital marketing is not only simply buying adwords or having a website. There are a bunch of technologies and processes you will have to master.  It is very likely that you don’t have those competencies within your agency.  That leaves you with a choice to make: you can build those competencies or you can buy them.

Good digital marketers that know how to use the tools, can help with your content and work with you to define a strategy.  They are difficult to find and expensive but these digitla marketers are generally worth the investment. You can build creative pay schemes to attract them (pay per lead, pay per client, etc.)

Since digital is a critical part of your business, consider becoming a digital marketing expert yourself or hire someone to do it for you.  I suggest you do a bit of both: as a core part of your business you need to learn how digital marketing works but you will also need external help.

Be bold, be original

You won’t be alone on the Internet: your competitors are there too.  Some of them are there earlier than you are and they’ve been pouring money at it for years.  On top of that, the big homecare networks have access to resources (talent, marketing agencies, designers, and bulk discounts) that you can only dream of.  In the same way, marketplaces that only operate online are crowding out the traditional homecare businesses.

There are large economies of scale in digital marketing which is good news if you’re a big provider.  As a smaller independent provider, you won’t succeed in a head-on battle with bigger, more efficient budgets.  You can win your local battles by being very relevant content-wise at the local level and being original. Don’t try to fight the networks on their turf.  Instead, be very relevant to your local market and use your online presence to build bonds and interact with your community in a creative way.

Do your research on guerrilla digital marketing and digital content marketing.  Often times, big networks don’t have a choice but to offer vanilla, bland, soft-spoken, politically correct content.  You have a choice to be different, if you dare.

Caregivers are also on the Internet

I don’t have to tell you that digital marketing can quickly become the main recruitment engine of your Homecare organization. It probably already is.

Differentiate yourself by going beyond the standard boring “Join us” button on a menu and the recruitment form with lots of questions.  Stand out by building an online recruitment strategy with dedicated content, ads, and page flows to attract the best caregivers you can.

It’s not about getting caregivers, it’s about getting the BEST caregivers.  The battle for good care professionals is ferocious and losing it can be deadly for your business.

We hope to see your digital presence grow online.  Follow us on twitter at @SeniorGrowth to stay up-to-date with our latest homecare tips.

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